Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Sunrise in Twentynine Palms, just outside of the Harmony Motel Can I please stay here forever...? It's just beautiful here. Lots of sunshine and clear blue skies, not a single human noise as soon as you get away from the roads, and just the most unusual rock formations and trees. There's a some minor wind cooling down the air just a bit, but the temperatures suit me very well, since it allows me to wear a t-shirt without feeling cold. Just for perspective, just two days ago, I had to wear t-shirt, pullover and coat just to do the same.

In the shade of this rock, it's notably colder though, so that I'm currently wearing a sweater. The notebook didn't like the brightness, or rather, I couldn't see anything on the screen, so this is a necessary compromise.

My day started pretty early around 6:20am, when I woke up just in time to witness a gorgeous sunset. So I got dressed, grabbed the camera, and headed into the desert to take some pictures.

Back in the room, I had a hot shower, unpacked and repacked my clothes and camping accessories for easier access, and headed towards the kitchen for a complimentary coffee. I didn't find sugar, but instead a nice way to spend the next half hour: by chatting to the owner (?) of the motel. It was nice talking to him.

Then, I headed into Twentynine Palms to do some shopping and get some fuel. Both are really necessities, since I'm figuring that I need plenty of water and fuel, especially being entirely on my own...

A somewhat random Joshue Tree National Park shot half a mile from the nearest road (North Entrance) So about 30 liters of water later (buying in quantity saves money), and about 8 gallons of fuel (I suppose one of the good things about having a small car is a smaller fuel consumption, although I was pretty happy with last year's Oldsmobile Aurora too, and that was a 3.5 liter...)

After stopping at the visitor center to get park maps and hike their short walk, I entered the park, and after a few miles stopped at some unmarked spot and hiked into the desert, towards what looked like a canyon.

One lesson I might have learned, had this been a longer hike: never, ever, set your way point to be a Joshua Tree. After a few hundred meters, you will be surrounded by them. But anyway, I'll have to keep that in mind. Pity I didn't buy a GPS.

Some time later, another detour, to where I am right now. As I was driving past a parking spot a short distance from the road, a guy beside a red pickup waved to me. I really like the attitude of a lot of people near or around national parks. They are never busy, like in big cities, they greet, and they seem to have an open mind towards other people. All good personality traits, which I should adopt more often. It's at such moments that I realize how lonely daily life can be, how few people you really get to know each day, and if there isn't anything that could be improved upon.

(Written around 12:45 in the shade of a rock at Live Oak day use area in the Joshua Tree Park)

After writing the first entry, I drove west via Jumbo Rocks and other points, taking my time... expecting I would not make it to a ranger walk that was supposed to be at 2pm. While I pulled over at a viewpoint (near Lost Horse Canyon) not even mentioned on the park map, I noticed a ranger. Parked my car, he asked if I wanted to join the tour, which I did. A one hour informative walk and talk about Joshua Trees, their origin, their nature, etc. I drove on to Keys View, which I had already visited last year. Visibility this year was much better though, and you could see Salton Sea. Which is, if my quick estimate via at the California map was right, about 30 miles away.

Random photograph from the 1.1mi Barker Dam Loop Trail. Drove back to wards the Hidden Valley intersection, then to Barker Dam. Walked the short trail to the Dam, but didn't even bother photographing it since there was no water, and the dam wasn't a lot more than a small wall. But the rest of the trail was nice.

Drove back via a Queen Valley dirt road. The car seems to handle slightly worse on loose ground than last year's Oldsmobile.

Arrived at Jumbo Rocks around 16:40, found a camp site that I considered to be as good as any other of the available spaces, and began setting up the tent. Which took me about twenty minutes, or so.

By that time, the sun had already begun to set behind the rocks.

Just as I wanted to finally eat something (which would be my first meal for the day), I was interrupted by a woman, asking me if I could help them with the seat of their Cherokee. Seems they want to sleep in the car and couldn't convert to a flat cargo space. Looking at my tent and the relative cold that might be this night, I hope I won't envy them too much for having a solid roof.

Then, I ate some Froot Loops, Chocolate Rice Crispies, bread with hazelnut spread, and drank some orange juice and Pepsi.

About 6pm, the sun started disappearing completely. I'm sitting here in the car, radio on, notebook recharging, but I suppose I will get into the tent pretty soon. I have pretty much decided to just leave the camera and the notebook inside the car, and hoping for the best. This place (and by "this place", I mean these touristy national park areas in the entire Southwest) seems pretty safe.

I haven't made up my mind about what to do tomorrow. The general direction will probably be Southern Arizona, but I don't know if I should take a direct route, via the Interstate, or rather go South some more and enter Arizona via Yuma.

Miles driven: 48mi (77km)

Campground Accommodation: Jumbo Rocks campground (Camp site A2): $0

Written around 18:00 at camp site A2 in Jumbo Rocks campground.