In these parts any drive under three hours is more commute than road trip; in fact Los Angeles just “won” worst traffic in the country…again. Never mind that, this year for my birthday I decided (last minute) that I would check off a bucket list item and head out to Joshua Tree National Park.
A successful road trip is like a well-played jazz tune. Ideally it should have a road map, rests and even the occasional full stop and hopefully a nice harmonic resolution. To make sure all this happens you must cast your copilot with care.
Some people love to drive, (good choice for the gig) but that doesn’t mean you agree on tempo. In this case my copilot loves a road trip but they are goal oriented. Joshua Tree first then check into our lodgings. Keep the diversion to a minimum.
But if by chance while barreling down the highway I see a 100 foot T Rex in a bonnet, with a basket dangling from his short T Rex arms and in that basket is a sign that says “Hot Nuts and Kumquats” I’m going to want to pull off and check it out. Not a rolling stop, a full stop. I want a picture of that action. I may or may not buy the hot nuts but a girl needs to leave that option open. I won’t dawdle but a nice leg stretch, photo opp, and I am happy. On a side note, one day I will also lead the band: “Randi Cee’s Hot Nuts and Kumquats.”
Because it was high season there were few affordable lodging options. The national chain motel I chose was just outside the hamlet of Palm Springs. I had low expectations but apparently not low enough. Did you know that they have a special car wash for big rig trucks? Our motel was next to one. The broken thermostat dial had nothing on it so someone filled in the blanks with a Sharpie. My only real deal breaker is a horrible bed. We cut the trip short after one night.
I was packing up bright and early the next morning and a female motel resident was shuffling back from getting her free lobby coffee. Robe and Styrofoam cup in hand and she barks, “I SMELL GAS.” I was making all kinds of judgments about her morning sobriety when I realized, she had a point. That big rig wash next door was perfuming the air with eau du diesel.
Our drive thru Joshua Tree was like nothing I have ever seen. There was more rain this year, so it was as green as a desert can be and still be a desert. Patches of beautiful wildflowers and the namesake tree was in full bloom. The topography is right out of an Asimov novel you cannot believe you are still on planet earth.
Turns out the road, was the trip. If you love the look and expanse of the desert this is a must see. If you don’t, then stick with the T Rex and his hot nuts.