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Last week during one of my son’s “fall break” weeks (he is in a year-round school) my family traveled to my in-law’s – The 29 Palms Inn. We were joined by four other families from our school community and what a fabulous time we all had! And, while we were, unfortunately, not able to enjoy the spectacular beauty of Joshua Tree National Park due to the government closure (topic for another forum …), we found ourselves not wanting for things to do in the desert.

From swimming to desert adventures (nope, not in the park …) to cocktails poolside, warm evening dinners, clay art and print making with my sister-in-law, Gretchen, (artist and teacher) at the 29 Palms Creative Center & Gallery, as well as other fun distractions … we easily filled our days.

There were 8 kids in our group (ages 4 – 10) and the 4 older kids (2 boys, 2 girls) enjoyed the simple freedoms of a different time: they swam, rode bikes, hung out and watched movies, played games, wandered the property, peeked in the garden, discovered blue herons in the pond and they did it alone, at their leisure, on their own time schedule. I am pretty certain that they will fondly remember this week as they grow up together!

The 29 Palms Inn has been in my husband’s family since the 1920’s. His mother, Jane, and his late father, Ron, purchased the property in 1977 from Jane’s mom and dad who wished to retire. Luckily, for us, the property has remained in his family and is thriving!

Much of my passion for what I do at Nick’s Cove has a lot to do with my mother-in-law. I had the unique opportunity to work with her for several years and fell in love with running a property. While our properties are polar opposites with regard to climate: desert vs. coast, they are not so dissimilar with the cabins, restaurant and bar at the Inn to the cottages, restaurant and bar at Nick’s; both historic properties.

So, each year our family sits in a car for 9 hours one way and we visit for a week; sometimes in summer, sometimes in fall, usually at Thanksgiving and each time we go I am reminded of all the wonderful reasons people like Jane and I do what we do!


About Dena Grunt

As President of Hwy 1 Hospitality I oversee two spectacular properties: Nick's Cove on Tomales Bay and La Condesa Napa Valley in Saint Helena. Every day I am reminded of the simple beauty that exists in nature and am grateful to be at the helm of such unique and impressive properties. I currently reside in Petaluma with my husband and son.


  1. What, no mention of Viggo? 😉

    Fantastic post; reminds me that I reeeeaaally want to do a family vacation in the desert and visit 29 Palms someday.

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