By Emily Woodbury
There’s a special kind of magic that seems to rest in the air in the high California desert. I’ve felt a similar magic before, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but it had been a while and it was nice to be reminded of what it felt like.
I was telling my travel companion about something I love. I explained, “One of my most favorite things in the whole entire world is when you’re in a quiet place—a small town main street, even a city block late at night, and you find a little restaurant or tavern with a lit-up sign outside. Opening the doors from a quiet, peaceful street into a bustling scene inside—drinks clinking, knives cutting, forks stabbing, chitter-chatter, music… it’s my favorite thing to watch an entire world come alive. A world tucked behind two closed doors.”
But as I drove through Joshua Tree National Park, I realized I found this feeling in places other than restaurants and taverns late at night. That same little piece of magic sometimes catches a person off guard in a place they would have never expected to find it. I thought I would love Joshua Tree, sure, but did I think it would slither like its Diamondbacks into my soul? No, I wasn’t expecting that. I opened its metaphorical doors and walked into a scene that made my little heart sing.
I’m not a particularly spiritual person so when I say soul, I mean it. There is most certainly a special kind of magic that sits in that high California desert park. A special kind of magic that makes you feel small, yet whole. I said out loud that I hadn’t felt that kind of peace or tranquility in a long, long time. It felt good. I breathed.
This is why we travel, isn’t it? We don’t know where we’ll find that magic. We don’t know what little piece of us we’ll leave behind when a place, or a restaurant or tavern at night, will capture a piece of our shimmering soul.
Traveling, being in new places, is so important. The feeling that I’m feeling right now, sitting back at my computer just north of Seattle, is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. What a shame it would be if I hadn’t gone south and spent a few days among the “fuzzy” Cholla Cacti and crooked Joshua Trees. We, as RVers, as travelers, as wanderers, know that we’re not meant to stay in one place for too long.
There is always an urge to open two closed doors and reveal another bustling, magical world inside.
I’ve been to many continents and almost every state, but I can’t explain that feeling I felt in Joshua Tree National Park, or in Pappy and Harriet’s up the road in Pioneertown (“How the West Was Once”) or inside the Joshua Tree Saloon where a live band and locals dancing was emanating pure joy… No, I can’t explain it at all.
But that’s the thing about magic. It can never be explained.
Do you have a travel essay you’d like to share with us? Is there a special place where you feel the magic I’m talking about here? I’d love to read it! Send it here.