With the pandemic still looming onwards and California lifting its latest Stay-At-Home orders, we at Magnetic wish you all safe travels wherever the roads may take you. In the spirit of embracing the unknown, we hope to inspire your next desert adventure for a much-needed change of scene.
If you've ever been to the High Desert, it has an energy unlike anywhere on Earth. A land that seems to expand the mind and spark your imagination for anyone seeking space – for experimentation, or for some silence.
We invite you to slow down, relax, and get inspired with an eclectic mix of local spots and happenings along with our guest and desert local Juan Espinoza.
BEFORE YOU GO
It is essential to be mindful whenever you travel. No matter where you are coming from, get tested for COVID to ensure you are in the clear. For your sake, and others.
Stop the spread and plan ahead (at least 3 days) during non-peak seasons. Schedule a test on Curative or look up nearby counties' websites to find active testing sites.
You know that feeling when you fall in love with a corner of the world? Where you feel like there's no where else you would rather be... and you can just melt into the moment and simply BE. Well, that's how it felt calling The Merchant House our home away from home.
The Merchant House is a dreamy Spanish-style desert oasis nestled in the lofty hills of Morongo Valley. Surrounded by its own little vortex of native plants and eucalyptus trees, the Merchant House is a living concept and gallery space offering a comforting desert escape – beautifully curated by mother & daughter design duo from Venice-based boutique Merchant Modern.
With museums on lockdown, staying at the Merchant House is the next best thing. Room by room, you will find every detail meticulously balanced from a tasteful selection of vinyls to a superb collection of designer goods crafted by artisans from around the world. If you happen to be near Venice Beach, swing by their shop Merchant Modern or view their online gallery here.
The private grounds surrounding the property are composed of a meditation hut, labyrinth path, bath tub, sculpture garden, outdoor showers, and a cowboy tub to boot. We came on the first day of snowfall, which added a touch of magic to our dream-like 2-night stay.
The only downside of the Merchant House is that you may never want to leave.
A morning ritual for a happy gut. Prepare your body and mind for the day ahead with an immunity-boosting shot – chocked full of anti-inflammatory prebiotics.
For that extra spice of life, we slow-infused a Hemp Immunity Tonic flavored by Bay-area born Potli with the Awaken Apple Cider Vinegar and homegrown Feel Good Hemp Raw Honey.
Add more dimension with fresh fruits, herbs, and spices like rosemary, eucalyptus, chiltepin peppers, cinnamon sticks, and kumquats for a tantalizing zest to start the morning off. Using a glass vessel like Crucial Detail Porthole Infuser helps blend all the ingredients for a good soak overnight deepening the flavors even further.
Take a stroll through the labyrinth maze and walk up the private path to the Meditation Hut in the Merchant House's quaint backyard. The morning winds can be a bit brisk in the valley, so make sure to bundle yourself up in a warm layer like the Gossamer x OFFHOURS Homecoat.
Many eateries are struggling to keep doors open around the country, so follow your cravings and order take-out to support small businesses.
A few local watering holes we like to frequent are:
(1) La Copine Kitchen (Re-opening March 2021) - Divine roadside diner in Flamingo Heights featuring sustainably-sourced feel-good dishes. Womxn-owned & operated.
(2) Villa Bakery - For everything your heart desires from Mexican pan to mouthwatering carne asada combo plates in Cathedral City.
(3) Nature's RX - If you're on a detox kick, grab a green juice from Nature's Health Food & Cafe in Palm Springs.
While you're out and about, dip into local shops to dig up some treasures. On our way back to the Merchant House, we copped a delicate orange wine and eye-swooned at crystals from Wine & Rock Shop in Joshua Tree.
And for some old-school thrifting, you can't go wrong at Revivals sprinkled all over the valley. You can never have enough vintage Nancy Drew books or vinyls of Rick Astley, ami'right or ami'right.
The first snowfall arrived just in time for us to get back safely and soundly to the Merchant House. To experience the winter wonderland, we hopped into the bathtub for a mid-afternoon soak.
Swirl in a scoop of Not Pot CBD Bath Soak and freshly-plucked eucalyptus leaves, easing into the softness of golden hour.
The kitchen at Merchant House is so-darn cute that it really fires up your creativity. For our first night, we pieced together a toasty homestyle pizza topped with a rosemary-garlic tomato sauce, shallots, jalapeños and summer sausage.
The star of the show was the Potli full spectrum hemp-infused Extra Vibrant Olive Oil as a finishing oil – pairing harmoniously with the orange wine. *chef's kiss*
Getting a digital detox before sleep time is crucial – especially when traveling. With a full day of so many new experiences to process, getting a good night's sleep is just what your body needs to make new memories. As a way to discipline my mind before bed, lose yourself in some bedside reading or nibble on some ROSE Turkish Delights, a single-strain flower rosin made with house-pressed seasonal fruits.
Featured here is Racing Alone, a memoir about Iranian-American architect and founder of the CalEarth Institute Nader Khalili – on discovering his SuperAdobe technology for "Earth Architecture" during his midlife crisis in the Iranian desert. His work inspires a community-driven movement to secure the human right to shelter, sparking eco-villages to unbelievable AirBNBs around the High Desert and the world.
You can learn about his pioneering work in sustainable architecture at the CalEarth Institute in Hesperia – a living laboratory and classroom with online courses, workshops and apprenticeship programs.
Rise up at daybreak to catch that first light appearing in the morning skies.
We followed the private trail past the Meditation Hut to get closer to the rising sun. Take the edge off from the biting cold with a morning bowl of greens.
Making our way back from a 0.4 mile path, we take a shot of the Immunity Tonic and pack some fruit for an afternoon hike to get the blood flowing.
One of the best things about the High Desert is the diversity in the landscape. You can hike up mountains in minutes or follow a stream to find small pools to wade in – it just depends on where your heart calls out to.
1. White Water Ecological Preserve
A great trail to see the Coachella Valley far and wide. To begin, find the corner of the Palm Springs Art Museum’s north parking lot, where you will see a sign marking the trailhead for a 2-mile roundtrip and treat yourself to a picnic at the top of the mountain.
1. Mercado Joshua Tree Market
For something unique, get your daily dose of vitamin D and swing by the outdoor pop-up market for high-desert crafts and vintage from local artisans for some socially-distanced fun. Check out their Instagram or website for upcoming market dates.
2. Mon Petit Mojave
Though currently on hiatus, stay tuned for more drive-in concerts or yoga lessons by the folks at Mon Petit Mojave. It's something short of a miracle to experience a live stage under the star-studded desert sky.
Immersive energy machine and geodesic dome structure dedicated to the fusion of science, art, and the magic of sound. Currently only hosting virtual sounds bath here.
(4) Desert X Exhibition - Modern landscape art and collective showcase in Coachella Valley from March - May 2021.
With the freshly-melted snow, it's a perfect time to clean off the outdoor grill for carne asada night.
Marinate skirt steak for 2+ hours in lime juice, Potli EVO oil, and oregano. While the meat is grilling, prepare sides of grilled spring onions and roasted peppers stuffed with queso fresco.
For the final night, make a fresh pot of mint tea and sit by the fire. Foraging dead branches from the eucalyptus trees gives the atmosphere a realm of warmth in the beautifully amber-lit Merchant House.
We hope this sparked some inspiration to embrace the unknown and revel in all the –gratitude, resilience, hope, and wonder – in your own wellness journey.
For more, meet our guest Juan Espinoza on his radical self-care journey and galvanizing social change for his local community.