Adventure to Joshua Tree NP – Day 3


Our stay at the Joshua Tree was wonderful as we were at the Atomic Tiki Ranch in Yucca Valley with its incredible collection of mid-century furniture and collectables with a tiki twist. We loved playing the record player with plenty of classic Hawaiian records to transport us to Hawaii and dance the hula around this super cool party house. Space was huge in the house with a dressing room in the master room with wall to wall mirrors and a huge closet. I imagine back in the day you could get dressed in there for your cocktail party and check your outfit, do your makeup and look fancy! We enjoyed the details in the kitchen with their collection of vintage cups and plates and its original oven in primo condition. I could see that a lot of love was put into this house to create this space and as I am a big fan of the mid-century furnishings and decor this was the perfect place to stay!


Our last hike in the park was a small low key hike or two, and the weather was Blowing Sand and 4˚C during the day in the sunshine. We thought it should be alright in the sun?!? But no, the weather was windy, the wind was cold, so we had to put on our hoods our jackets were zipped up, and I also had a beanie on! Which is what is happening in this pic with my hood over my head to keep warm. The kids were active and jumping all over the rocks, so they managed to increase their body temperature, and even though we were in the Hidden Valley trail we still had the wind blowing in, brrr!


Examining a prickly pear


Ash had bought the California flora and fauna book from the Visitor Centre with his Christmas money and was busy identifying the plants around the place. This was good to see as even though the desert is sparse, the fauna is so fascinating.


Barker Dam with foliage in winter


Our other hike was the Barker Dam hike which was an easy loop just over a mile, but I somehow managed to lose the rest of the family in the hike as Missy was not too keen to hike in the wind. My problem is I usually hang back and take pictures and eventually catch up, but these guys were going so fast I kept on missing them at the vista stops. So I continued on following the path as it was a loop it was easy. The dam was very cool to see, and from there the trip back was through many Joshua Trees and distant desert landscape before I found the sign for the carpark.

Close up of Joshua Tree leaves
A majestic Joshua Tree with its many branches

The desert landscape was an inspiring place to relax and recharge with its magic and wonder over the land. I feel that winter or spring would be beautiful times to visit as the summer would be so hot!

The 741 km (461 miles) was so worth it as the kids like to break up the drive in the car and on our way back we were in another RV entirely off the highway for a bit but it was so good to discover a new town close to another favourite National Park of our Sequoia. This RV was very cosy with a gas fireplace all ready for us when we arrived in Exeter – we made it just in time for a sunset over the RV in amongst the citrus trees, this town is in the Central Valley – known best for agriculture production.

Missy found the cat, and we gave it some love while Ash enjoyed reading in front of the gas fireplace for the evening reading Warriors. For breakfast on the last leg of our trip home, we went into the town or Exeter and went to the Exeter Whistle Stop a diner that lives up to what American diners are about with endless cups of coffee and big breakfasts. My hubby enjoyed 3 plates of food that morning, and my breakfast was just right with 2 eggs, a muffin and a cup of tea and half a buckwheat pancake! The service was the best, and the staff were just wonderful with their hospitality, as soon as you walked I was asked: “What would you like to drink?” I responded with a cup of tea. It was delivered quick sticks in a teapot with a slice of lemon, our order was promptly taken by the sweetest lady, and we soon had a table full of tasty breakfast goods ready for the drive home. I highly recommend this place if ever you are staying in the Central Valley and going to Sequoia NP or Kings Canyon.

This trip was delightful with the adventuring into new territory and spaces and it really felt like a break even with all the time in the car, I had better get prepared as Australia has some even longer roads to travel with famous deserts of their own to explore!


Adventure to Joshua Tree NP – Day 2


Checking out the map to the Joshua Tree NP for our next adventure we saw the 49 Palms Oasis trail which was a 3 mile out and back moderately strenuous hike with an elevation of 300 foot each way. We decided to do it based out our fitness level, BTW which is not very high! We saw signs at the beginning of the hike that said Don’t Die Today which was kind of scary but we were prepared with 3 bottles of water, and it was a nice 16˚ C (61˚ F), so it was not too hot. I would never attempt this hike in the heat, it would be dangerous!


Barrel Cactus


The hike up was up many rock stairs, and up and up we went and saw some majestic views of the desert from up on high. The walk passed many barrel cactus with their red colour breaking up the red, brown and tan of the landscape.

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The 49 palms oasis

Wandering up and then down into a valley we saw this – a palm oasis in the middle of the desert. The funny thing is that came to mind was that I can see how mirages came to be with seeing something as unusual as this in amongst the rocks. The oasis is formed where uplifted layers of hard impermeable rock forces underground water to the surface. Within these oases, you can see the collection of water, and the sheer size of the palms is incomprehensible as they are gigantic. The palms are a welcome place to shelter and stay cool.


Palms by the desert rocks



We packed our lunch and water to have under the palms and enjoyed our time in this surreal land where you could feel the coolness of the trees and the water nearby. It was an absolute treat to experience this and learn about it from the ranger at the visitor centre. Such a fragile environment in a small canyon that provides habitat and diversity for the animals in the desert.

After lunch we wanted to see if we could see birds coming to this area due to the water, so we got out the binoculars to see what we could find. There was nothing very exciting just a couple of crows, still, it was a special place to take pictures with the sunlight streaming across the sky.

On our way back I wanted to capture the sheer grandness and scale of these trees, in the pictures you can see the trunks of the palms compared to my family walking by.




After visiting the hike oases we ventured down to the other visitor centre to wander through the Oasis of Mara which was a home to the indigenous people. I highly recommend reading the story along the path as it is an artwork inspired by the native people – the link has an audio of the story which is a fascinating perspective.

Oh, and at the visitor centre, I finally saw a road runner in real life! It was very exciting as I had only seen this guy in a cartoon with Wylie Coyote and I never imagined a real roadrunner would look like this, they are absolutely stunning with their feathers and tail. We even saw it run in front of a car which was quite scary but he was speedy and made it to the other side – whew!!


At the visitor centre, they had an amazing display of the desert plants with their names, this barrel cactus had such vibrant light shining on it that I could not resist taking a picture of its spiky details.

On our way back to the ranch we visited the Joshua Tree outdoor museum by Noah (recommended by our Air BnB hosts). This piece is called Carousel and in the centre are computers surrounded by many musical instruments and fabric that had been tattered and worn down by years in the outdoors.

There were so many opportunities to photograph the many pieces that were repurposed into assemblage where you could decipher a meaning or maybe not? Still, it was interesting to explore, take photographs and ponder the inspirations. I highly recommend this as an art experience if you enjoy repurposing and reusing, I really appreciate this approach as I do this myself in my textile creations so this was a place of true inspiration for me.