“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” ~ Jack Kerouac
We’ve been sitting here in the Cottonwood Springs BLM lands just south of Joshua Tree National Park for the last three days. It’s not a place whose beauty can easily be seen in a photo. It’s dusty, beige, sandy and scrub brush, on a slanted plateau surrounded by desert mountains. The landscape is vast.
Standing outside during the day, you can see for miles and miles. At night, the sky goes on forever, dark and clear, covered by a gazillion stars. The only signs of civilization we can see are the tiny dots of cars and trucks along Interstate Hwy 10 far down below.
With temperatures in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and little relative humidity, there is no need for air conditioning. As long as we have shade we’re great, especially with the awesome breeze floating through here.
The original plan was get up early, go hiking, come back for the dogs, hike some more in the afternoon, and sit out to view the stars at night. But it hasn’t really worked out for us that way.
Reading other people’s blogs, the picture I get of the best way to do this is fulltime – leave the home and family behind and just hit the road permanently – or at least longer times away with more time in less places. If we were spending a month or more in an area, we’d have a lot of off-time to really explore each area. We’re working up to that. It just takes time to get my daughter used to the idea of living on her own.
We got up and were out of the trailer at sunrise, all ready to go into the park, and hike some of the trails at the southern part of Joshua Tree.
The roads were deserted since it was so early. Hoping to pick up maps at the Visitor Center, we found, not surprisingly, it wasn’t open until 9am so we had to go by the big posted map and what a disappointment! The area we’d wanted to hike was all closed up:
Due to a heavy flash flood in 2011 and again in 2013, tailings from historic mining were churned up, exposing heavy metals that are a health and safety issue to people.
So all the hiking trails that are open, are up in the north end of the park, about 30-45 miles away. We went for a drive up there, enjoying the views but there was roadwork that slowed us down at 3 different locations, making us wait. We eventually made it up and hiked a bit of the area, before racing back to get the dogs before it grew too warm for them.
That evening, the winds whipped up and were pushing our poor little trailer this way and that. I thought we were going to be picked up and thrown around in the air like in the Wizard of Oz.
I decided to check the weather forecasts to put my mind at ease and instead found a “Severe Wind Advisory” warning of heavy winds in the area until 4am. Great, it was only 2am so I had 2 hours to worry about being tipped over, to roll and roll all the way down the incline. I just knew I’d never fall back asleep.
Four hours later I woke, surprised. I had indeed managed to fall sleep. But while the wind advisory was now gone, the wind was still whipping us around. Stupid wind advisory! I didn’t really want to leave the dogs alone in the trailer, so hiking was off inside the park.
I sound like I’m complaining, and maybe I am, but it doesn’t mean we’re not loving every bit of it. We may not get out to see everywhere we are, but sometimes just having a different landscape to look out on, is enough.
Instead of walking out on my back porch seeing big beautiful evergreen trees and a lush green lawn, all wet with the recent rainfall, we wander out to see this huge, vast, sprawling desert. Instead of walks around the neighbourhood, we walk out into the desert.
I feel like we’re so alone, so small, in a space that goes on forever. I love this place, like I loved the place we were the other day and places from days before that, like I also love it back home. I love what we have at this very moment. The wind crashing into us, whistling through the windows, the trailer rocking, the dogs curled up beside me on the couch. In a few moments, we’ll take a break to take the dogs out and play for a bit. In our temporary yard that stretches to the sky.
Overnight spot: Cottonwood BLM
Price: No charge
Includes: A parking spot
Dump/Water: We used the dump at the Love’s station in Coachella. It cost us $5 but it was pretty disgusting.
Garbage: We took our garbage with us and dumped it at gas stations.
Cell & Wifi: Verizon – 4 bars of 4G LTE