I love environments I can’t quite process. Where it’s so quirky my brain can’t wrap its head around it all. That is the 29 Palms Inn. Just outside of Joshua Tree National Park, it makes the perfect home-base when you feel like exploring what has become my favorite national park (more on that later). 29 Palms, California is home to the largest Marine base in the country and every Marine does a month of desert training here before going off to Iraq. The desert, not unpredictably, attracts more than its fair share of artists, hippies and those looking for fun in the sun and nature, so the mix is quite eclectic.

The adobes and bungalows aren’t luxury (though more than a handful of celebrities have holed up here over the years since its opening in 1928), but it’s so appealing that we’ve made it home for three days, which is like a month in lizard years (okay, I made that up). Oh, and the restaurant is good too. Thank goodness, because outside of a McDonald’s and a Domino’s pizza, it’s the only option — did I mention 29 Palms is in the middle of nowhere (literally an oasis in the Mojave desert)? That’s the real luxury.

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