Monday, May 21, 2012
Joshua Tree was definitely an interesting place but to start the day we had breakfast – best motel breakfast we have seen! Eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy, cereals, waffles, pancakes, juices, fruit etc….of course we did not eat all that but the choices were certainly exceptional.
We left and headed east on I 10 thirty miles to the southern entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. We climbed up into the mountains from Indio/Palm Springs area to the entrance into the park. It was still warm in the upper 90’s but the elevation was nearly 4,000 feet. The first location we visited was the Cottonwood Oasis – after seeing only scrub trees and grasses there were huge cottonwoods and palms around the spring. Also some pretty flowers blooming. There was a 75+ mile trip through the part to the north entrance near the upper end of the Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage/Indio/Palm Desert Strip. The drive was quite varied. There were huge rock rubble and boulders from ancient activity making for most unique landscapes. The vegetation also changed with the altitude, but the back drop was always the same – high rocky bare mountains. There was a Jumping Cholla cactus garden – the Cholla as far as you could see were beautiful – they were called jumping because if you got too close the small parts would jump off onto you or an animal!
There was an ocotillio patch – lots of ocotillio plants but they were not blooming here so it was not too impressive. And then of course the Joshua Trees. They are unique – a kind of yucca plant. We went to Keys View which was at 5,000 feet and the view was back to the valley floor below – the Indio- Palm Springs valley. Also visible was the San Andres Fault and the San Jacnto and Santa Rita Mountains – one peak at 12,000 feet. There was a break in the mountains which allows the smog to enter the valley from the LA area. Today was fairly clear and we were able to see the valley and mountains well. They had a photo showing how poor the visibility is on a bad day. We ate lunch here – the temperature down to a pleasant 85 degrees!
|About as good as visibility gets|
We continued on through the park enjoying the varied views and exited the park on the north around 2:00. From Joshua Tree we headed back towards San Bernardino where we would turn north to Victorville. We are back on the Butterfield Trail. It seems it followed the same route as Rt. 66 through the mountain pass here. Once in California the Butterfield went from LA through several towns where there were passes in the mountains and where they had to deliver the mail. We will go basically the same route with a few additions thrown in like Joshua Tree and Sequoia National Park and maybe a trip to the coast and ending up in San Francisco where the Trail ended.
There was a HUGE wind turbine and solar collector farm right as we came down from Joshua Tree into Palm Springs. There were hundreds of the wind turbines – very close together. Unlike most wind farms we have seen ALL of these seemed to be turning!
|Wind Farm near Palm Springs|
We headed west through San Bernardino and then climbed quickly to Victorville. Jane was not a fan of the 8 lanes of traffic all going 60-70 miles per hour and was pleased to be heading out of the city environment!
InVictorville we actually have green trees besides palms. The resort areas of Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake are nearby. We found a motel right on Rt. 66 and began looking around for a restaurant for a good home cooked meal….well the #1, #2, and #3 on Virtual Tourist for Restaurants in Victorville were cafés serving Breakfast and Lunch only! We went to Richie’s Diner a 50’s style diner with 50’s music and had country fried steak, mashed potatoes, and gravy! Just what we needed...comfort food.
|Rt 66 in Victorville|
Leaving the diner with the sun down the temperature was comfortable…hopefully tomorrow we can camp again. Guess we have to make a few plans now for the rest of this week…we finally found a CA Visitor Center in a small town along our route today.