I was born in Michigan, a land of blue water and green trees, and somehow the blue-green gene must have become part of my DNA because I never reconciled myself to the Mojave Desert until recently, when I finally visited Joshua Tree National Park. I headed out, driving east, in the predawn darkness hoping for a magnificent sunrise. Of course, I didn’t get it. Instead, I watched as the thermometer in my car steadily dropped from the 50-degree range into the mid-30s. Brrr! So much for my qualms about desert heat.
The sun was just coming up as I drove through the park gate. There wasn’t a ranger on duty, so I drove on and stopped for my sunrise image.
The sky never did become as special as I had hoped, but that’s life. The clouds moved in and I settled for a blue morning. The coyotes and I wandered about in the twilight.
I didn’t know what to expect from this park. Would I see campgrounds and a park village? If these things do exist, I never found them. I drove along the main road (I entered from Yucca Valley) and just about the only things I saw were Joshua Trees.
Trees come in all shapes and configurations! Actually, a Joshua Tree isn’t a tree but a yucca which belongs to the lily family. I don’t know whether these trees continue throughout the park since I didn’t see the entire park. It’s big, about 800,000 acres! And not many roads.
The trees were photogenic, but the rocks were something special.
The above row of rocks, which look like part of a fossilized spine, appealed to me. I doubt some dinosaur expired here, but what makes all these rounded bumpy bits of rock? Researching this I discovered that the rocks may be quartz monzonite, a pale-colored igneous rock. Feel free to call it granite, but don’t take my word for it; I’m not a geologist. To me, they look like hardened bits of rounded clay! I thought they were fabulous, and they’re everywhere!
I had hoped to follow the road to a different exit, but the route just kept going further east. Not knowing where I would end up, I took a turn at Keys Ranch Road, hoping that it would take me back to civilization. It didn’t; it came to a dead-end at a vista point.
According to some signs, this valley below, which includes Palm Springs, is shrouded in smog most of the time. I was lucky because Mt. San Jacinto was right across the way. I preferred this shot because there was a Joshua tree in the image. If I looked in the other direction, to the south, I could see the Salton Sea. It was a great morning to be up at that vista point and therefore I’m not going to complain about the road that went nowhere.
I didn’t spend long in the park as I didn’t have a map and I wasn’t prepared for hiking. The good news is I overcame my Mojave phobia! At least winter in the Mojave, that is.
To see more photos from my bold adventure, please click here.