Day 141 – 1/18/21 Joshua Tree National Park

What a great day visiting the amazing Joshua Tree National Park.

Good morning from Palm Desert, Palm Springs area.  Today we are going to visit Joshua Tree National Park, and we are excited to be here in the warm weather.

Last night we planned on leaving for the park as early as possible in the morning, and we were shooting for 11, so we told the girls last night, and as I woke them up this morning I reminded them, so they could stay focused and get as much work done as possible.  The plan was that even if they were not done, we would leave by 11.

Bia got going as usual, and was pretty much done around 9 something, and had another live call at 10.

Bella got going, and was doing work quite quickly and stayed focus.  She had the main things done by 9 something as well, and had minor things to finish at that point. (this is all in Pacific Time, so 11am Central)

Carol had gotten up a bit earlier, and worked on packing our lunch and snacks, and was also done around 9.

I didn’t have any work calls this morning, so I finished a post, worked on a few bills, tried to resolve this wifi issue as the campground wifi charged me twice last night, and only one device works now.  No luck on the wifi, so I’ll have to call them later.  I was all done around 9 as well, so we moved our departure time to 10 or before.

We were able to get everything ready, the truck loaded, the girls things and computers in the truck, hotspot, etc all ready to go just before 10, so we were out.  Woohoo.  What a great start for a Monday!  Bia called into her class right at 10 as we rolled out of the campground.  I stopped for gas first, and since they didn’t have any water for me to wash the windows, which were full of bird poop yet from the last campground, I also put the truck through the car wash.  I paid for the cheapest wash this time as all I needed today was the bird poop gone.  I knew we were going into the desert and the truck would likely be all dirty again.  That car entrance was pretty small and there were two vertical bars by the entrance, I was trying to maneuver around the entrance which was in a corner, and slightly touched one of the bars, enough to put a little scratch on my bumper.  I only noticed it later, cause I didn’t even feel it with the truck.  Anyway, the wash took care of 99% of the bird poop, and only a blob or two remained on the windshield.  I can only imagine how fun it will be to wash the trailer, so actually hoping if there is any rain in the near future, that it will take care of most of it.  Or, I could also take the opportunity that it is raining, and go out and scrub it :).  Anyway, after we filled up and washed the truck, we got on the road.  We had a one hour drive to our first stop in the park, which was Cholla Cactus Garden.  Bia was done with her call soon after we got on the highway.  Bella knocked out more work, and only had some reading and a few questions to finish when we got to the park road, which was very bumpy so she had to stop.

Very soon after we got on this bumpy road, we saw the sign for Joshua Tree National Park, so we stopped for a picture by the sign.  From there, we had another 15-20 minutes to get to the first stop, which was the Cholla Cactus Garden.  All along from there, the scenery was cool.  Dry land with some bushes and some cactus, some mountains around, and not much wildlife.  Vegetation was dispersed, with a little bit of different kinds of things.  Until we hit that garden, then all of a sudden, boom… lots of the same type of cactus, the Cholla cactus, all concentrated in this one area.  We stopped there, and that was pretty cool to see.  I had read plenty of warnings to not touch them, as they easily will get stuck in your fingers, and taking them out is tough and painful.  So, we made sure not to get too close, but I have to admit, it is very tempting.  We walked around the small trail they have there, enjoyed the views and checked out these cactus up close.  It was nice to be there, kind of a different world.

From there, our next stops were all rock formations.  The park is known for three main things: Cholla Cactus, Rock Formations, and Joshua Tree.  Our first stop was going to be for Arch Rocks, but we saw an entrance to a path that looked interesting as we approached the area, so we took it. The path led to a dirt road path which ended a little over a mile later, in a round about loop.  There was a restroom there, and only one other vehicle, and lots of rocks around.  We thought it’d be cool to explore, so we got out and started walking down the trail, or at least what looked like a trail.  We had a nice walk, we saw a lot of different rocks, round ones, flat, broken, piled, all kinds of interesting formations.  We saw cholla cactus, and had our first sight of Joshua Trees.  We enjoyed the walk, the views and the nice warm weather, and headed back.  Bella, of course, collected a bunch of rocks to take so she can “smash them” later. hahahaha…. I tell you, by time we get back to Sheboygan we’ll have 20lbs of rocks in the truck.

Once we were done there, we continued to Arch Rock, and while the campground that has the main access to the rocks was closed, there was a path to get there from a different stop just up the road.  It was time to eat as well, so we parked the truck by the trail entrance and found some rocks to go sit by while we ate.  We had a nice time eating there, it was peaceful and relaxing.  The sandwiches were great and there was nothing left.  Then we went for the quick walk towards the Arch Rock area.  It was a quick walk and we got to the rocks area, which is right behind a campground.  We walked around a bit, climbed on rocks, took some pictures just by the entrance and the rocks that were there.  From looking towards the campground, and up onto some larger rocks, the campground looks like a scene from some Flintstones movie\cartoon as the rocks down there looked to be arranged as houses, and one even having a circular entry looking like a donut.  It was pretty cool.  The girls identified it as from the cartoon Pingu, which they loved to watch when they were little.  After exploring that area a bit, we returned to the truck and kept going.

We drove by Skull Rock, and I just stopped for a picture, and Carol went down.  I took a pic from the truck as the rock is right by the road. 

We had made a quick stop just earlier for a restroom break, and while the ladies were in line, I climbed some rocks to get some nice views of that area.  This park is certainly a great place for boulder climbing.  We skipped the stop for Split Rock and Cap Rock, and from there went towards Keys View.  Pretty much as soon as we made a turn there, we could tell we moved to the other side on the Mojave Desert as the landscape changed a bit and we saw more and more Joshua Trees.  The drive was really nice, the roads are nice and it’s all wide open desert with mountains, rocks and Joshua Trees in that section.  Keys view is higher up, so we were going uphill for some time until we got there.  The spot is small, and all it offers is this amazing view of the valley, and you can get a great view of the Coachella Valley and a lot more.  It was super windy when we got there, so it was feeling a bit colder.  We walked up the path to the viewpoint and it was an amazing view.  The mountain ranges right there with the valleys and open desert fields are just amazing.  We got some pictures and kept moving.  The girls were cold, so we didn’t stay long, besides, there’s not much more to do aside from looking at the amazing views.  I was hoping there would be a trail or something, but there was not.

From there, we drove towards Barker Dam, and again enjoyed the views as we went.  Barker Dam has a nice 1.1 mile trail, so we stopped there for that.  As we were getting out of the truck, which was in a regular and tight spot between vehicles, Bia went back to the truck to get something, and when she opened the door, she hit the car next to it, yikes… it didn’t make a big dent, but scratched the door a bit.  I was a bit mad, and decided to move the truck, so I didn’t have to deal with this person later :(. I moved the truck to the other side of the parking lot, and actually ended up getting a nice and large parking spot, with plenty of space.  Pewf…. Carol put Maggie in her backpack, and I got my backpack with all the water bottles, then we left for the trail.  The trail is a mix of sand, with small pebbles and goes through some rocks as well, some minor steps up and down rocks, etc.  It goes in a loop, and the middle of the trail is where the dam is supposed to be, and I said “supposed to” because it is all dry right now, so we just saw the rocks and sand at the bottom.  We could see the dam wall, but no water. 

As we got to the dam area, Bia and Carol were walking together, and Bella and I decided to try to go as high as we could up the rocks.  So we started our boulder climbing, and actually made it pretty much all the way to the top.  The last piece required a jump over a 2 foot gap, I jumped over and had the most amazing view from there.  Bella didn’t want to jump over, she was afraid.  I was surprised she was even all the way up there with me as sometimes she is afraid of heights, and it started showing right there.  I even offered to hold her hand, but she didn’t want to jump and instead wanted to go back down.  I took a few pics from up there, quite an amazing view, especially with the sun setting at that time, wow.  Then we climbed down, and Bella led the way.  I love doing these things with them, seeing their sense of adventure and courage coming out.  She then led the way back from there. 

Soon after we were down, we continued on the path and she wanted to take another detour to see some pool that looked like it was made out of clay.  Getting there required some climbing down and jumping, but she did great.  We continued on the path from there, seeing more cool rock formations, more Joshua Trees and the sun setting behind a big rock wall.  Amazing trail and views at that time.  Bella had my phone with the GPS on, but no destination set, and she was navigating the trail using just the map, which was cool.  She did great and got us back with no issues (it was not hard though).  We saw a big boulder that looked like a French load of bread that had been sliced.  Then we also saw another one that had some paintings and markings.  This was a very nice path, easy and with enough options to make it more adventurous, and just amazing views.  We met with Carol and Bia as we finished the trail.

That was our last stop, and the sun was already setting.  Our options were to eat somewhere nearby, then drive back in to see the stars in total darkness, or just go home.  Carol was not feeling like extending our day, it’d be too late for the girls, so we just drove back.

The drive back from there was also quite amazing.  We entered the park from the south entrance, and left from the west entrance and then went through the town of Yucca.  It sure felt like we were in one of those old western movies, with lots of sand on the ground and desert, it was only missing the sheriff with a star on his chest.  The drive back went downhill for the most part and at least for the early part we could still see the sun setting on the horizon.

When we got back home, we had the girls get ready, so they showered, we all ate and the girls read for some time before going to bed.  We ate some leftovers from the prior days, so now we have cleaned up the fridge :).  I was able to talk to the people at the wifi company and sort it out, so the wifi is in use now and everyone is connected to the campground wifi, and the extra charge is applied to one of our future stays, so we are set.

The girls went to bed, Carol and I put things away, she did the dishes, I worked on some future reservations, and when we were done, we went to bed.

It was a really nice day visiting Joshua Tree National Park, we all really enjoyed it.

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