Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Day 13. June 13, 2011-Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Etta and I are camped at Joshua Tree National Park in the Southern California desert. A jackrabbit and a lizard just hopped/skittered across our path. Etta, true to her terrier hard-wiring drops her nose into all sorts of holes...snakes? It’s hot, but there’s shade beneath the rocks, and this doesn’t come close to the blast furnace at the West Texas Sand Hills that I encountered last week. The Joshua Tree itself must be a mythological creature from a distant past, or a euphemism for the spiny bushes that survive and flower in the sandy soil. This park is a wild landscape of high Mojave boulders clustered in smooth tan outcroppings like unkneaded bread dough, with a lower Colorado desert floor. (I learned this from the information kiosk and the dust all over my feet).
The campsite was mostly empty when I arrived. The ranger station is closed. I left my payment in an envelope and dropped it in a slot. I noticed there was no pretty welcome sign on the highway when I entered California, and some of the rest areas are shut down...perhaps because of budget cuts?
Adrienne and Alex arrived to camp from San Francisco. They gave me the scoop on the location of a Starbucks in Yucca Valley about 20 miles west of here. Yay! No electricity or showers here, but Starbucks will provide the juice tomorrow to charge up the phone, camera and computer. As I compose this blog, rock climbers are scaling and descending the boulders around me.
I set out on my journey around 9 am today, driving steadily down the New Mexico desert from Flagstaff’s cool 7,000 foot elevation. The jagged mountains and ponderosa pine changed to a landscape of sandy bluffs, and windy mesas.
When I crossed over the state line near Needles, California I was in a stark moonscape of bare, distant hills and a ribbon of empty road. I slammed on the brakes and turned around to photograph this installation of shoes and stuffed stuff that unexpectedly appeared alongside the highway, renewing my faith in the creativity and humor of human kind.