My wife loves surprises. Loves getting them, loves planning them. So she seemed particularly excited as my birthday approached and all she would tell me is “Just keep your weekend free. We’re doing something cool.”
As a relative new resident of the West Coast, the ‘cool’ places to visit are endless. My mind wandered off in directions as far fetched as Vancouver or Mexico, and to close by but nevertheless beautiful spots like wine country or Tahoe. Where were we off to?
The night before we left, I had planned to get my second tattoo at a local place called The Royal Peacock. I’d been planning it for a while and I finally settled on the design I wanted and found an artist who could pull it off. As we walked to the tattoo parlour, she was trying to keep my mind off the imminent pain by chatting. “…and tomorrow in Joshua Tree you’ll get some great pics,” she said. Then immediately looked shocked and covered her mouth with her hand, realizing that she had just accidentally divulged her carefully kept surprise. Well, surprise or no surprise, Joshua Tree was a freaking awesome birthday plan!
The Trees of Joshua
I’d been hearing about the unique beauty Joshua Tree National Park for a long time, but it seems like the soft rose-gold desert sunset landscape has become a recent favorite for photographers and trendy hipster couples. I was even planning to attend the wildly popular Heck Yeah Photo Camp taking pace in Joshua Tree this summer. When I found out I had a conflict and couldn’t make it, my perceptive wife filed the idea away for our next weekend getaway – and a perfect surprise for my birthday.
Although I was dying to do an engagement shot or couples shoot for a Palm Springs wedding in this truly unique national park, I would highly enjoy the opportunity to discover it for a great weekend getaway.
The park itself is not exactly next door. In fact, we drove about 1000 round trip to make it there in a single weekend. But traveling and especially road tripping happen to be one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. We start with a great coffee from our favorite local place, Temple Coffee Roasters, plug in the GPS and Apple music and inevitably stop at the best fast food join in the world, In-n-Out.
When we finally arrived late on Friday, we were delighted to stay in the funky and original Bonita Domes (highly recommended, by the way). The complete calm and isolated spot was literally steps from the park and we slept to the sound of the wind and coyotes in the desert, with moonshine streaming into our little cozy hut.
We got up early to drive into the main park entrance and spent the day slowing ambling from spot to spot exploring one gorgeous view after another. In places we marveled at the green spiky arms of Joshua Trees, at others we watched rock climbers scale up impossible piles of rust-colored boulders, and in other spots we felt like we’d landed on a desolate moon-like planet. Our day finished off with a quick trip into fabulous Palm Springs for a little Mexican food and movie star sightings, and a spectacular sunset with colors only visible in the desert.
All in all, a pretty awesome birthday surprise. Sort of.
Enjoy the pics. And hit me up if you ever make it out to Joshua Tree!
Sebastien Bicard is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer based in California. He specializes in international travel, destination weddings and intimate celebrations of love worldwide.