The road between Borrego Springs and Joshua Tree National Park essentially takes you through a huge wash. The landscape is pretty rugged between the two places.
It makes me wonder what happens to the road when it rains. Judging by its condition, I can't think it's a very good place to be traveling in bad weather.
And it is desolate.
Before too long, we could begin to see the Salton Sea. If you look a little below center in the next image, you'll see a dark sliver of blue. That is the Salton Sea. It's located directly on the San Andreas Fault in California's Coachella Valley.
We still had cell coverage at this point, and so I was able to pull up a satellite image of the area on my phone. The blue dot is where we are traveling.
With the exception of a few small towns, the road continues through this rugged and parched landscape.
That's pretty much all we saw even after we passed the Cottonwood Visitor Center at the south end of Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Trees (yucca brevifolia...pretty fancy, huh?) do not grow everywhere in the park, and so you have to travel some 20 miles before you begin to see them.
We camped in the Jumbo Rocks campground inside the national park boundaries. Joshua Trees are not the only item of interest in the park. For us, the rocks and boulders are at least as interesting, if not more. This is our campsite. You can see our rig just off to the right in the image below.
It was getting late in the day when we arrived. Once we got set up, we went for a short walk. Like I said...it was windy and cold.
The landscape was beautiful in the setting sun. The image below kind of encapsulates what you can see here, although there is much we have yet to explore.
Compare the Joshua Tree in the image above to the Mohave yucca in the image below. Obviously, the Joshua Trees are taller, but their fronds are also shorter. We've been fortunate enough to see the yucca when it blooms and it is beautiful. You can see some images of it in that link I've given you. On this trip, it appeared the Joshua Trees had just bloomed, or were about to bloom. We couldn't tell for sure.
I was able to capture this silhouette in the setting sun. It was a peaceful end to a day of driving.
Our furnace ran almost constantly overnight. It's a propane heater, but the fan is electric, and it nearly drained our battery. Since we were dry camping (meaning, camping without water or electric hook-ups), it became clear that we couldn't stay here for long. That meant we set a busy agenda for ourselves for this one full day in the park. We started with this short trail out to Arch Rock.
This whole area is made up of a soft granite. Here's what the sign had to say about it.
One of the more interesting formations in all of this is the appearance of dikes as erosion occurs. You can see an example on the right side of the image below. I'm speaking of the line of smaller rocks running more or less vertically through the large boulders.
And here's what the sign has to say about the dikes. (I bring this up because it's the one feature we remembered from our previous visit some years ago.)
This next sign explains the erosion process and what leads to the appearance of these huge boulders above the soil line. In fact, the soil is the eroded-away remains of what came before.
The image below corresponds to the sign above.
It was only a brief walk out to the arch.
We've learned before that arches are formed by wind, and natural bridges are formed by running water. In this case, the arch is formed by wind and rain. I could only shoot directly into the sun, and so there are lens flares in this picture. Still, I think it gives you a pretty good idea what we saw from there.
There was more beyond the arch, but it would have required more "scrambling" over rocks than my knee was going to permit, and so we turned back and returned to our campsite. We were able to get Smitty out for a walk at this point. He loved the sandy soil and he rolled and rolled and rolled...which is a problem when you're trying to keep the leash untangled.
There were some people in the next campsite over, and that kept him on guard.
We were able to get in about a 20-minute walk.
And we explored some areas where cats could go, but taller people could not.
He and Maggie are doing really well at this point. They still give one another a wide berth, but there is a lot less grrrring and yowling. We haven't had to bring out the squirt bottle of doom for at least a couple of days. Maggie has taken a few good swipes at him, and that leaves Smitty with an astonished expression on his face. He's not used to living with a cat who still has her claws. He's given her space when she decides she wants to use the catio. I doubt they'll ever go out together, as the quarters are a little close, but he hasn't interfered with her when she goes by herself.
Yes, I'm smiling now, but she'll pay later.
When we left Joshua Tree yesterday to drive to Hemet, CA, they were still negotiating for who was going to ride where. Maggie was in Smitty's usual hidey hole, and she seemed to recognize her error. When I made Smitty give her some room to maneuver, she went to the far side of the bed. She was still standing on the bed, when I shut the door. I assumed she'd get onto the floor between the bed and the closet, which was Gracie's favorite riding spot. When I opened the door after arriving in Hemet, I found her on the bed like this. She'd burrowed under my sweatshirt and was looking pretty comfy-cozy.
We're now in a park we've stayed many times in Hemet. We like Hemet for its wonderful climate, and we like this park for its hot tubs and activities. There has been a dearth of cats for me to make up to on this trip. This is the first one we've seen.
Yeah, not exactly something you'd want to cuddle up to. There is a craft fair going on here on Sunday, and that will be fun. Also, they have the most luxurious hot tubs...always a favorite of ours. We're here for the next four days, and Mike's sister will be driving over from Anaheim to see us.
That's all for today, but I have a lot more hiking to tell you about from our Joshua Tree NP stay. Tomorrow I'll tell you about hiking out to Lost Horse Mine. It was over four miles round trip and I managed a new personal best on my Fitbit that day.
That wasn't our only hike, however. We also hiked the Skull Rock Trail, and so I have lots more to tell you. Just give me some time to sort through my pictures.