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

Moving On … Down the Road Again

Our plans were to leave Buckeye, Arizona, March 15th around 8:30 a.m. which we actually did!  Weather forecasts had been talking about some gusty winds for March 14th through the 15th.  When you drive an RV towing a car, you have to keep an eye on the weather especially when there might be high winds with strong gusts.  We experienced that for ourselves when we traveled from Sanger, Texas, to Buckeye, and we have NO desire to experience that again!

Anyway, the wind advisory was lifted for the area we were to travel through after 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, so we knew we were good to leave on the 15th.  We left Leaf Verde RV Resort around 8:30 a.m., got on Interstate 10 West, and headed toward California!

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These two pictures were taken somewhere along Interstate 10 between Buckeye, AZ, and the California state line.

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We use an app called AllStays Camp & RV to help us plan our routes, pick RV camps/resorts, and find places to stop for gas and snacks (mostly Flying J’s).  Believe me, it is well worth the $9.99!  We used the app to find a Flying J truck stop where we wanted to get gas just one mile from the California border.

Jack met a man there while putting gas in the RV, and the man asked if we were headed east or west on I 10.  When Jack said we were going west, the man said it was a good thing we didn’t try to go that way the day before.  The highway patrol had closed the highway from that point west into California to all eighteen wheelers and RVs because of dangerous high winds!  We were SO thankful our travel day was March 15th!

Here we are crossing the border and going through the check point into California.

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It was a little windy as we traveled, but it wasn’t bad.  We took Interstate 10 west to a small town, Desert Center, CA, where we turned North on CA State Route 177.  This highway is a little east of Joshua Tree National Park and Sheephole Valley Wilderness.  Route 177 was a nice, two lane road through mostly flat desert terrain.  There wasn’t much traffic on it which was a nice change from the busy Interstate 10.  I’m pretty sure this photo is along Route 177 (you’ll understand why I say “I’m pretty sure” when you see more pictures).

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After about 27 miles, we turned west on CA State Route 62 headed towards our destination:  Twentynine Palms, CA.  State Route 62 goes right through the MIDDLE of Sheephole Valley Wilderness.  And, BELIEVE ME:  It is a desert WILDERNESS like we’ve never seen before!  Don’t get me wrong:  It is beautiful in its own way.  It’s just a little freaky to turn down a road and see NOTHING for miles and miles and miles (we could probably see 10-12 miles, or more, ahead because it was such a beautiful, clear day); no cars, no houses/buildings, no electric lines or poles!  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in sight.  I took a few pictures and then stopped because all the pictures looked the same.  We had to travel on State Route 62 about 40 miles to get to Twentynine Palms.

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This is the first photo I took right after we turned on to State Route 62. There’s NOTHING out there AT ALL!!  Zoom in on the picture, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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A little farther down Route 62.

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MANY miles after we got on Route 62.

I kept thinking about the early pioneers who traveled West on those covered wagons having to go through all these deserts on their way to California.  Up until now it was interesting to think about and look at.  State Route 62 put real meaning into the “fear” they must have felt crossing THIS desert.  I felt a little fearful myself, and I was in a vehicle that could go the 40 miles in about 40-50 minutes (if it didn’t break down, that is)!  The only thing that gave me comfort was that pole along the side of the road that you saw every couple of miles that said “Emergency Call Box.”

As we traveled along Route 62, I began to notice the edge of the road and the sandy shoulder.  This is such flat land through the valleys and there is so much sand, that I started thinking about really windy day.s  A really bad storm could create quite a sandstorm here.  I wondered if, after a severe sandstorm they would have to “plow” the sand off the highway like the snowplows plow the snow off the highways in Missouri.  Just wondering ……….  Check out the sides of the road:

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STILL….NO ONE in site!

We had been on this road for no telling HOW long.  Far out in the distance we saw a speck on the road.  It looked as if that speck was coming towards us!  Could it be …. maybe it is ….. is it possible????  There are other humans out here?!

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YIPEE!! We’re not alone! We met this RV first, and then we met several other vehicles.

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We met a couple of RVs, several camping trailers, and a car traveling east!  I was so excited to see some other vehicles, I just had to take some pictures!

We saw an area of the desert that was almost completely white.  I have NO idea what this was or what caused it.

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The white area is on the right side about a third of the way down (it looks like the white area is right above the bushes along the right side of the highway.

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We finally got close to Twentynine Palms and started see houses here and there. We also noticed the road was rougher and worn in places from more frequent traffic.  What a relief to reach civilization again!

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You can see the road is more worn here. If you zoom in on the picture you might be able to see some houses on the right side of the road in the distance.

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Again, zoom in and you can see more buildings/houses in the background. On the right side, you can see a “For Sale” sign. I wonder how much an acre of desert land costs out here?

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Now you can easily see some of the town of Twentynine Palms, CA.

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We are finally getting close to the RV park.

We checked in, got the camp and inside of the RV set up, and sat down at the kitchen table and looked out the window.  What a gorgeous view of the San Bernardino Mountains (the highest peak is San Gorgonio Mountain).

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That mountain range is about 100 miles west of Twentynine Palms!

So, for now ….. “On the Road Again!”

Betty

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