Day 5 “On the Road” In Mojave National Preserve and ending in Joshua Tree National Park

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(Castle Peaks, Mojave National Preserve)

March 14th, 2014

Packed up from the Nipton Inn and headed off for the day – driving south through the Mojave National Preserve on Ivanpah road. David and I were both quite quiet in the car. The desert was growing on us. Vast expanses filled the emptiness. Rough rugged mountains in the distance. Subtle variation of grays and greens of the plant life rushing by as we drove through. Turned left on a barely marked dirt road to venture up into Castle Peaks. Picnicked there then walked amongst the Joshua Trees with the peaks of castles in the background. Another filmable spot…

Then headed back to the blacktop for an hour or so drive further south and out of the preserve. Sad to say goodbye.

Needed gas so stopped at the first and only gas station we saw. Discovered we were on the old Route 66 in a hilarious, what turns out to be a landmark place called Najah’s Desert Oasis. Thrown into a sort of shock seeing so many people pouring out of busses, after spending 5 days in the preserve practically alone the entire time. Silly place called Najah’s Oasis visited by many passing through on their way to Grand Canyon or Vegas. Still outside, behind the tattooed bikers, and tired hot tourists, peeked a landscaped area with statued fountains pouring into ponds scattered with pink flamingos. The inside was a hodgepodge of a food area, and literally wall-to-wall sale items, everything from deodorant to Route 66 t-shirts and mugs.

Got back in the car to points south – briefly stopping to photograph a chloride plant that caught our eye, because it built canals of water, to extract the salt, and we had not seen flowing water in days….

Headed on and arrived at night at our next destination – Twenty Nine Palms Inn in Joshua Tree National Park. Checked into our charming room, then meandered to the bar past Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter look alikes and other surprisingly well-dressed hotel guests dining by the pool, two many from LA, most likely – after all it was a Saturday night – to meet Paul Smith, owner of the Inn.

He bought us a glass of wine and entertained us with stories about Minerva Hoyt, who years ago, helped preserve Joshua Tree and much of the desert – then when he said his good-night, David and I stayed at the bar to dine and fell into feeling like locals as we shared stories with other bar visitors – mostly regulars from the adjacent marine base.

Went to bed and dreamed of the bar scene in Star Wars with its cacophony of characters, from many different planets, meeting and drinking and guffawing and seeing each other off on the next grand journey. What will the next grand journey of our desert sojourn be?