Saturday, June 25, 2016

California June 2016 And we reach California! Joshua Tree National Park and Pioneertown, CA May 30-Jun 1

It was too early to go to Joshua Tree National Park because it was hot there and when the MoHo has been running it gets hot so the combination would not have worked well on our nerves.  But, we didn't even have a reservation and had really no clue which campground we would choose so we had to go early enough to snag a site. A dilemma.  We had decided to approach from the south but rather than entering the southern gate at Cottonwood Springs we'd drive around and up to the Visitor Center at the west entrance in Joshua Tree.  To get an idea of what I am talking about see the map HERE.

Then, while looking at the literature I noticed a place called Pioneertown, created in the 1940s, by stars like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, as a western movie set that was really a town behind the facades. It would be the perfect stop to spend some time but still arrive early enough.  Pioneertown would look familiar to anyone who watched westerns as a kid in the 50s-60s, as I did.  We did not have a TV station on St Croix until about 1963 but even then we could not receive the signal because a hill was in the way.  We watched a station on St Thomas, 40 miles away but by far our favorite shows were on "Canal 4! WAPA Television! en San Juan, Puerto Rico!" Programs like Los Tres Chiflados (the Three Stooges) ReenTeenTeen (Rin Tin Tin) Rrrrred Rrrryderrrrr (Red Ryder) Sky Keeng (Sky King) the Loon Rrranyer (Lone Ranger) and, of course, Rrrroy Rrrroyerrs (Roy Rogers)  and Gene Outry (Gene Autry) were our afternoon fare, English with Spanish subtitles. TV came on at 4pm and went off the air at 10pm so when homework was finished we'd repair to the utility room, where the TV was kept, to watch our favorite westerns. I loved them and to this day, as we drive across some of this terrain, I want to hop on a horse and ride across the open plains with the sun iat my back and wind in my hair.  So, Pioneertown it was.

As we came into Palm Springs and saw the expanse of wind turbines we started to climb up and up and up as we circled around the west end of the park to Yucca Valley before turning north to Pioneertown, where we climbed again.  Finally there, we parked in a spot with shade and a nice breeze which kept the pets cool while we strolled around.  The population of Pioneertown is about 300 and a number of people were there staffing the small shops. It was fun and nostalgic in a way and then when I came to the barn with all sorts of used books I was glad we have limited space in the MoHo so I would not make too much room in my wallet.

We thenceforth continued to Joshua Tree where the west entrance to the park and a visitor center are located.  It was there we found that there were openings in Jumbo Rocks Campground since it was Monday and people would be leaving after the Memorial Day weekend and that we could indeed fill our tank with water at the Oasis Visitor Center at the north entrance station.  This was key since we'd been worried about where to get water and had been told in Pioneertown that the water in the area is "awful," "not fit for human consumption." We drove through Twentynine Palms and to the entrance station, filled our tank and headed down to Jumbo Rocks.  Now, there are a number of campgrounds at JTNP, though many cannot accommodate a MoHo our size, but we were thrilled with Jumbo Rocks.  The rocks, boulders really, are in all sorts of interesting formations and gorgeous!  But, they are not the rocks one normally envisions either:Molten liquid, heated by the continuous movement of Earth’s crust, oozed upward and cooled while still below the surface. These plutonic intrusions are a granitic rock called monzogranite. See MORE.

A Joshua Tree

The MoHo in our site while I climbed up to get pics of the sunrise

The moon had risen only several hours before the sun

We stopped on our way out of JTNP to get a pic of Skull Rock and the sun was right behind it creating a halo

I, or course, got to drive 1.5 HOURS in EACH direction the second day because we had no groceries and had neglected to get them on the way in. By the time I got there (Palm Springs and La Quinta) I also needed gas in the car but the drive back along our entrance route and then along the southern border and up through Cottonwood Springs was great and I arrived home to say I was glad we'd opted to camp at Jumbo Rocks and not Cottonwood where it was hot, flat and very dry.  We were parked next to a wonderful Australian couple who had the most organized camper trailer I've ever seen and were delightful.

Driving to Palm Springs

In La Quinta

Heading south in JTNP

Joshua Trees and

more Joshua Trees

Ocotillo Gardens

the rocky dry expansiveness of Cottonwood

Our trip out of Joshua Tree would take us through the park to Cottonwood and out through Box Canyon to Mecca and the Salton Sea on our way to Laguna Campground outside San Diego in the Cleveland National Forest.

To see our travels in the first leg of California see: California June 1-13

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