Joshua Tree National Park
Our morning started as all great trips should, with a large artistically plated breakfast. This came about because I couldn’t remember if I always ordered the cinnamon toast or french toast. To resolve the issue, they gave me one of each resulting in quite possibly the most wonderful french toast I’ve ever had. Thankfully, Major was driving so I could nap in the car from my food coma.
Nearly to Joshua Tree National Park, we stopped off in a curious little town with some very provocative business names. I’ll spare you the colorful titles, but if curiosity overwhelms, you’ll have to see it for yourself.
Stocked up on fuel and snacks, we started once again. Shortly after, the GPS announced that we had arrived with an abundance of excitement. Unfortunately, not seeing any indication, we kept cruising down the highway. After some quick research, I found the nearest visitor center. A few more miles and we pulled into the parking lot. Stretching my legs, I noted the handful of other hikers. It would seem we were not the only late arrivals.
Soon after, we were back on the road with a handful of maps and a vague idea of which trail we were going to take.
The line for the entrance was long, giving me time to study the map further. The park was huge and dotted with areas of attraction. One could choose anything from a leisurely stroll to the more strenuous overnight trips. There were also many abandoned mines and homesteads to explore.
Deciding on the split rock trail, we started out. The fresh air was cool but not chilly. Weighed down by my overprepared backpack, I took up the rear. We climbed up and across large sloping rocks. The further we went, the fewer hikers we found. Resting occasionally, we took time to enjoy the quiet. After a long while, we spotted a couple walking towards us. They admitted we were the first people they had seen and hoped we could point them back towards the entrance. After a short exchange, looking relieved, they departed in the direction we had come from.
All too soon, the sun sank below the ridge. The remaining light was slipping away as we hurried back towards the car. Finally spotting the parking lot, we climbed to the top of an overlook. Watching the clear sky over miles of desert, we rested and as darkness set in, so did the cold. With reluctance, we returned to the car and headed out. Following the winding road, I looked up at the stars. They shone brightly in the night sky unhindered by city lights. We spotted several hikers in the dark, exploring trails with flashlights darting around the rock. The drive back into town was a meandering path allowing us to take in the sites for a while longer. The desert gave way to the city below sparkling with hundreds of seemingly tiny lights reminding me of the upcoming Christmas season. With so much more to see, I hoped we would return soon.