I was a little worried about taking my road trip out to Joshua Tree last weekend when it had been raining on and off for a couple of days in LA.
But the tour that was bringing me out to the desert (more on that soon) was rain or shine, so I bit the bullet and went.
As I drove west, the sky increasingly cleared up with every mile farther from the ocean, so I became heartened—until I arrived.
It was pretty gloomy, which would've been OK except that I'd booked an Airbnb where I'd be sleeping on a queen bed outside.
I like venturing outside of my comfort zone with the places I stay overnight; and when I found myself driving north on Sunset until the pavement ended...
...onto a section not maintained by the county...
...I knew I'd done just that.
After hanging a left on Vine, I saw my first clue that it had been raining in Joshua Tree: a huge puddle.
But I ventured forth down a road that used to be a real road and used to be paved, bobbing and weaving my way around potholes and crumbling asphalt, realizing sometimes that it's better if a dirt road had never been paved at all.
I knocked gently on the front door of the Soncco Wasi Home of the Heart "church," and I was greeted by Kiki the blue macaw. Since I'm a proud bird nerd, I thought this was a good sign.
I immediately connected with a little sweetie pie who liked scratches all over, but especially under her collar.
I'd seen places like this before—someone's got a big backyard, and they decide to build and rent out a variety of cabins so they can make a little money and meet (or perhaps convert?) travelers from all over.
Like many, this one had a couple of domes, two stone labyrinths for meditative walking...
...and various other accoutrements for peaceful, sacred living (at least for one night).
I was actually impressed with my accommodations when I saw them—a sandbox that gave the illusion of sleeping en plein air...
...but still had some kind of protective covering draped over the top of it.
More importantly to me, since I like to keep to myself and don't care much for socializing with my hosts or fellow guests, it was separate from the dark, crowded house where all the campers and the dome-dwellers converged into a single common area.
There was a fire pit that went unkindled, a bird cage without a bird in it...
...and a no-frills outdoor shower.
It had all the makings for a romantic, bohemian, mystical and magical overnight stay.
But, seeing that fabric had been draped around the bed but not on top of it, I asked, "What happens if it rains?"
"You'll get wet," my host admitted. "We usually don't rent it out when it rains, but it wasn't supposed to rain today." When she saw my worried face—given the fact that it most definitely looked like rain—she said that I could come in and sleep on one of the couches if I had to. I really hoped I wouldn't have to.
I tried to make myself comfortable as the sun went down, working on my computer and reading a book. But the rest of the guests were more boisterous than I would've expected at such a "sacred" place, where I had to promise to be respectful and loving and sober in order to just rent the room. Every time the parrot called out, it sounded like a human in distress. And every time a breeze kicked up, my sandbox smelled like a cat's pan. It was unpleasant to say the least. And it made me miss my cat.
I somehow managed to fall asleep despite the noise and the stink, but I woke up around one in the morning because of another disturbance: raindrops falling on my face.
It was a light sprinkle so far, so I decided to stick it out. I really didn't want to sleep inside the house—on a couch, no less, especially for the $65 I'd paid for what was supposed to be somewhat of a "glamping" experience.
As it was, there had been nowhere in the sandbox to put my stuff to protect it from thieves or desert wildlife, so I'd put it in the bed with me. But now that it was raining, I had to make sure everything was tucked in tight under the covers with me.
And because I couldn't sleep with rain hitting my face, I hid that under the covers, too.
Fortunately for me—and my stuff—the sky never really opened up and let loose on the desert below. I fell back to sleep when it had stopped sprinkling, but then woke up when it started up again a couple of hours later, and then again for the final time at 6 a.m.
It's a shame because clearly my hosts were trying to make this a place where people would want to linger, but I couldn't wait to get out of there.
And even though my "room" charges and fees were refunded (thanks to a series of late night tweets and emails and an early morning phone call with Airbnb's customer service), I still felt shortchanged. I would've paid somebody to make sure I didn't get rained on. I should've been paid to stay there!
But that's what you get when you're up for adventure and want to try something new. It doesn't always work out. You're going to come across some duds. You can't always take things at face value.
And after everything I've been through in life, a little fall of rain can hardly hurt me now.
Here's the listing that lured me to the rainy cat box:
My High Desert Hideaway
A Getaway Within a Getaway
Photo Essay: Glamping it Up