March 15, Tuesday
As I’m putting up the latest blog post, I hear a vehicle go past. Being nosy I lean forward in the dinette to look through the screen door… it’s another Casita! Caravanning with it is a Roadtrek, they park in the site just up the hill from me.
About an hour after arriving the three of them are sitting outside in their camp chairs and I walk over for a visit. The Casita owner is another single lady, the Roadtrek is owned by a couple. We talk until the sun goes down, they’re not here for the park but are driving east on I10, and this is a regular overnight stop for them coming from where they live closer to the coast. I meet the nicest people on the road.
March 17, Thursday
Yesterday was a writing day, today is a travel day! I hitch Cas up bright and early and climb through the south entrance into Joshua Tree National Park. The flowers at this southernmost end of the park are what I would consider to be in peak, the ground is almost a carpet of them in places. The pullouts are all full of people getting pictures and there’s no room for me to pull over and do the same, oh well. Here’s one last picture of the flowers near my last camp.
At the Cottonwood campground just off the main road is a water and dump station which I make use of. Now everything’s ready to go!
This is the best kind of travel day. Only 60 miles to go, early start, no rush to get anywhere, a beautiful place to drive through. By the time I leave the dump station it’s 10:30, it takes me over two hours to get through the park.
It’s not traffic. Though this is the busy season for JT visitation is laughable compared to the more popular national parks. Nor is it road work or anything of that nature. No, I’m on a mission.
Last time I came through here I failed to get a good picture of Cas and Bertha in the park. I think every RVer likes to get pictures of their rig in cool places, but it can be hard! The pullout needs to be the right size and not full, there needs to be no other vehicles in the frame, there needs to be enough room to back up far enough to get the whole rig in the shot, the sun needs to be behind the camera, and of course the scenery needs to be pleasing! It’s a tall order.
The early pullouts on the southern end of the park have no Joshua Trees, so they won’t do. I want a picture that makes it crystal clear where I am. At others the slope of the land makes it so you can hardly see the trees. Others are so uneven that it makes the rig sit odd, that’s no good.
The pullout I eat lunch at is pretty good and deserves an honorable mention. The rock formations are interesting, but it’s hard to see the trees. Still, the view from the Casita while I eat is quite amazing.
In the end, I stop at eight different pullouts. At the eighth one a visitor trying to identify shrubs across the road offers to take a picture of me with the rig, my clothing makes me blend into the rocks like a chameleon though and at first glance I bet you can’t even see me.
I don’t do any other sightseeing or hiking on this drive. I’ll come back into the park without the RV and there will be more pictures of the landscape then. In the meantime, I did snag a few more flower photos.
Outside of the northwest entrance, Bertha winds down out of the mountains to the aptly named town of Joshua Tree. At highway 62 I turn east and drive a few more miles to the unincorporated town of Sunfair. There’s a dry lakebed here which is BLM land and open for camping. When I arrived at 2 in the afternoon there were about seven other RVs around but people continue to arrive throughout the day as the campgrounds inside the park fill up and force visitors to seek alternatives. Crowding isn’t an issue, as the area is huge and there’s room for everyone.
It’s not much to look at, but it’s level, quiet, has a good Verizon signal, and has easy access to the park and shopping. When it rains it becomes a muddy mess, according to reviews even four wheel drive vehicles get stuck so if you think of giving it a try make sure the ground is firm and leave at the first sign of precipitation.
I unhitch to do some much needed chores in town. Coyote Corner in Joshua Tree has showers available at $4 for 8.5 minutes, I buy two tokens for $8 and do not regret the decision. I stop at Sonic on the way to Walmart for groceries and do a double-take at the vehicles parked there, it’s a classic car convention! This is a fun place for one.
March 18, Friday
I wake up to find myself in a village. To the east a lady has the clamshell kitchen of her teardrop trailer open and is making breakfast. To the south murmured voices drift on the breeze from the open windows of a blue bus. To the west a car camper is hula hooping while a family of four is pulling out in their 5th wheel. To the north a group of tent campers are busy folding up their temporary shelters. There are plenty of others beyond them, at least a dozen people showed up after dark. I heard none of them arrive, there was no noise last night that I can recall, and all of them kept a reasonable distance from their neighbors. Quite miraculous really.
By 11 most of them have cleared out and it’s back to the core group of RVers who are here for an extended visit, but I imagine as the day wears on the next crop of overnighters will start rolling in.
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