Joshua Tree National Park

Trip Start Mar 28, 2012
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Trip End May 24, 2012


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What I did
Joshua Tree National Park

Flag of United States  , California
Thursday, April 26, 2012

With the sky leaden and thundery showers forecast for the morning I set off for the 150 mile drive east to Joshua Tree National Park. Progress was slow to begin with as I headed east as my sat-nav was insistent that I joined a Freeway that was going nowhere. I overrode the instructions and headed east on normal roads with the stop/start of lights and stop signs every couple of blocks. It is tedious driving here in the city! Eventually the Freeway cleared and I joined it. On the westbound side I passed mile after mile of nose-to-tail traffic crawling along on its way into LA. I was glad I was heading east.

I headed east past Anaheim, Riverside and through the Moreno Valley towards palm Springs where I swung north along the Yucca Valley, through Joshua Tree and on to Twentynine Palms and the Park Oasis Visitor Centre. It was staffed by very friendly rangers and had all kinds of useful information and exhibits on show. (For a map of the Park, click here.) I then doubled back into Twentynine Palms to pick up water and a sandwich for lunch - I stopped at 7/11 where about 80 bikers of Harleys were doing similar things!

 The road begins with a straight line uphill for about 6 miles without a bend! It then proceeds into Wilson Canyon between the Pinto and the Hexie Mountains - impressive. The Joshua Trees were named by Mormon pioneers as the trees branches reminded them of Joshua raising his hands in prayer to God. They only grow in the Mojave Desert - if you want more on the trees go here. If you are looking for info on U2s album inspired by the plant then go here or here.

I stopped off at the White Tank Camp Grounds for a visit to the Arch Rock. The geology around here was impressive as you can see from these photos and also the ones I've posted at Flickr. You see - I can do more than skyscrapers - I even 'captured' a lizard! I then continued south stopping for various photo opportunities including the Cholla Cactus Garden - if you want details on this particular variety of cactus, please click here. There were warning signs everywhere advising visitors not to touch them or brush against them as their spines would penetrate the skin and apparently they are extremely difficult to remove. I stayed well clear. I took only photographs and left only footprints.

The road headed south-east and dropped down onto a plain. It is hard to convey in pictures or words the scale of this place. Mile after mile of barren parched scrub with nothing but mountains to break the horizon. how anyone settled here I do not know! I eventually hit I10 and headed west to eventually join up with the road I had used earlier. By this time the sky in the direction I was heading was apocalyptic and batteries of wind turbines glinted in the sun against the purple of skies ready to burst and bring the desert to life.

As I continued the 2.5 hour journey back to LA I passed mile-after-mile of jammed traffic heading out of LA - how do they do it each day? Why? I got back to Gardena at about 7:30 and headed for a newly opened Thai restaurant on Rodondo Beach Boulevard Ya Yaa - not bad, I made use of their opening specials - all meals $5.99, about 4! In the UK a started of Chicken Satay is usually two modest skewers of chicken. here it was five fat skewers! No I didn't eat them all. so much food is wasted or waisted in this country!!!

Today was wonderful - exceeded expectations. Let's see what tomorrow brings.
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