Yo Yucca!


I’m currently typing this up in a Starbucks by LAX airport and holiday blues have already set in.  Me thinks someone up there knew we were about to depart because today has been a non-starter of a day involving, traffic woes, fluffed-up shop/sights opening hours and GPS nightmares.  Perhaps it’s some kind of karmic payback after the utterly beautiful day we had yesterday (one day out in this part of the world and I’m already using the word “karmic”)  After our early evening trip-out into Joshua Tree, we knew we had to come back for more weird and wonderful sights.  We were hooked by the loud cricket noises, the hot desert air blowing in our faces and the drive along Twentynine Palms Highway.  I promise this isn’t all strictly tourist mumbo-jumbo.  There’s some fash-un to be found.  Well, I say some.  In fact, there’s actually a surprising amount of unique vintage wares to be found along this stretch of road.  First off though, some inspiration fodder that will feed the eye…

The number one thing on our bucket list was Salvation Mountain in Niland, past the eerie lake of Salton Sea.  It’s about an hour and a half’s drive from Palm Springs and well worth the trek if you have a car.  This is probably one of the most famous and spectacular examples of “outsider” art, created by Leonard Knight, who sadly passed away earlier this year.  Apparently he would have often been on-site to talk people through this psychedelic mound, made out of adobe clay and painted with uplifting murals and Bible verses.  It was Knight’s tribute to God but moreover, to love, to wonderment and to beauty.  Surrounding it are further caravans, tractors and cars painted in s similar fashion.  Collectively it’s an awe-inspiring sight, made even more profound by its far-out and relatively impoverished location.  The harsh late morning sun was beating down on us but those rays and the intense blue sky did cast Salvation Mountain in the most breathtaking light.  We couldn’t tear ourselves away even though the heat was physically hurting our heads.  And not to diminish the meaning of Knight’s masterpiece but obviously, aesthetically speaking, the colour scheme and I were sort of on the same wavelength…


















0E5A4270Not going to lie, Luke Brooks’ special “Tree Shirt” was a bit of a strategic outfit choice for Salvation Mountain.  Worn with Mother of Pearl skirt, Loewe sunglasses, Lucy Folk necklace and Prism espadrilles. 

0E5A4273Steve’s Craig Green shirt was also an appropriate bit of kit to soak up the Salvation Mountain vibes…

On the way back from Salvation Mountain, we stopped by a deserted stretch along the curious lake of Salton Sea.  It’s beautiful from afar but kind of depressing when you get closer as you see thousands of dead fish washed up on the stone-filled shores.  Moody Top of the Lake vibes aplenty here (please watch this series if you can!)





After refuelling back at our Palm Springs base, we made our second trip up to Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree to try and eke out another layer beneath the obvious Joshua Tree National Park.  Our primary reference was this High Deserts Test Sites map, provided by a non-profit organisation which supports and curates site-based art around this area.  One of the founders is artist Andrea Zittel, whose home and work space A-Z-West was also on my hit list but sadly it wasn’t available to see.  If we had more time, I would have driven around hunting down all of the sites on the map but in the end wee settled for one  and it was definitely special enough.  The journey was an experience in itself.  You drive past the vaguely theme park-esque Pioneertown and on to a winding dirt track road, which leads you to a curiously named path called God’s Way Love.   Up this rocky path in the high desert nestled in amongst wind-blasted rock formations is Boulder Gardens, the eco-sanctuary and retreat founded and kept by Garth Bowles.  This sanctuary is Bowles’ “act of giving” – you’re free to stay here with a voluntary donation.  People are also allowed to go up there and take a look and so we roamed around, looking in all the nooks and crannies of this breath-taking retreat, lovingly adorned with crystal-scattered spiritual niches.  It’s got all you need really when you’re this high up and far out (in spirit and in altitude) – a sauna, a cool pool, a meditation garden, a tranquil pond, chicken coops built into caves and a picture perfect teepee.  The desert planting all around Boulder Gardens was inspiration enough for Steve and I.  Trying to take a little piece of Garth’s retreat back to N15 with us will be a tough tough task.














Back down on Twentynine Palms Highway out of all the numerous vintage spots dotted along this road, The End in Yucca Valley was a must-see for me, not least because the lovely Jazzi McG gave it a thumbs up.  I didn’t realise the connection until I got there but it turns out owner Kime Buzzelli is a former fellow Typepad blogger (as in blogger generation 1.0), whose blog The Moldy Doily was on my blog feed back in the day.  Kime was working in TV styling and also owned the concept boutique Show Pony in Los Angeles but decided a few years ago to up sticks and move out to Yucca Valley permanently to open up The End.  Here she’s free to concentrate on her beautiful illustration work – seen dotted around the store – and live what seems to be something of the good life.  You’ll spot the distinct murals painted on the outside by Elena Stonaker from a mile off (Stonaker’s wearable pieces are quite something too…).  Inside, it’s a treasure trove of desert-appropriate wafting around prettiness and hippie finds in the true and good definition of the h word.  I picked up a leather bag dripping with paint, created by a couple who live out in Palm Springs.  If I had time, I’d really look into this seemingly sprawling coven of “folk-based” artists and craftsmen from around these parts as everything from ceramics to jewellery to clothing seem to have this … yes, I’ll say it… RAD… aesthetic that I’m drawn to.  I also loved that in the middle of the high desert seemingly in the middle of nowhere, weirdly I managed to make a stray blogger connection.










10384676_581410168635805_3979975435337962556_nWearing Marques Almeida top, Balenciaga shorts, Birkenstocks, Thomas Tait sunglasses and the bag I bought from The End

A ten minute drive away from The End, right outside the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, was another spot on my to-see list.  Why, it’s the World Famous Crochet Museum, created by artist Shari Elf, which sits in the Art Queen Gallery.  Nobody was at home but we just let ourselves in, unlocked the door to this green pod of awesomeness and marvelled at the shelves of crochet cuties.  Right next door, there’s also Trailer Court Shops, a mini-warren of vintage and oddities sellers.  By the time we looked to have a poke around, they had already closed.  I like that I’ve left quite a few stones unturned.  It gives me an excuse to come back and I definitely will.  That’s a promise.









On the way to Palm Springs at Cabazon, you can’t miss Ms. Rex and Ms. Dinny aka The World’s Biggest Dinosaurs aka the best roadside stop off ever where we filled up the car, sampled all manners of meat jerky and got a cheesy snap in the process as well.  I promise my wearing the Julien David “Dinosaur” vest was mere coincidence.


IMG_0281Wearing Julien David vest, vintage slip dress, Kitty Joseph socks, Salvatore Ferragamo slip-ons

One final note on our accommodation out in this part of the world, in between exploring Joshua Tree and Salvation Mountain, we opted to stay the night at the Ace in Palm Springs.  From what people told me, I was a little bit skeptical about this “hipster” bolthole of choice and no.1 hangout during Coachella, but I found the Ace to be pretty chill.  As in, not the frat boy/hen do madfest I was expecting it to be on the weekends.  There were shibori dyeing and collage making classes going on in the clubhouse and the pool was nicely filled out as opposed to super rammed.  And when all is said and done, I am officially an ageing “hipster” for want of a better word… so ermmmm…


… until I get back to London.  I will then strike-through that sentence and start moaning about the weather, TFL and BT Broadband.




IMG_4379Wearing Auria swimsuit, Karen Walker sunglasses

P.S. Unlike Instagram, hopefully this is a safe haven from the fat-hating comments I get (exclusively from peeps from China/Hong Kong it would seem… ) but just in case some people can’t resist, I may as well rebut now and say yes, I’m in a swimsuit, and no, it ain’t a perfect sight because I like food.  And drink.  And lots of it at that.