Saturday, November 5, 2016

Our 1st Visit to Joshua Tree National Park!

One of the 1st things I did this morning was call my mother to sing Happy Birthday!  She was 87 today and is feeling well again after about a month of battling bronchitis!  So glad she is healthy again!  I also was able to talk to my Dad and he appears to be doing well also!

After a great omelette breakfast, cleaning up, and loading the CRV with our packed lunches, the 4 of us were on our way by 8:30 for the hour drive to the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park!  It was exciting to be heading to a park we had not seen before!

We went into the park via the southern Cottonwood Visitors Center, which was the nearest one from the CG.

A new National Park for us to visit!

There is quite a stark contrast between the 2 different
deserts in this park!

That end of the park has only a few trails so after stopping and getting some information from the Park Ranger, we did do one trail that was near the Cottonwood CG.  It was the short trail where we saw many palm trees and cacti.

The Colorado Desert has many huge palm trees, but no Joshua trees!

We did see many yucca plants!

Plenty of sand!

Beautiful smoke trees!

From there we drove through the park stopping at several points of interest.

Blooming flowers on the Colorado Desert!

The rock formations are so different.  Looks like someone (a
large person) just piled up lots of big stones!

First stop was the Ocotillo Patch where almost all of the cacti (looks like a cactus but it isn't) appeared to be dead.  One of them was very green and beautiful. We did learn that the Ocotillo  can bloom several times a year depending on rainfall.  But as soon as water becomes unavailable, it looses its leaves and flowers and appears to be dead.  It is still alive and just saving its "energy" waiting for the next little bit of rainfall!

The ocotillo are very tall!  Compare the live green one to
what looks like a brown dead one.  Not so!!  Just dormant!

Nearby was the Cholla (choy ya) Cactus Garden and what an amazing 1/2 mile hike.  I never saw so many cacti at one place.  They were everywhere!  Most of them were green at the top, but dark to lighter brown from the bottom up!  The number of "baby cacti" at the base were amazing!  I found it fascinating.  They warn you not to touch them because they are so sharp and it is very difficult to get the  "thorns" out of your skin.  We had to remind Ernie to behave!!

Cacti, cacti everywhere!

I don't think these are buds but flowers that already bloomed!

Beautiful multi-colored!

So many different and unique shapes!

By then it was time for lunch so we stopped at the Live Oak picnic area.  Next stop was to Skull Rock where we thought we would have to hike to see it, but it was right along the road.  So much for some exercise.

Much smoother rocks on the Mohave Desert!

This is Skull Rock.  I think it looks more like a cone head from
Saturday Night Live!

This Joshua Tree is the closest to looking like the
shape of an actual tree!

Looked like a Joshua Tree orchard or grove!

In the foreground is a Joshua Tree starting to get branches!

After stopping to view it and some of scenery near it, we continued down the road  and walked the 1 mile Ryan Ranch trail.  It was a path along an old ranch road to see a historic adobe structure that was once a residence for 60 folks.  It started as a gold mining area, but when that ended, it became a cattle ranch. They settled in that area because of water from a spring that was available there. That was in the 1930's.

The old adobe homestead!

A tank for holding water!

The blades of the water pumping windmill from the '30's.
The base of it was on the ground several 100 feet away!

Through the window of the adobe homestead!

Love the purple hues!

That large upright rock that is being climbed
looks like it is ready to fall.  Quite a
balancing act!  I hope the climber doesn't
push it over!!!!

Okay maybe this is the best looking Joshua Tree we saw today!
Most of them are rather straggly!

By now it was after 4 and time to return to the CG.  I suggested that we stop in Desert Hot Springs on the was back to have a Mexican dinner.  Everyone agreed.  So, by 5:30 we were enjoying a delicious Mexican meal at Las Palmas. Loved it!

Don't you just love all the mountain ranges in the distance???

We were back to the CG by 7:30 after driving at least 150 miles.  Saw a beautiful sunset along the way.  

Another gorgeous ending to a special day.  We have been
so blessed with amazing weather on this trip.  We really
haven't experienced any rain and the temperatures have been
above average!  We had been concerned about hitting snow
on this trip, but not even close!!!

We had seen a lot of Joshua Tree NP today, but still have more to see and more trails to hike.  So we will return again tomorrow for further exploration of this interesting park with an extremely varied terrain.

We went to our separate RV's where I spent time on this blog and downloading photos.  We also packed our lunches for tomorrow.  We should be ready to go early tomorrow morning because we get an extra hour of sleep tonight!

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