April 14, 2013:
Monday we pulled out of our Cottonwood Road campsite and headed north on Pinto Basin Road through Joshua Tree Park towards Twentynine Palms on the north side of the park. There is major road construction going on Pinto Basin Road and there is a 13 mile section that is slow going. We arrived at Twentynine Palms around noon to find very windy dust storm conditions not conducive to staying at the BLM area. It looked like we would need a respirator to breathe out there, this seems to be a downside to staying on BLM areas. As a result, we called Joshua Tree Park's Black Rock campground to see if camp sites were available. Sites were until the weekend, so we hustled on over and set up in a tight but workable spot. No electric or sewer connections, but water is close by, there is a dump station and it's cheap. It is nestled in the park foothills amidst a nice stand of Joshua Trees with good views. It is also convenient to just about anything you need on Rt. 62 in Yucca Valley. This wind is the result of a cold front moving in, it's long pants and a jacket in the afternoon and it went down to 42 degrees overnight, we pilled on the quilts again. Not to worry, it will be back to 80 again by weeks end and hopefully no wind. At least there is no blowing dust at the Black Rock campground.
Tuesday was a long overdue laundry day, then the post office, then ink for the printer, then gas for the generator and then a great lunch at the "Joshua Tree Saloon" which I believe will be my hangout while in this area. I went back at 8 PM for their open mike music night, it was one of the best I've seen.
A return to hiking for us on Wednesday to the Hidden Valley Trail, the Cap Rock Trail and the Barker Dam Trail. We missed a trail sign at Barker Dam and ended up going through the dry lake bed and into the canyon beyond. That missed turn may have been the best part of the hike. There is no water in the lake, but it was interesting to see water marks on the rocks indicating that it has been 7-8 feet deep. They were all short loop trails and all really spectacular. The Joshua Trees are said to be blooming more than ever this year and it is speculated this has something to do with the on-going two year drought. I practically had eye strain by 3 PM when we headed back to the campground.
Thursday was another hiking day on the Ryan Mountain trail, it was extremely windy all the way and the trail was steep (lots of steps) for most of the way, but the view at the top was worth it. At the summit a couple of Ravens put on quite a flying exhibition, doing all kinds of loops and barrel rolls that stunt pilots could only do in their dreams. Then it was back down, a real stair stepper workout ! Then a real picnic lunch for us, not our usual granola bar, which we ate at a beautiful picnic spot at the Hidden Valley area in the shadows of a massive stone wall. Then another short ramble around the perimeter of the "Horror of Rocks Area" which is a giant pile of towering rocks that are a popular rock climbing spot. We then took a ride out to the BLM area off Rt. 62 to scope out a spot to camp for the next few days. We were not that impressed, a rough unmaintained access road, lots of camp sites there, but the roads are so rough that you can't get to them without risking damage to the RV. We did find a couple of sites that would work, provided no one gets there and grabs them before us on Friday.
Friday we get to the BLM area at 10 AM to find our first pick is taken by a couple of tent campers. As a result, we settled into another site near by, about the same. As soon as we were set up, the tent couple packed up and left, how's that for timing ? There are lots of broken bottles and shotgun shells along with a huge fire pit next to us for shooting explosives or something. Hopefully a band of Mad Max maniacs will not invade us on the weekend. We went to downtown Joshua Tree Friday night, they was a Beatles BBQ with non stop Beatles music going on at a local hangout called "Trailer Trash", we stopped there for a while and took in the sights and sounds. There is a large alternative / hippie / artsy / musician / weird element in Joshua Tree and many of them were there. We then went to the Joshua Tree Saloon for their Friday night Karaoke which was a different strange eclectic crowd, but fun.
Saturday afternoon we went on a park ranger led visit to the "Keys Desert Queen Ranch" in Joshua Tree Park. Bill Keys was a truly a legendary figure in Joshua Tree history, extremely hard working, resourceful and an all around amazing character. The ranch is almost exactly as Bill left it, and is a real museum of early homesteading. The wind is back, really roaring today, but luckily not much dust where we are.
Now at McDonalds in Twentynine Palms, CA using their free internet as my usage this month is at it's limit. Lots of interesting stuff here, well maybe not lots ? Twentynine Palms is the home of the Marines, lots of barber shops and Massage Parlors. Barber shops advertising Marine haircuts, should shock Twinkles ???
More will be revealed, stay tuned.
|My private Swimming Pool|
|Joshua Tree Saloon|
|Snake at Black Rock Campground|
|Our Campsite on BLM land|
|Massive rocks at Joshua Tree are everywhere|
|Dead Tree view|
|Hidden Valley view|
|Blooming Claret Cup Cactus|
|Beautiful blooming Yucca|
|Twinkles found a comfortable seat|
|Water level line at Barker Dam Lake|
|Indian Petroglyphs touched up by 60's film crew|
|View from Ryan Mountain|
|View at summit of Ryan Mountain|
|View on Ryan Mountain Trail|
|Bus service at BLM area|
|Joshua Tree view|
|Rock climbers at Joshua Tree|
|The Key's Ranch House|
|Mack truck was started a driven to this spot a few years ago|
|Mining Stamp Mill at Key's ranch|
|Key's Ranch view|
|Joshua Tree view|
|Old Mack Truck and lots of old hardware|
|Bill Keys back stretcher|