A Weekend in Joshua Tree

I received a text from a long time friend that our Cambridge Crew was planning to stay a weekend in Joshua Tree, at first I was hesitant. I hadn’t hung out with a group of friends since March 2020, and all of a sudden I had the opportunity to do so. I declined.

By April I had started to see friends on an individual basis sporadically, soon after very small family gatherings. All outside, no stress.

After two months of being fully vaccinated I started to feel safer. I missed my social life and if anything I sort of forgot how to socialize.

I text my friend and asked if it was too late to join, but no, there were still a couple spots open for us. I was ready to get out there, socialize, dance, and laugh with my friends.

The plan was to arrive in Joshua Tree Friday afternoon and leave Sunday morning. Since we would have to drive south from where we live for seven hours or so, we decided to drive down Thursday afternoon.

We stood with my brother and sister in law that night in Long Beach. We enjoyed the beach town vibes that night by walking the strip and walked along the beach the following morning.

By the afternoon we were on our way to the desert. It was a three hours drive with traffic. Once we passed the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm, I knew we were getting close.

The first evening was spent catching up over veggie burgers and music. Over a years worth of hugs, smiles, and music over took us that night.

Saturday was our only full day so we decided to lounge by the pool for most of it. A small group of us went to the national park. I’ve never been so I decided it would be best two spend a couple hours driving through it and seeing the Joshua trees, cholla’s, and jumbo rocks up close.

It’s truly a park worth spending a full day at or even camping a full week, but we picked the spots we wanted to see on the free map they handed us at the drive through ticket window and went for it.

There are so many native plants, wildlife, and insect species that live in this park, that you’ll have to google search yourself. I’ve only driven through parts of a dessert on my way to Las Vegas, but this, this was spectacular.

The natural rock formation and growth of the plants in such a hot environment is mind blowing. Even more amazing are the people of the Pinto Culture, and other indigenous people that lived off this land hundreds of years ago.

The national park is a little larger than the state of Rhode Island and lies between both the Mojave and Colorado Desert.

The park is named after the Joshua Trees that are native to the Mojave Desert. You can see tons of them driving through. They are oddly shaped but so interesting to look at.

The oldest rocks are over one billion years old. There are six blocks of mountains to explore. Groundwater, erosion, and tectonic plate movements were all involved in forming these massive rocks. As we were climbing them we let our imaginations wonder and imagined living amongst dinosaurs. Although I’m sure they were much larger than these formations.

It would be a great experience camping here to capture the essence of the landscape. Capture animals in their natural habitat, star gaze, hike, it is all worth coming back for.

We went late morning and felt the heat upon us. It’s highly recommended that you come prepared with the proper clothing, water, and resources should anything happen.

Our final stop was at the Cholla Cactus Garden. My second favorite stop of the day. It is located on the western edge of the Pinto Basin. Be careful not to brush against these babies, their spines will get you. It doesn’t take too long to walk around the garden, but if you’re into plants, then I’m sure you’d spend a longer time inspecting the cacti.

We spent a couple hours at the park and were back at our Airbnb by 1 pm.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the cool pool and snacking.

The property we stood at was beautiful, very spacious, and perfect for lounging around. The only issue was having to check out by 10am.

Other than that, we were provided with every appliance necessary to cook and bake the food we wanted.

Our final meal together consisted of tacos and tasty sides.

Although it’s easier to eat out we cooked every meal together. There’s something so intimate and communal about coming together to create a meal. Yes, it’s time consuming but it’s part of the experience.

One thing I always have to do when I travel is catch a sunset. Every location offers up a different sunset, this one was fun.

We opened up the gate that leads straight into the desert. From our pool and on the other side of the gate we watched as the sun went down. Took in those last moments of Satur-day.

And just like that, we spent our final night conversing over music and drinks, playing with a star identification app, and relishing the final moments as a group. By 10 am we were out the door, heading our separate ways.

Moving forward, I will work on going out of my way more. Within reason. Friends are a perfect reason to do that for. I used to say no a lot. With no, may come less invitations and a sour taste of a non committal friend. I know when my body needs rest and when I should go out of my way, but I realized in my 30s, as our lives change, more effort has to be made at maintaining relationships. That’s what I value, I need more practice, and it’s something I’m going to get better at. As I always say, I hope you make it out to this part of California. I’ll definitely be back.

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