Can one Joshua Tree make the whole world kin?
Photos and Words by Taylor Simpson
"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify. Simplify." -Thoreau
Perhaps it is no longer the well-kept secret it once was: with Instagram and Airbnb, all one would have to do is follow a single travel or design account to know that Joshua Tree is the new haven attracting the modern day bohemian. What at first might seem like just another stop on a roadtrip out west, or a new and different day trip from LA, has become symbolic of something much larger.
In order to actually get to Joshua Tree National Park, one has to drive through a series of tiny towns with one main road in or out on the side of which lies the occasional Dollar Tree or a two pump gas station. A few miles further down the road and the buildings start to become more and more scarce until you find yourself winding past a ranch here and family's home there. By now each passenger in the car has probably wondered to themselves "So what's all the hype about?" But with expectations so high, they bite their tongue in anticipation.
It's not until entrance into the park itself that all signs of human existence vanish. Suddenly you find yourself in a vast landscape unlike any other you've seen before. The unique joshua tree densely populates the open areas, each one having its own distinct personality. The formations of colossal boulders surround you on all sides, some sprawling out for hundreds of feet or jutting straight up into the sky. As everyone looks on in amazement, it becomes clear why so many people are drawn here.
With our increasingly interconnected world, it seems ironic that people are actually retreating to desolate places like this so they can in fact feel connected. Whether that be to the Earth, one another, or themselves, there is something to be said about the simplicity in the splendor of Joshua Tree.
After one visit, it becomes obvious there's not one "must-see" attraction or one not-so-secret-spot every person has to take the photo at, just an extraordinary landscape engulfed in a clear blue sky. A place to seek solitude, bond with friends, recharge, or write your next novel. A place to feel alive and a part of something greater than yourself. A place to think about where you've been, where you're going, and why we travel in the first place. And for a lucky few, a place to call home.
In the end, you don't go to Joshua Tree to find what everyone else has already found. You go to Joshua Tree and find what you didn't know you needed. And maybe...just maybe that's the best kept secret of all.