It’s 6.am, on this beautiful frosty November morning, at the Harmony Motel, my favorite part of my day. It is my time with the desert, and I savor every moment of desert’s luxurious mornings she graciously gives me each day. I am sitting at my favorite patio of the Harmony Motel with a cup of coffee, eagerly awaiting the Sun to make her majestic rise. She rises slowly and steadily this morning at dawn, spreading her beautiful rays of red and dark orange throughout the east side above the horizon, illuminating the sky with her brilliant colors. The sun is mesmerizing me as she turns into a deep golden yellow, allowing daylight to peep lazily onto the world.
The Sun creates an enlightening, warm, vivid picture of her full magnificence on the desert landscape. Her beauty is truly authentic, and she is not shy to flaunt this in front of me. I breathe in her rays of vitality, and she energizes my entire being, making me ready to experience a day full of joyous energy.
I smell the fresh earth of the desert, and I notice that the fig tree in the Harmony garden is shedding her dry leaves. The leaves are slowly falling to the ground in bright colors of deep yellow, gold and browns, reminding me that the vibrant fall is fully here. The leaves, colored in these earthy tones spread across the gardens, creating a gift wrap image, which echoes a crinkling sound as you walk on them. This natural decoration in the garden brings in the festive mood of the season, making thanks-giving a full reality in this quite harmonious world. Fall is my joyous season.
Ah!!! The great tradition of the American Thanks-Giving is …..”Setting aside time to give thanks for one’s blessings this is almost as old as the settlement of the North American continent itself,” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ American thanksgiving truncated).
This thanksgiving season I celebrate my tenth anniversary as the owner of the harmony motel. My heart is filled with gratitude, going down memory lane to the experiences I have had, as the owner. In the spirit of thanks, I share my story with you:
I am South African in Nationality, but my origins are East Indian. 12 years ago I emigrated from South Africa to the US. My choice to live in the US as a resident was made, when I tragically lost my mom to a brutal crime in South Africa (two years after my arrival in the US). My professional background when I left South Africa was in teaching/training and change management consultancy.
Hence, my move to the US presented me with significant challenges and changes, not only in location, (that is from one continent to another and every other problem that goes with being an immigrant). But more importantly a challenge in the evolution of my professional field.
I took over the ownership of the Harmony Motel in 2004. For me, it is and has been a labor of love. I have created a peaceful oasis that is a gateway to Joshua Tree National Park. During my remodeling, I was inspired and motivated by not only the location of the motel, but also by the history of this roadside motel, especially by the name “Harmony” and the” music notes” that adds character to the identity of the motel.
Together with my staff our goal is to ensure that this lodging facility is harmonious with its environment and that it provides a tranquil, joyous atmosphere to all our guests. We offer more than just the room experience that a traditional motel gives you.
The Harmony boasts a charming exterior corridor, with a front office courtyard that is designed in an L shape. The patios from the rooms offer our guests incredible views of the Joshua Tree Mountains and wilderness of the Mojave Desert. Our room offers all amenities of a traditional motel, with simple artistic décor and a home away from home experience. We have a refreshing cold pool, and a tantalizing hot tub to soak up and star gaze from.
Our guests meet our friendly desert critters that hang out in the gardens or on the grounds of the Harmony this provides a genuine desert wilderness experience. From the Harmony, our guests can experience amazing sunrises, sunsets, and different shades of desert light that makes the landscape authentic to the desert, full moons, and excellent stargazing opportunities.
Twenty-nine palms (a Joshua Tree Gateway Community) is the city in which the Harmony Motel is located; this is also a city in which the headquarters of Joshua Tree National Park, founded itself, known as the north entrance to the park. Many of the murals of this city reveal the pioneering history of this rural city. As a single female entrepreneur that has emigrated from one continent to another, I happily embrace this pioneering spirit.
To all my patrons and American friends that helped me become a success, I say thank you, and words cannot express the gratitude that I feel towards you, as I approach this 10th year anniversary, this December 2014.
I would like to extend a special thanks to the community of 29 palms for supporting the Harmony Motel and me, (as a single female foreigner investor that is ready to take her citizenship soon in the USA).
The following article was written by a travel writer Kate Thomas, on Harmony Motel, for one of the largest travel blogs in the world, Expedia.com.
A view from Travel with Kate August 29, 2014 Winter, Road Trip, Outdoors, National Parks, Fall, California, Adventure,
Joshua Tree National Park, in southeastern California, is a dazzling natural playground for hikers, cyclists, rock climbers, and all-around outdoor enthusiasts. The park is located an hour’s drive northeast of Palm Springs. Its nearly 800,000 acres are covered with rock formations, unique shrubbery, palm trees, and, of course, those iconic Joshua trees. It all provides a commanding escape from city life. Joshua Tree is open (and accessible) year-round. But to avoid the heat, it’s best to visit between October and April. Drive in from out of town or fly into Palm Springs and rent a car. Entrance to the park is US$15 per vehicle; each entry pass covers seven days of access. It is easy to get an immersive experience in the park, whether you camp or find lodging in a nearby town.
For non-campers (like me!), it is best to stay right along Highway 62 in Twentynine Palms (yes, that’s really the name of the town). The small town has a handful of motels and restaurants, most of which are located right off the highway. Conveniently, the town also sits only minutes away from the park entrance at the Oasis Visitor Center.
On a recent trip, I stayed at Harmony Motel, a charming inn on Highway 62 with an amusing history—members of the band, U2, stayed here while working on their 1987 album, “The Joshua Tree.” The motel has spacious and clean rooms equipped with ample air conditioning and free WiFi. There is a pool and a hot tub, both of which look out on the sprawling desert and towering mountains. As soon as I checked in, I wished I was staying for more than one night.
I arrived at the motel on a Friday with an ambitious schedule for the next morning: To wake up before dawn to experience the park as the sun began to rise over the desert. In the dark the next morning, I made the short drive from the motel to the entrance into Joshua Tree National Park off Highway 62 at the Utah Trail. As I drove along the flat, winding road the sun began to spread light over the surrounding desert. I watched out the window as the terrain morphed around me. It went from a barren desert with no signs of life to a varied landscape inhabited by trees. Large boulders and rock formations appeared. And mountains rose high in the distance. In some areas I saw nothing but palm trees; in other areas, it was all Joshua Trees, all the time. I couldn’t help but get out of the car every few minutes to take pictures.
After quite a few photos, it was time to set out along a trail. There were many options, each with its own level of difficulty. Among the trails I considered were the Fortynine Palms Oasis trail, a 3-mile loop takes you up 300 feet each way in and out of the valley to a tranquil spring and cluster of palm trees; and the Ryan Mountain trail, another 3-mile hike with an incline on the way in and great views at the top. There also were a number of nature trails that didn’t appear to include much of an incline. Ultimately, I ended up choosing the Hidden Valley walk, a 1-mile nature trail loop around a beautiful area bordered by rock formations. On the ensuing hike, I saw rock climbers in action, scaling a steep rock face with professional equipment.
Without a harness and lines I was able to scramble up some boulders to get new vantage points on the valley. A sunrise drive and nature walk turned out to be an ideal way to experience the park on a summer morning; by 9:30 a.m., it was beastly hot. Despite never having camped or even spent more than a half-day in the park, I found the experience fully enriching. There’s no question I’ll be back in the fall or winter to spend more time exploring Joshua Tree on longer hikes (and maybe even for a rock climb).
For a comprehensive list of trails, walks, and activities inside the park, go to the park’s official website here. I know I’ll be looking at that page again soon.
Click on link to view article :http://viewfinder.expedia.com/palm-springs/day-trip-to-joshua-tree… Viewfinder Tip: Be sure to bring lots of water and snacks when hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. The middle of the desert can be even hotter than you expect it to be.
The Hang Town Hikers.
I feel totally relaxed and comfortable on my favorite chair, as I view the amazing critter activity in my desert garden this gorgeous spring morning. The refreshing cool breeze and the warm sunlight strokes my skin gently, this magically rejuvenates and uplifts my spirits, whispering to me, the appearance of my most favorite season of the year, yes! Bright, beautiful and blossoming spring always awakens my soul to the wonders of Mother Nature.
In the desert spring is very flirtatious with her climate, some days she is light and breezy or she can be cheerfully sunny, sometimes she gets moody and places a damper on your day, (rudely interrupting your plans), by showing up overcast, rainy, damp, windy and cold.
Spring generally glitters and glow in colors that are bright greens, purples, warm pinks, oranges and yellow as she paints the desert landscape with sweet smelling wildflower blooms. She Rejuvenates the desert wilderness with blankets of green grass, fragrant smelling flowers, sweet sounds of chirping humming birds, merry quail families and over protective fussing doves that are nesting high up in the trees.
My desert garden is always a delightful picture of my favorite desert critters buzzing with joy and love, obviously happy to meet all their friends at their favorite play place, after a cold, dry and harsh winter. I hear chatting from the critters?
Mr. Tortoise whispers to Mr. Bunny “did you notice Ash is so happy, she did not even shoo Mrs. Red Racer away, when she found her in the garden this morning.”
“Off course she is always full of joy and happiness in spring because her favorite guests will soon be arriving”, replied Bunny.
“And who may I ask are they?” squeaked Lizzie,
“Or come on Lizzie don’t you know them”, replied Mrs. Red Racer in her husky voice.
“The famous “ Hangtown Hikers” the biggest fans of the Harmony, they adore Ash, love the desert wilderness, and totally appreciate critter land. They have been coming to the Harmony for the last nine years; they are a merry crowd that is always full of laughter and always in the mood for their happy hour celebrations.” Expressed bunny in a happy tone of voice.
“That’s right,” cried out Mr. Roadrunner,” “I like them too, they love Joshua Tree Park, always going on their long hikes and they enjoy eating at their favorite restaurants in town. Every year they do my favorite trail, the boy Scott Trail.” explained chirpy Mr. Roadrunner.
“I wonder why they call themselves the Hangtown Hikers.” (Whispered Tortoise to himself), to which Bunny chuckled,
“I know, on the last trip I heard Bob the leader explain the history of their name to Ash.”
“So it’s time for a story Bunny,” shouted Roadrunner delightfully.
Mr. Roadrunner than proceeded to instruct everyone to find a seat on the comfortable dirt. Bunny cleared his throat and began to narrate the historical story of the name of the town Placerville (as to why it once was notoriously called Hangtown).
Bunny loved the attention from his friends, he squealed with laughter, as he began narrating the story with excitement in his voice. “as history explains after the discovery of gold in nearby Coloma, California by James W. Marshall in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, the small town now known as Placerville than was called Dry Digging’s (after the manner in which the miners moved cartloads of dry soil to running water to separate the gold from the soil).
Later in 1849, the town earned its most common historical notorious name, “Hangtown”, because the miners quickly became short-tempered, and with the rising crime rate and the lack of readily-available law enforcement, they took the “law” (or lack thereof) into their own hands. Criminals were punished in short order, whether it be flogging or hanging, based on snap decisions made by impromptu courts with hastily-formed juries.
The first lynching in the camp, a triple hanging, came after a gang of five tried to rob a miner of his gold dust. However someone in in the crowd of 2,000 said he recognized three of the five (two Mexicans and one Yankee, that had been involved with a murder on the Stanislaus River).
The three suspects were hanged together from the huge oak tree in camp. The location of this well-used hang in’ tree is marked by an effigy dangling by his neck from the second story of the Hangman’s Tree Historic spot in downtown Placerville. The stump is said to be in the cellar. That is how the Town Placerville acquired its historical notorious name “Hangtown” as there were many such hangings during this period in the town.”
Bunny continued, “So my dear critter land that is why our dear friends from Sacramento call themselves the “Hangtown Hikers”
“I get it they like the history of their towns name,” whispered tortoise.
“Or maybe there name indicates that they will not tolerate bad behaviors from their hiking team, like the pioneers of their town” suggested Roadrunner.
“Gosh I rather be on my best behavior the next time they are here stuttered anxious Mrs. Roadrunner”.
“Yes, listen to Ash, you need to hide yourself the when her guests are around because they are afraid of you,” Lizze uttered naughtily.
The above information on the history of Placerville was taken from:
http://www.comspark.com/chronicles/hangtown.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placerville,_California