Thawing Out in the Desert - Palm Springs, CA
Who needs in flight entertainment when you have such interesting views outside your window?
I snapped this shot while en route to LAX from IAD for a quick winter getaway with my family. Growing up we did a lot of road trips, but not too many airplane adventures all together. So it's really exciting to get to do fun adventures like these as adults! (Sadly my brother Josh couldn't join us this time cause he's mid way through his junior year of college.)
Upon landing, first thing's first: a stop at a West Coast institution...
Then we hit the road and drove east through California. You can fly directly into Palm Springs, but we found a much better deal on a direct flight into LA. Considering we needed to rent a car anyways, it just made sense to save some flight money and drive the 2hrs.
We rented an Airbnb in Palm Springs, and if you follow me on social media you already know I'm obsessed with it. I plan to share some photos of the house in my next post, but for now I'm jumping right into our first full day in town.
Because my family's travel style is heavy on the exploring and we were only in town for a few days, it made sense for us to stay on east coast time to pack in as much into the day as we could. So getting up at 6am west coast time didn't feel torturous because our bodies thought it was 9am. This majorly worked to our advantage by having places to ourselves in the morning.
Visiting Joshua Tree National Park was at the top of our to-do list, and luckily that first government shutdown worked itself out in time for us to visit. Our first hike was the Fortynine Palms Oasis trail. It's a 3 mile in and out trail, with an elevation change around 300 feet.
The nice thing about this one is that it's technically part of the park, but it's free! So you can drive right up to the parking lot and not have to pay the entrance fee at one of the National Park entrances.
Getting our first bit of fresh air out here, this is looking out over the small community, Twentynine Palms.
We climbed and dipped down into valleys, meandering through this Mars-like landscape.
We finally got a glimpse at the oasis in the distance!
The textures of this place are insane: the rocks, the purple mountains in the back, and shrubs on the ground.
These palms appear out of nowhere and are snuggled in this oasis.
We rested a bit in the shade as the day started to warm up. This was a great moderate hike to get us warmed up and ready for more fun!
Back out and in the car, we drove through one of the main entrances into the park.
We picked up a handy, old school, paper map from the visitor's center and received tons of great advice from the staff.
This is the area around Skull Rock, which is super popular with visitors (camera magic lets me crop them out of the shot to focus on dad).
And here's one of the stars of the park! The Joshua tree is native to the southwestern US. It got its name from a group of Mormons who were passing through the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century, and were reminded of the biblical figure, Joshua, who raises his arms into the sky in prayer. Sadly we were just too early for the peak flowering season, but these guys are the coolest.
We continued our gorgeous drive, making it to Keys View for a look across the Coachella Valley. Here we're perched up in the San Bernardino mountains. California's notoriously bad air quality leaves that haze you see, but on a super clear day you can see all the way to Mexico.
This is a cairn. It's a human-made stack of stones to mark trails or just act as a monument. I like to think they're saying "you are here." And we certainly were. I have a bit more to share, so stick around for more fun from the desert!