Beginning 2018 in Joshua Tree!

It’s winter/holiday break and camping in Joshua Tree is always on the radar, maybe because of the U2 record, the pictures of those trees, family loving it, and/or that we have a friend in JT, so off we went. Our first night was at China Camp SP, where decades ago we went to a wedding on the bluff for our college friends Donna and Craig. It was an easy night of pulling in with no one around, making dinner and watching the morning awaken as bike riders arrived. We walked around the area, packed up and headed to moochdock at relatives.

China Camp State Park allows self-contained RVs to camp enroute in the parking lot for one night only, between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m., space permitting. There was a lot of space.

On the shore of San Pablo Bay there once was a shrimp-fishing village. Now there are bicycles and kayaks.

So perfect to have the Airstream for the holiday as the power went out, the sewer backed up, and sickness occurred during Christmas. We celebrated well despite the challenging moments and began our journey south on Wednesday. We decided on Colonel Allensworth SP to continue our visitation of CA State Parks. Arriving around 4, we chose a site and got water regardless of the signs saying boil first. We knew we were only going to shower with it and had some bottled water to use. One other camper was there discovering the area also. The park staff almost gave us our money back because of other water issues but they were fixed by that night. The park is interesting to visit for history, and one finds that water has always been an issue at this park.

There are only 15 sites in this park.

The train goes through the area and it always makes me think about all of our transportation modes in this country.

With a college education, Colonel Allensworth always promoted African-American self-reliance and helped start this little colony in 1908. It became a state park in 1974.

A Christmas gift from our kids we pulled out Backgammon to start a tradition. It’s luck and strategy to win, and we are keeping track of those wins.

Thursday morning the weather was valley-overcast and after the usual food, showers and disposal we headed south. After scouting AllStays and Campendium for our next stop we chose Calico Ghost Town (county park) which when we arrived at 4:30 was crazy full and no one at the entrance station to give any direction. We did find our way around with help from other campers and settled in after one camper said the site next to them probably was available for one night because they had it reserved for the weekend starting tomorrow. There were full hookups where we were and that was the reward as the sites were closer than close. We walked around, met numerous campers from Orange County and even met up with the campers from the night before. In the morning we hiked up to the Calico Ghost Town and it was worth a look at least for the views.

We were in the circle loop and never even explored the section down below where the cabins are.

Walter Knott purchased Calico in the 1950’s architecturally restoring all but the five original buildings to look as they did in the 1880’s. Now it’s part of San Bernardino County regional Parks.

Driving to Joshua Tree we discussed the desert environment and it’s starkness,meeting up with family and friends and our college friend Geary. Arriving at Black Rock Campground in the day is a must as the signage in the park can be challenging. Our campsite offered a few choices for views and we took advantage of the best one. After setting up we headed to Indian Cove to hand off the sun shade to our son and see his campsite. That campground is quintessential Joshua Tree, gorgeous rock formations, no water and numerous climbers. We found out ours was a past Jellystone Park hence the crazy set up ( roads in disrepair, signage issues, and within a walk to neighborhoods).

Before it was incorporated into the national park’s boundary in 1976, the campground was one of several locations in the Jellystone Park Campground franchise.

Indian Cove can be reserved and has 104 sites, pit toilets and no water. It is a quintessential Joshua Tree Campground.

The next morning, Saturday, we met up with Ian, Cassie, Jen and Quentin to hit the Boy Scout trail. Leaving a car at Indian Cove we drove to the entrance at Keys West for the 7.7 mile hike. Lots of folks in the beginning but eventually it was just us. The barrel cactus caught our eyes as did the Joshua Tree, and the views. It was easy hike, and we enjoyed lunch and each other’s company. 11:30-4:30

The entrance is well marked and was fairly busy at first as it was Saturday of a holiday weekend. Most people were going our same direction.

A selfie and homage to the Kinks, “People take pictures of each other, Just to prove that they really existed”

Lunch Rock

Standing Rock

Barrel Cactus is amazing as it can live to be 100 years old. The color also is vibrant when the vast color of the desert are it’s opposite colors. They grow based on sun orientation, towards the south.

These Joshua Trees are all different – reminds me of people. I took more pictures of these tress than any other tree in all my photography years.

New Year’s Eve day we relaxed, and did the local High View Nature Loop, a 1.3 mile trail that allows one to register they did it, great views and more Joshua Tree views. We waited for the moon, Ian and Cassie for a dinner date. It was a great evening of ribs, wine, pasta salad and beans. We ate inside as it was chilly, but ended the evening around the campfire on an almost full moon night.

The view from the High View Nature Trail provided us with a view of our campground.

It was a cold but gorgeous end to 2017, complete with family, full moon and fire.

Occasionally its okay to eat a meal on paper plates, especially if it’s New Year’s Eve.

Straight into 2018 took us all on a truck tour of Barker Dam, Keys View, and the Cholla Cactus Garden. Ian was under the weather again so we said our goodbyes after the excursion and headed back to camp.

Crazy busy in parts this hike was. I was absolutely amazed though to see ducks and water. It was an easy hike for all of us on New Year’s Day.

The dam was constructed in 1900 was actually called the Big Horn Dam as the sheep come this way. We did the entire loop and looked at the petroglyphs also.

Cholla Cactus Garden was interesting, and after seeing the Carrizo Plain I can only image this place in the springtime. These dudes can get pretty tall!

Keys View at 5185 was busy and a bit windy but decking below a rock we enjoyed the view and lunch.

Tuesday, our last full day we had a great breakfast, and headed out to hike the Maze Trail. It’s named that for a reason as we were challenged a couple of times on trail choices and signage was lacking. Those creek/wash areas can look like trails when they’re not, sometimes there are arrows to send you the right way, sometimes not. It was a 12-4 hike, and no one was on the trail.

Kept us going through thick and thin this breakfast!

Concerning this trail, not on the park map that we could see, we mainly went on internet pictures we had taken of the trail. No cell service.

The views were breathtaking and so were the rock formations. Our friend Geary told us about this trail and it turned out to be a favorite.

Wednesday was getaway day, but first a meal and visit with our friend Geary at The Natural Sisters Cafe in Joshua Tree. We then headed back to our site to pack, and off we went heading north.

We stopped at Brite Valley Aquatic Recreation Area in Tehachapi. After being in the desert, hookups were appreciated. Only two other campers here. The wildlife in the morning was fabulous.

On to McConnell SRA on the Merced River for Thursday night and the rain hit. We had the place to ourselves.

Merced River right in the campground looks inviting for kayaking .

Lake Oroville from the Bidwell Bar Suspension Bridge.

Our last night in another rainy empty campground. It was fun to go and look at visitor center, the area where they keep the floating campgrounds and the bridge. Now on to the next adventure.