My parents love to travel. If there's a time that everybody is home, they take the opportunity to drive somewhere far away and this recent Christmas break was no exception. Though they toyed with the idea of driving to Carlsbad Caverns (a 17-hour drive from my home), my parents thankfully chose to take us to Joshua Tree National Park.
We stayed for a few nights in Palm Desert, which was around a 4-hour drive away from home WITH TRAFFIC (LA people will know about that darn 210). The seven of us piled into a 12-passenger van and braved the post-Christmas traffic. The Embassy Suites that we stayed at served a daily happy hour with free drinks and had a salt water pool that wasn't so salty.
When we actually went to Joshua Tree, it was pretty busy, busier than my mom anticipated. We met up with some extended family at one of the visitor centers and drove to the stops in the Park. As we made our way to the first stop, I looked out into the sparse desert and thought I would see a single ostrich with its head in the ground. Then I realized ostriches don't live in California (they'd probably run into too many of the stinging cacti anyways). But, something about the desert and the thought of ostriches made it feel very big and vast while I felt small and alone. Then, when I reached for my phone, I saw that there was no cell service.
I wasn't alone though. My brothers kept talking about going out in the desert for a walk (and coming back A Man™) and we saw lots of other travelers at each site. We climbed huge boulders until our hands were raw, gazed at the landscape with the spiky trees and little bushes. The others liked to touch the cacti, but I Did Not Want.
While a few stops at some of the sites was enough for me, I imagine that real adventurers would spend days out in the desert to find God or whatever it is you find when you are truly alone with nature.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I was able to get some fun panorama shots on my iPhone and on my Nikon with a fisheye. I had debated bringing the fisheye since the pictures aren't really "classic travel photos," but I always have fun with it.