6 April 2014--On Thursday, the 3rd of April, we took our 1st trip into Joshua Tree National Park from the Marine base we are staying at in Twentynine Palms, CA.
The park was established as a national park in 1994, and is laid out like a lot of others, where they have "named" spots on a map you can follow to make sure you get to the best viewing spots, so off we went to Ocotillo Pass. We saw these plants before; I think the 1st time in Arizona. Because they are so tall and only have flowers on the end of them, they are sort of hard to take a good picture of.
Didn't spend much time in that area, but definitely loved our next stop at the Cholla Cactus Garden, to see a huge area of my favorite cactus again, the Hanging Fruit Cholla, or "jumping" cactus. This is the one that attacked me back in Tuscon. haha I can attest to the truth of the "painful" statement if you get one stuck in you.
The park boundaries are laid out in a Northwest to Southeast slant, and actually bridges together the Mojave and Colorado Deserts (the Colorado is a part of the Sonoran Desert). Because one desert is colder and wetter than the other, you get different types of plants/cactus growing in each half.
I love the petals on these cactus flowers, grown in the Mojave part of the park as is the Joshua Tree...just wish more were blooming when we got there.
The park's namesake, the Joshua Tree, is neither a tree nor a cactus. It is part of the Yucca family, like this 1st picture. It usually has multiple branches, while the Yucca usually has only one, or at most, two. It was named by Mormon Pioneers, who thought its arms resembled Joshua beckoning them to the promised land.
Here you can see one of the branches of the Joshua tree that has a bloom on it, blown up in the 2nd pic. Looks like I just took a close up of the Yucca, but if you blow up the 1st pic you can see the branch in bloom directly above my head.
The Joshuas come in all shapes and sizes. We read that the largest one in the park is 42 feet tall, although we didn't see it. We also read that they live, on average, 150 years, but can live as long as 300-500 years. That part seemed like a big window to me, but who am I to say? haha I like how the tree in the 2nd pic seems to be reaching out to me. They get a new branch every time one branch flowers, or is eaten/damaged by something.
A pretty Yucca bloom, and then Cathy in a pic with a cool Joshua, surrounded by massive rock.
This short movie gives you an idea of just how many Joshua Trees there are here, and also the massive rock formations. Until I zoom in you can't even tell how many are there.
We pulled into a parking spot and started exploring some rocks. Aren't they cool looking? It looks like they were placed here, which of course we know they weren't, but we read that they were formed by hot magma, or "liquid rock", and pushed up from deep inside the earth. They then cooled and hardened and that is what we are seeing now.
A couple shots while we drive around.
The last stop of the day was to take a hike out to the Barker Dam, built by cattlemen in the 1870s when they used to take their cattle out here to eat the spring grasses. Hard to believe this area ever had spring grasses, never mind enough to feed cattle.
I took this for you, Hallie. These folks were thoroughly enjoying their picnic!
Here we are having some fun with the phone camera again. The 1st 2 are Cathy...notice how far away she is from her 1st 2 images in the 1st pic, and how her foot looks like she is barely hanging on in the 2nd pic. haha
I am jumping around in the last pic...but only a faint hint of me shows up as I jumped to the 3rd rock...can you see me?
So a pretty interesting day. Surprised at just how many Joshua Trees there are here, and probably even more surprised at all the different types of rock formations, from huge boulders to what looks like mountains of smashed rocks. Got more to see tomorrow, so we will be back!