For my family vacation in 2011, we drove south to Big Bear in San Bernardino National Forest. We spent a lot of time exploring the area – hiking around Big Bear and exploring Palm Springs. But my true excitement lay in the Mojave desert. I have been wanting to go to Joshua Tree National Park for as long as I can remember. And as we drove up to the park and entered, the trees became taller and taller. The taller they became, the more beautiful.
It’s one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever seen.
When we finally got out of the car and strode through a span of the Mojave Desert in 115 degree heat, I was awestruck. The colors, the epic blue sky and the harsh, sharp feel of the Joshua tree bark are things I will never forget. I found that, even here, such vibrant color can be found in the most unlikely of places. The reddish desert mistletoe is a parasitic plant…seems to have sucked the life out of its host.
The valleys you can see from Keys View in the park were barely visible through the haze. Palm Springs was blurred out. My family and I had climbed (in our car) to one of the highest points only to find hundreds of bees surrounding our car!
We also hiked for an hour in this heat! Along the hike we ran into mountain goats, a verdant lake and even Native American petroglyphs. And, surprise, some dead trees.