Ric promises me I won’t have to do anything today, and that is a good thing because my legs have turned to plastic overnight and when I tried to take the few steps to the kitchen this morning the floor rose up to greet me and I had to hold onto the counter to keep my balance. We did too much yesterday. I feel like hell.
While he prepares the rig for travel, I take my tea back to bed and try to imagine what I can wear that will be comfortable enough for my bloated stomach and aching body. I settle for a pair of wide-legged pj bottoms and an oversized shirt. I’ll wrap myself in throws for the trip. The wind has picked up and it feels unseasonably cold.
We follow #10 west out of Arizona and into the Californian desert. Signs along the highway warn about the high wind gusts and we can feel it. Ric takes the drive slow and I can tell it is taking every ounce of effort he has to fight the wind. We are, as he says, one large sail in the wind. A land yacht, he calls us.
Finally, we turn off, and for a time the wind is at our backs. The landscape is stereotypical desert – miles and miles of barren land, dotted with low bushes and the remnants of former life: a succession of toppled down shacks, with an occasional residence still occupied. I wonder aloud about what people here in the first place and what happened to them.
“We’re looking for 29 Palms Rd,” Ric says as we crest a hill and come upon an intersection.
“This is it.”
A group of motor cyclists congregate on the corner, the only other sign of life around. We turn onto the highway and the view is surreal: miles and miles of desert stretching out before us, buffeted by mountains on other side in the distance. The road ahead of us looks like a dusty trail, not a highway. We pass a sign that announces Joshua Tree National Park.
29 Palms is not only the name of the road, it is also the name of the first town we come to, which announces itself as “an oasis in the desert”. It is a welcome sight, and also indicates we are getting close to our destination. I check Ric’s phone – the RV park is forty-five minutes from here. We decide to carry on, set up and then come back for lunch later.
Joshua Tree RV Park is located five miles off the main road and the main turn in is narrow, barely able to accommodate our motor home. When we check in our hostess tells us there is a wind advisory in effect until 9 pm and that there is no sewer hook up at the site. She is not sure that our vehicle (41 feet long) will be able to make the turn into the row where we are to set up.
Some days are just like this. Ric manages to maneuver into the spot, and we decide to hook up later. I’m hungry and want to go to bed.
We decide to drive into the town of Joshua Tree to look for a restaurant. Trendy shops and cafes line the road, but nothing that catches our fancy. We drive on to the next town where we find a BBQ place. Forty dollars later we are full and back on the road.
“Do you mind if we drive on ahead for a bit?” Ric asks me. “I want to get the lay of the land.”
“Sure,” I say, thinking I’ll sleep in the car.
The drive into the valley is straight down – two steep miles – before plateauing for a bit and then descending again in twisty roads. As we approach highway 10, at the bottom, the mountains loom closer as do windmills, visible in all directions, and like nothing we’ve seen before. At home, the placement of sporadic wind generators is causing great controversy. Here, it looks like windmills are farmed.
We turn onto #10 and head west to Palm Springs where we turn around and head back.
I go to bed.
“We don’t have to do anything tomorrow if you don’t want to,” Ric offers.
I am so close to tears, I don’t reply. We are in Joshua Tree National Park and I may not have the energy to explore. How disappointing is that?
(Note: all photos were taken from the passenger seat and bear the marks of a dirty windshield. My apologies, but isn’t the sky grand?)