Well, this entry is a long time coming. But… I’m going to cheat and backdate it as if it’s always been here. 😉
With life and work getting busier and busier for Mr. C. and I, we’ve been craving a break from it all, but knew that we couldn’t take more than just a day or two away without paying for it dearly. Part of what makes Mr. C. an awesome husband is that every once in a while he surprises me. First, in listening to things that I babble about and, second, in making an effort to do special things for me. This weekend was a combination of those two things. A long time ago, I babbled about a bunch of places that I’ve never been to and wanted to see. After reading an article in Martha Stewart Magazine and running into some breathtakingly beautiful dessert photos on the internet, I desperately wanted to go to Joshua Tree National Park.
I’ve got a love affair with nature but, not so much for the dessert aspect of it. For the most part, I hate that California is mostly dessert. I just don’t see the beauty in it… except for the photos I’ve seen of Joshua Tree. So, we decided to make a camping trip of it. Combining Mr. C’s love of camping and my love of photography seemed like an easy and fun thing.
We departed early on Friday, making a long weekend of it and taking some much needed time off. We made the leisurely, however long, drive through the valley and then through the dessert. After a brief lunch stop and one more stop for gas, we entered the park. After visiting the Visitor’s Center, we were hit with the harsh reality that camping spots were filling up quickly in the park. Very quickly. We dashed to the car and headed to our preferred camping spot at Ryan Mountain (for obvious reasons).
It was… Full.
On to Hidden Valley…
On to Jumbo Rocks…
On to Bella…
On to White Tank…
(Insert extremely large sad face here). We were freaked out and totally bummed. We just drove 7 hours through the dessert and NO CAMPING SPOTS? We were not about to make the trip home, not about to spend the night in a hotel and not about to give up on this adventure. We headed back for the park entrance and talked to a ranger there. The only camping left? Cottonwood Springs, a one hour drive south through the park.
We were desperate to get out of the car. Desperate to get our campsite set up. Desperate to camp near something “cool”. I glanced at the map. Cottonwood Springs did not look “cool” at all. And after a long 1 hour drive through utter and vast dessert (all the cool and scenic stuff in the part is definitely in the north end), we arrived at Cottonwood Springs and were quickly able to confirm that it was not “cool”. The camp spots were tiny, and piled right on top of each other. There were no rocks or rugged landscapes. No trees. Not even Joshua trees. Nothing to look at. It was hot, sunny and shadeless… and horribly windy. As if that were not enough – the campground was the most expensive in the park and completely wiped out our cash supply.
We made the best of our evening, quickly setting up our camp site and getting dinner prepared. That was a definite perk. Mr. C., the pro camper that he is, cooked all of our meals. What a treat for me! But the cold wind howled all night. Our neighbors howled all night (literally, singing and playing drums loudly until nearly midnight). The Corums were not happy campers. In the morning, a slightly colder-than-anticipated (10-15 degrees colder than forecasted) day greeted us and then slapped us in the face with more icy wind.
We were faced with a choice. Stay and tough it out? Stay and tough it out at a different campground? Cut our losses and go home? We decided on option 2 and crossed our fingers that we would find another camp site, but just in case, would drive through the park so I could take as many photos as possible and see as much as possible, in case we did have to cut our losses and make the long drive home.
And this is the part that made the trip totally worth it. The park as a whole, is really beautiful in a different way. The Joshua Trees seem ancient and majestic. The rocks and boulders look as if they dropped from the sky in the middle of vast plains of chaparral, strange cacti and a scattering of painted wildflowers. It’s a crazy place that I loved photographing (we’ll get to that part at the end). We had a wonderful day driving, talking, hiking, walking, eating lunch, exploring and taking pictures of it all.
As luck would have it, we did find a camp site toward the end of the day and it was a great one, nestled into some massive rock formations on a hilltop. Though the bitter wind was still biting at us and honestly starting to wear at our patience. I could not warm up despite wearing almost every piece of clothing I brought and laying in the tent for a while.
As windburn and hunger started to set in, we settled into our little camp spot, made a large fire and ate our dinner. Shortly after we finished up, miraculously, the wind died down and granted us a beautiful evening. So beautiful that we decided to try our hand at some night photography. What a fun time we had! Pics to follow…
The morning brought back a bit more wind, but a beautiful day overall. The early morning light woke us earlier than expected, so after a brief breakfast we were ready to pack up and head home. That 7 hour drive back was a tough one, but we left behind such great time and memories. Times that remind me that together, Mr. C. and I can get through a lot. And, that these little escapes are good for our souls.
And now, our photo journey through Joshua Tree…
|The majestic Joshua Tree|
|Cholla Cactus Garden|
|The remnants of Ryan Ranch|