Monday, January 20, 2014
Today we left FOY on an adventure to visit Joshua Tree National Park. We knew it would be an all day trip, (into yet another place that is in the middle of nowhere) so I packed lunches for all of us. This led to the discovery that I was making Dad’s cheese sandwich on the next to the last slice of dill rye bread. This constitutes a crisis, so the trip was re-routed so that we could end up at the WinCo in Indio to buy more bread. (which also meant that we would pass by restaurants, where we could stop to eat, making our packed lunches, not so necessary) No matter. Extra food is good insurance against trouble.
The drive took us through Box Canyon, which is beautiful. The rock formations and desert landscape are breathtaking.
I speak about the bleakness and desolation of the desert, but it is really quite an amazing environment. Everything that lives there has done so by adapting to the heat (or cold) and lack of water. The Cholla cactus enhances its realm by dropping small spiny joints or balls, which either attach to some unsuspecting animal and then root when brushed off, or be blown by the wind to a new location. Small rodents will gather these spiny cactus parts and place them at the entrance to their burrows making a low-tech security system against predators.
The Joshua Trees, which are actually a variety of yucca, were equally as fascinating. They can grow up to 40 feet in height, but the ones we saw were much shorter than that. With their crazy wild branches and sharp leaves, they have a treacherous look about them. Again, they are uniquely adapted to the desert environment. Their “leaves” are waxy and narrow, allowing little exposure to the elements. It’s all about preserving water.
Choosing a restaurant is a dicey deal for this crew. We have different ideas as to what constitutes “good food.” Dad’s first choice for dining is ALWAYS “Home Town Buffet,” and a whopping 99% of the time, he is asked to make a second choice. I have health and food safety issues regarding dining options, and also am interested in variety and ethnic/local/vegetarian options, and Craig will blessedly eat almost anything from almost anywhere, except “Hometown.” So, unless we are going to a pre-determined spot, trouble brews; the driver abhors indecision. This day was just more of the same for us. Craig drives down the road at the posted speed limit or slightly above, his level of irritation rising with each restaurant we pass, while Dad and I read the signs and discuss the good and bad of each venue. The unwritten rule in this little game is that, once passed, it no longer is a viable choice for stopping. On this day, things played out pretty much as usual, but our choices were limited even more, as Wiley was with us, and we needed to find a parking lot that had some shade. Finding shade in these desert towns is pretty much impossible. As time ticked away, and stomachs growled louder, the driver said, “How about this one; I am turning around; we’re eating here.” And we did. I am hoping that my heart will forgive me for the transgression of eating a patty melt and fries. The menu options all included copious helpings of fat. But…..it was fairly good, and the parking lot had a very small patch of shade, in the back corner, for the dog.
On this trip, I seem to be “finding” things on the ground. I have found change, seashells, a silk flower, a stake for a drip irrigation system, and a glass stone. Today I found a nickel in the desert. It is a sad state of affairs that this is somewhat of a highlight, for me. But it is, nonetheless.
In the purchased variety of “found” things, Craig bought me a coffee mug to commemorate this adventure. It came from a coffee shop that will remain unnamed due to a potential conflict of interest in the broad family sense.
I do LOVE California, although this desert area may not be at the top of the list of favorite places. This state is always my first choice of a place to go.
Highlight of the day: I’m thankful that the lunch meal didn’t give me, or my camp mates, the intestinal distress we all anticipated.