Desert Sounds and Joshua Trees

The Chevrolet Traverse in Pioneertown, CA. Photo Credit: Arturo Hilario

We took the new Chevy Traverse on the road, and a bit off the road too

Arturo Hilario

El Observador

The Joshua tree is a compelling looking tree that exists in a few unique regions in Southern California around San Bernardino County, as well as parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

A two hours’ drive from the closest metropolis, Los Angeles, the desert provides a fascinating environment, more so if one is equipped with the proper tools for the journey out there.

During a recent music road trip from LA to Joshua Tree a few members of the media had a chance to test out Chevrolet’s 2018 Traverse “Redline” Premiere Edition. The Traverse is a mid-size SUV which can seat up to 8, and with Wi-Fi 4G and a stereo system complete with SiriusXM radio, music was the method driving out from LA to Joshua Tree.

Once we were out in that expanse of flat, glistening desert and rock formations, we would be headed to Joshua Tree and Pioneertown to touch base with the music history of the area, as well as find out how the allure of such a place continues to attract people in music industry to this day.

The Desert Dagger

Yucca brevifolia is the species name of the iconic Joshua Tree. In Spanish it is referred to as the “izote de desierto”, or “desert dagger”. It’s current English designation comes from Mormons who, when first seeing the trees, were reminded of a bible story where Joshua reached his arms out in the sky in prayer. Its iconic, twisting and bushy but sharp branches are both a testament to its survival technique in the desert, and its draw to the Southwest by artists and those curious to explore such a place.

Located in the Lost Horse Valley and close to where Coachella takes place, the Joshua Tree region has the vast space and beautiful scenery to give anyone some sort of emotional response. Many musicians, writers and artists have come, surveyed, and used the imagery of the area for their music, books, and paintings.

Bono of U2 once said of the American desert, ““I love being there, I love America, I love the feeling of the wide-open spaces, I love the deserts, I love the mountain ranges.

As we drove around the desert on a bright, 75-degree February day, there was definitely the feelings of awe that might’ve been felt by the members of U2. This place had had a profound effect on them, and they had their album photo sessions here for their critically acclaimed ode to the open space of America, “Joshua Tree”.

Though we didn’t listen to their fifth studio album on the drive, (would that be too cliché?), we did use the Traverse’s onboard SiriusXM to listen to tunes, specifically the “SiriusXM Chill” station.

Navigating both the desert and the playlists was simple through the Chevrolet MyLink which sports an 8″ diagonal Color Touch screen.

Throughout the drive, the relaxing lo-fi and smooth electronic music accompanied fantastic views, first of the bustling, palm tree lined Los Angeles cityscape, later replaced by the sparse desert and its Joshua Trees.  

Red, Red, Drive

The Redline edition of the Traverse is part of special edition Chevrolet vehicles that have a sporty, street look with red accents, (hence the “line”) on the glossy black aluminum wheels, as well as a black grille, and various other details designated to this fleet of slightly more aggressive looking versions of the vehicles.

The Traverse I drove was the color “Silver Ice Metallic”, and the Redline details popped out more than what I’ve seen from other color models, not to say that those aren’t as slick looking either. (Personally, the black shade of Redline editions are my favorite aesthetically).

Pink Studio, Not A Mirage

One of our stops as we journeyed from city to desert was the Pink Satellite Studios in Joshua Tree. A residential recording studio, it’s perched atop a small patch of raised land off a dirt road, (the roads are definitely on Google Maps though which was good for us). It is literally pink, with various murals painted on outer walls, and a house adjacent to it, also pink.

Getting there was great, as we got to really try out some dirt roads at some points which the Traverse handled with ease. Our entourage of 6 Traverses pulled up into this mirage of a place, and besides a tour of the fully equipped sound studio, we were in for a neat surprise.

There we met Queen Keyboardist Spike Edney, founder of the Pink Satellite Studios. As we ate some tacos with a jaw dropping view, one story he told still rings with me: One afternoon he was enjoying the outside views of the desert and the mountain ranges in the distance, with a margarita in hand, when he first caught wind of the now very well-known musical artist Adam Lambert (of American Idol fame).

Edney’s wife hurried him indoors to listen to Lambert perform a cover of the band Edney was part of, and he very quickly got in touch with the Queen manager and began the process which would lead to the project now known as Queen + Adam Lambert.

After this very very great experience, our journey continued from Pink Satellite Studios to our final stop, Pioneertown.

Pioneertown, USA

As the sun set on our journey and on the Lost Horse Valley, we drove through the highway leading to Pioneertown. Shadows cast over the trees of Joshua, with their “arms” up into the sky, or sometimes to the side, giving this place on otherworldly majesty at the twilight hour.

In Pioneertown we decided to take some final photo ops with the Traverse amongst the old wooden buildings that were made up to look like an old western town for Hollywood films and TV shows starting in the 1940’s. There is a working post office amongst the buildings with a sign claiming, “The Pioneertown post office is said to be the most photographed post office in the entire United States.”

As the sky turned hues of purple we drove our Traverse off the main street of the cowboy town back to home base for the night, the Pioneertown Motel.

As the rest of the group of reviewers and crew for the trip regrouped after the day of driving through Sunset Boulevard to the dirt and sand “roads” leading to the Pink Satellite Studios, we settled in at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace for dinner.

What struck me the most after 13 or so hours of traveling around the area in the Traverse was how comforting the drive was, and how comfortable it was too. And now as we were here, seated and having our table chat, a band came on stage.

Pappy & Harriet’s is known for their live music, along with being pretty much the only place in the area open at night. The band, called Neila Dar, had originated from Italy and moved to the region because of the allure of Joshua Tree. They said between songs, this place was “home now”. And then the music carried on.