In 2006 I took a Road Trip from San Francisco to New Mexico and back over the course of a month, writing and taking photos all the way. Two years later I had a show of paintings based on those photographs. This is one of a series of twenty-nine posts of those paintings accompanied by the relevant diary entries.


Joshua Tree, oil on board, 8 x 24 inches

23. May 16th, 2006

On this day I drove from Kingman to the Jumbo Rocks campground in the Joshua Tree desert.

The rocks here are amazing,all jumbled and heaving, they look like they are grinding their teeth. Animals everywhere, lizards, bunnys-really cute ones with big eyes, furry paws and a slow clumsy gait..

I think they were Jack Rabbits..

…roadrunners, squirrels. It’s like a Disney movie. People as well. Unfortunately. Tried to say hi to a girl at the Information Point but she wasn’t having any of it.

“Hi.” Nothing.

Hi!”louder…still nothing

“Its nice to be friendly you know!”Nothing.

In truth I think I must’ve sounded a bit mad.

A disabled man was driving around in his cart earlier and though he didn’t greet me he came back later to cruise my tent…


One thing I didn’t really understand and maybe I was more blase than I should have been about camping out there alone, was the way the desert attracted a lot of people from LA. For a long time people would come out here to do drugs, look for aliens and generally be a bit nuts. The singer Gram Parsons was a frequent visitor and died in the Joshua Tree Inn from an overdose in 1973. His road manager famously made off with the corpse into the desert.

Hot, hot,hot today…101. Some cloud cover now the sun is setting. Really glad I stayed in the motel last night. caught two episodes of Seinfeld before I crashed. Had to go back to Wal-Mart first thing to transfer photos to disk..

This was the dark ages when XD cards were tiny..

People were coming up and talking to me there alright. An old couple asked me about the digital camera booth. Then..

“Where ya from?”

“Ireland,” I says…

His wife, looking much the worse for wear and not very happy to see her husband talking to a ‘girl’ said ..

“I’m from Germany, I met two Irish girls once and they couldn’t wait to get home!”

Lunched in 29 Palms at a place called Jack in the Box. An older lady, skinny, all made up with a flower in her hair, jewellery, denim shorts, was talking loudly to herself before she sat down and read a broadsheet. AC is nice though.

Posted everything I had packed up so I can take more stuff home.

I must remember a spoon or a fork is necessary for camping. A cooker would be nice too. Really miss me cup of tea…

I didn’t sleep well. Woke up at 10:30pm!The stars were so bright but I could only recognise the Plough.

I went to Joshua Tree for breakfast. The recommended Crossroads Cafe was closed so I went to the Country Kitchen which is owned by an Asian couple. It was done up in what must be an Asian take on old American country kitchens-fluffy toys, purple pelmets strung with beads and cloth flowers-which were everywhere-pictures, photos-one of a firm of attorneys standing outside with the owner. The lady was nice but the breakfast not so good. Passed the Joshua Tree Inn on the way out. There is no evidence of Gram Parsons anywhere in the town or in the guidebooks. They must want to keep it quiet. 

035jumbo rocks campground, joshua tree desert, CA

Jumbo Rocks, oil on board, 8 x 8 inches


6 responses to “ROAD TRIP : JOSHUA TREE

  1. Love the jumbo rocks and the bunnies. I keep thinking there’ll be a few Americans who’ll reminisce about the time a mad Irish woman insisted on saying hello to everyone, love it! 😂

  2. A Michelin man having a rest in the desert.

    I don’t suppose taking teabags would have helped if there wasn’t any way of boiling a kettle. Deprivation indeed.

  3. Haha…Michelin Man for sure…and there’s nothing worse than being without tea. I actually had bought a kettle at the start of the trip but no good without electricity :):)

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