Day 13 - Joshua Tree National Park
|Friday, November 12, 2021: We awoke to another beautiful, sunny day in Southern California.
|We were out of the hotel by 8:30 AM, ...
|... headed to nearby downtown Palm Springs. We were going to walk around downtown Palm Springs this morning, so we parked in the free public parking near the Art Museum.
|The first things we saw were the Palm Springs Babies by David Černý. They are crawling across an empty lot, looking very baby-ish, except for the barcodes where their eyes should be. We also spotted a baby from the exhibit scaling a nearby building a block away.
|Next up was the giant statue of Marilyn Monroe on the walkway to the Art Museum. Forever Marilyn is by Seward Johnson, and will be in Palm Springs until 2024. Our own hometown is covered in Seward Johnson sculptures, but all of them are lifesize and therefore smaller than this one.
|This is Isabelle by Julian Voss-Andreae, which is made from stainless steel and is nearly invisible if you look at it straight on, ...
|... but if you look at it from an angle, it appears solid.
|It is a striking art piece, and we both thought her pose was reminiscent of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen.
|These wings were just painted on the side of the building, practically begging Debbie to pose in front of them for this picture.
|Next up was the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on Palm Canyon Drive, which was started in 1992 to honor people who have lived in the greater Palm Springs area.
|First up: Pierre Cardin, who is billed as a designer and futurist.
|Lena Horne also had a star. She was billed as an actor, singer, and human rights activist.
|We made our way to the Sonny Bono statue, ...
|... who also had a star near his feet.
|There were lots of art pieces around the downtown area, ...
|... and some beautiful architecture and signs, like the Plaza Theatre.
|Frank Sinatra and Barbara Sinatra had stars that were side-by-side, while stars for Frank Jr. and Nancy were on the other side of the street.
|Hey! Elvis has a star here. Apparently, he and Priscilla lived here in 1966-1967.
|We crossed over to the south side of North Palm Canyon Drive to get a better look at ...
|... Lucille Ball, or as the statue is titled, Lucy Ricardo from I Love Lucy.
|Check out this cool bike rack!
|On the wall of the lot holding the Palm Spring Babies, there is a mural of Amanda Gorman, congratulating the National Youth Laureate for her poem at President Biden's inauguration.
|This painting, Greetings by Peter Tigler, is a community paint-by-number style painting. The 7' x 15' painting was unveiled at the 37th annual art festival in Palm Springs, where the artist invited participants to color the numbers with finger paints. What a cool idea!
|If you look closely, some of the numbers are still visible.
|Directly across the from the entrance to the art museum is a car balanced on its front bumper in a pool of water.
|There's a bronze statue of Gene Autry at Gene Autry Plaza, which sort of makes sense.
|We stopped at Jack in the Box for breakfast, before heading south to Desert Memorial Park.
|Our first stop here was Sonny Bono's grave. His headstone has the phrase "and the beat goes on," which was a hit for Sonny and Cher that he wrote, and it was sung at his funeral. There was a golf ball and golf tee, apparently due to his appearance in a popular "Bad Golf Made Easier" video from the 90s.
|His mother, Jean, is buried next to him.
|Our next stop was the grave for Frank Sinatra. It was a little harder to find, ...
|... but after a few minutes of walking, we found it. His tombstone reads "Sleep Warm, Poppa." It is apparently a new headstone, having been replaced some time in 2021 after there was vandalism done to his previous tombstone in 2020. His previous headstone used to have "Beloved Husband & Father" etched on it, and the vandalism apparently had something to do with the word "Husband" partially chiseled off. No one is talking about what happened, but the clues are all there as to who may have done it and why.
|Beside Frank's grave is his fourth wife Barbara's grave, the woman who ordered the original headstone for Frank.
|Also near Frank's grave is this grave for James van Heusen, one of Sinatra's close friends. He was an accomplished songwriter, having been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song 14 times in 12 years, winning four times. He also wrote 85 songs that were recorded by Sinatra.
|Jimmy Van Heusen's wife, Bobbe, was famous in her own right. She was one of the Brox Sisters, a singing trio, achieving most of their success in the 1920s and 1930s. Her sister, Lorayne Brock Hall, is also buried here.
|Our Palm Springs sightseeing complete, we headed south on the Sonny Bono Memorial Freeway (I-10), ...
|... to Joshua Tree National Park. We came in at the southern entrance, driving north through the park.
|This interpretive display explains that we were in the Colorado Desert, which is a sub-region of the Sonoran Desert, and that it is hotter and drier than the Mojave Desert in the northern part of the park.
|This sign put us on the lookout for bighorn sheep, but (spoiler) we didn't see any.
|There were very few people at the southern end of the park, which suited us just fine.
|We were driving through an area that was an enormous desert wash, which is where all of the water rushes through when there is rain here. Anything not anchored securely will be swept away when the rains come. Most of what we were seeing was grasses and the smoke tree, which interestingly enough depends on the grinding action of floods brought on by the rain to remove the outer coating of its seeds before they can germinate.
|We had been wondering where all of the Joshua Trees were in Joshua Tree National Park. A Joshua Tree is actually a species of the yucca palm plant, and these guys, which are abundant in the southern part of the park, are actually baby yucca palms.
|This plant, ocotillo, is a semi-succulent that is more closely related to the blueberry than to a cactus, despite its appearance. Its color depends on the amount of recent rainfall. This one was green, so there must have been water recently.
|This ocotillo was brown, which meant it was going dormant due to a lack of rainfall. The ocotillo will be brown and look dead for a good part of the year, and then when there is rainfall, it will suddenly turn green and produce small leaves that will remain for a few weeks, and then the cycle will continue. It was very cool to see examples of both within a close distance of each other.
|We stopped at the Cholla cactus garden to take a look ...
|... at these awesome fuzzy cacti.
|There were warning signs at the garden to look out for bees. There are honeybees present in large numbers at the cactus garden, needing the moisture the plants provide to cool themselves and their hive. Luckily, we didn't encounter any in the short time we were there.
|We stopped at this display entitled "Where Two Deserts Meet" which explains that we were now entering the cooler and wetter Mojave Desert ... where they keep all of the taller Joshua Trees.
|Sure enough, we started seeing the tree forms that we had been expecting.
|Check this one out. Joshua Trees only branch after they have bloomed, and they don't bloom every year. This one must have bloomed a lot to have so many branches.
|There were now lots of taller Joshua Trees in the area.
|This plant was fascinating. It had a bulbous growth in it where other stems came out. We have no idea what it is, but we'd seen it earlier this year when we were hiking at Lees Ferry in Arizona.
|Skull Rock was overrun with people, so we got a picture of its eye sockets peeking at us over the boulders and kept driving.
|We were now seeing a veritable forest of Joshua Trees. They are definitely more plentiful in the northern part of the park.
|The bottom part of the tree was more bark-like on the mature trees, rather than the shaggy look of the immature trees.
|We were also getting into some cool rock formations.
|They looked like collections of boulders that had been glued together.
|And they were enormous. There are people climbing this one, and they are barely visible due to the sheer size of this rock. They are right in the center of the picture, above the two trees, right at the seam dividing the lower part of the rock from the upper part.
|After two hours in the park, we drove out of the western entrance station, ...
|... careful to look for all kinds of wildlife that may be crossing the road, ...
|... and arrived at Joshua Tree Visitor Center, the newest of four visitor centers in the park. We were here to look for a Stephen Mather plaque, which alas, was at the other visitor center on this end of the park, the Oasis Visitor Center.
|We left the visitor center and drove a little further westward to see Murtle the Turtle, a large turtle sculpture on Twentynine Palms Highway, otherwise known as California Highway 62.
|We then turned eastward, toward the Oasis Visitor Center, passing this Muffler Man named Big Josh who stands outside an old 1949 Richfield Service Station that now sells souvenirs.
|These metal dinosaurs are outside the Desert View Homes, put there specifically to attract attention, which they do.
|We headed further into Twentynine Palms, ...
|... passing this mural entitled "Desert Wildflowers," ...
|... before finally reaching the Oasis Visitor Center.
|Behold the plaque of Stephen Mather, who was the first director of the National Park System.
|We took advantage of the recycling bins outside the visitor center to unload all of our empty soda cans.
|Heading toward our hotel, we stopped for take-out at Andreas Charbroiled Burgers. Tom went inside to place the order and wait for the food, ...
|... which was quite delicious. We enjoyed them in the parking lot along with the nice sunny weather.
|Our hotel for the evening was the Holiday Inn Express in Twentynine Palms, and we had booked a King Suite, which had a lovely sitting area and separate bedroom.
|We had been on the road for 13 days, so Tom headed downstairs to do some much needed laundry. There was one washer and two dryers, with a second washer present but not working. Luckily, we were the only ones using the machines, which was very nice. In a surprise twist, the machines were not coin-operated, but they took credit cards, including mobile pay, which was extremely convenient. Way to go Holiday Inn Express Twentynine Palms!
|We watched the sun set over the hills, folded our laundry, and enjoyed our large suite.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy