Tag Archives: national parks

Midway on 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Just Stop; You’re Missing It!

DAY_13_02

Did I mention this 3-week trip to the national parks of the western United States has been a life-long dream of mine? In this moment, I am living my dream. My initial thought was to capture and convey the trip to you as we mozy on from point to point, providing clever narrative and stunning photos as we go.

But I am here . . . living my dream . . . a dream of a lifetime.

So, the trip updates are less frequent than intended, the narratives brief, the photos uncropped.

First, I attempted to write and post every morning, which stole from reflective early morning conversation with my partner.

Second, I tried to write and post from the car en route to the next point. Nice idea, but I was missing the show outside my window. On a trip like this, to places where I’ve never been, every bit of the journey is interesting. When not in national parks or campgrounds, I’m getting a feel for how another part of this country looks, smells, and even tastes.

Distractions involving organizing, resizing, and renaming photos, as well as writing narratives and dealing with an inconsistent internet connection completely detached me from my partner and the joy of the journey.

The third attempt was to post cumulatively after pairs of parks, possibly targeting one major update each for the remaining two weeks. No go. At Yellowstone alone, I snapped 250 photos.

Yesterday, I actually caught up to Day 14 in photos, but realized the challenge before me. We’ve now gone through four additional national parks–Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches, and Canyonlands. The task of selecting a sampling of photos at any of these locations is as overwhelming as the great expanses of meadows and canyons we’ve recently traversed.

I may make an attempt to post some Yellowstone pictures soon, but I don’t want to rush it. There is much to say about the experience, and yet I suspect words won’t do it justice.

Just as words are limited, so, too, are photos in capturing the beauty of these places. Yellowstone was sensory overload. So, was Grant Teton. And Arches. And Canyonlands. We still have Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion.

I haven’t even talked about the KOA campground experience, dog kennels, and dealing with the unexpected.

I felt pressured at the beginning of the trip to do it all–writing for pleasure, updating the Teardrop Adventures blog regularly, and enjoying the trip. I haven’t written for my own pleasure (nor will I attempt to on this trip.) and am officially slacking off from trying to update the blog in step with each length of the 3-week trip. At this point in the trip, I vow to ENJOY it.

 

Stay connected with Teardrop Adventures (by providing your email in the FOLLOW THIS BLOG option on this web page), and I promise to provide you with additional updates about this eye-opening, life-changing trip.

Happy Trails!

Sue J signature

 

 

 

 

 

To see our original trip route map, click on the first post of this mini-series:

Teardrop Trailer Summer Road Trip: 9 NW States, 8 Nat’l Parks


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Or if you want to get timely updates of the posts we’re sharing here on Teardrop Adventures, use the FOLLOW button(s) on this website to enter your email and you’ll get updates directly to your email box. It’s a safe and secure environment, and we promise not to sell your email address to the underground mob in exchange for the dark chocolate we crave. Really. Promise. No, really.

DAY_7_01Remember…

If you see us the road, HONK!
If you take a picture of us and want to share it, or if you just want to say hi, visit us on FACEBOOK at:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

Day 9, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: It’s a Dog’s Life for Me

In a perfect existence, dogs would rule the world.

The road to Yellowstone National Park is paved with biscuits, or at least should be, according to our dog.

Hey, wait a second . . . what the heck?

And, plenty of this . . .

We’re on our way to Yellowstone today. Looking forward to the sights along the way. See you there!


We’re happy to help!

If you have any questions about where we’ve been, any aspects of the experience we didn’t share here, please use our ‘Contact’ page to send us an email with your question(s). We’ll do our best to provide you the answer if we know it or will at least fabricate something entirely convincing.

To see our original trip route map, click on the first post of this mini-series:

Teardrop Trailer Summer Road Trip: 9 NW States, 8 Nat’l Parks


If FACEBOOK is your thing, LIKE us on FACEBOOK and see all our latest posts:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

Or if you want to get timely updates of the posts we’re sharing here on Teardrop Adventures, use the FOLLOW button(s) on this website to enter your email and you’ll get updates directly to your email box. It’s a safe and secure environment, and we promise not to sell your email address to the underground mob in exchange for the dark chocolate we crave. Really. Promise. No, really.

DAY_7_01Remember…

If you see us the road, HONK!
If you take a picture of us and want to share it, or if you just want to say hi, visit us on FACEBOOK at:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

3-Week Teardrop Trailer Summer Road Trip: 9 NW States, 8 Nat’l Parks

22 days, 3,600 miles, 9 states, 8 National Parks and a whole lotta fun! Final preparations in motion for our next teardrop trailer adventure–Summer Road Trip 2014, starting tomorrow, August 15, 2014.

SB at JT 32

THE STATES:

We’ll be giving you play-by-play highlights direct from our home-built, vintage-style teardrop trailer as we travel from north Los Angeles, California, to Oregon, Washington, across to Idaho and Montana, down through Wyoming and Utah, and back home again through Arizona and Nevada.

Teardrop trailer travels, Teardrop Adventures, Multi-National Park trip, camping, West and Northwest U.S., hiking

THE NATIONAL PARKS:

We will spend time exploring the following and a whole lot more . . .

Oregon: Avenue of the Giants
Washington: Olympic National Park
Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park
Utah: Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park


JOIN US FOR THE RIDE! FOLLOW US!


If FACEBOOK is your thing, LIKE us on FACEBOOK and see all our latest posts:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

Or if you want to get timely updates of the posts we’re sharing here on Teardrop Adventures, use the FOLLOW button(s) on this website to enter your email and you’ll get updates directly to your email box. It’s a safe and secure environment, and we promise not to sell your email address to the underground mob in exchange for the dark chocolate we crave. Really. Promise. No, really.


UPDATE: 

THIS TRIP HAS ALREADY BEEN COMPLETED. TO SEE THE PLAY-BY-PLAY OF THE ENTIRE ADVENTURE, VISIT THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES IN THE ORDER LISTED:

Day 1, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Travel Log: Willits, CA, KOA Campground

Early Day 2, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Toilet Bowls, Vintage New Yorkers, and the Eclectic

Later Day 2, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Drive-Thru Redwoods, Giants, and Castles

Day 3, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Gigantic Marshmallows of Oregon

Day 4, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Captivating Washington Coastline

Day 5, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Olympiad Deer, Bald Eagles, and Chica Birds

Early Day 6, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Port Townsend, WA, See It All and Sea Otters Too!

Later Day 6, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, WA

Day 7, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Goodbye Olympic Peninsula; Hello Seattle!

Day 8, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Hay, Washington! Spuds! Spokane!

Day 9, 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: It’s a Dog’s Life for Me

Midway on 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Just Stop; You’re Missing It!

3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Wild, Wicked Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Bison vs. Humans: You Can’t Fix Stupid

3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Wildlife IN YOUR FACE in Grand Teton National Park

3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Journey to the Center of Utah

Got Gas? Utah Offers an Old-Time Fix

3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Arches National Park, Utah–Simply Speechless

Day 17: 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Day 18: 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Day 19: 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah


DAY_7_01We’re happy to help!

If you have any questions about where we’ve been, any aspects of the experience we didn’t share here, please use our ‘Contact’ page to send us an email with your question(s). We’ll do our best to provide you the answer if we know it or will at least fabricate something entirely convincing.

Remember…

If you see us the road, HONK!
If you take a picture of us and want to share it, or if you just want to say hi, visit us on FACEBOOK at:

www.facebook.com/TeardropAdventures.com

3 Days, 2 Nat’l Parks, 1 Bum Foot: Miracles and Inspiration

It’s early May and we have THREE days to see TWO National Parks with ONE traveler (namely, me) making do with an injured foot. My partner and I rendezvoused with another couple (my brother and sister-in-law) for three days in St. George, Utah, with a quest to see two outstanding U.S. National Parks–Zion and Bryce Canyon, both in southern Utah.

Our original intention was to hike ’til we dropped, but I recently had an untimely foot injury that kept me from going on THIS incredible backpacking trip in Grand Canyon. With a slowly healing foot (torn or ruptured ligament), I couldn’t expect to hike, but still, there was NO WAY I was going to miss out on seeing Zion and Bryce as planned. As it turns out, natural inspiration and human inspiration abounded on this trip.

BEFORE WE EVEN GOT THERE

Human Inspiration #1: Back From the Dead

My party and I set out on a new revised quest–to experience the visual overload of two of the nation’s “wow-factor” parks while functioning within certain agility limitations. To start the quest, I needed to equip myself with the right tools. I scored a decent walking stick at a souvenir shop (Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post, 1000 W. Hwy 9, Virgin, UT) on the way to Zion National Park.

early-American wagon, near Zion national park
An early-American wagon on the property of Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post in Virgin , UT

There I met Dona, a 51-year-old woman working the cashier who shared an inspiring story about herself. She casually mentioned she had died at age 44 from cardiac arrest and lay dead for a full 30 minutes before being revived.

Dona spoke like someone who knew more than most–about life, blessings, and miracles. Her after-life experience was so powerful that she revealed she often wishes she didn’t make it, that life here doesn’t quite “cut it” compared to the peace she experienced when “passing.” Much to her delight, Dona spent time with her grandmother on the “other side” and, much to her dismay, has missed Grandma greatly since.

Still, Dona had a certain strength and conviction about her. A quiet wisdom emerged from her words–something that amounted to: Don’t sweat the small stuff. I felt so moved and humbled to meet Dona, I reached out, shook her hand, and let her know I was happy she was still with us. I felt blessed to meet her. She is one of God’s walking miracles–a reminder for us all to keep it simple, live and love well, and, above all, be grateful. Everything that seems to have value to you can be taken away in an instant.

Zion National Park walking stick badge
Zion National Park “badge”

When I was ready to pay for my items, Dona helped me pick out a badge for my new walking stick (A badge is a nickname for the ‘bling’ sold to dress up, souvenirize–yeah, I know it’s not a real word–and customize your walking sticks). Check out my new badge in the photo.

The image of a wild elk reminds me of Dona and her strength and resolve to keep moving forward with whatever plans God has for her. She doesn’t seem to know exactly where she’s going, what exactly she’s supposed to do, but she has faith that it will all work out. Besides, she already knows how the story ends and is not the least bit frightened about it.

Zion National Park entrance signZION NATIONAL PARK

Natural Inspiration #1

Equipped with my newly decorated walking stick and walking orders from my doctor that I should NOT hike anytime in the near future (What a conundrum!), I set out to discover short, easy trails I could hike in Zion. The first happy revelation was that Zion has a terrific shuttle system that takes you across many must-see stops along a shuttle-only roadway. There is no need to hunt and fight for a parking space at Zion or to walk a long way from your car to the starting point of sights and trails at each stop. There are even shuttles running from nearby Springdale into Zion’s South Entrance if Zion’s Visitor Center parking lots are full. This was a huge concern for me, as I couldn’t envision tackling more than a half-mile round trip at any location, including the walk from transportation to trail head.

On the shuttle, a pre-canned tour guide’s voice provides interesting information about the park, but I have to say it was difficult to see clearly through tinted windows and around multiple obstructions in the shuttle bus framework. You must get out at each stop if you intend to see what there is to see. On the very first stop, we got to see this:

Zion National Park, Utah
Mule deer at Zion National Park
Wild turkey at Zion national park, Utah
Wild turkey at Zion National Park
Zion National Park shuttle
Zion National Park shuttle at the halfway point.

Allow 80 or 90 minutes to do the shuttle ride without getting off at any stops, and you will be rewarded with an 8-minute stop at the halfway point in order to stretch and use the restrooms if necessary. For each stop you get off at, add 10 minutes to your tour time for the next shuttle to appear. If you set off on trails for a short or long hike, shuttles conveniently run into late evening, with the last shuttle leaving the entrance visitor center at 7:30 p.m. in order to complete the full circuit by 9 p.m. Plan accordingly. (Note: shuttle schedule changes throughout the year; check links at end of this article for most current information.)

 

 

 

 

 

I ventured on two different trails at Zion. Even though I didn’t make it to the intended end point of each trail, I saw plenty to satisfy my senses:

mule deer at zion, antlers
Mule deer at Zion. Check out those antlers!

IMG_0612

Zion National Park, tunnels, shortcut to Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon

The Tunnel From South and West Zion to Zion’s East Entrance and on to Bryce Canyon

Zion National Park: one of two tunnels connecting the east entrance of the park to the south and west of park.

The shortest and most picturesque drive to Bryce Canyon National Park from points south and west of Zion is through the one-mile-long Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel within Zion National Park near its eastern entrance. Besides the time savings, there are many sights to dazzle your eyes along the way, so it is definitely worth the drive.

 

 

Zion National Park, Checkerboard Mesa, tunnel in Zion
Zion National Park: Checkerboard Mesa, on the road between Zion and Bryce Canyon. A massive patterned rock mountain that begs to be climbed.
Zion National Park, checkerboard mesa
. . . and so we did!

 

Bryce Canyon National Park, entranceBRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK

Natural Inspiration #2

Like Zion, Bryce Canyon has a shuttle system, but it only goes to a subset (albeit an excellent subset) of sights where cars can also go. One of those stops is Bryce Point. We took our car there and saw amazing rock formations in the valley below the parking area. It was here I felt most frustrated about having a foot injury. This is THE PLACE to hike. Something out of a fantasy movie, hikers moved below like elves among towering hoodoos (a name for the funky formations seemingly dripped like hot candle wax or wet sand into spindly spires.) There are hundreds, if not thousands, of these spires scattered across the valley floor.

Bryce Canyon National Park, accessibility, easy access, Bryce Point, hoodoo heaven, easy trail, awesome quick hike
Bryce Canyon National Park: Bryce Point. The trail towards Inspiration Point is easy enough to do a slow hike. Views are spectacular.

We saw this fully loaded bike parked along the fence and all pretty much said the same thing, Man, that bike has BEEN places!

Bryce Canyon National Park, Jeremie Geumetz, France
Wow! Bryce by bicycle. Wonder where the rider is.

Unlike Zion, Bryce Canyon also has a tour route accessible by car. On a Saturday in early May, we had no problem parking at each of the viewpoints. My favorite short hike was at Farview Point where we were able to hike right next to the tops of hoodoos and other formations, like arches and what looked like a 100-story cathedral organ. The winds were strong that day, and the effect on us at certain points on the trail was high exhilaration.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Farview Point, hoodoo heaven, easy trail, awesome quick hike
Bryce Canyon National Park: Farview Point. An excellent “bang for the buck” hiking trail. Take it as far as you have time for, turn around and head back. You’re immediately submerged in hoodoo heaven!
Bryce Canyon National Park, Farview Point, hoodoo heaven, easy trail, awesome quick hike
Bryce Canyon National Park: Farview Point. An excellent “bang for the buck” hiking trail. These hoodoos looked like a 100-foot high cathedral organ. I wonder if music would play if the wind were strong enough.
Bryce Canyon National Park, easy access view, accessibility, hoodoo heaven, natural bridge, awesome views
Bryce Canyon National Park: Natural Bridge, viewable from the parking area.

 

Human Inspiration #2: How Far Determination Takes You

Jeremie Geumetz, France, bicycling South America, Central America, North America, Zion National Park
Hey, there’s that bike again!

At Farview Point, we came upon that bike again. This time, we also came upon it’s owner, the human version of amazing–Jeremie Geumetz, a French bicyclist. When I saw his worn, heavily packed bicycle, I had to know his story.

long-distance bicyling, Jeremie Geumetz, France, South America, Central America, North America
Jeremie Geumetz–a man who clearly LOVES to bike!

“Hi. Can I ask how many miles you’ve traveled so far?”

“I dunno. 17,000 or 18,000,” he answered in a heavy French accent.

Surprised by the response, my brain dug through and re-processed his French-English. “Thousand?” I asked. “Miles?

“Oui.”

From there on, I had a flood of questions, and Jeremie was all too happy to oblige.

Jeremie lives in France. While we were talking, an older couple overheard and joined the conversation, soon discovering they lived only 20 miles away from him, in Belgium.

Jeremie started his trip in Patagonia, South America. His intention is to bicycle from South America through Central America to northernmost North America where he hopes to reach Alaska (weather permitting) by September. With 17,000 or so miles under his belt, he still has another roughly 4,000 to go.

By now, I’d called the rest of my crew over, “This guy has ridden 17,000 miles!”

“When was the last time you shaved?” one of us asked.

He tugged on his beard seeking our confirmation that he understood the question topic, and when we nodded yes, he said, “Columbia.”

“How long have you been on this trip?” I asked.

“Since November 22nd.”

I began counting aloud the number of months since November, “Wow! That’s a long time.”

“2012,” Jeremie said, correcting my counting.

“What?! And why are you doing this? Any particular reason?”

“Not really. I like to bike. We French like to bike.”

And how! This Frenchman loves to bike and he loves to connect with people. He was gracious with his time and patient with our questions–a true gentleman with a warm spirit and a love for life. We all shook his hand as we parted company and told Jeremie repeatedly what an inspiration he was to us. The power of the human spirit is incredible. It can drive us to press toward the outer limits of our existence, to experience something unique and powerful, something that becomes a part of us as we travel through life.

On the drive back to our hotel that evening, we ran into stormy weather. Wild winds whipped our car from every direction. Tumbleweeds raced alongside us on the highway at 60 mph and wicked lightening continuously lit up the sky. The news reports delivered the adjusted weather report: a violent storm was expected to drop two feet of snow at the higher elevations in our area. By morning, the distant Zion mountains were white-tipped, and we wondered and worried about Jeremie. (This is, by the way, the third time recently that my partner and I encountered unexpected snow on hikes in unlikely locations this year: See Snow in Hawaii: Worth the Trip and check out Little Jimmy Trail Camp: Backpacking ‘Sno(w) Problem Along the PCT)

Luckily, before we parted company, I’d asked Jeremie for contact information. I knew I wanted to write about him. Turns out Jeremie has a website; I am listing it here with his permission: www.2rouesvagabondes.fr

He also is on Facebook: Jeremie Geumetz , https://www.facebook.com/jeremie.geumetz

Checking his website for updates, we found out our Frenchman made it through the stormy, snowy night. We also found out he is a talented photographer. Check out his online sites for a dose of inspiration.

Jeremie Geumetz, France, long-distance bicycling, South America, Central America, North America, Zion National Park
Jeremie Geumetz. A Frenchman and a gentleman.

 

ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE

All in all, it is possible to see two national parks in just a few days, even with an injured foot. Whatever your condition or situation, it’s definitely worth the trip. Natural inspiration and human inspiration await you. All you have to do is get in a car, on a bike, or on your feet, and open your eyes, your heart, and your soul to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Get outside, folks, and make a point of checking out the U.S. National Parks. They are amazing!

Happy Trails,

Sue J.

P.S. Stay tuned for our three-week-long National Park road trip in August where we’ll revisit Utah’s Zion and Bryce (this time for some REAL hiking!), as well as Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef in Utah, not to mention Olympic in the state of Washington, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons in Wyoming. We’re traveling in our homemade teardrop trailer (the Silver Bullet) and will bring our 80-pound dog along for the ride. Should be interesting!


LINKS to Zion and Bryce websites:

Zion National Park:  http://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm

Zion Maps & Guide:  http://www.nps.gov/zion/parknews/newspaper.htm

Bryce Canyon National Park:  http://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm

Bryce Canyon Map, Shuttle & Hiking Guide:  http://www.nps.gov/brca/parknews/newspaper.htm


 

Sidebar:

Good Eats Nearby:

Ice Cream at Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post, 1000 W. Hwy 9, Virgin, Utah. Omigosh, the BEST homemade ice cream! Unique and delectable flavors. We had the following three and they all were great: Sea Salt Chocolate Caramel Truffle, Orange Cream & Dark Chocolate, and Hog Wild (Brown Sugared Bacon).

Fort Zion Virgin Trading Post is on Facebook as “Virgin Trading Post/FORT ZION”

Bacon-Wrapped Buffalo Meatloaf at Wildcat Willy’s, 897 Zion Park Blvd, Springdale, Utah, outside the South entrance to Zion National Park. An L.A. Times recommended dish comes with a generous portion of meatloaf (a tasty blend of Certified Angus Beef grinds and buffalo grinds, peppers, onions and seasonings wrapped with bacon, crusted with roasted garlic and cracked pepper) on a mound of garlic mashed potatoes topped with a sweet onion gravy and crispy onion strings. A surprisingly delicate, buttery side of Al dente julienne vegetables finishes off the plate.

Wildcat Willie’s:  http://www.wildcatwillies.com/ordereze/default.aspx

Great Dog Boarding Facility:

Doggie Dude Ranch outside the South entrance to Zion National Park in Rockville (800 E. Main, Hwy 9, Rockville, UT 84763). The owner, Filomena, showed us around her dog boarding facility, a large property running along the length of a stream where she’ll take your dog for a daily waterside walk if you wish. In the summer, the dogs keep cool with overhead water misters or with air conditioning in enclosed structures. Be careful when you visit the grounds.  Humans are as likely to enjoy the tranquil location every bit as much as the dogs.

Doggie Dude Ranch:  http://www.doggyduderanch.com/

 

 

 

Maui, Hawaii [Part 1]: Stunning, By Land or By Sea

Last week, I had the divine pleasure of realizing a lifetime dream. I woke up on an otherwise ordinary Wednesday morning and by day’s end, I fell asleep to the sounds of the Hawaiian shoreline in my comfy hotel bed in Maui. I’m no jetsetter and hopping planes last-minute to Hawaii is not a typical part of my life, but I had an opportunity and I seized it. The trip was short and my time was well-spent.

If you go to Maui, you must take the time to explore Haleakala National Park. I didn’t get to see everything I hoped to, so I plan on returning to Maui again some day to finish the job. See my other post Snow in Hawaii: Worth the Trip to see how Maui knocked my socks off with a surprise snow, ice and wind storm at the Haleakala Crater. By the next day, Mark and I were catching views more characteristic of Maui, Hawaii, like the ones below. Several of these photos are from the shoreline part of Haleakala National Park on the Hana Highway.

Here’s a sampling of what we saw:

I was utterly fascinated with the smooth black lava rock “sand” which was more pebble-like than sand-like. It’s deep, dark color seemed unnatural at a beach and had at least one redeeming quality (besides its unique beauty):  it doesn’t stick to your body the way fine sand does!

Lava rock sand at the beach at Haleakala National Park
Lava rock sand at the beach at Haleakala National Park
Lava rock sand at the beach at Haleakala National Park
Lava rock sand at the beach at Haleakala National Park
Lava rock sand at the beach at Haleakala National Park
Lava rock sand at the beach at Haleakala National Park.

———————–
Happy Trails,
Sue J.

Teardrops in Joshua Tree: Not Only How, But How Often?

A few words from Sue . . .

Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove campground
The “Silver Bullet” and Sue at Joshua Tree National Park’s Indian Cove campground.

JOSHUA. TREE. NATIONAL. PARK.

HOW did I not make plans to visit you sooner?

HOW OFTEN can I manage to plan a long weekend to escape and see you again?

Joshua Tree National Park Teardrop trailer
All the comforts of home.

Mark and I took the “Silver Bullet” (our teardrop trailer) to Joshua Tree National Park in Twentynine Palms, California, last weekend and fell in love (with Joshua Tree, that is!). What an amazing place! I’ve been to the Grand Canyon and recently went to Sedona, Arizona, so I know what amazing looks like, and Joshua Tree definitely had that same “WOW!” factor. (I’ll write a post on Sedona soon.)

Joshua Tree National Park
Yes, the Silver Bullet is THAT special. 🙂

If you want to feel like a kid again, head to Joshua Tree. You will be climbing and scrambling rocks with ambition and without thought, just like you did when you were twelve years old. It makes no difference how old you are or what shape you are in, you will climb! Trust me.

Joshua Tree National Park rock scrambling
You’ll be scrambling rocks before you know it!

We snagged a group site where we joined our local Boy Scout troop for a 3-day camping weekend. It was only a 2-1/2 hour drive east from Los Angeles (location of Joshua Tree shown here). The drive was easy. The group campsite for the 40 of us (10 or so adults; 30 or so kids) was enormous. We stayed at one of around 9 campgrounds in the area (Joshua Tree campgrounds listed here); ours was called Indian Cove. There was a huge expanse between the ‘adult side’ and  the ‘kid side’–an imaginary line set when camping with the boy scouts which encourages the boys to camp autonomously, as do the adults. The kids set up camp at least 80 feet away from the adults.

Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove campground
Adult-side of group camp
Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove campground
Kids passing wood down the line to the adult campfire
Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove campground
Kids’ side of our group campsite, waaaaay over there by the rocks!

As cavernous as the group campsite was, there were a few more in the area that offered the same expansive privacy. The first day we were there, we were already having a blast without leaving the campsite. We were surrounded by a mini-mountain range of huge boulders that reminded me of the town of Bedrock in the Flintstones cartoons. Curiosity creeps into your brain and the call to go rock scrambling starts ringing like Pavlov’s bell.

We spent the second day in Joshua Tree National Park proper, where we took a great hike on Split Rock Loop Trail. It was a memorable 2-mile hike that took twice as long as anticipated because we couldn’t keep from stopping and taking photos every 10 feet or so. The later it got in the day, the more interesting the patterns of shadow and sunlight.

Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock
Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock. Mark is hiding in the split. 🙂
Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
Sue hiking on Split Rock Trail
Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
We called it tulip rock.
Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
Sliced and diced.
Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
Joshua tree on Split Rock Loop Trail.
Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
Holey Moley Joshua tree!
Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
Geologist heaven. These bands of rock ran through much of the huge boulders and became a game of a sort to follow their lines across the landscape.
Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
We called it gorilla rock; doubtful we were the first to do so!

We enjoyed 70-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures during the day and 35 to 45 degrees at night. The night sky was brilliantly bedazzled with stars, and at dusk and dawn, the sun and moon played at opposite ends of our mini-mountain range, vying for our attention–a real mind blower.

Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove campground
Here comes the morning sun at the group campsite!
Joshua Tree National Park Indian Cove campground
And not to be outdone, the morning moon at the opposite side of the group campsite.

Water had to be carried in, but was available at the Indian Cove Ranger Station. It is desert-like at Joshua Tree, so plan your trip wisely; there are no lakes, streams or showers in the bathrooms. This would be a great time to invest in a solar shower bag (and curtain) if you haven’t done so to date. The bathroom facilities are clean, but are outhouse-style (no flush toilets or sinks). There are a ton of official rock climbing areas so bring your gear if that’s your thing. There’s mountain biking a-plenty and scores of other activities possible. Check the campground link above for a listing of possible activities.

Joshua Tree National Park Teardrop trailer
Tough enough.

To sum up, we really hated to leave Joshua Tree. But, we’ll be back, if, for nothing else, to take some more photos of our teardrop trailer on the stunning backdrop of Joshua Tree National Park!

Happy trails to you,

Sue