Relationships are often about compromise, and marriage—one of the big kahunas of relationships—is positively brimming with it.  So it was that I found myself lodging at a decidedly modest motel in Twentynine Palms, California, a small, dusty desert town 50 miles from Palm Springs on what was supposed to be my after-the-year-I’ve-had-I-want-nothing-but-luxury Palm Springs Luxury Spring Break Trip.

Glittering Twentynine Palms

I can’t remember how we settled on Palm Springs for this particular trip—it may have been all the beautiful housesits we’ve drooled over on our petsitting organization’s website—but once we decided to throw in a visit to Joshua Tree National Park and the husband did a little research, I was suddenly being pressed to give up a few days of luxury in the name of teenage dream fulfillment.  

Like I said . . . luxury.

You see, Palm Springs isn’t the gateway to Joshua Tree.  Twentynine Palms is.  Well, that and the town of Joshua Tree itself.  But Twentynine Palms has something Joshua Tree does not: the very place U2 stayed back in 1987 prior to the release of their Joshua Tree album, which displays a Joshua tree on the cover—not a Joshua tree from Joshua Tree, but rather a Joshua tree from just outside of Death Valley.  (And this, folks, is how you weave the words Joshua Tree nine times into a single paragraph.)

Of course they chose this motel – it has musical notes on the sign. Source:
It just doesn’t have the same sparkle without Bono & Co.

A few summers back while on a Southwest road trip, the husband and I forwent a planned side trip to Joshua Tree National Park in favor of an extra day in sweltering Death Valley.  This enabled us to lose half our body weight in sweat seek out and pay reverent forehead-to-dirt homage to the very tree pictured on the cover of U2s aforementioned album.

This tree here.

Staying at the Harmony Motel would complete the husband’s solemn and heartfelt tribute to U2, the band that, to this day, makes him long for his 16-year-old, long-haired, rock-n-roll self.  And now, of course, we can claim to be “part of rock history” as the motel website promises.

I appreciate the effort that went into the motel’s little desert garden, but it does not meet my luxury requirements.

So stay there we did.  But this being COVID times and all, we made sure to nab the stand-alone Jack Kerouac cabin.

When we sat here, our view was of this wrap-around corrugated metal and wood fence. Sigh. (That’s a sigh of annoyance, by the way, not one of contentment.) Then again, without the fence, we’d be staring at the busy highway that runs right in front of the cabin. Sigh.

When I booked the place, the website said that pool use was on a sign-up basis.  (The hot tub, I noted with chagrin as I reluctantly typed in my credit card information, was shuttered.)  I generally don’t like to have to schedule fun and relaxation on a trip (or pay full price when major amenities are not available for use), but with the pandemic in play, I knew I had to just grin and bear it.  But when we arrived (and COVID case numbers were significantly lower than when we booked) we found this:

No glassware, no pets, and to my great annoyance… no people.

Due to the uptick in variant strains, the owner had decided to shut down the pool—the only thing that had gotten me to agree to this place to begin with—in an abundance of caution.  I can’t say I blame her, but I was miffed just the same.

Still, the twilight view was nice.

Overlooking Twentynine Palms from the Harmony Motel.

And we enjoyed our morning coffee from this pleasing vantage point.

But now, as I see it . . .
. . . the husband owes me one.

So that’s the motel.  Now let me tell you a little something about Twentynine Palms…

The town is misnamed.

It does not—I repeat, does not—have twenty-nine palm trees.  I lost count at 86, but I can assure you the number is in the hundreds.  Whether this misnomer was a devious ploy by the city fathers for some nefarious purpose, or whether they simply didn’t understand that plants reproduce, I’ll never know.  But if you’re thinking of heading to this Shangri-la because it has exactly 29 palm trees, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

Don’t let anyone ever say the Travel Architect doesn’t give relevant and useful travel information. 

And here’s some more: despite being a bit run down—dare I say dumpy?—Twentynine Palms provided us with a couple of fantastic meals.

The Rib Co. for outstanding ribs (this, from a non-rib-eater) and… damn, I forgot the name of the place with the great breakfast burritos, but just ask any local and they’ll steer you right.
Hint: get the 5-rib sampler

This corner of the southern California desert also has its share of quirkiness, which made it more tolerable for me and made the husband—lover of Small Town America—adore it that much more.

The primary reason we carved out a few vacation days here, though, was to explore Joshua Tree National Park.

Unfortunately, we’re out of time, but here’s a tiny taste of what’s to come:

Joshua trees. Lots and lots of Joshua trees.

Until next time . . . 🌵


29 Palms
I feel the heat of your desert heart (Feel the heat of your desert heart)
Taking me back down the road that leads back to you


The Palm Springs Luxury Spring Break Trip series:

43 thoughts

      1. Sigh, things are bleak over here. Delayed vaccine shipments and more disorganized lockdown measures. They shut down our parks and playgrounds but are allowing crowded warehouses and construction to keep going. No vaccines in sight for our young frontline/essential workers! What a mess… I will be reading about your travels to live vicariously through you!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Despite being born and growing up in southern California, I have never been to Palm Springs, although I’m aware it’s a popular destination for my peers for extended, spring-break kind of trips. I was in Joshua Tree National Park last summer, and I enjoyed my time there; the landscape was certainly not what I’ve seen before, and it amazes me the diversity of my home state’s topography, as well as the small-town feels coming from a big city like Los Angeles. I hope to head to Palm Springs someday– thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Please don’t tell me that you were in Joshua Tree environs and didn’t go to Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace for BBQ. Although I’ve been to Cadillac Ranch and Slug Bug Ranch, I have never seen Bicyclehenge. This I must correct. (I also haven’t stayed at the Harmony Motel, but I think I can live with that life’s omission.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. I was just telling my students that a few days ago! I was probably being too harsh with the motel. It’s a cute little place, but it is pretty bare bones. I guess you stay there for the history. But yes, the latter part of the trip was fab.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you put aside your pride (in the name of love). OK, maybe you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, but hubby did…and that’s the sweetest thing! On New Year’s Day, maybe you’ll have a beautiful day that’s more up your alley!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The sneaky bits of humor in your posts always crack me up 😂 Also, the fiancé (being a dentist but not a boot repairman) got a kick out of the dentistry and boot repair sign

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post and great pictures! Sounds like an amazing trip! I have been to the area and have visited Joshua Tree NP, but haven’t spent time in Palm Springs. I’ll have to add it to the list. Tell your hubby that he has great taste in bands! 😀

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