Joshua Tree National Park

After two months in Arizona, we finally crossed the border into California.  Our first stop was Joshua Tree National Park and surround area.  We found a decent boon docking site right outside the southern entrance to the national park and decided to call this home for ten days. 

For our first week in the area, we visited Joshua Tree National Park twice.  Both times  we chose to do pet friendly activities, so that we could include Ame in the adventure.  One day we drove along the park’s main road, stopping at many highlights, including Cholla Cactus Garden and Keys View.  We also drove along the 16 mile Geology Scenic Tour.  We really enjoyed the geology drive because of vast views of perfect rock formations and boulders.  The drive to Keys View had the largest concentration of joshua trees, which a form of yucca tree. 

For our second day in the park, Andrew wanted to try one of the 4wd trails.  We started along the Pinkham Canyon trail, which winds through the canyon.  Further into our drive, we manage to turn off on the Thermal Canyon trail.  This drive had some great views of the distance mountain ranges and Salton Sea.

Curious about Salton Sea, Andrew, Ame and I visiting the area.  Salton Sea, which is a large lake with an extremely high levels of saline, was an odd juxtaposition of old/desperate attempt at resort area, with old abandon buildings and several beach pull offs, and agricultural haven for citrus trees.  We stopped by Salton Sea State Recreation Area to take in the wildlife (which turned out to be a few birds and dead fish, since the saline amounts are toxic to most fish) and views. Mostly, the sea left us uninspired, but we were happy to be out enjoying a sunny, palm tree day, while so many we know were snow in.

Lastly, wanting to beat the Valentine’s day madness and the art festival crowds, Andrew, Ame and I popped down to Palm Springs for lunch on Thursday.  I carefully searched for a restaurant that was dog friendly and found, Jake’s.  This local establishment is named after the owner’s dog, who frequents the restaurant.   After we enjoyed a tasty lunch, drinks and dessert out on their patio, we headed over to the dog park for a little exercise. 

Overall, our first week was filled with picturesque sunset, delightful day trips, and many games of fetch with Ame. 

Keys View, Joshua Tree National Park
Keys View, Joshua Tree National Park
Rock Formations, Geology Tour,  Joshua Tree National Park
Rock Formations, Geology Tour, Joshua Tree National Park
Cholla Garden, Joshua Tree National Park
Cholla Garden, Joshua Tree National Park
Geology Tour, Joshua Tree National Park
Geology Tour, Joshua Tree National Park
Pinkham Canyon Road, Joshua Tree National Park
Pinkham Canyon Road, Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree details
Joshua Tree details
Ocotilla details
Ocotillo details
Palm Tree, Salton Sea
Palm Tree, Salton Sea
Sign mentioning Airstreams at Salton Sea
Sign mentioning Airstreams at Salton Sea
Salton Sea
Salton Sea
Rosie on BLM, outside Joshua Tree National Park
Rosie on BLM, outside Joshua Tree National Park
Mailbox on BLM, outside Joshua Tree National Park
Mailbox on BLM, outside Joshua Tree National Park

 

Picacho Peak State Park

Picacho Peak (much to my dismay it is pronounced pick-ah-cho, like macho or nacho, not pee-ka-cho, like the adorable Japanese character, Pikachu) has been a splendid backdrop for our final week in Arizona.  This small state park has a nice campground with large spaces and plenty of separation between sites.  The best part is the beautiful view of the Picacho Peak mountain range and abundance of saguaro cactus.  Andrew and I have commented on how much we’ve enjoyed this week.

We’ve spent some time enjoying the surrounding nature by going on daily hikes/walks in the park.  One day we explored a large rock formation on the edge of the campground.  While it looks as though it might have had some mining or blasting to the rock, we found it interesting to see the different textures, vegetation and formation within its compact area.  It boasted a little three small arches/natural bridges and tons a greenery. 

Another day we took Ame on a hike along the Sunset Trail.  This 3.1 mile trail starts at one of the day use areas and winds long the back of the mountain range to the base Picacho Peak.  From the base, hikers have to use metal cables to help guide themselves up the steep slope to the peak.  While we’d didn’t make it to the top, we really appreciated vistas along the trail.  The Sunset trail is definitely a worthwhile hike for dogs. 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument was among our list of activities during the week.  Case Grande Ruins is a small park located in the town of Coolidge.  It is home to the Great House and several archaeological remnants of the Hohokam people.  The Great House  and other building ruins were part of village constructed mid-1300s.   By the way, this is another pleasant find for dog-friendly places.

Two other events on our calendar were attending the Zola Jesus concert at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix and Kodo’s taiko drum performance in Tucson.  Thrilled to attend the Zola Jesus concert, Andrew and I agreed that it was one more unique concert going experience.  The show started with one hour long music listening  session by this awesome local dj (unfortunately we didn’t get her name).  Nevertheless, she played some fantastic old alt rock, including Elvis Costello, Talking Heads and Cocteau Twins (nice blast from the past).  After her, we were introduced to the mediocre opening band, which included a hand puppet, drumbeats and a little bit of lo-fi sounds.  I have chosen to leave their name out, while we found their performance a grating on the ears, some other probably enjoy them (the greatness of individual perspectives).  Zola Jesus finally took the stage with a mighty voice and presence.  Her live performance is as good, if not better, than her recordings. 

I have been extremely enthusiastic about seeing Kodo’s One Earth Tour.  Kodo is a traditional Japanese taiko drum group based at Sado Island.  Andrew and I love listening taiko drum performances and have seen Kodo perform at least three other times.  This performance did not disappoint.  They really played with movement through shadows and lighting.  Also, they used a lot props and costumes, like life-size dragon costumes that move with the music.  Above all, our favorite was the portable drums piece, which really encompass movement and theatre and reminded us of a Japanese matsuri (they only thing missing was the mikoshi, portable shrine).

Before attending the event, we went with Pam and John from Oh,theplacestheygo for lunch at The Hub.  Last time we saw Pam and John was at Lake Mead in November.  It was great to catch up and share recent adventures.

Finally, our week couldn’t be complete without at least one project around the airstream.  I thrilled to shared that Andrew and I finally replaced the convection oven with a propane oven.  Since most of the time, we are dry camping and don’t have electricity the convection oven never got used.  It became storage space.  During the Wickenburg Rally, we met a couple who had removed and stored their propane oven.  Thanks to them, we were able to make our first dry camping brownies..with more tasty treats to come.

Casa Grande Ruin National Monument
Casa Grande Ruin National Monument
Casa Grande Ruin National Monument
Casa Grande Ruin National Monument
Cactus details, Picacho Peak State Park
Cactus details, Picacho Peak State Park
Cactus details, Picacho Peak State Park
Cactus details, Picacho Peak State Park
Andrew and Ame on rock formation, Picacho Peak
Andrew and Ame on rock formation, Picacho Peak
Rock Formation, Picacho Peak State Park
Rock Formation, Picacho Peak State Park
Rock Formation, Picacho Peak State Park
Rock Formation, Picacho Peak State Park
Rock Formation, Picacho Peak State Park
Rock Formation, Picacho Peak State Park
Sunset Trail, Picacho Peak State Park
Sunset Trail, Picacho Peak State Park
Sunset Trail, Picacho Peak State Park
Sunset Trail, Picacho Peak State Park
Sunset Trail, Picacho Peak State Park
Sunset Trail, Picacho Peak State Park
Bike Ride, Picacho Peak State Park
Bike Ride, Picacho Peak State Park

Alumafiesta

January has been a month full of activities.  From the Wickenburg Airstream Rally to Lake Havasu Balloon Festival, we have meeting lots of new people and visiting some neat places.  Well, the month ended with one more big event, Alumafiesta, a Airstream festival in Tucson.    Alumafiesta is similar to last year’s event, Alumaflamingo, that we attended in Florida.  It is half week of activities, socializing, and everything Airstream.

To kick off the event, Lazydays Tucson hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration for the new Airstream store.  Justin Humphrey, Airstream’s VP of Sales,  gave a spirited speech about Airstream and Wally Byam’s vision and several Lazydays official gave speeches welcoming Airstream and its business.     

During the event, Andrew and I attended a few fun activities, including the Colossal Cave and DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun tours.  The Colossal Cave is a large limestone cave that was used by the Hohokam and Apache Indians until around 1450.  In the early 1900’s, the cave was mined for guano, then developed by the CCC, eventually becoming tourist destination.  I must admit that this cave tour is among my favorites to date.  The tour allowed us to crawl and climb over rocks into tight places, as well as to walk along small ledges next to large drop-offs.  This tour was the most hands on tour without signing up for an intense wild cave tour. 

The DeGrazia Gallery tour offered an enjoyable juxtaposition to the cave.  Artist Ettore “Ted’ DeGrazia’s gallery and home was settled into the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  This 10 acre retreat offered a serene, peaceful view of DeGrazia’s adobe home; his art and murals; some beautifully landscaped desert gardens; and Mission in the Sun.  The tour was journey through DeGrazia storytelling in art. 

Along with the activities, Alumafiesta hosted a few nights of entertainment.  One event we watched Ballet Folklorica San Juan perform various dances.   Another night Cirque Roots, a three person acrobatic team, performed many twisted feats, along with some juggling, hula hooping and clowning around.  Unfortunately, I missed one piece of entertainment, Tucson Twist-Its, that I really wanted to see.  This kids team performs all sorts of jump roping tricks with a jump rope.  I had hoped to gain a few ideas of activities to add to my fun-time workout.

As the rain passed and event closed, it was time to pack up, say goodbye and move again.  Andrew and I had a wonderful time meeting new people, who we hope to see again on the road.

Alumafiesta
Alumafiesta
Andrew & CCC, Colossal Cave
Andrew & CCC, Colossal Cave
view from Colossal Cave
view from Colossal Cave
Coyote, near Colossal Cave
Coyote, near Colossal Cave
View from Colossal Cave
View from Colossal Cave

 

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
detail of Ted DeGrazia mosiac, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
detail of Ted DeGrazia mosiac, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
view of Ted DeGrazia's art, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
view of Ted DeGrazia’s art, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
Ted DeGrazia's home, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
Ted DeGrazia’s home, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun