Well, my friends, this was meant to be a #WanderlustWednesday post, but it is currently 2100 on Thursday in my corner of the world and I'm just now sitting to write, so clearly, you can get a sense of what kind of week I'm having. Also, I'm supposed to be working on an IEP right now, but well... my priorities are what they are! :)
I was super lucky about a month ago to have my mommy traveling near Palm Springs, CA. About a week before she flew out, she called to say that I should really consider driving out to spend the weekend with her. Since I'd finally lost some of my fear of long-distance and highway driving, I thought "Sure! I'll give myself a mental health day and spend some much-needed mommy time," totally overpacked a suitcase, wrote some amazing sub plans and was on my way. It was a super quick trip and I never actually made it in to Palm Springs proper, but I did stay in the Coachella Valley and drove through Indio (where the Coachella music festival is held... and was being held 2 weeks after my visit) and it worked wonders on my mental state, so it was totally worth it!
I woke up early on Friday, drove through the desert and by lunch time, I was stationed by the pool on a lounge chair with my mom at my side. On Saturday, she gave me the option of going hiking or going in to Palm Springs. Clearly, I chose hiking and I'm glad I did, though I must say that I wish we'd done a bit more planning.
My mom is an uber planner, but her main focus on this adventure was to pick out the sites and trails within the park that we wanted to see. We chose: Hidden Valley, Keys View (with scenic views of the San Andreas Fault), the Cholla Garden, Skull Rock, and the Barker Dam Trail. They were all absolutely fantastic, accessible, and I highly recommend that you put them on your to-see list for the park. I especially enjoyed the drive between the Barker Dam Trail and the Cholla Garden. There were cactus in bloom all over the place and it has set off a serious cactus obsession. I now own 2 cacti of my own and am attempting to grow saguaros.
In other National Parks that I've visited, there have been hotels, bathrooms, restaurants, and shops placed strategically where the more popular tourist attractions are found and so that's kind of what I expected at Joshua Tree NP. However, this was one of those assumptions that really made me look silly. There are shops before you go through one entrance of the park and again once you've exited the park on the other side. There is literally nothing within the park, but some pit toilets. Between my mom, step-dad and me, we'd packed 4 normal-sized bottles of water, some almonds, a banana, a bag of peanut M&Ms, and a few individual-sized snack packs of crackers and let me tell you: we were crazy hungry and thirsty. Part of this is because we'd only planned on spending 3 hours, tops, in the park, but it was SO darn cool, we just had to see more. But really, we were not prepared. By the time we left the park almost 6 hours after entering it, you'd better believe that we were delirious with joy to drive straight into Indio for a Starbucks!
Here are my top tips for Joshua Tree National Park:
: Pack a cooler full of snacks
: Bring at least a gallon of water per person
: Apply sunscreen... liberally
: Dress in layers
: Wear comfy shoes
: Make sure your camera has a full battery
: Arrive early! The line to get in to the park was crazy long!
: Stop in town at the visitor's center before entering the park. You can pay the park entrance fee there (which will get you through the line at the gate faster), get a map, and chat with the park rangers about the top things to do and see.
: Take a zillion pictures! This park was amazing!
As I said before: Hidden Valley, Keys View, the Cholla Garden, Skull Rock, and the Barker Dam trail were scenic, accessible, and awesome things to see in the park. Here are a few snaps from our day! Enjoy!