FINDING THE JOSHUA TREE.
In 1987, U2 released their fifth album, The Joshua Tree, inspired by America and the open expanse of the desert. Contrary to popular belief, the packaging was photographed in Death Valley (not Joshua Tree National Park), with the cover's group shot taken at Zabriskie Point (See my previous List). But what about the namesake tree on the back cover?
- •It's still there.Following scattered intel from a buncha different websites, message boards, and comments threads, the actual Joshua tree from U2's album lies somewhere in the Mojave desert along Route 190.
- •At first, we followed coordinates.Someone dropped coordinates on the location. Because there's no phone service hours into the desert, we typed them into my car GPS. But, my SUV could only handle so much off-roading. I pulled up to a drop-off over a dry bed, parked the car, and we started hiking. The car read 40 degrees, but with the gusts shooting down the pass from the snow-capped mountains, it had to be in the low 30s, maybe less. After braving the cold, we realized that the coordinates were inaccurate.
- •We got back in the car, and followed some other directions pulled from the Internet.One helpful account told us to look for some cracked bottles, and more importantly, a wash off the side of the highway. There would also be a tree in the distance (documented in a photo) to let us know we were in the right spot. Somehow, we found the landmark. Next, we were to walk 300 yards to our right. Into nothingness.
- •I couldn't feel my hands or my face after a few minutes, walking headfirst into the wind.Even Bono said, at the time of their shoot: "It was freezing and we had to take our coats off so it would at least look like a desert. That's one of the reasons we look so grim." Half-jogging, half dancing around weeds and potential desert snakes, we finally caught a glint of something in the far distance.
- •The Joshua Tree.Which, had now fallen victim to the elements. Apparently, some maniac also took a chainsaw to it a few years back. The band had settled on the joshua tree because of its religious connotations. The branches looked like they were reaching to the heavens.
- •And yeah, in many ways, the experience felt almost religious.Like, the world's best scavenger hunt.
- •We weren't the only ones to find The Joshua Tree.
- •There was so much cool memorabilia, beautiful keepsakes, and sentimental notes left at the altar.
- •"Have you found what you're looking for?"
- •Anna's phone just so happened to be set to "Running to Stand Still."
- •"Leave it Behind"And so, we did.
- •Everyone in my office this morning made fun of me for chasing U2's legacy around the desert, but I don't care! It was pretty special, and I'll go back.With or without you.