With the aim of not sitting through LA traffic all morning on Sunday, I bid Carpinteria a fond farewell late last night, rolling into Joshua Tree after 1:00 this morning. I pulled into the Safari Motel, neon sign glowing “open”, and rang the doorbell.

The Safari Motel

A few minutes later, the blurry eyed proprietor buzzed me in, mumbled something about waking him up, and gave me a fair discount on the room for my late night arrival.

As wired as I was from the drive and arriving at my first destination, I didn’t sleep until 2:00am. I begrudgingly set the alarm for 6:00, to catch the 6:03 sunrise, and miraculously actually got out of bed to see it! The sky was perfectly clear, which as you photographers know, makes for a perfectly boring sky.

One ubiquitous decrepit gas station silhouette photo and a few shots of the hotel itself later, and I crawled back into bed for a morning nap. Unfortunately the already 80˚F heat and excitement of the day ahead kept me from counting zzz’s, and I got back up to catch the last morning light at Noah Purifoy’s Desert Installation; an odd but strangely fascinating long-term junk-art (“Assemblage Art”, for the politically-correct inclined) project of the late Noah Purifoy.

Noah Purifoy’s Art Installation

I was the only one there at this early hour. Me, an already too-high sun, a family of jackrabbits and other assorted morning critters wandered amongst the long shadows looking for interesting angles of this undoubtedly over-photographed project of the desert.

Political statements, toilet sculptures (a disproportionate number of toilets, now that I think of it), and collections of plaques made for a fascinating morning stroll—hopefully an indication of just how colorful the rest of this trip will be.

The Road Ahead

Later this morning I’ll start driving towards Phoenix, where I’ll spend the next two nights with childhood friends—one I haven’t seen in nearly a decade, and the other for quite possibly twice that. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to it.

Click on any of the photos to enjoy the larger collection on Flickr.

The Map

As you can see the map is growing… and I’ve added a little “car” icon to show where I am. Obviously not updated in real-time… heh, that’d be cool. Anyone got a trick? ;-)

Oh and apologies to those who populated my map with all the great places between Phoenix and Albuquerque on Hwy 40, but as you can see I’ve decided to go via White Sands, NM so won’t be seeing those spots. Sorry :(