Week 10 of my 52 NEW THINGS project takes me on a weekend getaway to the desert and one of my favorite and most unique places on earth! My Dad and brother and I did a family outing to Cynthia's- a desert lodging located at China Ranch, an oasis in the desert near the Tecopa Hot Springs southeast of Death Valley National Park.

It was our second trip there together, plus I've been several times with other family members beginning in 2006. Each time, I've been treated to a special experience unlike any other place I've ever visited. It's otherworldly, peaceful, beautiful in a very stark way, and best of all, there's no cell phone service or internet so you're forced to slow down and re-connect with the earth and yourself.

The past two visits, we've stayed in one of three native American-style tipis that Cynthia (the awesome proprietor) built alongside the 1880s Ranch House that serves as home base (she used to rent B&B-style rooms in the house), as well as a series of vintage trailers. Staying in the tipis is another cool part of the experience! And each day, we usually take a hike into either the lunar-like "badlands" across from the oasis or down into desert on trails that run alongside the nearby Amargosa River.

I always hate leaving Cynthia's, but am satisfied knowing that I'll be back again next year! To see photos from our previous visit, go here.