A Tree Named Joshua : California Nevada Dec'14 Series #3

3/19/2015 01:35:00 AM

Read here 
Chapter 1 : Finding Cuyamaca
Chapter 2 : The Road to Mecca

the very unique  and stunning Joshua Trees in Mojave

Why my very first research on Southern California left me perplexed is an interesting story. I have herpetophobia or ophidiophobia or both. Atleast I think so. Though I have seen a python in the forest and No, I did not run for my life, ( I surprise me everyday. ) but seriously, reptiles, in fact anything that slithers just make me feel very uneasy.

I remember one of my friend spent a few weeks in Mojave, and he kept posting pictures of these beautiful lizards ( beautiful from 'far' to be noted) and colorful sparkling snakes and though I kept giving a 'thumbs up' I always wished he wouldn't post another one. It also made me think that this area is full of reptiles and if I am every camping here, It'll only be car camping.

Having said that, No one ever told me about Bigfoot. Yes BIGFOOT - until I googled Mojave and There it rolled - one story after the other.

The Mojave Desert | National Preserve
Colorado - Mojave Desert | Missing the Sonoran in the Trio

However a myth those stories were, and including an image the Yellowstone official Page posted on facebook a few week ago, of Bigfoot, I couldn't help but rethink if I really wanted to do a San Diego to Las Vegas. By the time I flew to San Diego I thought I'd decide after I land there, and by the time, I was driving the Salton City and the Road to Mecca, I had pretty much forgotten What Bigfoot & reptiles are, and if I had ever seen any pictures and read any stories.

As I begin writing this third chapter in the series, I am curious of time we spent on the box canyon road, or say from the time we left convenience store ampm and till we reached the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. It must have been about an hour top of slowly driving through the narrow road that looked like sketched through the boulders and somewhat hilly area, in few parts, only not that high, thanks to full moon, I could at least see that or it was all dark at 6PM. A few miles from the entrance across the highway 10, it was all flat and I could see a long red and bright lines of traffic on the highway, only no one was there on this road we were on. none ever was.

Indian Cove Campground Amphitheater

So after about 7 hrs and 200+ miles of driving through city freeways, mountains, valleys, forests and desert, in bright sunlight, fog and in darkness, when we finally reached Cottonwood Spring campsite, at Joshua, It didn't looked one bit scarier of what I may have thought while I was reading about it. Good thing there were few people, an RV right next to the restroom, and I could even hear kids playing some bonfire games in one block at a distance. after making two rounds to campground from visiter center that was closed, we parked the vehicle next to the rest room, and decided to sleep in the car itself as there was no way we could pitch in the tent in such darkness and for how long, we may be heading west pretty early in the morning. A good night sleep I thought, but I kept waking up and looking at the sky for stars and milky way and it remained cloudy all night. - not even a single shooting star to boot.

However uneventful the night may have been, the following day is full of surprises. We find an Oasis towards the south entrance that many visitors skip or perhaps don't know about, a photoshoot plan goes ka blang and ka boom because of the dress and sizing issue. then comes the long winding road from one end of the park to the other, that I never thought - 50 miles of tree sighting? well no one really calls it a sighting unless they're seeing some wildlife, or UFO or bigfoot perhaps - there I go again.

Roadtripping History | Near Route 66 Mojave Amboy Wilderness
A Goods train chugging through the salt flats near Historical Route 66 highway

One of the most memorable landscape in Joshua tree is very captivating and surreal Cholla Garden. w/ on less 'l' in the spelling,  many indian would associate w/ Chola Empire in the history, or with numerous south asian restaurants in the states w/ this keepsake name. though before I could even glance at beautiful cactus plants in number, more than 100, I hear a women screaming. Chanting I thought of it first, extremely loud, then she began to throw her hands in all directions, and I squeezed my eyes in bewilderment. What on earth is it - a witchy ritual? We watch way too many witch-vampire rubbish on tv these days. The thought that is this desert, little south-west, I began to think if it was a American-Indian sight somehow - Only now the woman appears out of the circle a group of photographer made around her, and to my surprise all smiling and thanking the folks in goodbye. If it wasn't a confusing enough, the one of the old guy tell me, she's some Japanese lady saying something, they don't understand, but they just started shooting seeing her in traditional kimono. - I see. How typical.

The Cholla Garden finally gets all my attention.

Our ride - Chevy Equinox in Cholla Garden

 2 ft or so tall about few 100s jumping cactus, few blooming, rest not so much, but the light yellow green color spikes that glow beautifully in sunshine. they made a very hard tiny shadow on the ground, and formed a pattern. I remember seeing few kinds of cactus in Arizona, apart from the famous tall Saguaro Cactus trees, but I believe those were more bell shaped, and these one of a kind. I can't stress much on my timing now, - this trip I am talking about right now in March'15, I did in Dec first week, and just escaped the big storm that brought lot of snow to the area, and a very different visual - But now perhaps is the best time to see the wildflowers in bloom, as I notice in the Park page updates

By now I may have seen a few Joshua, but its beyond this point when I drive towards the Palm spring visitor center is when I see them these very biblical and monocotyledonous tree in abundance. Untidily scattered on both sides of the road, all over the park, tall at some places, w/ many branches or stems, i should say? and at other places just two stems in standing, they made the 'Pinto Basin Road' drive a really memorable and interesting one, I can close my eyes and just go back relive it anytime.

Joshua Trees Along the Pinto Basin Road in the National Park

Apart from a spring visit for wildflowers, this entire ecosystem, and specially this national park,  I felt, is must visit of rock lovers and climbers. skull rock, arch rock and many other rock formations, we saw and missed, a good portion was at the indian cove campground amphitheater. a lovely area but very crowded over the weekend. many loop trails that began here, and around this part of the park. I am sure we couldve spotted a few bighorns and the famous desert turtle we were to stay here for a while, but we finished the very snake'y road and before we could hit the Mojave, stopped to get a park pass and passport copies, at the palm spring visitor center, at the end of the road, right on the corner after the park on the endless desert road.

The Road to Mojave National Preserve

The very reason I chose this title was what I experienced beyond "Joshua Tree National Park" Somehow Its Saguaro National Park in repeat. for how, You would have to wait. One : There is this India-Bangladesh #CWC15 Quarterfinal going on, and I can't focus no more, and Two : This might look like just another crazy endless road through desert above, but as that board says, The Heart of the real desert truly lies in Mojave, the one I am yet to discover, and why Just that, a lot of history unfolding along with. As Greg Anderson quotes -

"Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. "

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Other : Jpeg out of Camera
For More wilderness and Human Imagery, visit photos.poonamparihar.com

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