Joshua Tree National Park
Nov. 21 - 25, 2001
Joshua Tree National Park, located in Southern California, encompasses some of the most interesting geologic display in California's deserts. Two deserts, Mojave Desert (High Desert) and Colorado (or Sonoran) Desert, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. The Joshua trees, growing in the higer, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert, are the foremost attraction in the park. Bellow 3000 feet, the drier Colorado Desert is indicated by much sparser plant life and is dominated by the creosote bush. The moderate weather here in winter makes it a nice destination for our Thanksgiving vacation this year.
|It is a very long drive from San Francisco Bay Area to the Southern Californian Deserts. We decided not to drive directly to Joshua Tree on the first day. Instead, we stopped at Barstow for the first night.|
- Kelso Depot
Now nearly a ghost town in the center of Mojave National Preserve, Kelso was once a thriving railroad and mining community of 2000 people. Built by the Union Pacific Railroad in 1924 to serve the steam locomotives from Los Angles to Salt Lake City. There is a plan to restore the depot and makes it the Preserve's new visitor center.
- Kelso Dunes
One of the most spectacular and popular sights in the area, the 600 foot high dunes are surrounded by 45 square miles of sands, and are visible from miles away.
- Split Rock/Skull Rock
We went to Split Rock area as our first stop in Joshua Tree. The rock formations here are interesting and there are many easy accesses to those rocks. We spent about an hour around the rocks, and Linus and Iris had a good time climbing those rocks. But it was too cloudy and the light was too flat for any good rock photo opportunities.
When we drove back, I saw the sky turn red gradually from my mirror. I could not resist to stop by the road and walked into a field of Joshua trees. We were so lucky that the cloud has dispersed and the sun could peep through cloud now. It turned out that it was one of most colorful sunset I've ever seen.
It was Thanksgiving night. Instead of having turkey, we have prepared our own firepot dinner with all good stuffs we brought from home in igloos.
|Indian Cove is not only a favorite camping site, but is also a popular site for rock-climbing enthusiasts. We had a picnic in the camp ground area, and saw many rock climbers on their way to the top of the rocks.|
We stopped at Hidden Valley and took a 1-mile nature trail which takes us into a rock-enclosed valley rumored to have been used by cattle rustlers in the late 1800's. After a few steps, Iris insisted to walk on her own. Although it is an easy 1-mile trail for us, it is not so easy for Iris with all those rocks, stairs, and all kinds of obstacles.
|Keys View overlooks an expanse of valley, mountain, and desert from its elevation of 5185 feet. On our way to the top of Keys View, Iris fell asleep in the car already. Linus and Woanyu went up to the viewpoint, and Iris and I stayed in the car to take a nap. I didn't go up until it's close to the time of sunset. With just right amount of cloud covering the mountains, it was another colorful sunset today.|
|We continued to drive south to the Cottonwood Visitor Center. After a short walk behind the visitor center, we went on to Cottonwood Spring and had a picnic in the campground. After lunch, we began to hike to the Cottonwood Spring Oasis from the campground. Cottonwoods were actually planted by the early settlers who came here because of mining interest in gold. After the hike (about 1.5-mile round-trip), we decided to go back to hotel early because Iris was already tired and fuzzy (and she fell down on the trail to Cottonwood Spring). We were lucky that when we got back at about 3:30PM, the weather began to change rapidly. It was windy (like the first day we got here) and began to rain! Yes, we saw the rain in the desert and we did not have to run for shelter in the field.|
We left at 7:00 in the morning and hoped to beat the holiday traffic on our way home. The traffic condition was better than we expected except at a McDonald's along I-5 where we spent more than 40 minutes in the line to buy food. Linus and Iris both were very cooperative and didn't complain at all during the entire 9-hour drive. With a little bit traffic near Gilroy (HWY152 to 101), we got home before 4:00PM. Although there was a winter storm in Bay Area all weekend long, we enjoyed the wonderful weather in the desert for our Thanksgiving this year.
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