Joshua Tree National Park-Day 1

On the morning of Friday, February 26, 2021, we woke up really early to catch our flight to Las Vegas. After arriving at the airport here in Louisville, Kentucky we like to walk around the terminals for a bit until our flight gets ready to leave. We flew Southwest and had to go to Denver, Colorado first. The flight was a bit bumpy for a short time but not too bad. Somewhere over Coloado we started to see some snow.

That is Denver’s Airport above. The inside of the airport is quite nice with lots of food and shopping options. We settled for breakfast from an Italian place. Andrea had a slice of cheese pizza and I had a breakfast Stromboli that had bacon, sausage, egg, peppers, mozzarella, and mushrooms. I know, we’re odd balls eating that sort of thing for breakfast. After that we had to quickly make it to our gate for the flight to Las Vegas.

This flight was extremely choppy at first. The turbulence was the worst I have experienced so far and started almost as soon as we rose above the Rocky Mountains. But the view was amazing. The Rockies were great to see from above.

So was the wonderful scenery of southern Utah.

And we think we may have noticed part of the Grand Canyon in the distance.

We also saw most of Lake Mead in Nevada from the air.

Getting our luggage and the rental car was a snap. Then we were off to have lunch at an In-N-Out Burger (to Andrea’s surprise). It was as tasty as we remembered it to be.

The drive towards Joshua Tree National Park in California was quite scenic too. I’m fairly certain that we never went without seeing mountains to either side of us for the entire trip. At the California/Nevada border there were some casino/hotels, one of which had a roller coaster going all the way around it. There were also some of the huge solar farms where the light is captured at a water tower in the center and the steam produced from the heat creates the power. We saw these as we were about to land at the Las Vegas airport and had no idea what the blinding lights could have been. It was nice to have settled that mystery.

We then drove through the Mojave National Preserve and saw many Joshua Trees of various sizes. The further we went into the park the more we saw. One area was thick with them, even going up part of the surrounding mountains.

We then came across one of the visitor centers for the Mojave National Preserve in Kelso. It was closed, of course, but there were still some interesting displays that told about the town. During World War II the government leased a lot of the land and buildings as the area had an important local rail station.

We continued through the back country driving through an area called Wonder Valley. It must have been a popular place to live at one time as there were many tiny homes strewn across the desert countryside. Most of them were abandoned, empty shells, some with graffiti on the walls and most were windowless.

Another interesting spot along the way was an area of land that was used to produce salt. The company that owns the land apparently provides all or most of the salt for school chemistry experiments in the United States. The land surrounding it was used as a dropping point for dirt. The dirt was piled in rows that looked like lines of pyramids.

After many more miles we finally reached Joshua Tree National Park. We stopped at the Oasis Visitor Center on the north side of the park. There used to be an actual oasis at this visitor center but it has dried up. There are still a lot of the palms and other foliage around the area along with a short paved trail.

From there we drove into the park. I wanted to make it up to the top of Ryan Mountain before sunset but, unfortunately, it was already past 4pm by the time we made it up the beginning of the trail and sunset was supposed to be at about 5:30. My plan was to watch the sunset from the top of the mountain and then stick around to see the stars.

It was a strenuous hike up the mountain. We only made it about 3/4 of the way before deciding to turn back while there was still some light to see by. The sun had already dropped below the ridge of the mountain range in the distance.

We wanted to see the stars in the clear night sky so we stuck around until it was completely dark. This is where we were unlucky again as the moon that night was full and most likely choked out the light from the majority of stars that could have possibly been seen. A lot of people had the same idea as us too. As we were waiting for complete darkness multilpe groups of people were making their trek down the mountain. At any rate, we probably did see a lot more stars than we are normally able to in the night sky of the city of Louisville.

After that it was time to go check in to our hotel for the night, a Motel 6 in 29 Palms. The city has a Marine base nearby. There is a Del Taco next to the motel so we were able to have our favorite tacos on this trip too! How lucky!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s