A native of Wisconsin, Shana Rhodes says she didn’t feel the connection she was hoping for in Portland when she decided to move there.
Intrigued by a documentary about dancer Marta Beckett, who landed in the Mojave desert under interesting circumstances and spoke of the wild horses and amazing sunsets, Shana said to herself, "I have to see this place". She packed her camera and paints and drove to the Mojave to see Death Valley for a two week exploration.
Like Marta, proprietress of Amargosa Opera House in Death Valley, Shana was immediately taken with the unique beauty and solitude of the desert. Wandering through abandoned homestead cabins in Wonder Valley, she became fascinated with things weathered by the desert.
Six months after a third trip to the desert, Shana committed to leaving Portland in six months. Without a job or knowing anyone here, she found a house to rent on Craigslist, moved to the Morongo Basin and was immediately hired on at Crossroads Cafe in Joshua Tree.
Shana continues to serve locals and tourists at Crossroads. She talks about ‘hangry hour’ and how the crew works so well together in a small space with lines waiting out the door during busy season. At the end of her shifts, she loves going home to recharge in the silence, with a good book and her dogs, Billie and Henry nearby.
Shana has been painting for 10 years – she uses it as a form of meditation. Only recently she began to share her work publicly through local art exhibitions. Initially, she was reluctant to show her work, feeling perhaps she wasn’t strong enough to take any criticism. As it turns out, her experience was completely the opposite - feeling tremendous support and encouragement from the women in the community and other artists.
Shana is also a new first time homeowner and taking in all of the excitement – and responsibility – that comes with that milestone. She even put in her own concrete floors, taking her dad’s advice of, “what ever you can do by yourself, do it.” And now, every time she looks at the floor, she says she feels the satisfaction of having done it herself, in true desert ‘get it done’ fashion.
Shana’s advice for folks looking to move to the desert is to be ready to deal with the silence and solitude, which makes you face your fears and hangups and to understand we move with the sun.
PHOTO: Carly Valentine - listen to Carly's Desert Lady Diaries episode here.