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Joshua Tree National Monument, California 2010

(This is an account from a motorcycle journey photographing the awe-inspiring Southwest of the U.S., wandering, camping, meeting all sorts of interesting characters and writing about it. The trip begins from Austin, Texas through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona and back to Texas. Included in the book Skip Hunt Go West)

"Awake" ~ Joshua Tree National Monument, CA © 2011 Skip HuntIt was inevitable. A chain had to be purchased. Luckily, Twenty-Nine Palms’ Marines are also bike freaks so there’s at least two motorcycle shops there just outside of the Joshua Tree National Monument.

After that Hell ride through the Mojave, I figured I better start taking care to limit the chances of becoming human toast and paid for a fresh motorcycle chain. Didn’t get soaked too bad considering where I was. The Joshua Tree National monument is not what I expected at all. I’m not sure why I expected there to be some high mountain that one must climb in order to see this one majestic tree at the top called “Joshua” but that’s really pretty much what my imagination had me expecting.

Instead, the park is mostly large boulders that have eroded in spectacularly abstract formations that are accompanied by an army of cactus trees that look like deranged people with their arms all flailing about. Like I said, “spectacular”.

Honestly I was happy that there wasn’t a giant mountain climb involved and climbing about the formations was pretty easy and gave me a splendid variety of great angles that revealed completely different and naturally abstract shapes. One even looked like a girl sitting along side a Joshua tree meditating as the sun rose. Turns out, that’s exactly what it was!

There was also a certain peace there that’s difficult to describe. It was quiet for the most part and hot during the day, but the in-between times gave me such a sense of being “in tune” that I decided to stay an extra night.

One fellow I met had an cool custom trailer he crawled into to sleep at night. It was basically about as big as an average bed inside and only about a couple meters high. He also had a small T.V., fridge, laptop etc. And in the trunk space of the tiny trailer he had a small kitchen with a small stove, coffee maker and sink. I decided to make pals with him since I had everything covered but a way to make coffee. I usually use this electric coil to heat water for my instant java, but the park had no water or electricity.

Turns out this guy was very interesting and some of the best coffee conversation I’ve had to date. I’d mentioned a few things I’ve seen in the future and how they’d been pretty accurate. I also mentioned a few other things that are difficult to explain, but all of a sudden this guy started answering me before I could finish a statement. At first I thought he was taking cues based on my first words and then taking it from there and getting it right frequently enough to seem freakish. But this guy was continuing to reference things I was going to say but before I had a chance to say them.

When I called him on it he laughed and said that he’s been able to do that ever since an accident where he had some head trauma. His stated I.Q. was up in the genius levels and he said he was an architect. I believe part of what he was do- ing was illustrating his theory that some of the percentage of our brains that we don’t consciously use is busy taking in data and projecting possible outcomes and that our minds are capable of being very accurate predictors for the most part. He speculated that perhaps that’s what is happening when I’ve been able to predict the future accurately. Or, that possibly when one is tapping into these background higher brain function, it’s essentially the same as intuition. That we likely each of us has a path and that when we’ve “tuned in” to the intuition or higher brain function and are making our decisions based more on this data or intuition, it gets us more in sync with our designated path. And, that when we’re doing it right it gives you a sensation of familiarity.

Like I said, some pretty awesome coffee conversation.

Flying down toward Palm Springs took me by this amazing wind farm of giant modern windmills as far as you could see. At first I thought they were so amazing to see with a dramatic mountain backdrop, and then the first gust of wind hit me. Oh! That’s why they have all of these windmills here! The first gust hit me in surprise and almost wiped me cleanly off the road. The second longer gust had me leaning so hard to compensate and not blow into oncoming highway traffic... that I decided I better pull over and at least get my bearings again.

I waited for a good while underneath these giant windmills and just listened to their quiet buzzing in near unison. I found it disturbing after a little bit but I’m not sure why. I guess it just sounded so foreign and unnatural. 

(Skip Hunt Go West is also available for sale as a digital download HERE)

(Photo gallery from this trip HERE)

Skip Hunt
Austin, Texas 

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