By Kayleigh Rahn
I’ve been dreaming of the desert.
The cold nights and frosted windshield has my mind heading back to southern California.
William and I packed up and headed to Los Angeles and Joshua Tree National Park earlier this fall for a friend’s wedding weekend.
I admit that my planning had William a bit worried. He’s a skeptic at heart and hesitant to jump into anything involving new places or people, so traveling to one of the largest cities in the country wasn’t exactly on his bucket list. However, LA was on my list so he humored me.
The bride and groom live in Long Beach, and the wedding weekend was to take place in a town on the border of Joshua Tree, so we started to plan a 48-hour adventure in LA prior to heading to the desert for wedding festivities.
It was about a year ago when the groom, one of William’s college roommates and buddies from high school, called to ask if he would stand as a groomsman on wedding day. Mike stood in our wedding, and one of the things I admire most about my husband is the friendship he has with his three best friends. They are loyal without hesitation and keep in touch almost daily though their foursome is split between three states and now four different families.
We spent the next 10 months saving and finally made plans through an online travel rental site to begin our adventure. I quickly learned that So Cal glow comes at a premium. Hotel rooms aren’t outrageous throughout the area, but I wanted to stay in Los Angeles to be able to take in the full experience rather than eat up valuable time traveling to town each day.
That’s how I found our Airstream camper in the Hollywood Hills.
Yes, an aluminum-sided classic Airstream parked in the backyard of a filmmaker in the Echo Park neighborhood about five blocks from Sunset Boulevard. The renovated camper had no television and a private courtyard with a fire pit and a picnic table view of downtown LA, the Hollywood sign, and a gorgeous California sunset. Since it was quite a bit off from our usual vacation rental, it took a smile and a couple evenings of discussion before William would let me pull the trigger and make the reservation.
Soon we were wheels up in Bloomington to Chicago and finally landed at LAX on Halloween afternoon.
We wined and dined our way through the sites as we hiked the Innsdale Trail to the iconic Hollywood sign, snagged photos at the TCL Chinese Theatre before the tour buses began their rounds, and hit Santa Monica pier for top-notch people watching. Even William enjoyed touring the city and driving through the Hollywood hills before we made our way to the desert.
Two hours outside of the sprawling LA suburbs we were in the alien surroundings of Joshua Tree National Park, and it was spectacular.
The enormous granite formations and the seussical, twisted Joshua Trees create a surreal place that seemed to me a cross between the surface of Mars and the set of The Flintstones.
I was in awe and immediately in love with the landscape.
After four hours a venturing through the trails and climbing rocks we landed at 29 Palms Inn located on a natural desert oasis where we called a one-bedroom adobe home for the wedding weekend. Which, by the way, was dreamy with soft pinks and deep teals speckled with succulents and desert flowers.
From the Friday night rehearsal to the catholic mass and on to the outdoor reception under an outdoor chandelier, the desert stars, and palms, the celebration was stunning. My heart is happy that I was able to take this adventure with William, though we missed our girl.
However, one moment sticks with me above others on this trip. Just before William and company gave the groomsmen speech, the fathers of the bride and groom took the microphone.
The bride’s father is a Long Beach CEO while the groom’s father is a country soul who has spent his life in rural Camargo. However, I realized, despite the seemingly worlds of difference between the two men, in the desert they were similar in very important ways.
They spoke with pride of their children and their successes in academics and friendships. It was clear they both worked hard throughout their lives in hopes that their children would have more than they did. Even worlds apart their lives were strikingly similar.
Travel helps us learn that of all the different sizes, shapes, colors, and chemistry that make up our lives, we are far more similar than we ever dreamed.