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Joshua Tree Escape ~ Godwin Ranch

Last week, we spotlighted our trip out to Pioneertown to see Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires perform live at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace—two of our favorite things colliding in one magical place! There is something about Joshua Tree that just inevitably brings about these kinds of other-worldly experiences—and not in the Burning Man kind of way. We’re talking real-deal straight-to-your-core magic that comes from just being still with the people you love and hearing your own soul speak to you of all its dreams and longings. One thing is guaranteed: when you make that drive out to the desert…you always get your Question answered. Even if you didn’t know you have one.

After experiencing The Screaming Eagle of Soul in all his soul-shakedown love-revolution glory, we packed it in for a weekend friend retreat in Joshua Tree. Whenever we head out to the desert, we love to stay with Joshua Desert Retreats. Their thirteen quaint and charming desert properties range in occupancy from 2-14 guests and are surprisingly very affordable. We love that they are well-appointed with a great eye for detail without being too precious. All the homes are comfy and inviting—no austere desert museums here. Every property feels like an old friend welcoming you home, happy to see you and inviting you in to come kick your shoes off, put your legs up and just relax for a while.

We decided to stay at Godwin Ranch and Adobe on this trip—two properties on one big expanse of desert that can be rented separately or together. As we approached Godwin under an inky blue night sky, the property’s golden lights twinkled and shined brightly, lighting our way. Pulling up to that familiar desert silence all around, we were instantly charmed stepping out of our cars and suddenly hearing old 1930’s tunes calling out to us from the house. We followed the music up the porch steps, past the wagon wheels and right into the sweetest little piece of vintage desert heaven we’ve ever seen. Somehow that desert drive must have opened up and landed us straight into 1937…except with wifi.

We only have one house rule for the desert though: it’s off-the-grid time. Which means putting away all phones and just being present with your friends, leaving the rest of the world behind completely. Time to relax, unwind, share in good conversation, take in the stillness of the desert, feel the simple joy of being together…and maybe even brush up on your lassoing skills.

But our absolute favorite desert pastime is cooking and sharing big family meals together. Everyone brings groceries to load up the fridge with provisions for the weekend. (Stopping at Hadley’s natural foods on the way in is always a foodie’s delight on any East Desert road trip.) Throughout the weekend, everyone takes turns making meals, again with one simple rule: if you cook, you don’t clean. On our first morning, the fellas all pitched in to make a giant birthday brunch in celebration of Scoundrel Travis that was insanely delicious: eggs loaded up with fresh veggies, roasted potatoes and peppers, thick-cut bacon and huge chunks of avocado to top it all off. Having a giant family breakfast all together on the porch, wagon wheels framing the endless desert horizon with no other buildings in sight, old timey music humming along in the background, that feeling of absolute timelessness took hold and washed over us. Surely there was nowhere else to be, nothing else to do, no other place that even existed outside of this little desert bliss.

After an enormous meal, everyone knows the best thing to do is dive directly into a pool for a swim. Well at least, that’s what we do…after a brief dance party, of course. Full bellies and all, we piled into the newly refurbished above-ground pool and sank into our floaties for a relaxing turn in the afternoon sun. Thankfully, Godwin Ranch provides you with a plethora of ridiculously wonderful Mexican straw hats to help shield your face from the desert rays as you bask in the afternoon glow. HOT TIP: Bring some floaty recliners and an air pump on your stay—there’s plenty of room for all to float and the half-in, half-out combo keeps you at the perfect temperature.

After pool time, take a moment to curl up with a good book or a good nap on the giant bed swing. Snooze in the hammock, hit up a round of horseshoes, or bring out some board games and puzzles over ice cream, root beer floats and a refreshingly cool cocktail. Dogs are welcome on the grounds with a small pet cleaning fee, so bring your (well-behaved) furry family member along for the desert delights. (Just be sure to clean up after them please!)

There’s absolutely nothing like the beauty of a desert sunset. The world seems to slow down and get still in a way that makes you feel like perhaps you’ve just touched Eternity. Watching the sky shift and change as the sun sets behind the horizon, the entire landscape turning from gold to orange to pink, that voice starts to call out from deep inside you—telling you everything you need to know. Your Answer arrives, even if you didn’t know you were looking for one.

After the sun sets, the stars come out and splash across the night sky like a billion fairy lights strung from above. With so little light pollution, the Milky Way appears early, arching over the property and making it the perfect time for a little outdoor fireside stargazing. Warm up some soup and hot drinks and lay out on the lounge chaises with your binoculars to take in the spectacular light show in the sky. Or hop into the hot tub and watch the stars shoot overhead as you soak in the night’s deep silence.

One thing’s for sure…you come to the desert for fun and relaxation, but you leave with so much more. Unplugging from the world, spending such good quality time with your friends and loved ones, being still for a bit and connecting to that great big desert silence…something shifts inside of you. It’s like feeding your soul something it really needed and you never even realized it. But you’ve gotten your Answer and are ready to head back out into the next leg of your journey with more clarity, focus and optimism. We don’t know how or why this happens exactly, it’s just that good old Desert Magic. And magic should always remain a mystery…

Until next time, Joshua Tree, you are always in our hearts!

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Find out more about Joshua Desert Retreats properties:

Read the first part of our story on Pioneertown & Charles Bradley: HERE

Read about our Joshua Tree Stargazing adventure at Adobe House: HERE

Words by Christina Huntington // Photography by Sarah Prikryl

Contributing Photograph by: Sharon Mozgai

© 2016 Sirens and Scoundrels


  1. Nechama says

    I just read this piece only one day after leaving Godwin Ranch having been there for a week and the feelings and sentiment are exactly the same. Our family of 5 came, ate, swam, relaxed, hashed out all our quarrels, cooked, slept, hiked, played, blew bubbles, got some questions answered and clarity, watched baby bird eggs hatch and take first flight….. it’s surreal to see all your pictures and remember the images with our faces in them. Amazing times, amazing place and so grateful to Greg and his vision.

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