Essentials were packed in the trunk – heavy tripods, large-format cameras, down parkas, and single malt Scotch whiskies. My photographer friend and I headed north out of Palm Springs to the clear, cold, 4400-foot elevation of Joshua Tree National Park. Our goals: capture the feel of the spikey, twisted profiles of the park’s eponymous namesakes, photograph star trails overhead, and enjoy some fine whisky during the cold evening and long time exposures of the night sky.
Joshua trees’ gnarled postures and dramatic silhouettes have long attracted artists and photographers. In my mind’s eye, I see the trees in the sepia tones of mid-1800s photography. To Mormon pioneers, the trees evoked images of the biblical hero raising outstretched arms toward the heavens – thus earning their name. Tonight, those same symbolic arms are pointing to Mars, Venus, Jupiter, and countless stars. Over several hours’ exposure to photographic film, the rotation of the Earth rendered the light of the heavenly objects as luminous grooves on a celestial LP.
The black, chilly night called for major warmth from the single malts … only Talisker, Oban and Glenlivet would do. The whisky’s spell delivered on camaraderie, reminiscing, and relaxation. Here, in the Jumbo Rocks Campground, we experienced the ultimate Man Cave!