Joshua Tree National Park

Yesterday we took the whole day and visited Joshua Tree National Park.  This park has the distinction of being known as the place where two very different desert ecosystems come together:  the Mohave Desert and the Colorado Desert.  These two desert ecosystems are primarily determined by elevation.

The higher (3,000 feet and more elevation) and cooler Mohave Desert’s habitat is where you’ll find the Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) for which the park is named.  In some places of the park, the Joshua trees are sparse, and other places are filled with dense forests of the them.  The Joshua trees dominate the open spaces of the park, however, you will also see other varieties of trees and shrubs (California junipers, desert scrub oak, and others).

Below the elevation of 3,000 feet and in the eastern part of the park is where you will find the Colorado desert.  There you will find Creosote bush scrub, Ocotilla, desert Saltbush, Yucca, and Cholla cactus (all of which we saw plenty of as we drove by the east side of the park the day we traveled from Buckeye, AZ to Twentynine Palms, CA).

There is an area on the eastern side of the park where the Mojave and Colorado Deserts “merge” together in what they call the transition zone.  There one will find an ecological melting pot.  The transition zone is where the Mojave and Colorado deserts blend together featuring plants and animals representative of both.  This area is VERY remote and is only accessible by permit and hiking in to it.  Because of those conditions, we did not visit there.

The terrain in the park is so varied:  steep and rocky mountains, valleys, and fascinating rock formations.  We stopped at many roadside viewing places as well as many points of interest listed on the park map.  To say the park is beautiful is an understatement.  I’ll just let the pictures say it all.  If there is a caption with the picture, it will tell you what point of interest we were at.  No caption means I thought it was just a pretty view.

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It does kind of look like a skull.  It also reminds me of the Conehead skits on Saturday Night Live back in 1970s. 😆

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These rocks look smooth, but don’t let them fool you.

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Can you see the “rainbow” phenomena just above the rock on the left? I tried a google search to learn what it was, but I’m not sure that what I found is correct. It might be part of an arc or halo.

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This is a close up of those “smooth” looking rocks.

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This is one of the fuller, prettier Joshua trees we saw. Google this tree and read about how long it takes for them to grow. It is fascinating.

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This is near Sheep pass. Joshua Tree Park is home to about 300 Desert Bighorn Sheep. We didn’t see any though. 😔

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Can you see the huge rock at the top, to the left of the middle? Many of these rocks are precariously perched on other rocks and look as if they could be pushed off with little effort which, I’m sure, is not true.

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Look at that tree! I have no idea how it continues to live and grow.

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The next six photos are taken at Keys View (elevation: 5,185 feet) in the southwest area of the park. You can zoom in on this picture of information to read about the things that one can see from the top of this mountain. Then look closely at my photos and see if you can identify any of the places mentioned on this plaque.  Refer back to this photo if necessary.

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Do you remember in my recent post about going to Desert Palm and Palm Springs that I mentioned seeing fields and fields of wind turbines? Well, you can actually see those fields of turbines from atop this mountain. They don’t show up too good in this photo (zoom in to the whitish area in the middle of the photo and about a third of the way down from the top. You could see the turbines pretty easily in person!

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Below the snow covered peaks in the middle of the picture is Palm Springs, CA.

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Desert Palm, CA, is located near the middle of this picture.

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Look right above the mountaintops in the middle of this picture. Look closely at the horizon and you will see a body of water. That is the Salton Sea which is 235 feet below sea level and 35 miles away from our position. If you zoom in and look VERY closely, you might be able to see Signal Mountain which is 95 miles away near the U.S.-Mexican border!

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Along one of the “forests” of Joshua trees.

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Here is another one of those precariously perched boulders that looks as if it could fall right off at any minute.  I’m not sure I would want to be camping right below that thing.

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A selfie at the top at Keys View with Palm Springs in the background.

While we were at the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, I bought a National Park Passport book.  This book lists all the national parks, national historic sites, and national memorials in the United States.  It is set up by regions and gives you a checklist of parks in that area.  You can also purchase a sticker at each park to put in your book.  Also, if you have your book with you, you can have your book stamped by a National Park Service Agent (just like you get your real U.S. passport stamped when you visit another country).  Now I just need to figure out how to get the stickers for the parks we have already visited!

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I had my new passport book stamped and bought my sticker for Joshua Tree National Park.

Our next major short trip will be into Los Angeles!  We leave on Sunday, but you can start praying for our safety now because we will be navigating through the LA traffic!  😝  We are NOT driving the RV into LA though; we are leaving it at the RV park and just driving our Honda CR-V and staying in a hotel for a couple of nights.  However, we could still use prayers for safety in THAT traffic!

So for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

Exploring the Twentynine Palms Area

Today is our fourth day at Twentynine Palms. As soon as we arrived and got the RV set up, we went out exploring for the usual: grocery stores (we needed a few groceries), restaurants, gas stations, etc.

The next day we went to the Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center to check out what interesting things there were to see and do around Twentynine Palms.  We got some really good inforomation and brochures about things to see and do in the area.

One of the places we learned about was the Oasis of Mara which we decided to go visit right after leaving the Visitor’s Center.  The Oasis is located at the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center in town which is close to the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.

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The Oasis has a rich history dating back to the Serrano people.  It was a true oasis in the desert, and the Serrano called it Mara, meaning “the place of little springs and much grass.”  Legend has it that the Serrano came to the oasis because a medicine man told them that it was a good place to live, and they would have many boy babies.  Legend also says that the medicine man told the Serrano to plant a palm tree for each boy born, so the first year they planted twenty-nine palms.

Things changed for the Serrano and other native peoples as time passed and the Spanish and other explorers came into the area.  When pioneers, gold miners, and cattlemen moved west, trees began to be cut down at the Oasis and water was siphoned away to support the growing mining and cattle operations.

Now the Oasis has a lovely concrete trail around it, and visitors can walk around it to observe the vegetation and small animals (if you’re lucky; we were not “lucky” THANK GOODNESS!).  I did take several pictures, though.

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The Oasis doesn’t look like much from the distance. However, as you get closer, you realize how big these palm trees really are!

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You can get a feel for the size with Jack and Zoey in this photo.

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These are called California Fan Palm Trees (or Washingtonia filifera for my scienfically minded friends).

We have been trying to locate dog parks every place we have stayed.  Poor Zoey enjoys our walks, however, we can’t run with her when she is on the leash (I guess Jack and I are finally getting older more mature).  When we go to a dog park and she can be off the leash, so she gets SO excited.  The dog park we found here in Twentynine Palms is REALLY nice.

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You can see Jack (in the black jacket) and Zoey by his left foot.

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This dog park has two separate areas which I really like: one for dogs over 30 pounds and one for dogs under 30 pounds.  Although, a 30 pound dog chasing our 13 pound Zoey really scares her!

Yesterday we took a day trip to Palm Desert and Palm Springs, California.  We went west from Twentynine Palms on State Route 62.  This section of Route 62 is well populated and quite beautiful.  We stayed on 62 until it interesected with Interstate 10.  Then there were the wind turbines. Lots and LOTS AND LOTS of wind turbines!

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Look closely for the wind turbines. This was just a “small” field of turbines.

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You might need to zoom in to see all the turbines in the background.

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Some of the turbines are HUGE and some are much smaller. Some have three blades; some have two blades. Some face one direction and others face in different directions (I guess to catch the winds no matter what direction they come from). I wish I understood more about how these things work and why they are different sizes, etc. 

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These pictures represent just a FEW of the MANY fields of wind turbines we saw in the valley! I can’t even imagine the total number of these turbines!

We took Interstate 10 East for about 25 miles to the lovely town of Desert Palm.  I had googled “Things to do around Palm Springs.”  One of the things that was of interest to us was a Street Fair and Farmer’s Market at The College of the Desert in Desert Palm.  This is a lovely town with a lot to offer the residents (namely beautiful homes, many gold courses, and lots of stores).  This Street Fair had SO many booths of merchandise and farmer’s produce as well as food stands.

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After spending an hour several hours at the street fair, we drove back to Palm Springs to explore the historic downtown area.  The outskirts of Palm Springs was full of new, large homes in gated communities and very “modern” looking.  It also had numerous golf courses and a lot of stores and shopping areas.  However, once we got close to the downtown area, it was exactly what I expected the “old” Palm Springs to look like (you know – the things that I saw in pictures as I was growing up in the 1960s and what I read about what the movie stars of that time were doing and where they were going).

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Jack, myself, and our sweet Shih Tzu, Zoey, wandered up and down Palm Canyon Drive exploring the shops and a couple of unique museums (we take her with us everywhere we go; they are very “dog friendly” out west!).

One museum we went in was the MaCallum Adobe house.  The museum was in the original 1880’s house in which some early settlers lived.  They moved the house to the present location on Palm Canyon Drive.  The Palm Springs Historical Society turned the inside into a museum telling about some of the famous people that visited, lived in, and worked in Palm Springs (many Presidents, movie stars, film makers, and famous architects).  You wouldn’t believe the number of Hollywood movies that were filmed in Palm Springs!  We were not allowed to take photos in the museum or would have snapped a bunch.  😢  All the information in the museum was fascinating.

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We went to Ruddy’s General Store (next to the MaCallum Adobe house) which is a museum of all ORIGINAL products in ORIGIANL containers with original PRICES from the 1930s.  It was a fascinating store to see.  Many of the products I remember seeing my grandmothers use!  If you are of my generation, you will recognize many of these products and their containers.  If you ever visit this “store” just remember:  NOTHING is actually for sale!!  It is a museum!

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I remember both of my grandmothers using this shampoo.

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I wonder if my older sister, Peggy, remembers this candy.  I do, but I was the one with the sweet tooth.

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This is Jim Ruddy, the founder of this 1930’s General Store Museum. The museum includes his extensive 35 year collection of general store merchandise with another museum collection he purchased from a Depression-Era liquidator who had kept his fine store fixtures and merchandise in his basement for 40 years. As a result, this museum is one of the largest complete displays of UNUSED general store merchandise in the country. Mr. Ruddy passed away in April, 2017.

We ate an early, delicious supper at a sidewalk cafe.  While eating, we met a nice couple sitting at the table next to us.  They were from Michigan and had been coming to Palm Springs for the last 5 winters.  We bought a little souvenir at a “tourist trap,” took a selfie with Palm Canyon Drive in the background, and headed back home to the RV in Twentynine Palms.

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So for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

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