April 7, 2013:
Another move day, Rockhouse Road was a beautiful camp spot but the fierce winds were starting to get on our nerves. Monday morning when packing up to leave, the winds were unrelenting, giving us a farewell blast. The ride to Joshua Tree National Park went smoothly although windy and there were areas where it was like a dust storm. All the dust seems to be is where man has done his work of transforming the desert into agricultural land or some other form of development. The undisturbed desert has a crust that does not blow around in the wind. It was a long uphill climb on Rt. 10 from Coachella to Joshua Tree with heavy truck traffic which can get interesting at times. The California drivers are much like East coast drivers, in a hurry, very aggressive and will not give you a break, you have to really be on your toes all the time.
We set up camp on BLM land just north of Rt 10 a few miles from the Cottonwood park entrance, then went to the Cottonwood Visitors Center for some park maps and information. Then a 20 mile trip back down the mountain into the valley to the city of Indio to stock up on food and other essentials. It was an exhausting day, but now we are settled in for a few days and the fun starts. This is another huge park and most of the attractions (the Joshua Trees) seem to be in the northern section of the park which is a long trip from here. Joshua Tree National Park
Tuesday we did about 8 miles of hiking on the Lost Palm Oasis Trail. It was excellent and the rock formations and Fan Palms in the Oasis section were stunning. The trail started at the Cottonwood Spring which was originally an Indian village and then a water source for early white settlers. The Yucca plants are spectacular with their huge flowers. Also there are other (new to us) varieties of Cholla Cactus and Pencil Cactus.
Also of interest to me, all the California women we see on the trails, no matter what age, are really attractive and trim and fit as they zip past us on the trail, Twinkles agrees and but hates them !
On Wednesday, had to leave the trails for truck maintenance at a GMC dealer in Indio, CA. I needed an oil change and the check engine light was illuminated. Every GMC dealer so far has the same setup, nice standardization except for their waiting room TV always set to the dreadfully negative depressingly politically biased Fox news. The dealers don't seem to stock many or any parts for the Diesel engine, last time it was no air filter, this time some engine control stuff, so it was a return trip on Thursday to get it completed. Thursday morning at the GMC dealer at 7:30 AM till almost 1 PM, after replacing the #5 glow plug, injector, brake switch and regeneration, they say it's good to go. As they had taken a very long time to fix the issue at much inconvenience to me, they did not charge me for the oil/filter change and the rest was covered by warrantee. Almost worth the wait, well almost !
I did get caught up on the news of the world for the first time in months. In our travels, as we do not normally have TV, or listen to any news on the radio, or the internet, or buy newspapers, I have totally lost track of what is happening in the outside world, have become somewhat of a hermit. I am contemplating the merits of this ?
On the way out of Indio, I happened upon the old downtown that happens to still be a nice business area and they have a well done historical themed mural project. I roamed around and found 4 or 5 large murals on the sides of buildings. It's nice to see that the old area wasn't bulldozed and some of the area history is remembered. Cahuilla Indian Tribe
Friday we hiked the Mastadon Peak Trail, only 2 miles but the final footage was a scramble up rocks to the summit. Twinkles was a bit nervous but made it fine. On the way back down we saw a Chuckwalla munching away on a plant. Latter in the day we took a ride on the Box Canyon Road to Mecca. Mecca is a huge agricultural fruit growing region, thanks to irrigation, down in the Coachcella valley. We stopped at a local store, very hispanic, and ended up buying a few mexican cookies, a mexican Coke and ice cream. Box Canyon Road is a shortcut route to Joshua Tree Park which we avoided when coming with the RV, thinking it would be a tough route, in fact it is a much easier route. It's very scenic, great rock formations, but the road follows a wash, in places it is the wash, wouldn't want to be there during a summer thunderstorm.
A ride on Saturday north on Pinto Basin Road to the "Cholla Cactus Garden" area for the short loop trail then went back to the "Porcupine Wash". We went for a 2-3 mile hike up the wash into a wonderland of rocks. In checking out a blooming Hedgehog cactus, I happened upon a young Desert Tortoise. Twinkles was most excited to see it, an endangered animal species, out in the wild and issued a sighting report at the Ranger Station. We also saw a jackrabbit, assorted lizards and lots of wildflowers. I love to hike into the washes, they are very secluded, no crowds, no big expectations, but they are always full of wonders. Then back to the RV, do a little maintenance, relax, have a beer with the cool breeze blowing, I leave the park to the working weekend crowd to rush around trying to condense all the sights into one day, HA !
On Sunday, we went back to Box Canyon Road where we stopped at a trailhead where a few cars were parked, the sign read "little box canyon trail", but was painted over ? Anyhow it was a steep trail to a great overlook of the valley with the Salton Sea in the distance. It then went down into a secluded wash with lots of wildflowers and towering rocks all around. It was getting very hot, and it was a long steep uphill climb to get back out, so we headed back. We then went into the town of Indio and rewarded ourselves with a nice lunch at a Mexican restaurant.
We are heading to the north side of Joshua Tree National Park on Monday, probably the free BLM area unless something is open in the Joshua Park campground. I'm really looking forward to the scenery and hiking on the north end of the Park and the town of Joshua Tree, sounds like my kind of town.
Twinkles and Slick
|Cottonwood Spring Palms, gives an idea of their size|
|Yucca's in bloom along the trail|
|That's a big ass rock !|
|Yucca flowers are special|
|View down in the Palm Canyon Oasis|
|Sunset near the campsite|
|Scorpian Weed blooms|
|The Sacred Datura plant - highly toxic, but beautiful|
|History of Electricity mural in Indio|
|Great sign in downtown Indio|
|History of water mural in Indio|
|Dates mural - Indio, CA is famous for Dates|
|Twinkles powering up the Little Box Canyon Trail|
|Twinkles on top of Mastodon Mountain|
|Yucca in bloom|
|The Cholla Garden|
|Cholla in bloom|
|Jackrabbit on the run|
|Young Desert Tortoise|
|Cahuilla Indian tribe mural in Indio|