national parking, Travel

Joshua Tree National Park, revisited

Joshua Tree NP

As it is springtime (and as he hadn’t been), I took J to Joshua Tree National Park in search of wildflowers. We seem to have arrived about a week (or maybe two) too early, but it was still beautiful and the afternoon sunlight stretching across the desert made the colors all the more vivid.

Joshua Tree flowers

The Joshua trees themselves were blooming, which was fascinating. They seemed a lot greener than I remembered, but maybe that was because I’ve spent more time in deserts since my last visit.

Joshua Tree rock monument

The rocks didn’t look quite real until we got right up close to them, and they look much smaller than they really are. And this isn’t even proper perspective, since the man crouching is very close to me and the rocks are not.

Joshua Tree San Andreas Fault

I also took J to the overlook where you can see the San Andreas fault and the Salton Sea. Pardon our scruffiness, we were camping the night previous.

Joshua Tree wildflowers

On the way out of the park and heading home, we did see the start of the wildflowers. They are bright and are starting to creep over the landscape, and I’m told they eventually blanket the dry ground before fading again for the summer.

(Photos begin here.)

national parking, Travel

Trailer park fun and vintage things older than me: Joshua Tree camping trip

Joshua Tree camping trailers

I apologize for the break in daily posting. Last week J and I went camping (of a sort) with some friends in the Joshua Tree National Park area. We stayed in an artists’ retreat, of the sort that values their privacy (and so doesn’t give out an address, just directions a few days before you arrive) but with enough fun and random things to do to make it a really fun getaway.

Joshua Tree camping our trailer

The property has several themed trailers, from one based on a wig shop in New Orleans, to one that’s like stepping back into the 1970s (which is where we stayed). It came outfitted with everything from an 8 track to a color changing speaker system to a plug in fireplace. We had a good time just exploring the place, but they also offer activities.

Joshua Tree camping archery

There is a small BB gun and archery range, a place to play corn hole, a rooftop Jacuzzi, a saltwater swimming pool, ping pong, a place to grill out, and a tepee with a fire circle inside so you can roast marshmallows for s’mores. The setup contributed to such a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that everyone staying there the night we were hung out around the fire, chatting and getting to know each other. They ranged from musicians to engineers, photographers to physicists, and it was fun to sit in the middle of such varied conversations.

Joshua Tree camping 70s trailer

The stars were gorgeous (though hard to photograph) and we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, though it was possibly made more orange by the fact that our trailer practically glowed with the light of the 1970s.

More photos (plus some from the following day) are in this album.

national parking, Travel

Joshua Tree National Park in January

in the desert

Last week, my sister came to California with me to help me settle back into the new place and to help me out with the errandy type things that always accompany a move, and which are much more easily accomplished with two people. Of course we also did some fun sight seeing (which is also better with two people) and one of the places we went was Joshua Tree National Park. We’ve been trying to get to as many national parks as possible, if you recall, and this was our first DESERT.

We had gone to Disneyland the day before, but that morning it was raining and we decided that rather than spend a second day at Disney in the rain, we’d go to see a damp desert. How often do you get to see one of those? By the time we got there (it was a good bit of driving), the rain had cleared, but it left everything softened, less dusty, and really colorful.

DSC_8952

One of our first stops was for a short hike to some Native American petroglyphs. Someone had painted over them, which was a shame because you can’t see their original form, but it was still very cool that they are visible.

The Joshua Trees themselves are bizarre looking, turning in all different directions, with seemingly harry trunks and strange, spiked green balls of leaves. They vary in size and shape, and seem surreal in the landscape, inserted as an afterthought.

Joshua trees

There are also huge piles of boulders and of small rocks. The scale is hard to imagine, but sometimes there are simply huge, smooth rock faces, worn into turrets and towers by the wind, and sometimes there are mountains made of what look like bits of loose stone.

Rock formations

It was chilly out, being January, despite how dry everything was. Apparently it won’t get warm again until March, when all of the wildflowers start blooming and people come to camp and watch the sunsets and all of that. It might be nice to go back then.

The last thing I’ll show you is the view we got of the San Andreas Fault, right before sunset.

San Andreas Fault

It’s hard to see, but it’s the hazy dark line in the middle of the lighter haze. Very pretty view, though. As the sun set, it kept getting colder. We drove to the other major park entrance in the section we were visiting, and saw an oasis. It looked much like the rest of the park, except with palm trees in a very dense, central area. All in all, a very cool day trip.

So that was our first visit to a desert. You can see the rest of the photos here.