I’m not sure how I heard of Joshua Tree National Park. I want to say Instagram? But maybe not. I somehow knew it was the place that was described as the place with trees that look like they belong in a Dr Seuss story! I recently saw The Lorax play in Toronto and the truffala trees really do remind me of Joshua Trees.
We had about 24 hours in Joshua Tree. Last little sweaty hurrah before going to Los Angeles where we would FINALLY GET TO SHOWER. The drive from Yosemite to Joshua Tree is about 6 hours. Since we had to hike all the way down from our campsite in Yosemite we thought we would break up our drive and find a campsite a bit closer rather than drive to Joshua Tree in the dark. Sequoia National Park is about 2 hours from Yosemite and on the way to Joshua Tree. We got a campsite, set up our tent, had dinner and had an early night. We woke up pretty early the next morning – had a filling breakfast (oatmeal and black coffee) just kidding no breakfast it was too early and started driving to Joshua Tree. Gotta go back to Sequoia one day and hug a Sequoia tree.
The landscape changed so much on our drive. From lots of green to the Mojave desert. THE DESERT! Haven’t been to a desert until now. As the road opened up we saw more and more Joshua Trees pop up. Camping in Joshua Tree was definitely different to what I was used to. The landscape was so open and “clean”. It didn’t get colder at night. We didn’t have to worry about bears (but there are snakes, coyotes and other creatures). There was also very little shade but the terrain was very flat which meant we could pitch our tent anywhere.
Our neighbours came over to say hello and tell us about some Joshua Tree secrets. They were a retired couple from Canada. They moved to California like 10/20/30 years ago after visiting just once. Immediately fell in love and said bye to Canada lol. The secret they shared with us they knew because of how often they visited Joshua Tree. Near our campsite (Black Rock campground), there was a rock formation that was climbable (without equipment) if you go up the back. It doesn’t feel very steep going up. It was one of those moments where if you think about how you are going to get down, you might not be able to go up. But if you don’t think about the going down part – you get to the top no problemo. (My thought process is – if you can get up you can get down. This may kill me one day but if it doesn’t I’ll be sure to blog about it.) The cool thing about climbing up the rock formation was more than just seeing the desert from a high vantage point. There’s a little secret opening called “The Cyclops Eye” and the view from here is amazing. We got there just before the sun started setting and it was perfect. Beenish led the way and got there first. I was behind her but sort of making sure Amy was ok going up. She thought about the going down part before going up and was more hesitant than us. It was so exciting reaching the EYE. I mainly remember feeling extra excited almost completely due to how excited Beenish was. Excitement spreads easy 😀
Earlier in the day, we drove around to the different sites. Seeing hundreds of Joshua trees. Every single one was unique. Desert snowflakes. Went to a cactus field thing. Stay on the path or else get those weird spiky shrub things in your socks and shoes.
My second favourite part of the day (it actually might tie for first with Cyclops eye) was night time in the desert. It never got super super dark. The moon was almost full and lit up the campsite enough. Didn’t need a flashlight once your eyes adjusted. There were so many rock formations everywhere so we climbed up one, laid down and just star gazed. It was awesome.
That night I woke up around 3am and decided to go back out and star gaze some more. I got some really cool night photos. I definitely want to camp in more deserts in the future. I want to sleep in a desert without a tent one day…kinda freaky but what protection does a tent actually do? I think it’s what they call “cowboy camping”. Let me know if you’d like to join!
Friday morning was an interesting day. We locked our keys in the car the night before.. so had to wait til morning to figure out what to do. Luckily we took our giant jug of water out of the hot car and put it by our campsite in the shade. We didn’t have any food though but also didn’t expend many calories after dinner so it was fine. We had nice retired neighbours who I’m sure would’ve given us some food if we really needed it.
How did we get our keys in the middle of the desert? Well – in national parks they have random phones located probably in 10ish mile radiuses? We had one in our campground thankfully. The phone is directly connected to the park rangers and they were able to call us a tow truck that has tools to unlock a car. Because it was in the middle of the desert and the tow truck came from the nearest city it was pretty expensive. Anyways we all survived, noone was hurt and we didn’t lose much time or anything. It was a shitty accident but a better one to have than other things that could’ve gone wrong on a Californian roadtrip.
Once we got our car unlocked we put all our gear away and headed to LA. I think the drive was just less than 2 hours. Got to our airbnb and yes – you guessed it. GOT TO SHOWER!! It wasn’t until we actually got indoors where I felt like I really needed to shower. Something about being outside in nature that just makes you feel not gross. I also dumped all the remaining water we had on my head before leaving Joshua Tree lol.
In LA we didn’t do too much. We went to the planetarium (I am still obsessed with LA LA LAND so this was pretty cool. No Ryan Goslings in the house though). Went to Santa Monica pier, walked some more, got lots of food (tacos, cheesecake, beers). It was a good way to end our trip.
Last little detail that I want to include for myself to remember. We went to a restaurant called Salts Cure for breakfast on Saturday. The food was really good. We shared a bunch of smaller dishes. Actually ordered too much but we deserved it. The reason why I want to include this detail is that one of my favourite moments from the entire California trip happened here. I won’t describe it in full detail because you won’t find it as funny as I did and might even judge me for thinking this moment was a favourite moment (amongst all the spectacular views and hikes we did). But it had something to do with a little girl, a cup of juice, a cat and Amys amazing observational skills. I think those are enough cues to jog my memory to remember what I found hilarious even in 30 years. 😀
Laughed a little too much. But what’s a trip with two of your best friends if not to laugh too much about everything.