We took advantage of the cool temps of January to go to Joshua Tree National Park, a place we've wanted to visit since seeing some pictures The Writer took when he went there with Sammy.
Hot, hot in the summer, but it was cool, cool the day we ventured there. Not just in temperature, but in what we saw as well.
The Joshua tree name was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the Mid-19th century. The unique shape of the trees reminded them of the biblical story of Joshua who reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.
The area also has enormous, beautiful rock formations created by underground pressure over the last several million years. You can see the distinct stripe of sediment cutting right through the middle of this one.
From a distance the rocks look smooth, but they have a very rough porous seeming surface. They remind me of the rocks formed in Florida from the coquina shells we have here, but in fact these rocks in Joshua Tree are actually granite.
So many hostile looking plants survive in this environment. I only say hostile because they do not invite you to get too close. They survive because they are so hardy and well armed.
Lots of creatures live underground around here. Rattlesnakes, lizards, rats, insects. I didn't see any wildlife while we were in the park although I badly wanted to see the little Kit Fox. Perhaps a trip at dusk or early morning would show some of the creatures that live here.
We did have the curious Stanley, who learned how to walk between the rock walls.
Such a big boulder being held up by much smaller ones. Seems like I could have just pushed it off. I didn't dare try!
Remember that small spikey plant in the picture earlier? Look at the beautiful "tendrils" that form on each "branch". Maybe this is a form of blooming for it.
This one had tiny pinecone-like growths on it and felt more like an evergreen than a cactus.
As the Joshua Trees age, they get more "arms". What a view this one has at the top of "Key's View" where we stopped because of the incredible vista.
About midway through this picture you can see the San Andreas Fault. It's above the small hill on the left of this picture, you may be able to make out the distinction in ground level - it looks like a thick brown line in the picture. We are on the "safe" side of the fault. The west coast of California, as we all know, is on the other side. It runs directly through San Francisco, hence the devastating earthquakes that city has survived.
Another vantage point at Key's View. Those mountains in the distance mark the end of the US and the beginning of Mexico on their other side. We were lucky to have such a clear day to see this.
Back at The Sweet Pea Ranch we had another beautiful sunset.
AND, I finally got to see one of the desert bunnies, right in our front yard. There were many hopping around at dusk. Right before I saw this little guy a group of small Quail scurried through and that's what made me get my camera. Too late for the funny quail, but managed to catch Peter Rabbit!
A few people have asked me where we found our rentals. There is a wonderful website where we have found rentals, here in Florida, in California, all over the country at reasonable rates. Most are people's own vacation homes so you get a wonderful feel for what an area is like from a local's perspective. Take a look if you are interested. www.vrbo.com . We always have a unique experience when we use the properties listed on this site and meet some wonderful property owners, such as those that own The Sweet Pea Ranch.