There was never a point in time that I was not aware of Joshua Tree’s. Growing up in Southern California, they are a common site in the high desert and after all there is a National Park named after them. Many nights I have spent camping in the national park and asking my dad about the Joshua Trees. They are just so weird. Their limbs twisted in the wind. They thrive in the harsh desert environment, yet don’t offer much shade. The are a symbol of the desert southwest, and perhaps would be THE symbol of the desert south west if not for the saguaro cactus.
I remember exactly where I was when I was introduced to the Irish Band U2 by a close friend of mine. Back then, they were the Irish Rock Band U2. I was introduced to them watching a video tape copy of “Under a Blood Red Sky” and forever fell in love with my Irish compatriots. In 1987, U2 released there next album “The Joshua Tree” which also coincided with my passing the exam for my drivers license. I wore out by original tape and its copy driving the city of Pasadena to and from high school. The album tore through the consciousness of the United States and this Irish boy had a little more pride in his heritage. The best part was that the album was named after and predominately featured photographs of the iconic image of the desert.
In May, 1987 my friend invited me to a trip to Death Valley. As his father drove across the desert that afternoon, my friend pointed out the window and yelled, “There is ‘THE’ Joshua Tree”. By the time I turned around in my seat, the tree was off in the distance. I could not tell from the angle and distance, but the area looked about right. We drove on, the sounds of an Irish Harmonic flowing through the speakers. I would soon forget this conversation, a foot note of my past.
I always wanted to see the Joshua Tree of u2. Before the internet it was not easy to find places such as this. They don’t put this information on maps. Rumor and stories filled the void. I never asked, but over the years I heard that the site of U2’s Joshua tree was not near the National Park. I heard that someone lite it on fire. I heard it died. Many stories told of unprepared people dying while searching for the Joshua Tree. All just rumors.
I never thought about the Joshua tree site until I started Destination4x4.com. After about 10 minutes searching on the Internet, I found it. Sadly the rumor it died proved to be true. But then an odd thing happened. Like many lost places of the Mojave, there is a small make shift monument to U2 at the site of the fallen tree. The dead tree is still there, fallen to the earth around 2000 and being consumed by the harsh desert climate. The site is located just off the CA Highway 190 between Lone Pine and Death Valley.
Within a year, of finding the Joshua Tree site, I found myself driving along the highway 190 into Lone Pine, CA. There is no marker to the site, and no paved road to follow. The site of the Joshua Tree is located about 100 years off of the road, which runs parallel to the highway. After some back road creative navigation, I saw a glint of metal and the downed icon about .5 miles in front of me.
As I walked towards the dead Joshua Tree, I could not help but think about how silly this endeavor was. A grown man taking his family to see a dead tree. My inner sound tracked played “Running to Stand Still” as I stepped back into the past. Memories of high school came flooding back. The surrounding hills morphed into the album cover. I recalled a conversation between me and a lost friend on the highway not too far from here where he was convinced he saw this tree. I now know he did see it.
Like many places in the Mojave, a make shift monuments lies on the site. Undoubtedly updated with each new visitor who like me hunt down the obscure. It is a matter of time until a passing windstorm, dry climate and time remove any remnants of the Joshua tree. Oddly enough, it was here alone with my small family that I understood what I what I wanted to do with Destination4x4.com. The four us jumped back into the jeep. I loaded up the Joshua Tree on my phone and played “Where the streets have no name” as we drove off for our next adventure.
Just under a year after our visit to the Joshua Tree, for our wedding anniversary, Heather and I saw the band play their songs from the dessert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on May 20th, 2017. The concert was a celebration of their music and the desert landscape which i love.