The best place to sleep in the desert is outside.

I went back to Joshua Tree this week as a visitor. Strange, how you can leave a place one day as a resident and come back as a visitor the next.

I liked being a visitor; I found I had a much greater appreciation for the actual desert part of Joshua Tree living – especially the sky, and the weather at night time.

While I had many opportunities to sleep outside while I lived in Joshua Tree, I rarely did – since my own king-size bed indoors with freshly laundered high-count sheets was always too inviting. This time, though, as a visitor, sleeping outside with Giselle seemed vastly superior to sleeping on a friend’s sofa with two cats, so I did. (No offense to the cats – just that my nose felt itchy.)

I slept on a 20-foot high wooden platform that was built years ago as the beginning of a very cool fort. Well, the fort would’ve been cool if it had been finished (that’s the damnest thing about completeness, it adds imeasurably to a thing’s coolness quotient). As it stands now, it is a just a very sturdy wooden platform with sturdy, narrow wooden stairs all the way to the top. In my friend’s backyard.

And I slept on it. with Giselle.

The first night I didn’t sleep very well, because the wind was too brisk; and challenging the platform’s integrity just a little too much; and I fretted a bit about accidentally rolling off the platform. On the other hand, the clouds were beautiful shades of grey and blue and I watched them off and on through the night, passing over the moon. Giselle did not like being so high up on a platform from which she could not independently descend, so she was buried deeply in my sleeping bag nestled in the crook of my knee.

The second night I slept so deeply, I made up for the first night and more. The moon was nearly full, so there was magic light on the landscape, and the air was still. It felt like a spa sleep, the kind of sleep people would pay extra money for – because the temperature was so right, and the air so clean. Even Giselle crept up to the top of the sleeping bag to sleep with her head out on the pillow next to mine. The air was that good.

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