I had no business planning a trip this past October. Travel was kind of frowned upon, and I was kind of scared actually. Deep down in the pits of my soul, I knew I had to put myself in a new environment. Work was intense (but was lucky to have a job) and home – work – home – work was not good for my creative and mental state.
We had an accommodation credit in Joshua Tree (we had to cancel a massive West Coast road trip that we had planned in the summer) and we were not sure we could fit this trip in next year. We additionally used flight credit to get us there (yep, from the cancelled summer trip and the Spring trip we cancelled to Mexico – damn you Covid 19).
Joshua Tree has been calling me for years, though I am not sure why. I learned when people asked me where I was going, that JT was not as well known as I thought it was. It is an American national park in southeastern California, east of Los Angeles and San Bernardino, near Palm Springs. It is named for the Joshua trees native to the Mojave Desert. We opted to fly into Las Vegas, and rented a car. I love Vegas, I have some very good friends there so it made sense for us to take this route. We planned a 6 day trip (2 days travel) – and yes, that was such a short time for the length of travel, but like I said my soul was speaking to me loud and clear!!
My go to website and app is Roadtrippers. Their site is super user friendly. You type where you start and end your trip, and it shows not only the route but everything in-between like attractions, where to eat, nature spots, accommodation and more.
First stop was Seven Magic Mountains – absolutely worth stopping by. This artwork has been said to be taken down some time in 2021 – so get your asses there before it goes.
Renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s colorful large-scale, public artwork Seven Magic Mountains is an exhibition located in the desert outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring seven, 30 to 35-feet high day glow totems comprised of painted, locally-sourced boulders. Visible across the desert landscape along Interstate 15, Seven Magic Mountains offers a creative critique of the simulacra of destinations like Las Vegas. According to Rondinone, the location is physically and symbolically mid-way between the natural and the artificial: the natural is expressed by the mountain ranges, desert, and Jean Dry Lake backdrop, and the artificial is expressed by the highway and the constant flow of traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Along the way
We definitely took a couple of wrong turns, lol. We were in no rush other than to get to Cholla Cactus Garden by sunset – that was a must for me. With a couple of stops to stretch our legs we stumble across this interesting collection of blown out shoes at Shoe Fence, Rice. Rice is a little ghost town on Route 62, south tip of The Mojave Desert.
Cholla Cactus Garden
You can find the Cholla Cactus Garden on the Pinto Basin Road. This area is dominated by the famous jumping Cholla Cactus, also known as the Teddy Bear Cholla. There is a nice ¼ mile loop hike through the middle of this beautiful cactus garden and they really seem to light up around sunset. Just a word of caution, avoid sandals and stay on the trail. Do not attempt to touch or rub up against them! They easily attach to you and are very unpleasant to remove – yes, I walked backwards into one and Eddie had to pull the spikes out of my butt cheeks lol. Why was I walking backwards off the trail you ask? Because I wanted to get “THE” photo! Lucky I wasn’t on the edge of the cliff!! We arrived about an hour before sunset, and boy were we in for a treat. It was beautiful, the reds in the sky was deep and intense. Once the sun set, the full moon rose above the hill and bats flew above us. This was Halloween night, it was perfect.
We stayed at a converted water tower. I think because of it being Halloween, all the campsites were full at the parks. Again, we had the credit so we used it. It was interesting. We slept well, but the space in the water tower was not so comfortable. The bathroom situation was a little shocking – even for a seasoned backpacker (yes, me). It was in the low 40’s, so it was cold, cold to be outside. But when the shower and the portaloo is outside in the 40’s it was not ideal. The shower temperature was hot and perfect but the shower stall had only 3 walls, what happened to the door? I don’t know why there wasn’t one, I had Eddie be my body guard. Then once you dried up you had to walk on the sand back, there was no walk way. I don’t know, it was expensive to stay and I’m not sure I’d be back there but overall – the Tower was immaculate, cool interior design and had a fun rooftop. With that said and my complaint out of the way; we had a lovely night by the fire pit (you can see in the photo inserted) eating Chinese, drinking red wine and listening to the neighbors playing Talking Heads. It was literally perfect.
We chose a few of the mini hikes for the few days we were there. Arch Rock, Cap Rock, Skull Rock, 49 Palms and Split Rock. I can’t even begin to describe this area – ok, a lot of rocks but gigantic rocks. Big gigantic rocks that some how have another massive rock on top as if someone put a cherry on top to decorate it. This area took my breath away – this is where my soul started singing. I didn’t want to leave.
Cool Stuff – Crochet Museum and Art Queen Complex
Just a short walk from the Joshua Tree Visitor Center you have little to no excuse not to visit the World Famous Crochet Museum. Take some time browsing the strange, adorable, and extensive collection of crochet creatures, along with the Art Queen Installations and Art and Clothing Gallery located at 61855 Highway 62 in Joshua Tree, California.
On the way home
I love an interesting road trip and the the drive back on Route 66 back to Vegas did not disappoint. There were ghost towns, an inactive volcano with lava matter all over and my favorite – the Mojave Desert. I love the beach and the mountains but the Desert has my heart. I will be back dear desert.
This maybe my favorite photo of the trip – I don’t know though there were many for me : )
See you soon,