We did wake up to blue skies which was a welcome change. Outside our sweet little Airbnb casita, we sat beside the pool (not heated so too cold to swim in) and looked out across the green lawn and tall palm trees to the snow-capped mountains in the distance. It finally felt like we were in California (or Tucson). After a nice chat with another Airbnb guest from Rochester NY (by way of Sparta, Wisconsin) and our very nice hosts (she from Dublin, he from Illinois) we set out for a day at Joshua Tree National Park, about an hour drive northeast.
En route we stopped for a very good breakfast (huevos rancheros, mike’s mess – scrambled eggs with goodies) at the rustic Crossroads Cafe in the town of Joshua Tree, then onto the park visitors center where a very nice ranger originally from Romania gave us some great recommendations for short hikes and drives in the park. We also discovered that Dirck is now at the grand old age of 62 able to get a year pass to any national park for $20, cheaper than the $30 one day pass to Joshua Tree.
The weather was nippy (glad I brought my light down jacket) but the sky clear, albeit not always blue, and we spent several hours hiking and diving past the strange Joshua trees, which look like giant bristle brushes used to clean the inside of bottles. Dr. Seuss must have visited. We felt like we were walking The Lorax. The strange giant boulder formations (skull rock and jumbo rocks) were cool to see and we took two easy 1 mile walks (Hidden Valley, Barker Dam). We had a spectacular views from Key Point of The rugged San Bernardino mountains and in the distance the Salton Sea and even Palm Springs. Like Palm Springs, there were also telltale signs of flooding at Joshua Tree but the water had receded by morning in both places, fortunately.
Dinner was delicious ribs, steak, red rice and margaritas at Pappy and Harriet’s, a large ramshackle honky tonk place in Pioneertown, a strange forlorn community high in the mountains on a former film set for westerns. A band was setting up for a sold out show and tons of cars made the climb up a rough mountain road, with some sections covered with dirt after receding floodwaters. Unfortunately it started raining on our drive back to Burbank. Next trip: idlewood.