Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall at the Starlite

{A Guide to Joshua Tree's Starlite Courtyard}

{details from the Starlite}

The newly-rennovated Starlite block in downtown Joshua Tree has become the mini town square and social hang-out for everyone from local artists and musicians to bikers, hippies, Marines, hitchhikers and those eastern European rock climbers with asymmetrical haircuts.

The main courtyard used to be an empty lot hidden behind some scuzzy storefronts until an enterprising young couple bought half the block, gutted it, and redesigned it as a public space for the community. And it's AMAZING. All the work from the construction to the planting was executed by local builders and artists using reclaimed materials. The results are pretty fabulous, wouldn't you say?

 {Mexican pots and native cacti in the Starlite courtyard}

Clustered around the courtyard are several businesses that keep the north side of Highway 62 vibrant. George and Bonnie Kopp moved to the desert years ago after living in New York and LA, and they've never looked back. They run the eclectic and dependably wonderful True World Gallery, where they host a monthly rumpus to celebrate new shows.  Art and wine in the gallery + live music in the courtyard = a perfect night in the desert.

{Secret entrance to the Starlite courtyard on the left; art and scones on the right}

{A glass bottle adobe wall adds a little character to the cactus garden outside the Starlite}

Next door: have Isa make you the best cappuccino in town and don't leave without something from the oven at Teacakes Bakery. Yvonne, the owner and baker behind Teacakes, lets her bread dough rise overnight so that the yeast can ferment juuust a little in the dry desert air. The result is a robust, rustic boule with a spectacular crust I'd call almost-sourdough. It's the best bread I've had in California, hands-down. It's worth the stop, seriously. Just a loaf of that bread and a bottle of wine would make a night of camping in the Park pretty swell.

 {A license plate sign by a local artist points the way to the loo}

Tucked away behind the bakery you'll find Chantale Doyle, who drove around the country in a vegetable oil-powered VW bus for a year before settling in Joshua Tree and starting the ├╝ber-hip, wonderfully quirky, itty-bitty Mount Fuji General Store. Mount Fuji is the only place in the hi-dez where you can get your Japanese tchotchke fix and find books on container houses and straw bale building, as well as Saipua soap, albums by the Byrds, and the New Yorker. It's like walking into a home/design shop in Silver Lake, but with desert taste, no hipsters, and more stuff from Japan. Yess. 

{Gate made from the steel siding of hog transport trucks}

The reason I can barely lift my arms today comes courtesy of Patricia at the heavenly little Instant Karma Yoga Studio. If you're just coming to JTree for the weekend I urge you to check the class schedule and just drop in; classes are all $10 for an hour and a half, and the instructors are all EXCELLENT. Patricia teaches on Wednesdays and Fridays and although she doesn't know it she really helped me get through P.'s deployment to Iraq this past summer.  She is one of the most positive, graceful, lovely women I have ever met.  But you won't be able to move after her core workout on Fridays.

Be sure to stay posted for a gander down the south side of JT, where antique Najavo jewelry, vintage cowboy boots, and Rosa's culinary delights await...

{Door made from steel scrap; thief-deterring pitchfork heads replace unsightly barbed wire}


  1. i LOVE it when bloggers give me a glimpse of their surroundings. the colour and shapes of your pictures are a pleasure to feast on.

  2. public service announcement, this post escaped the "joshua tree posts" tag. i think. <3

  3. Who else is interested in a simple step-by-step plan to design and build a container house from scratch? Build A Container Home From Scratch


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