Monday, January 29, 2018

Riley's birthday, outing with friends, extremely windy.....

Our Location: Joshua Tree National Park BLM, West entrance, California

Once I fell asleep I was okay until about 6:15 am but the wind was still howling and I debated about turning over and going back to sleep. I didn’t however, I rolled out, put on some duds and headed out to brave the winds. I will admit I didn’t move around much, I stayed tucked up in the corner by the dining room and Riley’s bathroom out of as much of the wind as I could.

Sunrise at Joshua Tree National Park....

Back inside around 7:10 am, the Birthday Lady was up and sitting on the couch. After a hug, kiss and birthday well wishes I asked what she would like for breakfast. I made some hot drinks, and an ‘Bird’s nest’ for Riley. I enjoyed a fresh grapefruit. What is a Bird’s Nest you ask? It’s a piece of bread with the center punched out, and an egg dropped in there and cooked just like that. There are variations of course, you can make it with scrambled eggs and fixin’s such as mushroom, onions, cheese, garlic, etc. The top side of the bread should be covered with egg white or mixture so that it’s almost french toast like.

The sun has risen....

After we finished that I cleaned up and got myself ready for the day ahead, Riley was just puttering around doing a few things. Today we had plans with Sonya, Joshua and Jack. We were taking a drive to Keys View Lookout in the park. They haven’t been through the park yet and will return to the area in a week or so but will park on the north side of the park. Sonya knocked on the door to touch base and to discuss travel plans. They were leaving after our outing and were in need of water so they took their small Winnebago Van as far as the Ranger Station at Cottonwood Springs Campground, filled with water, parked in the Group Camp area before climbing into the Dogsled for our excursion. Jack is a wonderful dog, but can’t be left at home, he has anxiety issues and would cause some damage if left alone. It also against the law to leave any pet in a vehicle unattended in California. So he came along for the trip again.

I'm always fascinated by these cacti.

We chatted and swapped information and ideas all the while enjoying the sights of the park. The hills, mountains, valleys and vegetation are truly inspiring and breathtaking. For a person with any kind of artistic eye this park could fill your entire life’s work and never repeat the same vista. There are numerous trails to hike and explore, there is even some rock climbing spots available. I will say I didn’t see any wildlife while in the park at any time, other than a humming bird, and a small gecko type critter scurrying around under some bushes. However it boasts Big Horn Sheep, Desert Tortoise, coyotes, and some lizards. Today being Sunday the park was much busier with other kinds of wild life than it has been during the weekdays. More foot traffic as well as vehicles of all kinds. 

Jack was not happy to be left behind with us while his family went walking without him...

We reached the Cactus (Cholla) Garden (Cholla prounounced Choya) which Riley and I had walked a few days ago. It was exciting to see Sonya’s reaction as she viewed it for the first time. Like I had just a few days ago she ooh’d and ahhh’d at the sight of so many amazing cacti in one area. She marveled at the height, the colours, and the baby’s on the ground where they are self seeding. Jack couldn’t do the trail as his unprotected paws would be skewered in the first step or two. So Riley and I kept Jack outside the fence while Sonya and Joshua took the short 1/4 mile loop. Jack was not impressed. However some very nice young folks approached asking if they could meet Jack, to which I answered, he wasn’t my pet and I didn’t know how he would react, but he was very calm and didn’t mind at all. In fact Jack the Dog met Jack the Human on the sidewalk at the Cholla Garden! How cute was that? 

Our first view from Keys View Lookout..

Sonya was excited about what she’d witnessed, just as I had been excited. Her voice was filled with an awe, and excitement as she talked about the colours, so dark and rich on the bottom and so soft, inviting and alive on the top. How such a vast number could be found in just this tiny little spot. You get the idea.

The San Andreas Fault in the Cochella Valley.....

Pulling out we headed further north looking for Keys View lookout. This lookout is at over 5100 feet in elevation. It’s been extremely windy here for a number of days and nights, today being no exception. The elevation coupled with the raw extremely strong winds made it less than pleasant at the top of the incline to stand around and take pictures. On a sunny, warm, less windy day I could have spent an hour there just looking down into the valley below. The weather however made it less than ideal and even with heavy sweaters and long pants it was too cold to be there any longer than about 5 minutes.

The view toward the south, see the roads down straight....

The view is spectacular but it was very hazy today and in the distance the haze made everything less crisp for picture taking. However the view as I said was stunning. We could see the Coachella Valley including the Salton Sea, and the San Andreas Fault Line from above. The road ways looked like pale ribbons against the green backdrop of fields filled with crops of various kinds. The perfectly straight ribbon of roadways can be seen easily from this height. There are numerous mountain ranges in sight but I can’t tell you their names. The views stretched for miles in both directions. The mountains ranged from being dark and forboding to being whitish, less stark and softer looking.  The valley is very deep as are the many gorges and washes seen from above. The mountains weave into each other with graceful lines of definition separating them.

Amazing views from here....

The lookout is perched high on a small mountain top with no room for slipping or error. The drop is a very long one and the bottom is not a soft landing. The walkway up and down is fenced and paved but not all of the top area is fenced which allows people to be brave or stupid, the choice is yours, for myself I’m pretty certain it’s more of the latter than it is the former. There a couple of placards of information at the top of the little viewing area.   When one turns around to begin the downward walk (it is mere yards, not far at all) the view of the parking lot is also amazing as it is nestled in between two peaks with the achingly beautiful vistas you have just been blessed to witness, and now a gorgeous rear view of a whitish sandy valley laden with Joshua Trees of various sizes and shapes. The waves of green in the wind make it like a living land as the trees swayed and danced with graceful abandon. The valley is ringed with mountains both near and far, the ribbon of pavement twists and turns across the valley floor allowing visitors to view sage brush, creosote bushes, and various other small plants that butt up close to the roadway. It is truly worth the drive. 

Aren't they graceful?

Various hiking opportunities are available in this area as well, and I think would draw the average hiker to attempt at least a few of these trails. With the witnessing of the sights I’ve already been blessed to see, I can only imagine what else might be waiting out there for me to marvel at and find myself stuck for words to describe the beauty this park gives up so easily. I would love to spend more time exploring this area, visiting some of those hidden gems and sharing my finds with you. Another year will draw me back I’m certain. 

The view approaching the parking area, can see you the road off on the right far back in the valley?

Back in the Dogsled we meandered back to the Cottonwood Camping area to drop Sonya, Joshua and Jack at their home. Goodbye, see you down the road was exchanged before Riley and I were off. Sonya & Joshua are heading out for other parts of the area and will meet up with friends there for a couple of days. It’s been fun and we’ve enjoyed our time them. We wish them safe travels and happy times. 

This valley is filled with Joshua Trees.

Back home I cooked Miss Riley her birthday lunch. Although I will admit I messed it up. She asked for breaded chicken and I made Crispy Herb Chicken instead. My head wasn’t in the game I guess. However she’s a trooper and didn’t complain at all. I also made her a nice big salad, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. No cake though but I don’t really think she cares. We can pick one up if she wants one. Afterwards I even cleaned up while she was in her room reading. Took me a long time to wash up all those dishes, sweep and generally tidy up.

With the wind today these trees were waving and swaying, flashing their brilliant greens, with greys and peeks of the blue sky as well.

Reading for a bit, and then outside to take some sunset pictures. Not much of a show tonight, pretty much just slipped from the sky with no fan fare, no painters palette of various hues. However still a pretty show.

Joshua taking a picture of a Joshua Tree.

Shortly after I started editing pictures we decided to pull in the two big slides as the winds here are just brutal. There is less noise with the slides pulled in but Riley can’t use her room or bathroom and the living room/dining room/ kitchen area is much more compact with the slide in. Riley takes over my room and I take the couch. Not the best of solutions but it works. So with that in mind we may just pull up stakes and move out tomorrow. We were going to stick around for another couple of days, as we have laundry to do and some shopping to take care of but with these winds we don’t feel the safest here. Many of the campers have moved on over the last couple of days. Single nighters have been the norm for the last while. The winds are steady with plenty of heavy gusts that rock the Igloo and whistle around everything. I’ve even parked the Dogsled crosswise in front of the Igloo hoping to deflect some of the wind but it’s still catching a great deal of the gusts. Glad we’re nose in to the wind and not broadside. 

The sun is distorted by the haze or dust in the air....

I’ve checked the area of Yuma for wind conditions as we would like to go there after Borrego Springs but it doesn’t look good. It looks 20 -28 mph gusts are predicted for next while. Al & Kelly (The Bayfield Bunch) have mentioned the winds in Borrego Springs too. It is relentless here and never lets up, I’m not sure if that is just in this area at Joshua Tree or if it’s the entire California area in general. I will be very honest and say it is a concern for me as I do not like high winds and big gusts. We are also experiencing wind burns if we are outside for very long and no amount of moisturize seems to help. So we will need to address this issue.

Up close to a Teddy Bear Cactus.....

Riley can’t seem to feel any difference with the slides in but I can, the Igloo isn’t rocking nearly as much and I think falling asleep will be much easier tonight. Tomorrow we’ll decide if we’re going to move on or stay to complete our chores. The wind will decide for us.

Taken from behind the berm that separates the park from the BLM land here...

As already mentioned today is Riley’s birthday, she is 26. She has made amazing strides in her last year, stepping far out of her comfort zone at times and surprising both herself and me with her new found determination and excitement. Happy Birthday Riley, thank you for all the joy your bring to my life. I love you dearly Magoo.

Sun setting through some desert foliage....
So there you have it, our day with friends while visiting Joshua Tree National Park. Nothing life altering but fun for us and a bit of education as well. I hope you too have had an excellent Sunday! Thanks for stopping by, feel free to leave a comment, I enjoy reading them.

Another sun setting through foliage picture....

Until next time….. take care, be safe,

Goodnight from a very windy Joshua Tree National Park....



  1. Happy Birthday Riley sounds like another awesome desert day !
    The Haze you see in the Valley is actually smog coming through Banning Pass where all the thousands of wind turbines are. We take the weather one day at a time. There is some areas in Borrego springs that are not as windy we have never had a big issue there with winds over the years, but then again you never know.

    1. Thank you George & Suzie for the birthday wishes.
      The winds were really strong here the last few days. Last night we had gusts of 30 mph but according to the weather they will be diminishing throughout the day and remain low for the next number of days.

      Take care, be safe,

  2. Your pictures are beautiful. Though today your descriptions of what you were seeing are what made your blog wonderful to read. Thank you for taking us along.
    Stay safe.

    1. Thank you Deb. You are very kind. I try to write what I feel, what I see, and not just with my own eyes but through those around me as well. I am happy you came along for the ride.

      Take care, be safe,

  3. Happy Birthday Riley! Sounds like a great day even with the winds. We are in Yuma right now and yes the winds howled all night long and they're still here this morning. Beautiful pics!

    1. Thank you Ken & Shirley for the birthday wishes.
      The winds were gusting at 30 mph over night and I've already seen a few folks packing up and it's just past 7:40 am. You know it was a rough night. It appears that here the winds are going to be slowly diminishing over the day and while we will still have a few gusts they won't be anything like have been for the last 4 or 5 days in a row. It was brutal here in my opinion and we were also going to pack up this morning, but with the forecast I think we'll stay today at least to do our chores.
      Thanks, I'm having a great time playing with the settings on the camera.

      Take care, be safe,

  4. Great pictures Deb. The winds can be of great concern for most of us, we don't like them either. Say "Happy Birthday " to Riley for us.

    1. Thank you for the birthday wishes.
      Thanks, I'm enjoying the camera and the opportunity to try new things.
      Much less wind today and the forecast says it seems to have passed for now. Growing up in one of the great lakes the wind was a constant theme, strong, high winds are always worrisome for me even growing up. Having seen what happened to Ivan (Road Trip 2018) it makes me even more nervous. However there really isn't anything we can do other than stay away from the southwest as it seems the whole place is a big wind tunnel. However it is nice to know I'm not the only one that has concerns. Thanks.

      Take care, be safe,

  5. Happy Belated Birthday Riley!

    We loved Joshua National Park when we were there a few years ago, definitely somewhere we would like to return to. We had a rental car with us then because my cousin and her husband from England had joined us so it was nice to get out on some of the roads that we would not have been able to travel on with the motorhome. We loved the view from Keys View Lookout.