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Joshua Tree National Park: a Thanksgiving report–part 1

November 27, 2007

We ditched Ventucky on Thanksgiving Day after a scrumptious meal of barbecued ham and Roederer champagne, and headed east away from the damp coast to the dry cold winds in Joshua Tree National Park. We weren’t alone–the 101 and the 10 were packed with cars, often it seemed with inebriated drivers, drifting side to side, perhaps to Christmas carols.

After two hours or so of stop and go traffic, we slept in our westy in our friend’s driveway in Claremont then headed east again, stopping to peruse the westies at Pop-Top Heaven  in Yucaipa. We tried not to drool too much on the syncros, or do anything too hasty like buy a European imported Eurovan (the ones for the American market are too low slung for the places I go!) If you’re ready to part with your westy and want it to be loved and be filled with love and laughter, let me know!

Next stop was supposed to be Hadley’s for a date shake but the exit is also for the Cabazon Outlet Mall and the casino out there and the traffic was backed up onto the freeway even with a police officer directing traffic. The parking lots were packed; we remembered sleeping there one Christmas night on our way to another desert adventure.

The 62 which takes you north and east off the 10 toward Joshua Tree had its share of cars but at least we were off the Interstate and climbing toward desert heaven.

The signs said campgrounds full but we ignored them as we zoomed past the line at the west entrance by flashing our parks pass. We cruised Sheeps Pass group camp for future reference (we like!) then dropped down the other side of the pass to see about Jumbo Rock–where we indeed found a site–next to what looked like a raging party and home to a number of hangovers if the empties of whiskey and the throw up in the pit toilet provided any testimony. Two tents also indicated they’d be back but we decided to chance it in hopes that after the previous night’s drinking they’d be quiet and in bed earlier tonight.

The small boy and I rambled the hills and gullies and wildland around our site and the Big Monkey unloaded the bikes so we could explore the campground. We found a few more empty sites–it was sooo cold and windy, most people were evacuating–but we stuck with the one next to the whisky bottles as most of the sites in Jumbo Rocks are crammed together, cars in a lot, sardines in cans. Not what we were there for.

At sunset, we went for a hike along the interpretive trail to Skull Rock. The Little Monkey loved climbing up and exploring–the rough granite gave him plenty of purchase even if it tore up his jeans and the palms of his hands. As we strolled back, the moon rose, winking at us between the multi-story granite outcroppings.

We had planned to BBQ a rack of lamb, but with the cold, it was still partially frozen and with the wind, the Big Monkey really didn’t want to, so we made do with a back up dinner of Tuna Curry Tasty Bite and Trader Joe’s precooked brown rice which we could heat up in water on the stove. We still had a little leftover champagne to go along with it!

The wind was still rocking the van, and the temperature outside dropped to 40 degrees by 8pm so we didn’t even try a fire, just snuggled up in the van and read the LA Times and went to bed early! Fortunately–as the whisky drinkers returned to party and argue at least once with the ranger…I yelled at them to quiet down at one point; thankfully they responded by lowering their voices…

Days are short and nights are long this time of year–as always, trying to get the most out of both, I am truly yours,
the art predator

soundtrack to this post: Uakti doing Philip Glass, really loud as I’m outside to better ride the neighbor’s wifi and I want to irritate another asshole neighbor

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