Friday, August 01, 2008
Road Trip 1: Joshua Tree
Let's kick off this road trip blogging! Even though I've been in Santa Fe, NM for a few days now, I'm just now getting around to the first update. I'll post on New Mexico soon, but let's start at the beginning. Last Saturday, my roommates and I headed out to Joshua Tree National Park for some bouldering and a perfect start to my two week road trip. We spent about two hours climbing around on boulders, and considering that we had no equipment, I thought we got fairly high on the ridge. It was hot, and I drank lots of water.
Yes, that's me on a boulder.
After a couple of hours of driving through the park and taking more pictures in front of Joshua trees (U2 style), I said goodbye to my roommates and drove through the rest of the park toward Arizona. It had always been a dream of mine to drive through the park listening to U2, and I am happy to say that I did it. It also gave me time to consider why U2 was so drawn to a National Park in the US. It occurred to me that U2 really is an ideal desert band. I'm sure I read this somewhere else—but U2's music seems to mesh really well with a desert landscape. The Joshua Tree, too, seems like a tremendous image of U2's music as well as a microcosm of life. Many of U2's songs seem desolate, but with a pervading melodious hope seeping through the somber lyrics and pace. "Running to Stand Still," "One Tree Hill," "Mothers of the Disappeared," and "Red Hill Mining Town," all stand out on Joshua Tree, but I know that many other songs from the immense U2 catalog also fit this description.
Try listening to the beginning of "Where the Streets Have No Name," and picture yourself in a desert with no signs of life. Just when Edge's guitar picks up, you come around a bend in Joshua Tree National Park, and see the dead land come alive with Joshua Trees and other plant life. U2's songs, like the hearty plants in Joshua Tree, flourish despite a harsh environment. Both provide just the right amount of hope in surroundings that seem anything but favorable. The Joshua Tree, itself, with many tangled branches, often looks as if it might topple over at any moment. Like life (and U2's music), it is complex, tangled, and somehow beautiful. I can only ascribe these thoughts to being physically present in the National Park and simultaneously listening to the songs. As I left the park and headed for Arizona, I passed huge rock piles, which somehow reminded me of piles of bones draped in shadow. Not a great way to exit the park, but still a good reminder of my mortality.
These rock piles looked like bones to me.