Have you ever thought about all the places you’ve never been and all the people you’ve never met?
Sunrises and sunsets yet to be seen? Mountains you want to hike and climb? Oceans and seas you want to swim in or just get your toes wet in?
I have a vision to see and do as much as I can before the places, people, sights are gone, or I am, whichever comes first!
I read some articles in the news during the government shutdown that people were in Joshua Tree National Park cutting down trees, illegally camping and trash was thrown everywhere. What a disturbing thing this was to me. What kind of people do these things with that much disregard and disrespect for our National Parks?
This week I was able to visit Joshua Tree National Park because some people cared enough to clean it up and repair the park from all the vandalism. Those people did an amazing job and I wish I could tell them all “Thank You”.
The day started out a little chilly but the beautiful sunshine warmed your skin and your heart.
The field of wildflowers welcomed us into the National Park!
After a stop at the visitors center to learn more about the park we traveled down the road at the side of the center which took us to Cottonwood Springs, which looked like an oasis in the desert.
The trees were bundled together which provided shade for the Indians who once lived here. As you can see from the pictures below the fronds of the palm tree make the tree look kind of hairy. There was also a wash (ditch or canal) that lead to the palms that gathered around the spring.
Inside or underneath the palms is where the spring was. The fronds from the surrounding palms made it feel like a room.
As you drive through the first part of the park there are many different arrangements of boulder piles.
The eastern part of the park is in the Colorado Desert which is below 3,000 feet above sea level.
Yeah, that was confusing to me too!
The Ocotillo Cactus are starting to bloom. The vibrant red blooms need a little more sunshine to be completely blossomed.
We stopped at the Cholla Cactus Gardens to take the short quarter mile trail. There were Cholla as far as the eye could see. Many of the Cholla were getting buds.
The cactus is also called the Jumping Cholla as it has a tendency to attach itself to the those not paying attention. There was one lowly Engelmann Hedgehog there too.
The picture on the left is what the Cholla buds look like and how the flowers will look.
On the right is what the dead Cholla looks like. Once you peel off the outer surface you get a nice piece of Cholla wood which is used in crafts and furniture.
My first Joshua Tree sighting! Little did I know there was a lot more to come!
The Joshua Tree isn’t really a tree but a species of yucca.
Now in the western half of the National Park we are in the Mojave Desert and above 3,000 feet sea level.
All of the sudden into view and out of the ground come these huge stacked boulders!
We had lunch at the Jumbo Rocks picnic area. It was mind blowing as to how these rock piles came to be.
Eons ago they began underground as a result of volcanic activity. Magma rose from deep in the Earth and as it rose, it intruded the overlying rock.
As we ate our lunch, these guys were playing instruments and singing and it was really enjoyable.
That’s me in the top left picture, my Mom always said I was a monkey!
That’s Tracy under the big boulder and the little green lizard didn’t seem to mind we were there.
This is a Joshua Tree that has clusters of buds ready to bloom into cream-colored flowers.
I felt very fortunate to get to see the the trees budding and blooming.
This is me by a Joshua Tree that grew sideways. The tree itself has waxy, spiny leaves protecting the surface area and conserving moisture.
Theses boulders that rose from under the ground, have granite which was cooled and crystallized underground, then cracks formed horizontally and vertically.
These heaps of monzogranite were scattered across the land.
This is called Cap Rock.
We saw a lot of rock climbers but this guy was insane. It’s called “slacklining” and we watched him for a bit and saw him fall but thank goodness he was wearing a safety harness!
The endless sea of boulders was just so amazing to look at.
Joshua Trees grow to about 40 feet in height at about an inch a year.
Here we are at the top of Keys View, 5185 feet above sea level with a great view of the snow capped San Bernadino Mountains.
Down there somewhere is the San Andreas Fault or so it tells you.
It was just gorgeous up there looking out over the cities that spanned I-10.
The endless Joshua Trees and boulders were so mesmerizing to me.
The Park was very busy and there were all types of people enjoying it. Many families, couples, groups of friends and visitors from other countries were all there to enjoy nature.
What better way to enjoy the Park than by taking a hike. The Barker Dam Trail was a good 1.5 mile hike with a few obstacles but a very nice hike nonetheless.
The dam was built at the turn of the century (1900s) to hold water for cattle. It looks as though it was made of some type of sheet metal.
Top left is the reservoir provided by the dam. Top right is the back side of the dam. Bottom left is the front side of the dam and the bottom right is the creek and what looks like some sort of trough.
As you leave the dam area you find this unusual rock formation.
If you look close it looks as if there are pictographs on it. They actually are but they were enchanced by a movie crew.
As we finish up our hike we are thankful that all of this is here to enjoy. The weather is perfect and the scenery sublime.
Looking up at the sky there was three quarters of a halo around the sun.
If you plan a trip to Joshua Tree National Park know these important things. Pets must be on a leash no more than six feet long and NO Dogs are allowed on any trails.
There are 24 different hiking trails ranging from .25 mile to 8 miles and from easy to strenuous.
There are 8 different campgrounds with no electricity or sewer. There are some with water, but all have some type of toilet, a fire grate and table. Only two of the campgrounds have dump stations.
There are paved roads and unpaved roads, we stayed on the paved!
We had a great day in Joshua Tree National Park. Hopefully it will be around many more generations for other respectful/appreciative families and guests to enjoy. I know it has become one of my favorites!
Have you ever thought, “I just won’t die happy unless I go to the International Banana Museum?
Well I will die happy now! Ha Ha!
The Banana Man welcomes you to the museum as you drive south of Mecca, California on Route 111.
The International Banana Museum is coined as the most aPEELing destination on the planet!
The Museum boasts over 20,000 banana related items and is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records .
GO BANANAS here at the museum and get yourself a treat at the counter. There are chocolate covered frozen bananas, banana splits, banana floats and many more items. I opted for a banana twinkie for myself and Tracy got a banana moon pie.
They even had a slot machine in the collection and outside sat a yellow banana Camaro.
Make sure to check their website for times and days they are open before you head out.
When I gazed out my truck window driving north on Route 111 in California, I saw a blue glimmering sea to my west that shimmered in the sunlight. What a beautiful sight I thought and for a moment I was very excited because this was where I was spending the night.
This is the Salton Sea and the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. We pulled into the campground and checked in with the Camp Host.
There was a distinct odor that was there as we spoke to the Camp Host. He stated that he really didn’t notice it as he went on to say that I should keep the girls off the beach due to the fish bones and shards, which can cause infection. He also told us to make sure we wore good shoes so our feet were protected also.
This was suppose to be my site for the night and Tracy’s was right beside mine. We didn’t stay the night, we found another place to stay. I could not handle the odor and why be at a place when you would have to stay inside your camper the entire time.
I felt compelled to learn more about the Salton Sea, as I couldn’t understand how something so beautiful far away could be so different up close.
The first thing I learned was it really is not a sea but the largest lake in California.
This is a story of a dying sea. Once called the Salton Sink, the basin was originally part of the Gulf of California. The Colorado River would occasionally fill the sea but would then leave it dry.
The Gulf of California also provided water but would leave a silty sediment and salt deposits behind. Over time the deposits formed a delta between the Salton Sea and the Gulf of California.
Later, in the 1800’s the Colorado once flowed into the canals built to irragate and grow vegetation but in 1905 the Colorado broke through one of the canals. The water eventually rose so high it overwhelmed entire communities, the Southern Pacific Railroad and Salt Company that mined the salt deposits from under the sea.
But why does it smell so bad? The runoff of surrounding agriculture, low oxygen levels in the sea and algae blooms contribute to H2S, hydrogen sulfide which smells like rotten eggs. Add that to the decaying fish on the beach and it will leave you wanting to run the other way.
The Salton Sea is 35 miles long and 15 miles across, 43 feet deep and is only 5 feet higher than Death Valley. It also sits directly over the San Andreas Fault.
We walked out onto the beach to see for ourselves. Most beaches have sand but not now. All this shoreline is fish barnacles, shards and bones.
The break in the waves are not white, but a brownish color.
This is an example of what the beach looked like close up.
The Salton Sea did see some glory days and brought many visitors to the beach during the 1950’s and 1960’s. There were Yacht Clubs, large marinas, hotel resorts and a golf course.
Because the water from the Colorado River is now being diverted the Salton Sea’s only water intake is from the run off of the agricultural land around it, which is full of fertilizers and pollutants that ultimately kill the different species of fish in the Sea.
The diversion of the Colorado and the agricultural runoff made the sea a graveyard for fish as they washed up to the shoreline in mass quantities.
People just up and left their homes on the sea, never to return from the stench from the dead fish. The resorts went out of business and the few towns around the sea became somewhat ghost towns.
We visited Bombay Beach, a town on the eastern side of the lake. There were remnants of days gone by everywhere you looked, such as the sign below.
In the top left picture I am standing on a levy that was built. You can see from the pictures the water left just parts of the town.
A once nice boats remains and different forgotten buildings line the other side of the levy.
Driving through Bombay Beach there were scenes of abandonment and graffiti.
You can see from the mobile homes that they are not from any recent eras and it gives you a post apocalyptic feeling.
I have seen some YouTube videos about an influx of Bohemian artists and hipsters that are coming here and trying to give the town new life.
There was a drive-in that someone has built as perhaps an art exhibit.
On the western side of the Salton Sea is Salton City. This was one of the first civilized communities on the Salton Sea.
I am standing on the edge of what use to be the seas edge.
Unfortunately, the sea is shrinking because there is no water coming into the sea, only agricultural runoff.
There was at some point a channel system through some of the neighborhoods, now there is no water and broken down docks.
It’s just so sad that people put their hard earned money into this place and then they come up empty handed to no fault of their own.
It really is beautiful.
This house had an interesting display in their side yard. The circle is made up of beer and wine bottles.
These signs are from the places we visted around the Salton Sea.
I found some old postcards online of the Sea’s better days. None of these landmarks are here anymore.
I read that if something isn’t done the Salton Sea will dry up leaving a toxic dust in the air that will cause breathing problems, especially in children, they called it an asthma plague.
A decade from now 60,000 acres will be exposed and the areas will create more toxic dust. The winds can really gust in this area and that means sending the dust into all the nearby communities.
I asked the park ranger about this and she said, that I was correct but there is currently legislation on the table to get back water from the Colorado.
The late Sonny Bono was an advocate for saving the Salton Sea.
I truly hope that something is done to save the sea and people can move back to the valley and make it prosperous again.
The picture below is in Desert Springs, California. I thought the green glass rock looked very cool in the medians.
Driving back to camp we drove over the San Andreas Fault line.
No worries though, no earthquakes today!
Next stop Quartzsite, Arizona, the home of RVs and boondocking! It is a really big deal in January and February when the Gem and Minerals shows are in full swing.
While in Quartzsite we visited the Hi Jolly Tomb. Hi Jolly, a Greek man, was hired in 1857 as a camel herder for the Army’s short-lived Camel Corps. When the Civil War started the Camel Corps ended and the 70 camels were set free in the desert to fend for themselves. Hi Jolly returned to Quartzsite and dabbled in mining, packing, scouting, selling water to travelers and even delivering the “Jackass Mail”.
Yes, Jackass Mail is a real thing. It was the nations first transcontinental passenger and mail service that ran from San Antonio to San Diego.
A store in Quartzsite claims to have the Worlds Largest Belt Buckle. I almost missed it. It’s large but, Uranus, Missouri has the largest and Fort Worth, Texas the second largest.
The bear was interesting and had his own belt buckle!
The red wheel rimmed camel was interesting also, maybe a tribute to Hi Jolly ?
Other interesting things were the metal art and the big rocking horse made out of wood.
We boondocked at the Road Runner BLM for the night. We managed having a fire but then it started to rain at sunset so there were no stars to gaze upon.
We arrived in Apache Junction, Arizona with the Tonto National Forest and Superstition Mountain as our back drop.
In nearby Gold Canyon is the Canyon Hieroglyphic Trail and the Lost Goldmine Trail, and it’s too nice of a day to pass up.
The trail head parking lot was packed full and we had to wait patiently for a space. The reason it was so full was due to spring break here in Arizona. I must say I was impressed by the number of parents out with their children in the fresh air!
The trail goes from smooth dirt, to rocks and then boulders at one point and it is 3 miles round trip!
I took Harlie with me because she is really good on trails. Frannie however likes to stop at each blade of grass or bush and wants to sniff so she got to stay home and watch the game shows!
There was beauty all around us.
This is an example of one of the more taxing parts of the trail.
A small wooded area was nice, especially if it had been a very hot day.
When you reached the end of the trail you found all the other hikers taking breaks and eating their lunches.
You also find nestled down in between the rocks, a small waterfall and pool of cold water.
The trail was called hieroglyphics but there was really petroglyphs there.
I was surprised that the petroglyphs were not roped off or signs posted so that people could not touch them as we have seen at other places we visited.
Looking back down over the Gold Canyon valley.
Oh look! It’s me!
There were a couple of really tall Saguaros off the trail.
Another example of the trail.
I think Tracy enjoyed the day as well, she still has a smile on her face!
So here we are at the end of a very interesting and fun week.
Get out and see and do the things you want, because they are here today and may be gone tomorrow!