2022-01-12 Joshua Tree National Park, The Salton Sea, Sabino Canyon

WEDS January 12th.
I was up early this morning, reading FB, drinking coffee, and watching the Sunrise. Jennifer woke up with one of her terrible migraine headaches and went right back to bed. I cleaned up the van, gassed her up, and took off towards Joshua Tree in California, letting Jennifer sleep in her bed-chamber. She hardly stirred, and when she did, it was to go into the bathroom and vomit. Not fun. But 2-½ hours later when we got to Joshua tree she was feeling slightly better.

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We found one of the last “first come, first serve” sites available and pulled in next to the towering rounded rocks scattered about. The rocks in Joshua range from basketball size to hundreds of feet high, some are jagged, some have smooth edges, and some are perfectly round – it is like being on another planet. In addition, they are scattered among the desert in different sized clumps, sometimes a solitary house-sized rock, other times, an entire row of them that might stretch a mile or two, some formations look like someone dropped a blob of soft clay from the air, and it hardened and cracked in place.

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We joked about how they were petrified droppings from Huge oversized Dinosaurs millions of years ago. We started out on a short hike among them and ended up adding legs till we hiked about 6 miles. She shook her migraine but was feeling pretty drained when we got back. She made a dirty rice dish, we ate, and she zonked out almost instantly. I took a nice hot shower in the van, and now I am going to join her.

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A couple of weeks later I did this quick painting of Joshua Tree:

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In the middle of the night, I heard our rodent friend again – I’m not sure where we picked him up, possibly at Quartzsite (where some people had Christmas lights strung around the bottom of their campers to ward off the mice). I got up and emptied out a drawer and reloaded the trap with an aromatic blend of cheeses for him. I was sure this would be his demise, but here it is morning and the trap remains untouched. He has set it off twice already without getting caught – maybe he is on to us… Today I will try to remember to get some Dcon and fresh cab.

THURSDAY Jan 13th
Black tank is full and the water and propane are low, so this morning I will try to get them emptied and filled.
Before we left, we hiked the “Hidden Valley Trail”, which was AWESOME. Apparently, back in the day, someone blasted a hole through the side of the rocks in order to herd cattle into this valley where they were naturally fenced. The Valley apparently had good grass at some point and water for the cattle. According to the story, rustlers used Hidden Valley to hide stolen herds – sounds suspect to me, but a romantic tale nonetheless.

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The Northwest entrance of Joshua tree would be our furthest point West, and we turned and started heading South towards 10. In and around Palm Springs and Indio we dumped the tanks, filled the water, got propane, and had lunch at a Mexican restaurant. At Indio, we went South through Coachella and past the Salton Sea.

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Took a quick little tour of Bombay Beach; a small community planning to expand when the lake was formed, only to find the lake was quickly polluted and the water became rank and unsuitable for swimming. Bombay Beach has tiny little lots, all mashed together in the middle of wide open desert country. The lots are crammed full with old buses, raggedy shed like houses, trailers, campers, and the like. Below the Salton Sea are miles and miles of irrigated cropland farmed in the sandy soils of Southern California. It’s amazing to imagine the amount of water used for these crops in this dry arid land, where it comes from, and how they keep these crops fertilized in such deficient-looking “soil”.

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We continued South and started East at Mexicali through Yuma. We boondocked in the desert off the freeway somewhere on #8. When we thought we had found a spot, we were greeted by 4 car fulls of border agents, suggesting we move further down the road for our safety from immigrants being smuggled across the border.

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FRIDAY Jan 14th
In the morning we headed for Sabino Canyon Recreation Area on the North side of Tucson. We hiked around about 4 miles of trails there leading up into a beautiful valley chock full of a multitude of different Cacti and other desert flora. It is a beautiful place with natural areas that look like professionally manicured desert gardens. A great way to spend the day, and yet another place worthy of returning. We did not have time to do the 7 falls hike. We had Pizza in Tucson and continued driving and saw the World Famous “thing” near Dragoon. We split a Mexican plate at Ramonas Cafe (good local dive) and we are “camped” at the visitor center near Lordsburg New Mexico. Tomorrow we will start Northeast up through the Gila National Forest.

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SATURDAY Jan 15th
Silver City wasn’t as “Old and Western” as I had in my mind – I may have been thinking of Silver City Montana… There were some Art galleries and tourist shops, but we were there too early in the morning.
The road over Emory Pass to Truth or Consequences, however, WAS beautiful, once past the devastation caused by copper mining on the West Side. Great views and several cool-looking places to camp (of which most were closed due to snow on the ground).

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We had a great Brunch at the Grapevine Bistro in Truth or Consequences, and there appear to be several other worthy restaurants in town. We checked a couple galleries and carried on.


The rest of the ride home started getting pretty bland, though we did stop at the Salinas Missions in New Mexico which were interesting. Tens of thousands of Indians once lived in this area.

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Arkansas was having a 10” snowfall which Jennifer was very excited to see.

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Another great trip down in the books!

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