FvF Explores: The Mojave Desert in California - Friends of Friends / Freunde von Freunden (FvF)

FvF Explores: The Mojave Desert in California


The late, great John Steinbeck – Nobel laureate, California native and a definitive voice of The American West – wrote that The Mojave Desert is “a big and frightening one. It’s as though nature tested a man for endurance and constancy to prove whether he was good enough to get to California.” As much as any desert is about survival, it’s also symbolic of rebirth and renewal. Like a blank canvas, the white sands stretch as far as the eye can see. Artists have long been bewitched by it’s energetic impulses, quiet mysticism and other-worldly landscape.

Along with some two thousand species of plants, the Mojave is home to the hottest place on earth, the dunes of Devil’s Playground, a Rainbow Basin and an Owl Canyon. Ghost towns, hot springs, crochet museums and Ed Ruscha all have their place in the desert. It’s a magical and mysterious place that defies definition and is without a doubt a sight to see in this lifetime.

With our FvF contributor, filmmaker and photographer Claire Cottrell in tow, Los Angeles-based artist and former FvF guest Lauren Spencer King takes us on a weekend trip to see some of her favorite desert haunts.


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The Old School House 

This school was built in 1927 for the nine local students, children of the pioneers and miners. Today it feels like the abandoned set of a Coen Brothers film. A sign
out front reads, “What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.”

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The 29 Palms Inn 

This feels like a home away from home. Original cabins in pastel hues from the 1920s and 1930s are scattered on the beautiful 70 acre property. It’s a perfect place to reconnect. Stroll through the garden, read on the lawn under the palms with the wild rabbits, and cozy up to your fire place at night. No one dreams more vividly than in the desert.


Oasis of Mara

In the desert the presence of water is rare. This is all that remains of the Oasis of Mara. It’s over 9,000 years old. It was first settled by the Serrano who were told to live there by a medicine man. As legend has it, he instructed them to plant a palm tree each time a baby was born. The result is the 29 palms that surround the oasis. Hence the name of the town and the Inn.

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Cholla Cactus Garden 

Cholla Cactus as far as the eye can see! These ombre cacti are a mix of friendly and frightening, they look fuzzy but are actually dangerously sharp. In the strong sunshine the cactus light up and appear to glow.

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Joshua Tree National Park

This is one of the most raw and magical places on earth. You are drawn in by it’s magnetic power, and in it’s warm air your body feels grounded and electric, centered and alive. Explore a landscape that was formed over 100 thousand years ago. The land carries an ancient wisdom, and you’ll feel it. Be sure to visit Jumbo Rock and watch the sun set and the stars come out.

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The parabolic dome is built on an intersection of powerful geomagnetic forces. The building acts as an amplifier of this energy as three underground rivers converge deep below. It’s diameter is exactly the equivalent of the body’s electromagnetic field, and it is the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the United States. Regular sound baths are held in the dome. Sound waves from quartz singing bowls move through your body as you lay on the floor. The vibrations are deeply healing, restorative, and meditative.


This story is part of the “FvF Explores” series – a place for stories and articles about undiscovered and unusual places as experienced by our guests and contributors.

Photography & Text: Claire Cottrell

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