I picked up Heather at LAX after only two circuits of the lengthy pick-up zone.
We headed out of town to try and get away from the busy-ness of LA.
The traffic was the usual stop-start six lane freeways and I managed to rear-end the car in front when it stopped more quickly than I could brake.
Luckily the damage was limited to a bent number plate on our car and a very small scratch on the one I hit.
That was my first prang since I was a teenager.
I am glad it was not worse.
I was getting very tired by now so we stopped for the night at the Hilton Double Tree at San Bernadino.
Sunday 28th February
Woke up feeling as though we had not eaten last night. The “food” here is not what we are used to.
Went looking for a healthy food shop but the one we found was closed.
Someone suggested Clarkes Nutrition in Loma Linda which turned out to be better than expected.
A good range of products at sensible prices. Some things we cannot get in Brisbane or NZ.
They are a local operation with only four shops.
Then we headed North to Big Bear Lake for lunch.
There was snow on the ground around the lake and a few ski parks where people were skiing on the sparsely covered slopes near the road.
Over the hills we drove through Yucca Valley to get to Joshua Tree, after the distinctive “trees” here.
They were named by a group of settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree’s unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.
They are actually Yucca brevifolia, for the botanists among you.
This is in the high desert country of California and I thought that at last we might find a more secluded spot away from the crowds.
Not so. There are scattered communities throughout the desert with many derelict houses. We were wondering what people survive on here and one of the locals said that after WWII the government offered free title to land if people built a small house and stayed for a few years, “improving” the land.
With only two or three inches of rain per year it would be a hard life.
Joshua Tree’s main street is a four lane highway with the speed limit reduced to “only” 45mph. The traffic never stops.
This is looking across the main street along one of the few paved streets.
Most of the side streets look like this:
There are lots of vacant lots and dilapidated buildings, but a surprisingly vibrant local community with specialty shops catering to discerning locals and tourists.
The local health food shop has stuff not even available in the LA shops we have been to. The cafe even makes a decent chai, unsweetened at that!
The Joshua Tree Inn’s main claim to fame is that it is the place where Gram Parsons (International Submarine Band, The Byrds, and The Flying Burrito Brothers”) OD’d on morphine and alcohol in 1973 at the age of 26.
We stayed in the Donovan suite, so named as his favourite place when he is in town, though I am not sure he stayed more than once.
There have been workman tromping along the roof over our room for two days with a concrete mixer going outside the window while Heather is trying to finish off her presentation for her webinars on the weekend.
Even with that distraction, it was a peaceful place to rest for a few days.
We met a vegan cyclist who had ridden on 100km of bike paths around LA and arrived at Joshua Tree via Salton Sea where he was horrified by the hundreds of dead fish on its shore.
On our last day we drove through the National Park
to its high point which looked across the San Andreas fault to Palm Springs, established as a getaway resort for the Hollywood stars.
We then drove through the park to see Palm Springs but it was just another urban sprawl on the far side of the valley.
Salton Sea was nearby so that was our next stop, just long enough to read the signs. What a depressing place.
Fifteen-lane boat ramps! Not where I would want to take a holiday.
While we were staying at the Joshua Tree Inn the wisteria blossomed remarkably quickly over the last day or two.