I've fallen behind on updates! When I left my readers over two weeks ago, I was preparing to leave Fallbrook, California. My route from there took me north on I-215 and then east on my old friend I-10. When I turned onto California State Hwy. 62, also known as the Twentynine Palms Highway, I knew I was getting close to Joshua Tree land. At the town of Yucca Valley, these sweet little twisted, fairy tale-like "trees" began to appear.
Joshua Trees are not actually considered to be a tree. They are a variety of yucca, but can develop a woody trunk covered in what looks like tree bark, and grow to nearly fifty feet tall in some instances. Their branches end in spiny green outgrowths that echo their yucca genus.
Continuing east, the town of Joshua Tree appeared next. Little shops and cafes dotted the side of the highway, targeting the throngs of people from Los Angeles and Southern California who escape east to the magical Mojave Desert landscape.
The town of Twentynine Palms, where I would be staying for the next week, would be next along the highway, but I took a detour. I turned into the entrance for Joshua Tree National Park, my reason for visiting the area.
The park encompasses various elevations and different types of landscape. It straddles the Colorado and Mojave Deserts, the southern section of the park looking markedly different from the northern one. Much of it is dotted with weathered granite boulders, their edges worn smooth from countless years out in the elements. The result, combined with the Joshua Trees themselves, is an almost unbelievable, whimsical landscape.
Over the next six days, I took in the sights of the park at its various elevations - Joshua Trees, a prickly cholla garden, boulder scrambling, and a hike to the top of Ryan Mountain Peak. I saw climbers with their gear on top of giant rock outcroppings, and enjoyed the fact that the Mojave Desert's sparse vegetation means you can pretty much wander and make your own trail anywhere that speaks to you.
I also spent a day touring around the cities of Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs. Cabot's Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs was a unique highlight of that day. It had a fascinating story, having been constructed in the early to mid-20th century of entirely found and repurposed materials. I also soared to new heights to the top of San Jacinto Peak on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
My Airbnb in Twentynine Palms was a sweet little spot above a garage in a residential neighborhood, the perfect cozy spot for working on a few new paintings and hiding out from the storm that whipped through on my last night there. As the palms (I didn't count them, but surely there were more than 29) swayed to and fro, I could have sworn they waved goodbye!