26. CALIFORNIA -Joshua Tree

Wow. Where do I start…?

OK, here we go; Joshua Tree is one and only place in Johnny’s world that has ever got the title “my favourite place on Earth” Now, Johnny doesn’t give these titles easily, the place has to earn it. (He’s been here 5 years ago for a few weeks, climbing, hiking and such so had a solid foundation of his statement)

We’ve been scooting around in the state for over 3 months and been to really great places and met wonderful people. We meant to cross the border for Mexico probably 2-3 weeks ago but we always thought we had to go to Joshua Tree before we leave the country and I guess, also conveniently as being right south, we wanted to leave the best for last 🙂

But before I get to telling you about Joshua Tree, here’s something life brought to us (again). We travelled across this area back in March (on our way to Arizona) so we knew a good spot for the night (BLM land along Hwy 274 south of Barstow), and a sweet little cafe (Cafe 274 in Lucerne) for breakfast before we get to Joshua Tree. In the morning we set off and headed to Cafe 274 for a homemade breakfast and coffee. Here we bumped in to the same man, Ray who we met back in March and thoroughly enjoyed his company. With a big cheer, we greeted each other as old friends and he sat down at our table. Ray is really a ray of sunshine in anyone’s life. He is a very good-hearted man with a kind smile and the most optimistic belief in life. He rescues horses’ lives from places where they’ve been badly treated or neglected. He runs his own business from his own strength and support on a land where water and vegetation is seldom but this old cowboy lives and breaths horses and this morning he just lost one. Through his kind smile we saw his long term fatigue pain and we let him talk. His positive view on life shone through the conversations and we were just happy sitting there and listening to him for a couple of hours. For some reason, we bumped in to Ray twice, though we only had a chance to enjoy his company for a short time on both occasions, he sure touched our hearts. After this pleasant two hours he said goodbye and drove off in his old Bronco.

Betti and Ray Lucerne, CA May 2013

Betti and Ray
Lucerne, CA
May 2013

We moved on as well after breakfast (which was more like lunch) and reached Joshua Tree in the mid afternoon hours.
Johnny found a pretty good sounding RV park in Joshua Tree (the town) We had some domestic duties (cleaning, washing sheets, filling up with water and stuff) so a couple of nights in an RV park is in order. Besides it really sounded brilliant -Peaceful sites, Mojave desert night sky, water, lake, ducks, facilities in good condition etc (Joshua Tree Lake RV Park) And on our arrival, everything was as promised + friendly owners. There were 3-4 RV’s already parked up there but the site was huge and we tucked ourselves away in the far corner so it was peaceful and quiet. We planned to stay a couple of nights here then one or two nights in the National Park then head south to the border.
On our first day, after being busy with cleaning and tidying I left Johnny touch up a few things on Burt while I went to hang out by the lake for a few hours. Just chilling out with the ducks.

my guarding ducks Joshua Tree, CA May 2013

my guarding ducks
Joshua Tree, CA
May 2013

Later that evening John said that we had a visitor earlier, Bill -one of our neighbours, and he will pop over for a beer soon. And there he was, Bill From The Ville, with a larger than life personality, with energy of a golden retriever and with huge appetite for LIFE. He absolutely loved Burt -that was the thing attracted him in the first place, though not having much sense or interest in the mechanical background of the vehicle, it was actually a fresh breeze of air for a change not to explain and get into endless technical details (no offense :)) Bill had a wonderful sense of humour, a deep interest in us as humans, a generosity to share part of his life’s stories and a pair of eagle eyes for a photographer/ documentary filmmaker.
Bill is from Kentucky and is here to document the 11th Joshua Tree Music Festival that his childhood friend organises right here at this lovely spot in the Mojave Desert in about 10 days time. This year he came 2 weeks early to make sure he had good “making of” shots setting it up, and was staying in a “borrowed” RV. As a man from Kentucky in the Mojave, he had amusing stories about this experience such as; one windy night his RV was rocking so bad he rather spent the night sleeping in the men’s loo sitting upright on a camping chair!

He told us about the festival and about the people involved who are organising, designing and setting it up with such love and enthusiasm. He happened to mention that they could do with some help and they welcome volunteers. I could see the twinkles in John’s eyes who said “well we have tools, Betti likes painting, we also have a couple of days to spare so we could offer help…

And we did. OK, it wasn’t such a straightforward decision (we thought my visa was running out and have only a few days but that’s just one reason) Johnny and I love discussing everything, analysing, discussing more, sleep-on-it, and talk it over again. As almost everything in our lives this topic was like that too. “Shall we do this or shall we just move on as planned?” One minute we felt this way, the next that way. Some point I felt moving on and John the opposite then the other way round.

Before everything, as we planned already for the following day, after Bill’s visit we scooted into the Joshua Tree Park for hiking, climbing and general chilling. We found a sweet little spot in the furthest campground. The park, the trees, the boulder rocks, altogether the view and atmosphere was spectacular.

JT National Park, CA May 2013

JT National Park, CA
May 2013

JT National Park, CA May 2013

JT National Park, CA
May 2013

We love the desert plants. JT National Park, CA May 2013

We love the desert plants.
JT National Park, CA
May 2013

After a day hike we returned to our spot and found that we weren’t alone anymore. On one side we had a cheerful couple of families who we ended up sharing the campfire with and on the other side was a bunch of college kids arriving around midnight when as far as they concerned the start of the party time was and didn’t stop till laaaaaate…
Anyhow the following day we turned up at the work-in-progress festival site, introduced ourselves to Barnett (the main guy) and immediately we had duties.

Bill, John and Barnett

Bill, John and Barnett



We loved being involved and being busy, productive, helpful and all. It felt good. Johnny and I thought “let’s take this day by day, then we can decide if we still want to stick around for the actual festival” It is an experience itself just to get involved and we were already making friends which was fun. From this point, taking each day as a new decision saying each evening “Let’s turn up for 9AM and see if they still need us, if not we just move on” And each day was followed by another 9AM start. 6 days later we were offered 2 free tickets and a prime camp spot backstage in the hub of the organisers and all the new friends.
And guess what… the night before the festival, John and I were sitting in Burt at the supermarket’s carpark discussing if we should stay!! Eeeer…. how much signs and arrows pointing at the obvious direction did we need???

Finally John said “Something great is going to come out of this” I felt he was right. He turned the engine on and we made a left back to the festival site.

When we arrived at backstage taking our spot a huge cheer greeted us from Gareth, Chris, Travis, Al, Kali, Barnett, Lynn, Sarah and people who we didn’t even know but they heard about us. From that moment on we were part of the gang and as Bill said “and this, my friend, is the MOJAVE MAGIC

One of our finest decisions yet. Eventually I checked my passport, my visa was good for another month. We decided to stay for the tear-down and an extra 3 days with some of the guys who also weren’t in a rush so had some quality time with our new friends.
We came away from this experience with 2 things. 1; trusting our hearts, knowing it only brings GOOD. And 2; Friendships for LIFE.

Thanks Bill.

Bill Stark

Bill Stark


5 thoughts on “26. CALIFORNIA -Joshua Tree

  1. HEY guys . been waiting for you update on JT . loved it and so glad you stayed. I’m hooked on your storys and look forward to more. live on and us with you G.

  2. Hey guys! I finally had few moments to check out your blog! I love it, i will keep checking on your status. Miss you guys, hope to see you soon for the music fest again and again… (twice a yr, May and October!!!).
    Be safe on your trip and enjoy every minute of it, cause the world is indeed a wonderful place! 🙂

  3. Hello hello hello betti, john and burt.
    Amazing to see you are still going and having such a fantastic time.
    Are you gone for good?

    Loads of love and big smiles to you


  4. Hey guys, I had to finally check in and catch up on the rest of the story…so great. That is so funny. I remember waiting for you guys like a lab puppy during sunset, hoping you would show up again and again…and you always did. Thank the stars! No seriously thank the stars in JT at night that lead us to our Destiny. Friends for life. Few people you meet you instantly know “there is something special here”. John was the first face I saw after that epic night in the Loo. The storm had passed, winds died down and I recognized Burt from Marko’s Benz 6 months prior. So awesome he sparked my contact on some level. I remember pulling up to Burt later that night to view the stars. I came in like the Calvary jamming to some Bob Marley in my rented SUV and singing “Don’t Worry… About a Thing, Cause Every Little Thing, Gonna Be Alright!” Still my theme song and ring tone to this day. After that night, I was both touched and inspired by your huge hospitable hearts. In the middle of nowhere, I found everything. Mojave Magic Indeed. For me, friends are my family. Thanks for being such a huge part of me and my wife’s family these last 3 year 2 months. We speak of you 3x’s a week and I still can be quoted in times of trouble….”What would Betti do?” John is a flat out genius and I am more than happy to stay away from technical talk. I know my strengths Betti and no worries. He also happens to be the nicest most gracious kind hearted loving dude I have ever met. I witnessed first hand John’s amazing sense of loyalty to Christian. His dedication to the job of ditch digging in 110 degrees lead him to the point of heat stroke despite my pleads to be reasonable. But Reason has nothing to do with greatness and great people doing great things. Like the very adventure you are on now, like helping a new friend meet a deadline for the festival laying power cables in the sand. Wow. who does that for people you just met? So happy John and You followed your hearts, that speaks volumes for you as people and we need all the good people we can muster right now. I was very fortunate and blessed to be on the right path at the right time in the middle of nowhere with the two of you. If the 70 mph winds did not blow me into the men’s room that epic night, I may have missed John and Burt all together. What I remember about our time together is so good. It feels good to reflect back and laugh at all the stories. In the end, that is our greatest gift we leave behind…how we made people feel. I still drink my coffee and eat my cheese tortilla for breakfast and think of you Betti. John’s level head with a keen sense of humor is what I miss most hearing every day. You both make the perfect couple. Betti, you once consoled me when I had hit my festival / physical limits and we shared a lot together. I remember sobbing like a baby about some family issues…You gently reached across the table in Burt, put your hand on my arm and said, “That is a lot to carry.” I turned 53 this year and have spent the last three years “letting go”. Thank you, your words with your eyes told me all I needed to know. It has not been easy but I have seen the light and have re-prioritized everything. The Mojave Magic continues in Kentucky and I am happy to report, today, all is well. My wife Charisse and I are learning to live with much less, downsizing everyday. It’s making us closer spiritually as well. What may have seemed like a small moment in our friendship has impacted me profoundly like wisdom spoken from the Angels above. And yes Betti, I would consider you an Angel no doubt! John is lucky to have you as his co-pilot in life. I truly hope you hop a ship, plane, train, and automobile and make to to the Cabin on a Hill to celebrate our reunion. “Bill from the Ville” with the Cabin on a Hill somewhere deep in the Red River Gorge between Louisville and Beattyville…Kentucky! We’ll keep the light on for ya! Happy Trails and Big Hugs from your buddy Bill Stark.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *