Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Joshua Tree

So we were gone last week. Bolted south to the sun. And oh my God, did it feel good (mostly—read on). We flew out of Bellingham on Allegiant (how convenient is that?) to Palm Springs and then headed immediately to Joshua Tree National Park for the first part of a two-pronged trip whose second half would be devoted to Disneyland (more on that in another entry).scenic shot

Why Joshua Tree? Well, it’s a cool place for one, but mostly we went because my husband has been fantasizing for years about a winter camping trip here with the family. Years. (We designed the trip, with a theme park and a national park, to please all ages, and we assumed the kids would be sort of luke warm about J. Tree, but they loved it.)

joshua tree

Joshua Tree, named by the Mormans, by the way, is an old stomping grounds for Curt—when he was in his twenties he spent a month and a half over one winter climbing as much as his fingers would take.

He did warn me it would probably be cold because it’s kind of high, something like 4,000 feet. And I did worry about that. But still I wasn’t prepared. The days were nice—dry and sunny, if a bit chilly at times—but the nights were around 30 degrees. We ended up only camping one night, though, because our tent hadn’t arrived by the time we got to Yucca Valley. We spent the first night in a Super 8, and then a second when it became abundantly obvious to us, about a minute after we checked in, that no UPS deliveries would be made the following day (Sunday). We headed to J. Tree the next morning anyway to play for the day.

kids climbing The entertainment factor of rocks and cacti must not be underestimated. You don’t have to be a climber to appreciate the park, although you’ll be in good company if you are (they were everywhere). The fun thing is you really don’t need to be a climber to clamber around on the rock. Kids have a blast. So do moms. The rock is so grippy, and the plant life so incredibly different from the Northwest (and the air so dry—imagine that!) that fun abounds. This really is a kids’ (and parents’) paradise. And it’s all free fun, except for the $15 fee to get in (good for a week).

We also took a guided tour of an old ranch, formerly own by Bill Keyes, an eccentric old coot by my measure who raised 5 kids here in the middle of the desert. He didn’t just live, he thrived. Even my kids enjoyed the funny stories our guide told us about this guy and the descriptions of life in the desert.

keyes ranch

When our tent arrived on Monday morning at the Super 8, where we were feeling somewhat saturated with cable TV, we headed back to the park for the day and the night. Camping in J. Tree feels unusual to a Northwesterner, all rock faces and sandy ground and cacti. A welcome change from moss and evergreens. And it was fun until the next morning when our water started freezing as we were packing up. (So that’s why my fingers were going numb.) I think I was the only one who cared, though. The kids were too busy climbing all over the place on a sort of ocean of low-angle rock that started just above our tent.

We headed out through the south entrance, walking through a cactus garden along the way and checking out an “oasis” of palm trees. This southern end of the park is less well maintained and feels lonelier with very few cars. If you kept driving east, you’d hit Phoenix. Still, we enjoyed the landscape.

Now bring on Disneyland.The kids are getting antsy, and I need some warmth.

1 comment

Tagged as: