Summertime in Pioneertown

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GODDAMN IT’S HOT.

It’s fun to think about the desert when you’re far away from it. Then you camp out in the heat of the summer, surrounded by only rocks and giant cacti, and you think to yourself, “This may have been a mistake.” Once the initial panic fades out, you realize that there are only rocks and giant cacti around you. The possibilities are endless. The fun only stops once you’re ready for it to.

Our home away from home for the weekend, we decided, was going to be an eclectic one. Out of dozens of options on Airbnb, we were drawn to an isolated property in Pioneertown called Dragonfly Desert Retreat. On paper, it seemed a little daunting. We were warned about very limited supply of essentials like power and water. We were also warned of the off-road traveling to get to the actual residence. Fine, we said. We were ready for a unique experience and to embrace what setbacks there might be. And so a month or so after our booking, we found ourselves melting, burning, baking, another word for when you’re under the hot hot sun. But wow, was it pretty! We knew right away we were in a special place.

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Solar panels provided us enough energy for the weekend to charge all our devices and play a 300-song-strong playlist every second we were awake. Our fantastic playlist, by the way, was filled with songs by the likes of Bright Eyes, The Orwells, The Radio Dept., Little Dragon, The Format, Youth Lagoon, The Postal Service, Brand New, and many more. Almost every song we’ve truly loved since we first learned the meaning of the word emo was in that playlist and it provided the most appropriate soundtrack for what was to be our life-affirming trip.

Activities in the desert were only as limited as our imaginations. There were attempts to do great things – to fly a kite, to hike up the bigger rocks in the area, to look for rattlesnakes, to explore further… What we did end up achieving was far greater though – we relaxed the crap out of ourselves. We sat on rocks and talked about anything and everything. We also made use of the nice small pool, with beers in hand. You’d be surprised by the joys simplicity can bring when you’re left with just yourself and the natural world around you.

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Our amazing friends, aka The Men of Summer, did all of the hard work. With a big grill in the backyard and a stove in the main dome, they made bacon-wrapped hotdogs and eggs for everyone. Eating grilled food in the desert under the unbearable heat of the sun may not sound ideal, but it was actually quite pleasant.

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We made our way to the Joshua Tree National Park soon after where we spent more than an hour navigating a rocky maze-like trail that went up and down, providing some of the most majestic rock formations we had ever seen. The initial goal was to stay until sunset, but we soon realized that the damn rocks were going to be in the way. We scurried out of there, as fast as we possibly could without losing track of where we were going (seriously, it’s super easy to get lost there), and found a nice spot by the road to watch the sun. The park, as it was bathed in glorious orange light, looked quite majestic and definitely worthy of Mufasa. Next thing we knew, the sun was gone.

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Pioneertown itself is quite small and quaint. As in did we just travel back in time, you guys? kind of quaint. It could easily pass for a portion of Disneyland even. A lot of the stores were closed when we went there, which made it seem even more like a theme park. We were terribly out of place, but man, what a weekend that was. No, we did not discover the meaning of life like we intended to, but we came out warriors! Go as soon as you can. Bring your friends. Bring friends that you actually like. Leave your laptop at home and limit the Instagrams to maybe three a day. Have a drink or two at Pappy & Harriet’s. Better yet, see a show there! Make it count.

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Some of my favorite things are beef jerky, bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch, pistachios (aka the nut of the gods), my husband's face, and coffee.

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