Adventure to Joshua Tree NP – Day 3

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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!

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

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Close up of Joshua Tree leaves
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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 1

Our inspiration to explore National Parks this year is that we have a 4th grader and the National Parks have a promotion to get every kid in a park, so that was the impetus to get our kids and ourselves out exploring!

 

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The Almond grove at sunset

 

 

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A Peach in the Almond Tree
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The Almond Orchard next to the RV

 

We drove down via Shafter where we made an overnight stay at an RV to break up the trip, tired from the drive and wrapping up school and work we were ready to relax and we were in holiday mode at long last! With a beautiful sunset, we took a walk through the almond fields before heading on over to the RV for dinner of lentil shepherds pie heated up in the microwave. Our host made a huge fire to roast marshmallows for a treat, we stayed out there with the fire for a while until it was too chilly and we were back in the RV for some reading and sleeping. The stars were out and we enjoyed a dark sky with a sliver of a moon.

After our night in the RV we arrived at our next destination the Air BnB called the Atomic Tiki Ranch (I will feature in another post!) and settled in there before we headed out to the Joshua Tree National Park for our first day of adventuring in the park

We wandered down to the visitor centre to get a plan on what to see and do and our first stop was the Cholla Cactus Garden AKA the teddy bear cactus. As cute as they are, they are super spiky, there were so many in this area by the carpark with their shades of yellow and brown. There was a nature walk around the cacti and I just loved the changes in colour on the plant and the detail even in the dried up stalk of the plant – you can really tell this is a desert plant when you look closely. The kids also decided they wanted to do their Junior Ranger badges and this began their time researching and exploring!

 

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So many gigantic rocks to climb!
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Even little caves to hide in.
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We had our binoculars to look for birds or animals
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A circle called a Dike – features in rocks that are resistant to erosion
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Arch Rock

 

For our trip down from the gardens, we looked at the rangers recommendations and decided to explore other parts of the park so the kids could climb and check out smaller hiking trails for our first day. We found Arch Rock at the White Tank campground – it is a small walk but well worth the journey to see this incredible rock formation lying atop many other boulders, my hubby is in the pic and climbed up to go beneath it. I also climbed up to get up there but I had the camera so I couldn’t really capture myself up there, it was easy to get up but not so easy to climb down with a camera around my neck! Eventually, I just came down the way I went up and all was good, thanks to the help of Missy.

 

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Desert flora

 

The cool thing about the desert is its expanse but look closer and you find these amazing plants and even though they are dry from the heat they still look beautiful in the light.

After out Arch rock climb, we stopped off at Skull Rock and totally lost the trail so we had to climb in and out of the boulders to get back to the car. It was certainly a mission though I do recommend if you are climbing rocks be super careful with your camera and have somewhere to pack it safely. I had to hand my SLR over to my hubby to look after while I was scrambling up and down over the rocks to find the trail with my son. We made it to the top of a rock and it was very exciting!

For this trip, I have to break this up into smaller bite size days as I took over 600 pictures and it was really hard to edit it down to just a few, but these are my faves and I wanted to focus on the highlights of the desert landscape.