Joshua Tree National Park

“Let’s have some breakfast and then just go out for a little bit,” my husband coaxes, knowing that I am not feeling very well.

GiantpalmsJT“It would be a shame to be here and not see it,” I agree.  My body wants me to spend the day in bed, so I compromise by putting on comfy clothes.  The wind has not died down overnight, and it is chilly outside.

We drive up to the Joshua Tree National Park visitor centre in the town of 29 Palms and start by buying the compulsory postcards.  I’ve been sending them to my grandchildren along the way.  I tell the cashier that we need advice, indicating that neither one of us is very mobile.  She offers us a map and circles all the places we can visit by car and with short walks, the first being behind the centre.

JTreerocksThe Oasis trail, onsite,  has marked paths and more of the low, sparse vegetation we have seen everywhere, except for a few massive palm trees at the end of the first path.  The plaque says something cute about how they arrived from another planet in the early 1900’s but I am too distracted by the cold winds and how frail I feel.  I announce to Ric that I’m not up to walking today and we head back to the car where I recline my seat back and turn on the seat heaters.  Praise be to modern technology.

chollagardenJTRic drives slow and I keep my camera ready for anything interesting and very soon it is apparent why Joshua Tree is such an famous place – the rock formations are out of this world.  We opt to stay on the road and pull over for the best shots, and there are plenty.

“How did this happen?” I ask my former geographer husband.  “How did these rocks get to be this way?”

Even he is stumped to explain, but I can hear his wheels turning and he mutters theories to himself, which makes me smile.

climbingrockOur stops take us to a cholla garden with endless cacti, jumbo boulders, piles of rocks, climbing rocks, and a lookout point.  Unlike Sedona, where I walked solo to the top of the lookout, Ric does the climbing while I wait in the truck.  Even the promise of a view of water and salt cannot budge me today – I am feeling that bad.

So glad I came out today though.  Distraction – especially the beauty of the Joshua Tree National Park – beats a day spent in bed.

keyslookout.pngWish I had more details to share with you, but I’d be more than happy to hear from you about your experiences, and or knowledge.  For instance, why is the Joshua tree called the Tree of Life?

(Note:  I love how nature reflects life.  I feel just like the Joshua trees pictured in the feature image – couldn’t stand up straight if I wanted to, lol.)

California and I’m Out of Gas

1stviewCARic 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.

Hwy62CAFinally, 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.

lifeindesert29 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.

windmillfarmThe 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.

PalmSpringssignI 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?)