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The Unplanned Detour to Joshua Tree That Made Me Think

Every year for the past few years I’ve been going to Palm Springs and telling myself I need to make my way, at least a day trip to, Joshua tree. Every year, I find myself back on the 10 freeway straight to Los Angeles. On a last-minute weekend trip to the desert, I instantaneously decided to detour by taking CA-62 onto Twentynine Palms Highway.

Windmills on the 10


I’ve always been the kind of person who doesn’t even take rest stops on a road trip. I prefer to get to my destination or home ASAP. Today, I told myself to just let go of that rule. I am the king of last minute trips, but when it comes to deviating from the plan, I still have that type A personality that guides my decisions. Mind you, I’m quite flexible during the middle days of the trip. I knew I had to be in LA before a 4pm class I was teaching, so I knew I could not stay too long. In fact, I’ve heard from multiple people that Joshua Tree deserves multiple days, especially to stargaze at night. I convinced myself that it would be ok to just get to the entrance, snap a few pics and head back. As I was getting closer to the park entrance, I was realizing that I was probably better off not driving 40 minutes off the main highway 10, because all I wanted to do is spend the day there. I pulled in to the entrance, the national guard notified me that it was going to be $20. I was able to see a whole lot of beauty from right there already. I decided not to pay, because I felt the park would easily swallow me into it’s dry beauty and I had commitments to get back to at home. I decided to park for half an hour and take as much as I could in.

Handstand at Joshua Tree National Park

There is something about the desert landscape that captivates me. The arid, dry climate combined with heat is where my body feels best. What appears to be an area full of nothingness, is in fact full of geological, as well as, biological life. The morning and evening sunlight has a special way of brightening the sandy, rocky earth from the flat dunes to the mountains which rise about 8500 feet above the desert floor. Whether it’s the aesthetic beauty of the desert or the fact that I was conceived in Palm Springs, I feel a super deep connection. Side Note:  This is true by the way, as I subtract 9 months from my birthday, it lands exactly around the time my parents were on their honeymoon. But I digress.

So on this road trip back, I started questioning myself the following:

Why have I been so stringent when it comes to taking detours? 

Has this also become relevant in other life decisions?

Why do we always choose the same route which we know so perfectly?

Perhaps, it was that quick exit I had to take to make me realize that all good things don’t come out of plans. Sometimes the serendipitous encounters and those that were not in the plan in the first place, become the ones where we learn our biggest lessons about ourselves. In fact, what if the reason for this whole weekend was to finally bring me to what was an undiscovered and desired place of mine. Who knows?  All I can say is, my heart is smiling.

As I still feel nourished from the beauty of Joshua Tree, I choose to take more detours. Instead of trying to get to my destination in 2 hours, it’s totally OK to get there in 4. On that path, the realizations and encounters that surface, are worth more than my time or any amount of money.


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