Leaving LA we headed for Joshua Tree National Park for no other reason than we had no where else we wanted to go, it’s in the direction of AZ, and Yosemite is just too cold right now. It really is a @$%$# phenomenal lifestyle. I highly recommend it.
We used compendium.com and freecampsites.net (we are not affiliates of either) to find a wicked good boondocking site in a dried up lake bed just outside the park. We had only planned to spend a night or 2 but ended spending 4. When we first arrived we were greeted by the unofficial lake bed mayor, Frank. He’s self-elected. He has a house close by (but it’s really a scary looking compound surrounded by razor wire – why is there so much razor wire out here?!). He was out on his 4 wheeler picking up trash. I got the distinct impression he was assessing us to make sure we weren’t druggies or assholes (and that’s totally fine by me – we’re neither so we passed inspection).
Unfortunately he and some other random dude put the fear of god in Scott. Both of them said, “If there’s ANY hint of rain, don’t stay here.” Apparently the area becomes a mud disaster capable of eating even the most hearty 4×4 trucks. Got it. Ok. Thanks for the tip. It makes sense… but let’s be clear, this is the straight up desert. We’re talking almost Sahara-level desert but with more rocks and a few shrub bushes. Someone ticked off water a long time ago so it took off and now only earth, air and wind remain. Oh I’m sure they get moisture…. it just looked like it hadn’t happened in 1000 years. It’s the Mojave Desert – I’m sure when they get enough rain to make mud those special salamanders hatch and flowers bloom and it’s quite a show That doesn’t happen every Tues or this wouldn’t be… a desert. I wasn’t worried.
Scott checked the weather. Wouldn’t you know it… a significant rain storm was headed out way from the coast. I still wasn’t concerned. Look… you don’t get to call yourself a desert if water is a common problem. Scott wanted to move.
He woke me up at 11 pm. I still wasn’t worried but being that we have an egalitarian relationship, since he was concerned it was mandatory that I at least demonstrated some minor interest (or made like I did at any rate). I agreed to set the alarm for 1:30 am (about 30 minutes after the supposed rain was going to start) to check on the situation. We got up. The rain hadn’t started (shocker… it’s the desert). He finally felt ok and went to sleep. Around 2 I heard it start…. little pitter pats at first and then stronger. By this point Scott was snoring. I can’t tell you how irritated I was at the rain. I was seriously pissed. Instead of waking him up, I got up every @$%@# hour to check on the “mud”. Frank and other dude, I blame my horrible night on you. Frank, I hereby relieve you from your mayoral role in fantasyland because I just deemed myself Sultan.
So… it turns out that occasionally the desert does get a little bit of rain. I stand corrected. However, when that happens… it essentially evaporates immediately (because it’s the desert…. of course it does). The lake bed became a little sticky on the surface for maybe an hour until the sun got up high enough. There was no downpour. There was no truck-eating muck. There was absolutely no reason to worry or for me to miss a night of sleep. I told Scott he wasn’t allowed to look at the weather until we left the site.
We built a fort inside.
After meeting Frank, Scott and Evie went out and met a couple of unicorns… other full-timing families. These are the first full-timers with kids we’ve met in the wild. It was very exciting. They invited us to join them to see the sunset inside the national park and it all felt wildly exciting (especially for Evie). I think it might have been a family first date. I’m not sure how we did… we might have been a little awkward (shocker… awkward is sort of my comfort zone). We were asked to a pot luck dinner the next night – so it must have gone ok.
I”m so proud of these next couple of photos. Jack broke Evie’s toy. She told me she was sad to throw it away… so I told her we’d give fixing it a shot. She unscrewed all the screws and we ended up talking about soldering, electronics, batteries and engineering. My budding geekster – melt my heart. No… we couldn’t fix it. I’m not sure what Jack did to it but he made sure that sucker would never run again.
So… Joshua Tree National Park. I’m torn. I love the place because of the rock climbing and landscapes. We thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent exploring. However…. I’m gonna call it like I see it… I’m not convinced this place rises to the expectation of “national park”. You really can’t compare it to a Yellowstone or an Acadia. It’s great…. but it didn’t bite me on the butt and make me do a little impromptu dance. Maybe that’s just me. Scott got to see an old gold mine while the kids slept in the car and I read and then we all went bouldering where Evie and Jack showed off their balance and climbing skills. If you’re in the area, go. If you’re deciding between JT and Zion and you only have time for one, I’d push on.
Scott explored an old gold mine while the kids slept in the car and I read.
They both always want to drive the car. We headed over to some well known bouldering grounds (Skull Rock) after they woke up.
We also spent a couple of hours at the Institute for Mental Physics. Before I get into, you know about my “magic” family (coined by my friends, not repeat not my family). Just in case… my maternal grandfather and his mom (my great gram) were deeply spiritual people. My great gram was an ordained minister in the spiritualist church and my grandfather had strong ties as well. My great gram was a medium – she used a crystal ball (no – not even remotely like a gypsy) as her connection to the other side. She was able to receive guidance from her spirit guides. I vividly recall a reading she gave me when I was maybe 12 years old. My grandfather also had the gift. He stayed in China after the war ended but was asked to leave (kicked out) in the 50s. He went on to study ancient healing techniques in Egypt, Peru and with the Blackfeet Native Americans in Montana. He became well known in some circles when he traveled to the Philippines and learned how to do barehanded psychic surgery. It turns out he was a controversial figure and some (many? who knows… this isn’t really my crowd) point to him as the reason that ability was ‘taken away’. We can discuss at length over beers – it’s quite a story.
Scott and I saw the institute at the same time as we were driving down the road. I saw him take a breath, kinda roll his eyes a little and decide. Later, when I asked if we could stop in he smirked and said sure. I love these new age places because they remind me of my family. If you think it’s totally kooky, I get it. No issue. I studied real physics…. I’m not 100% in either. But here’s another fun fact, the buildings on the compound were all designed by Frank Loyd Wright and it’s the highest concentration of FLW buildings in the world. Boom. It’s cultural too. And just because I know you’re wondering… no… it’s not a cult and no one asked us to ride a donkey backwards and naked in the moonlight. It was perfectly lovely. There was a stone labyrinth, a medicine wheel and 15 energy vortices (I’m no expert but that claim seems high if Sedona only has 4). I bought a book on beginner meditation, we explored for well over and hour and were on our way. Oh…. and as has become normal when we go to energy sites, Scott got a referral to a potential new client. Coincidence?
At the center of the labyrinth. We didn’t let the kids touch any of the offerings. They were looking at the rocks.
What in the hell?!?!? All I could think of when I saw this was that scene from the first Poltergeist movie…. poor little Carol Ann. It still gives me the creeps. For the record, I want no part of whatever this is.