I LLLLOOOOOOVEEE Joshua Tree National Park. This was the first real national park I’d ever really stayed in, really gave it a chance to explore. The first time I went to this amazing place was in 2014, after a visit to Humboldt’s redwoods I needed more nature. Since that first trip I’ve gone about half a dozen times and seen both the Black Rock Campground and this one, Indian Cove. Both have their own personalities & beauties, just a few of the many reasons this park rules. I’d just been out here in January for an overnighter, but I feel to really enjoy any place really you need 2 nights.
My 7 year anniversary with my girlfriend was coming up & I couldn’t think of a better place to spend it.
May 16, 2017
We hit the road pretty early. Is 6:30 early?, I’d packed up old Vanson the night before and wanted to miss all the morning IE/OC traffic (if you live here you know what I mean). The drive is always beautiful. Our first stop was the Cabazon Dinosaurs, that’d just been repainted a few months back and I wanted to get a peak at their new paint jobs.
The wind was howling, cold and gloomy. There wasn’t anyone in the lot but a few workers, I don’t even think the place was open. I’ve never been inside these bad boys but will have to make it a point to come check it out when it’s a normal hour. Do y’all remember these things from a movie called “The Wizard”, with Fred Savage?!? I sure do.
The statues werent much after you first look at them, but what really caught my eye was the beautiful clouded sky behind me. There’s no sky bluer than one with puffy clouds in them, or a mountain more inviting and opposing than one with shadows dancing across it’s face.
Joshua Tree, the Town
Being so early in the day, not being able to check into our site until noonish, we decided to stop in town and walk around. Joshua tree is something else, a hippie-nature-redneckie sort of town that has something for everyone. It had this Marfa, TX sort of feel to it. You could feel the artist vibe going around.
Murtle the Turtle greets you on your way into town.
Around the corner from Natural Sisters, a cute organic hippie coffee shop, and a few little thrift shops you’ll find the Joshua Tree National Park Store. The perfect place to get a quarter bath in their outhouse type showers, buy that hippy skirt you were looking for or that rock climbing salve for your climbers paw. There’s even guided climbing tours.
Not a climber?!? Then how about some art museums. Joshua Tree boasts the smallest art gallery & the World Famous Crochet Museum.
Of course my fabulous partner had to snatch the scene with some killer modeling for me in any place she could find. Always with her levitating hoop, you can tell by these photos that adventures with her are always really adventures.
Once we were done in town, got the little bit of extras we needed for camp, we were back on the road to Indian Cove. Campsite 30. This site, right now, is by far our favorite site. Let me explain. It’s very near the front of the campground where the road comes in, making it easy access if you aren’t familiar with the site numbers. The campsite size itself is very large, you do share a parking area with another car for site 31, but you’ll never really see them As you can tell from the photo you get a lot of space. The site also has the awesome feature of a little rock canyon, no way in really from the back way unless you climb through (which funny enough we had had some German tourist climb through with their small son. The son was stoked). So all in all the site is pretty private. Another cool thing, if you’re a sun and heat kind of person, is this site gets a lot of sun light. The sun coming up just to the east and in front of those boulders on the right, then turns wraps around those rocks and tracks westernly in front of you, exposing you to sunlight all day long.
I used an an app called the BlueHour, mainly for photography, this app lets you pull up any spot you can find and date you want to see and it’ll give you the sunrise, sunset, moonrise & moonset. The direction of the sun, even the different hours (golden, blue) and the different twilight times. The awesomeness of this app belongs for another post, but I wanted to show you what I was talking about with the sun.
After we set up camp, which when you’re van camping isn’t a lot of work, set up the fire wood and promptly took a break. Have you ever noticed how traveling can take a lot out of ya? Once the sun started to set & the desert air cooled off a bit it was time for a hike.
I’ve been taking part in the 52 Hike Challenge and could not wait to check some trails off out here in Joshua Tree. Now, if you’re big into hiking and want some real challenges then this campground is not for you. There is the Boy Scout Trail outside of the campground, you drive there and park before taking off the trail head, but other than that there aren’t any real trails to speak of. That wasn’t gonna stop me.
Using AllTrails I’d found a few off pathish type roads. I found these two “paths” from the topo layover on the website & thought they’d be worth an explore.
What I found at the end of the path was rather interesting. First though I stared at the beautiful rocks and crazy formations. The grip of their surface makes it difficult to not want to climb all over them. I’ll be bouldering them by next Spring time I swear. It’s such an amazing feeling to climb on something natural, something youthful & freeing.
Once you get through the rocks, down the dirt road that leads you through the campgrounds you come to a fence. Follow that road down to the fire pit grave yard. Obviously this is where they dump things their swapping out or store some crazy machinery.
I took a few Polaroid 104 photos along the way it was a nice stretch of the legs through the desert landscape. I packed a hell of a lot of cameras to make sure I had plenty of chances to try and capture the beauty of this park.
I just can’t get enough
We headed back and I dropped my girlfriend off at the camp ground, I however just had to keep exploring. I dropped off my film camera and headed out to the west end of the camp to scope out some other sites. The formations of the rocks, if you’re in the right state of mind, take you to another world, more foreign than we think though it’s our own home.
Shadows growing as we spin around the our fiery star.
Love Since ’71
Before I got to the end of the campground, and my little walk, I came across this beautiful, beige ’71 VW camper van. Seated next to it, was his proud owner. He said he’s owned this baby since ’71. Something I thought was really awesome. Talk about VanLife!! Not that he lives in it, but the solo adventuring this guy must have done with this little bus I can’t even imagine. I didn’t take his portrait, something I plan to not miss again.
After my stoking walk, I headed back to my campsite and put the cameras down. No matter how much I love photography and capturing what I see, I also enjoy a good relax time. Something new I’ve been doing.
May 17, 2017
The sun comes up early when there’s no light pollution to compete with it, so as usual I was up early, brewing a pot of coffee. Okay, okay. My girlfriend brewed the coffee cause I was too busy taking photos.
Coffee was had and we were off for another hike. There’s a short 0.15 mile hike at the west end of the campsite that I wanted to check out. I grabbed my Osprey Kyte 36 (which *shameless plug* I lllloooove, but that’s another post). Crammed my jackets and snacks. Don’t forget the water. Pick a lens & head to the Indian Cove Trail.
On the western end of the campground there’s a very short, very easy trail. I believe called the Indian Cove Trail, but I’m not sure. That’s what I’m gonna call it. This trail is pretty easy. Not much of climbs anywhere, and most everything is a dirt service road or easy to find marked paths. Once you get to the trail there’s plaques around that give you tons of information on the indigenous people, how they lived there and the different plant life you can find.
Going on these hikes has made me realize how much I, and many people, have forgotten how to live with the earth. We often think life must have been so much like it is now, but it’s now and it wasn’t for much longer than most of us has been alive, but that’s another post.
The rest of the day we relaxed by the campsite. Reading, writing, my girlfriend loves a good hula hoop. Everything you dream of doing on a relaxing trip to Joshua Tree. I’d seen the sun set the night before from our campsite and had to see one awesome one while I was here. After the corn grilled I packed up my bag again and headed west.
The light was…. AMAZING!!!
The plants really come alive in the afternoon. The light from the sun makes their smallest details burn with beauty, and the wind from the warm earth makes them dance.
I’d originally planned not to go onto the Indian Cove Trial, but my feet couldn’t sit still, I saw all this land, this wildness that I’d never seen before and I had to walk. Walk I did, with the setting sun I did my own natural dance, to find the spot she’d be the most beautiful. We spun and danced, dipped and bowed.
And just like that. She was gone, our dance done until another day. The lights go down and the night is quiet.
Till Next Time
Before you know it your trip is done, the relaxation, the peace and quiet. It comes to an end and we must head back to the bustle of our lives.
Since coming out to Joshua Tree, my girlfriend and I have made a tradition of stopping off at the Christ Desert Park. This is a crazy park I’d found through another iPhone app (cause there’s an app for that) and we’ve made sure to always make a stop and walk around when we leave the Park. They’ve begun restoring the park, fixing broken noses and cracked concrete arms.
A Parting Shot
To seal the trip a beautiful shot of snow still clinging to our Mother Earth.