I recently was in California and had a Joshua Tree National Park roadside adventure. Normally when I visit a national park I want to stay at the bare minimum a couple of days or even better a week. You really cannot explore even the smallest of our national wonders in a day much less an hour or two.
Unfortunately, on this day this was all I had to spare. I was covering Stagecoach Music Festival for Toyota, and I had to be back in Palm Springs around 3 p.m. for the beginning acts that I wanted to see.
I woke up at 4 a.m. and was on the road towards Joshua Tree. A Facebook friend had recommended a hike and gave me directions. I spent three wonderful hours and hiked an awesome canyon. I thought I was in Joshua Tree, but I was actually in the Mecca Hills Wilderness Area.
It was now nearing noon and getting hot. I could either return and relax a bit or take a quick trip into Joshua Tree. I decided on the latter. I was only twenty minutes from the gates of the park. I could not turn around without at least seeing some of the countryside in Joshua Tree National Park.
I immediately was impressed with the scenery. The rocks and sand were of a golden brown quality and the sky was a beautiful bright blue. Rocky hills, yucca plants, and of course Joshua trees dominated the landscape interspersed with flowers as the Toyota 4Runner I was driving cut through the desert park road.
I once saw a movie in the Everglades National Park about visitors in that park, and they said that a staggering percentage of visitors do not get out of their car and explore. It shocked me that someone would drive all the way to a national park and only drive around.
I was about to do this very same thing in Joshua Tree, but I did pull over to one of the turn offs and get out and walk around. A bright blaze of yellow caught my eye about a quarter of a mile from the road. I headed over to the spot and took a few pictures of the desert flowers.
I was amazed at what else I found on this little jaunt. I came across several interesting kinds of cactus and a few other flowers I could not see from the road. Then a jack rabbit flushed out from under a shrub and took off. While checking out the rabbit, two loggerhead shrikes flew and landed on a brush only a couple of feet from me.