Joshua Tree California: A-Z West

I don’t want to start out saying I wasn’t excited for this trip. That’s plainly a lie. But when my teachers and classmates came and talked to me about going, I’d always felt my excitement for the trip didn’t match theirs – and they weren’t even coming along. At the end of the school year this year I’d set up a trip to Andrea Zittels A-Z west from April 27th through May 9th . Andrea is a  famous contemporary artist that we’d spent a lot of time studying in my Intro to Contemporary Arts class and had been a continuing source of inspiration for projects since. I became a huge fan of her because of her of her minimalistic philosophies and her hyper-simplified living spaces. Her self contained units are direct influences on the designs for my bus conversion. But even as were excited to meet our heroes, and even though I’d traveled all over the country to compete in swim meets, I was afraid of this trip. Because this trip was the first trip that I’d truly be on my own should something go wrong. I was going alone to do something that was pretty out of my element and had never dealt with rental cars or making connections. I’m sad to say that at twenty three, I’d had my hand held when it came to exploring new avenues.

So the day came and I’d been cramming and working my ass off trying to finish my projects before school ended. I accidentally set up the trip to run through finals week so in order to not miss my final critiques, I had to turn in my stuff and clear out early. My teachers were all on board with the trip because it directly influences my education so I was in the clear. My parents drove me up to Dayton Airport an hour and a half north of Cincinnati and sent me on my way to Cali… or so we thought. The airplane had parts missing and Dayton is so small they didn’t haven the spare parts or mechanics on hand. Long story short, my flight ended up getting delayed 14 hours so I caught the 9am out the following day instead. kinda lame that that flight stole a day of my trip but no worries. The next day everything went smoothly all the way out to palm springs – where I was flying in.

I got my rental, a crappy chevy matrix who’s only redeeming features were its satellite radio, its gas milage and the fact that it ran. Period. This thing sucked. You literally have to floor it just to reach 65mph. Just garbage. I know my bus is going to be as slow as molasses but wow.

That being said I pushed that little pile to its limits. Driving into Joshua Tree I didn’t have an address of the Andreas residence. I knew it was relatively close to town, the town had a relatively low population and I’d had the day to kill so I decided I’d drive around for a while to see if I could just find the complex. I’d driven past other artists residences and saw some earthships both finished and in progress. That was a pretty exciting section of driving but ultimately I ended up in the back hills of the desert on some abandoned service dirt road in my POS Chevy matrix.

If I stopped

The next day I’d spent most of my time getting my bearings.

work at the site

the wash

the kitchen

the composting toilet

joshua tree (the city) itself

joshua tree national park

personal relationships

art in this setting

life in this setting

the community center pancake breakfast

hot springs

thrift shopping

camp fires and too many drinks

nationalities and people you meet

andrea herself

staff and pets

salvation mountain

slab city

the sultan sea ( or whatever that really salty lake was called )

pioneer town

crossroads cafe

palm springs


military base

so called hippy cult

top of the mountain


Nevada girl on the bike

Emily (mama bear of the live in residency down south)

the german guy

the swedish girl and ned

ashley and connie

wind farms

solar farms

disgusting mis use of water

rock climbing




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