Salvation in the Desert

 Vanessa doing handstands at Jumbo Rocks

Vanessa doing handstands at Jumbo Rocks

Hello champions! It is rather late on this Tuesday night and I am lying in bed as I type this up for you. I should have written it Sunday night when I returned from my weekend of majestic magic, instead I just curled up in bed before passing out completely. 

Let’s go back to the beginning shall we?

Saturday morning, Vanessa swooped me up bright and early before cruising down the ten to Joshua Tree (yes I do spend quite a bit of time tucked away in the desert). Prior to our arrival at the park, we pit stopped to pick up last minute essentials. Well I required last minute essentials, ha. I gathered firewood, camping food and a gallon of water and then we were on our way to begin the real adventure. 

Jumbo Rocks was our first stop and I discovered new areas I have yet to climb. I was more confident and comfortable than ever before, reaching new heights and kind of spider monkey jumping around. Vanessa and I swapped places back and forth, capturing different images. She has definitely got more balls than I do because I do not have the gall to do a handstand at the peak of some boulders. 

The next stop on our endeavor was Joshua Tree’s Arch, a brief hike in from one of the campgrounds. After dancing underneath it for a while, the photoshoot for Paragon Desert - Vanessa’s clothing brand - began. As an individual who does not model, I asked for a little art directing until I loosened up in front of the camera. We laughed and had a grand ole time as I modeled two dresses and three gorgeous neck pieces. The next part of shoot was impromptu and freeing as I stripped down into my birthday suit, the sun shining directly at me in an area full of shadows.  I embraced my body and for the first time in years I felt like my body was my own, like image in the mirror matched the image in my head. For the first time and such a very long time, I felt at home in my own skin. 

 @paragondesert

@paragondesert

After the arch, we headed to the campsite. The sun was setting deep behind the mountains and I knew we would be surrounded by darkness before our arrival at the campsite. Not to worry though, the front lights of her car lit the way until we were able to set everything up. The tent was first to go up, next was the fire.  

As the fire crackled in the background, I read poetry allowed and Vanessa boiled the water for dinner. After an hour or so, we turned in for the night. I gazed at the night sky through the top of the tent until I slipped off into a deep slumber but not before I could write some poetry of my own. 

“I reap salvation in the desert,
To lighten my heavy heart,
Fitting the pieces together
In hopes I do not crumble,
Or fall apart. 
I climb through the crevices of the rocks,
Run barefoot through the sand,
Becoming one with nature
And ultimately the land. 
I spend the evenings beneath the stars,
Surrounded by darkness and silence,
Meditating to create a sense of peace
And ultimately, seeking guidance.”

We arose early Sunday to watch the sun rise behind the mountains in the distance. Afterwards, we made a little breakfast (let the record show dehydrated eggs are quite weird) and packed up the campsite before heading over to our next venture, Garth’s Boulder Garden. Now, this is a road not often trekked as many individuals give up before ever reaching the land. We spoke with four locals, each one helping us further along until we finally reached it and met the famous Garth. 

 Victor leading the way

Victor leading the way

We stood in awe at the beauty before us, eagerly venturing in the direction of the tepees and crystal gardens. At the gardens, we overheard voices and decided to stroll on over. Victor introduced himself and gave us a mini tour of the grounds. We began with the sauna and pool, where he left us to trek on our own and enjoy the amenities. 

I stripped down once more and relaxed in a box of pebbles and stones in the sauna, an experience unlike any other, as Vanessa enjoyed an ice cold dip in the pool. We remained here for half an hour before exploring more of the land. 

When we returned to the communal area, a few more individuals had joined the party. We exchanged names and what had brought us to Garth’s. Once again, Victor had something interesting to show us to which we happily obliged. 

It was a fifteen minute hike to the entrance of a cave, which would provide a sense of clarity and rebirth. We bid adieu to Victor and started our journey. It was a wild experience. Every time we thought we had reached the end, there was another area to explore hidden beneath the crevices of the boulders. We climbed and crawled for what felt like an hour before I placed my hand on the last wall in the back. Vanessa and I stayed here a moment as the smell of smoke began to come and go in waves. It has been said that the smell of smoke is a sign spirits are near. 

After a few moments, we made the decision to head back. Strangest thing occurred, what felt like an hour hiking in, only took five minutes to trek out. I verified the mystery with Vanessa and soon came to terms. It was rebirth, just as Victor had said. 

Photo Oct 23, 1 42 34 PM.jpg

We reached the communal area for the last time, enjoyed some light conversation. As we were getting ready to say good bye, Zale offered to do a tarot card reading.  I participate quite frequently in oracle readings, but have yet to complete a tarot. It was an interesting experience as he could not answer the question I had in mind. A little caught off guard by the response, I asked a few questions about the cards placed before me. The answers were still a little bit unclear, but enough to get the mind ticking. 

We expressed our gratitude for the readings, everyone’s hospitality and said our final goodbyes. With an invitation to come back anytime, we left feeling pretty damn great. 

The past weekend was unforgettable in many ways. I climbed to new heights (literally), truly learned the definition of self-love, slept beneath the stars, created new friendships and pushed myself out of my comfort zone. 

Keep on keepin’ on!