Joshua Tree Calling: The Spirit of Gram Parsons


December 2015:  What began as an excursion to get away from the city of sin to clear my mind before the World Poker Tour Five Diamond Main Event turned out to be an overnight stay at a hotel that is said to be haunted.  It was completely unexpected that we would be spending the night at the Joshua Tree Inn as we were planning to spend the night at a campsite. But a severe black out while at Crossroads Diner changed the plans and it was best to find a more comfortable place to rest.


The trip was inspired by my recent vision quest to Shaman’s Cave. I had heard about petroglyphs in the Barker Dam area of Joshua Tree that were suppose to be at a cave called Alister’s Cave.   We started the drive out from Vegas a little too late in the morning and arrived to Joshua Tree with 3 to 4 hours of daylight left to search for the cave.  We stopped at the visitors center and received directions and a trail map of Barker Dam with Alister’s Cave marked on it by the forest ranger.   We headed out in search of the cave but the limited amount of daylight left us with only a hike down to Barker Dam and back.  We noticed a sign on the trail that marked the petroglyphs and rock art so we were in the right area, we just didn’t have enough daylight.  The search for the cave will be continued on the next trip, as our mission got abruptly halted by the turn of events that occurred after night fall.


Once we couldn’t locate Gunsmoke (a rock formation that was a landmark to head west) we decided to continue on to the Barker Dam and loop back to complete the trail.  The dam was pretty interesting, it was a dried up river bed with the man made dam still intact.  A sign marked the landmark and detailed its history.  You could tell this area was once inhabited by early settlers and Native Americans.  The picture at the beginning of this post is of myself standing just downstream of the dam heading west with the sunsetting in the background.  As we looped back around the trail in the direction of the trailhead we noticed a sign that showed a map of the trail with petroglyphs marked on it.  We made an attempt to head in the direction the sign/map pointed but to no avail.

The sunset was painting a pretty picture of the Mojave Desert with purple, pink and blue colors. This park transforms at night into a real life planetarium in the middle of nowhere.  We turned around at that point and made it back to the truck safely.

At this point the sun had set and we were pretty hungry having not ate anything all day.  We headed to town to get dinner  and found a good local diner called Crossroads.  I ordered a black coffee and a grilled ahi sandwich. My coffee had come over first and I began to drink it.  I had brought with me a book called Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism & Psychedelics and was reading the page shown below. While reading it the words started floating off the page and I began to get lightheaded.  I was feeling a sensation of claustrophobia and felt sensitive to the energy of the other people in the restaurant.  I put the book away and the waitress brought over my sandwich.  At that point I began to get a head rush and started to hear a loud ringing in my ears, it was followed by a buzzing sound then my vision turned to all white.  I blacked out face first into my sandwich.  My girlfriend Sarah, who was with me said my eyes rolled into the back of my head, I hunched over and was seizuring slightly while I was unconscious.  I regained consciousness and noticed the waitress and another local who was trained in first aid attending to me.  They both were very nice and offered there assistance in getting me back on my feet.  Water, orange juice and a bowl of chicken soup would be the remedy.

zig zag zen p9

After spending sometime recovering in the restaurant we decided it was best to find a hotel to stay at for the night instead of camping out.  We drove down the main road and just up ahead about a 1/4 mile from the restaurant there was a motel sign on the right and across the street the Joshua Tree Inn.  Sarah was driving and asked me which one we should go to?  I glanced at both and my intuition was telling me the inn on the left would be better.  We parked in front of the inn and since I wasn’t feeling well I had Sarah go in and check the place out.  There were life size rabbit figurines / statues outside of the door that kept grabbing my attention.  Sarah came back to the car and said they have a room and that it looked pretty cool.  I told her to go back in and actually look at the room to make sure its ok before we stay.  She went and came back with approval.

There was music memorabilia decorated through out the lobby that took you back into time as if we were in the late 60’s early 70’s.  We walked to our room and as we passed room 6, Sarah for some reason thought that was our room and opened the door. It was unlocked and to our surprise an old man stepped in the doorway as the door opened. We had the wrong room number and noticed the key said room 9.  We walked past room 8 and there we were.  I didn’t pay much attention to the guitar monument with candles lying on the ground next to it that was outside of room 8. I thought it was weird but didn’t give it any thought.  Can you spot the white/gray orb in the photo below?

Jtree guitar monumnt

We entered room 9 and noticed it had an old nostalgic feel with an Emmy Lou Harris record cover art work hanging on the wall. It was pretty cold out and the room was the same.  The heater on the A/C didn’t work but was quickly fixed by a portable heater that the front desk lady brought to us. She stopped by our room to see if we were ok or needed anything else before she went home for the night. Besides the heater we were fine.

As we got settled in, we noticed strange banging noises that were heard every so often. They seem to come from above and sounded like they were from the other room. It was pretty windy out so we made nothing of it until we decided to google the name of the inn we were staying at.  That’s when it got a little spooky.  As soon as you type in joshua tree inn into google you’ll find a couple of headlines that mention haunting and famous musician dies. The first headline we read was this article from LA Weekly.

Next time we go to an unknown hotel unexpectedly we will know to ask the inn keeper if the place is known to be haunted or if anyone has died there.  That option was too late for us now and I thought it made the night that much more exciting.  Sarah didn’t feel the same but she went with it like a champ.

Check out this video of the room and the guitar monument outside of it.

After reading the posts on the internet about Gram I decided to play some of his music and then light a white candle for him. It is said that when someone passes away, you light a white candle for them and let it burn until it goes out on its own.  To my surprise there was a white candle outside the room on the patio table.  I grabbed it and lit the candle in the room.  We tried to sleep our best but the noises and the thought of the place being haunted kept the sleep to a minimum.  It was around 3am when we were both startled by a loud bang, then a second later the candle went out! It was pretty eery and when I awoke to the noise and seen the candle go out I felt as if there was another presence in the room that went away as the candle went out.  It could have been my imagination but Sarah also heard the noise and seen the candle go out at the same time.  She didn’t sleep at all during the stay. I felt bad.

The next morning we woke up and got ready to go. Sarah took a bunch of pictures in the morning of the hotel. The decor made it seem to be the perfect place to come and take acid or psychedelics. Which fits in well with the Spirit of Gram.  Here are some of those pictures.


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After we checked out of the hotel we decided to head Cap Rock, a famous rock formation deep in the park. This location was referenced in the LA Weekly article as the setting where Gram’s friend took his body to cremate it after he stole it from LAX.  Its quite an interesting story and I took a video of the area that I believe this occurred.

After Cap Rock we left Joshua Tree Park in awe of what had happened.  We never expected to stay at a haunted hotel but that’s the beauty of life.  It’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.  Mahalo for reading about this latest adventure.  Feel free to contact me with your questions or comments.  Aloha!