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Published: February 4th 2014
In Joshua Tree Natl Mon
Saturday, 1 February, 2014
Leaving Santee, we drove north to Ramona, a pretty, tidy little town, then east to Julian. The last time we drove through Julian, it was snowing, an unusual occurrence for them. Then, they were loading the school buses to get the students home before the roads got worse. This time it was warm and sunny and there were a lot of people wandering around town, sitting at outdoor restaurants and going in and out of shops. Then, as now, we crept down the steep and winding road to the valley below, but this time no snow. At the bottom is the Anzo Borrega Desert, which looks like you expect desert to look, sandy and dry with not much vegetation. Once through the Anzo Borrega we turned north and drove up the western shore of the Salton Sea, which was a beautiful blue color in the sunshine. At Mecca we took Hwy 195 (we hoped, because there were no road signs) north to the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Monument. We checked in at the Cottonwood Visitor Center then drove through more gorgeous mountain scenery, past the chollo gardens to Jumbo Rocks campground. We couldn’t find
Anzo Borrega Desert
Coming down the mountain from Julian
a site there so we drove back to Belle campground and found a nice pull-through spot in the rocks. The wind really picked up all afternoon and temperatures dropped. It was down to 37 degrees when we ate supper.
Sunday, 2 Feb
It got really cold overnight, we saw a low of 21 degrees. The wind had died overnight, though, so it didn’t feel so biting. We got out early for us and drove north to 29 Palms then to Amboy, where we turned onto historic Route 66 for a few miles. Amboy is literally in the middle of nowhere. They had one gas staion and they were charging $4.999 per gallon. We entered Mojave National Preserve at the south end and drove to Kelso, where the visitor center is. The roads through the park were extremely rough, little more than patched dirt in some places. But the scenery was worth the bumps. There were tumbled boulder mountains, Kelso sand dunes, cinder cones and lava fields.
We drove on through Baker, then up 127 through Tecopa and Shoshone, finally ending up in Pahrump, NV at a casino with a campground. When we checked in the nice man
with date trees
in the cg office, Don, told me we could get $5/day off camping if we got a player’s card at the casino. So that is what we did. Of course we played slots for a while and had a cheap, but good supper, too.
Monday, 3 February 2014
This morning we drove to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Preserve between Pahrump and Death Valley Junction. We walked some of their boardwalks and enjoyed seeing the springs that make this an oasis in the Amargosa Desert. Of course, there were no fig trees or palms, but there were mesquite trees, thistles and other indigenous plants. We took a peek at Devil’s Hole, which is part of Death Valley National Park, even though it is in the middle of Ash Meadow NWP. Devil’s hole is a hole in the rocks through which you can see part of a vast aquifer. The funny thing is, if there is an earthquake in Japan or elsewhere, it causes the water in Devil’s Hole to splash up the sides. They said the water was fossil water, meaning it took 10,000 to 20,000 years for the water to filter down to the aquifer. In
the preserve are a number of species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else than in Ash Meadows.
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