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Trip 6: Dinner with Strangers in Joshua Tree

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What would you do if you were asked to sit with total strangers and have dinner? In Joshua Tree, you say, “Sure”, and are quickly reminded we are all more alike than not.

The wait at the Joshua Tree Saloon was at least an hour. My friend Jill and I were starving after a day exploring the Joshua Tree National Park. From the Joshua Trees  to the Cholla (Choy-ya) Cactus Garden, it was an out of this world kind of place.

It felt like we were on another planet and I felt lucky to be there.  You could almost picture dinosaurs walking around the prehistoric-looking landscape around Skull rock.

We worked up quite an appetite so when our buzzer went off notifying us our table was ready we were thrilled. That turned quickly to surprise when they asked us to share our booth. Suddenly we found ourselves sitting face to face with two complete strangers.

We exchanged introductions with the young couple, all of us laughing about the situation.

We swapped stories about our lives. I learned about growing up in Alaska and Poland. Turns out he was a Carolina Panthers fan! 

We bonded over a love for travel. We even bought them a round of drinks to celebrate their wedding just a day earlier! Total strangers became fast friends.

There it was, the proof that if you just listen you can probably find something in common with the person next to you regardless of their religion, political views or anything else that so often divides people.

Joshua Tree is an odd little town… both beautiful and artsy. Folks there aren’t caught up in headlines but just go about the business of living a simple life… like the two guys behind Hot Dog Panic serving up killer dogs and craft cocktails in the most random of places. They call it Joshua Tree’s fanciest secret hog dog lunch party.

My friend Jill and I tried the dog with pulled pork and crumbled potato chips on top and the vegan dog with grilled corn and nutritional yeast. Delicious! And how’s this for it’s a small world? The hot dog guy and I discovered we had a common acquaintance.  Everything about Joshua Tree was unexpected. 

This art display off the beaten path (and by off the beaten path I mean off a dirt road) is the work of Assemblage sculpture Noah Purifoy.  It’s the kind of place that has you scratching your head at first until you look a little closer.

The ten acres full of large-scale sculpture on the desert floor is free from sun up to sun down… and it will leave you talking, reflecting,  maybe even debating.

Purifoy’s first sculpture was created with charred debris from the Watts Riot in LA in 1965.  Much of his art represents social injustice or reflects political commentary. 

This one is called “ White/Colored.” It features a toilet bowl next to a drinking fountain

I highlighted some of my favorites in my video blog of the trip 

Oh, I can’t forget to mention the best dinner in town by far. La Copine. It was one of those dinners you didn’t want to end. Everything is elevated like this citrus beet salad shaved fennel, lavender goat cheese, tarrgon, currants, and pistachio vinaigrette. 

Owner Claire Wadsworth isn’t just an artist with the food she prepares but she’s also a singer! Personally, though I hope she doesn’t quit her day job because her food was amazeballs. 

This wasn’t just a flatbread. It was housemade dough, fresh ricotta, queso mahon, shishito peppers, fried egg, sherry-date gastrique, and arugula. SWOON!

Joshua Tree doesn’t try to be something it’s not.. Neither do the people. They march to the beat of their own drum… and the music is magical.