Road Trip Destinations
Joshua Tree National Park

Camping, Hiking, and Star Gazing

Joshua tree, desert, road trip, vacation

One of my favorite road trip destinations is Joshua Tree National Park. My first memory of complete silence is during a visit to one of the most surreal road trip destinations, Joshua Tree National Park. That was about fifteen years ago, and I remember hiking out into the desert and standing still by myself. For the first time in my life, I didn't hear a thing. Not a bird, or plane, or car...nothing. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Silence is so hard to find these days. Think about it. Is there ever a time when you don't hear something?

Last time we visited, I had to visit the outhouse, so we stopped and parked. As we walked towards the bathroom, we heard some bongo drums playing. It sounded pretty good, and as I walked to go pee, I saw a young, long haired, bearded man playing the bongos, while sitting on a picnic bench. Meanwhile, his equally hippie aura-ed friend danced lightly in the parking lot.

I smelled smoke and couldn't quite tell if it was a cigarette or something else. Then, a pleasant looking lady in a puffy orange jacket, and walking a cute black and white border collie, smiled at us, and our dog went ballistic and ruined the mood.

Then, my son went hiking and climbing on the rocks. Apparently, he had to take a whiz at some point and accidentally peed on a spider's web. It freaked him out. He said a spider seemingly materialized in front of him, floating on it's web, probably disturbed by the pee. He said it was about the size of his palm, and it was yellow, black, and beige, and kind of reminded him of a wasp.

Then he said he didn't feel much like climbing rocks for a bit. I was surprised, because he isn't usually afraid of bugs. I couldn't wait to get online and see if I could find out what kind it was. It took me a while. I found out about all the spiders in Joshua Tree National Park. There are brown recluse spiders there. There are black widows. And there are these...

Sammy the Sun Spider

Sun Spider, camel spider, joshua tree

Sun Spider. They sound kind of benign, don't they? Almost like a friendly character on a young children's show. Look, it's Katie the Kitten and Sammy the Sun Spider. Aren’t' they cute?

The park is surrounded by a nice array of suburban areas with an abundance of Walmarts and restaurants, in case you need supplies. Not like some campgrounds, where you are surrounded by boonies for miles on end. But there is nowhere IN the park to buy supplies. So, stock up at Walmart before you head inside.

The nice thing is that if you go camping there and forget something, it's a reasonably short drive to the store. But the park itself still has a nice, desolate feel to it. California road trip destinations should include Joshua Tree National Park!

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