No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

“Head out to the desert, I can feel it from here Ride all the way to where the lizards play.”

April 19, 2015

“Head out to the desert, I can feel it from here
Ride all the way to where the lizards play.”

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About an hour drive from Palm Springs is one of the most beautiful natural areas in California, the amazing Joshua Tree National Park. I have visited it frequently and never tire of spending time there, but my friend Lee who was at Coachella with us, had never been and wanted to experience it, so we made the short drive over in the early morning so that we could get back for Coachella in the afternoon.

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Palm Springs lies in the Coachella valley and to get to Joshua Tree you must drive up in to the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the park entrance near the town of Twenty-Nine Palms. It is a beautiful drive in itself, but the real magic occurs once you get within the park boundaries.

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The park contains two deserts, each with a very distinct and noticeably different ecosystem and the subtle changes between the two are still quite distinct. The higher and cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree for which the park is named. It occurs in patterns from dense forests to distantly spaced specimens. In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California's deserts. 

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The dominant geologic features of this landscape are hills of bare rock, usually broken up into loose boulders. These hills are popular amongst rock climbing and scrambling enthusiasts. The flatland between these hills is sparsely forested with Joshua trees. Together with the boulder piles and Skull Rock, the trees make the landscape otherworldly.

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Below 3,000 feet (910 m), the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features habitats of Creosote bush scrub Ocotillo, desert Saltbush and mixed scrub including Yucca and Cholla cactus. There are areas of such cactus density they appear as natural gardens. The lower Coachella Valley is on the southeastern side of the Park with sandy soil grasslands and desert dunes.

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It is a truly beautiful and magical place and we had an amazing time exploring, hiking and just taking in the beauty of the place. We even saw a coyote thanks to Lee’s keen observation. On the way back we stopped briefly in Pioneertown to check out Pappy & Harriet’s and some of the old former Hollywood backlot Western set. It was a great day and we still had the entire Coachella experience ahead of us.

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Back at Coachella, I pretty much resumed wondering around checking out bands and just taking in the crazy scene. The VIP area is particularly good for people watching as the need to be seen crowd try out their latest fashions. At times it sort of feels like you are living an issue of people magazine as “celebrities” such as Paris Hilton, the Jenner Sisters and other young Hollywood types prance about trying to be noticed without appearing as if they are trying to be noticed.

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It is just one of the things that makes Coachella interesting and different from many festivals. Still to me the art and music are what truly make Coachella unique. I spent time wondering around just checking out the many amazing art installations including meandering over to the very impressive camping area where they had a plethora of art, activities and food. 

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Back In Black

April 18, 2015

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Back in Black

George Ezra “Budapest”

Among the early bands that we checked out were Azealia Banks, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, George Ezra, War on Drugs, Interpol, Alabama Shakes and Lykee Li. They were all pretty decent but to my mind two really stood out, George Ezra and War On Drugs. Neither were all that familiar to me, but both won me over with amazing performances that had me hooked and wanting to see much more from both.

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Ezra is yet another British singer-songwriter with a bright future, he has already conquered England where he debut CD topped the charts and produced seven top ten hits there. It will be a more difficult task in the US, where tastes are more pop-oriented but his first single here, “Budapest” was well received and the crowd seemed very familiar with it, so there is hope. 

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One of the things that I love about Coachella is the attention that they pay to the arts, with various artists chosen to create large artworks that are found throughout the grounds and even at the campground site. Some of them this year were wonderful including a large roving caterpillar that cruised the grounds on day one, only to be replaced by a huge butterfly on day two. Both were present during the final day.

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There was a large interactive building called “Corporate Headquarters” with three floors that was populated by dronish Hippos in suits who carried on meaningless tasks throughout the festival while bemused spectators peered through the glass windows, it was fascinating to watch and was a great art piece.

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In addition to the art, Coachella provides a number of areas that replicate popular nightclubs with amazing lightshows, the most popular DJs spinning and a crazy vibe that could only be found here. The Do-Lab, the Heineken house and more provided club kids with every opportunity to get their freak on, these were in addition to the Sahara tent which featured EDM music exclusively and almost always was packed with masses of writhing youth. 

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For the older folks such as myself, we were treated to some classic rock in the evening in the form of classic-rock radio staples Steely Dan and the night’s headliners rockers AC/DC. The concert literally had something for everyone. Steely Dan sounded fantastic and while I am not sure many in the crowd knew what to make of them, they were most likely curious as to what their parents…or grandparents perhaps might have enjoyed.

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AC/DC was another story altogether as there were many in the crowd there to see them specifically and the AC/DC fans decked out in classic AC/DC t-shirts ran the gamut of ages from teens to grey-haired rockers still sporting their greying pony-tails and tattoos. The show itself was fantastic as the band proved that they can still dominate the stage and bring a house down. They played both their greatest hits and cuts from their brand new CD which seemed to hold up pretty well.

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AC/DC “Have A Drink On Me”