Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree


Today was a day to survey the scene in this area, before my trip to the actual Joshua Tree National Park tomorrow with my friend Michele.

I started the day with a house-call massage! (My host had one scheduled for herself, and suggested I snag an appointment right after hers.) This felt like a splurge, since I’m doing my best to minimize costs on this journey, but I think it was well worth it; I could really feel all the muscles throughout my body during the massage. I think I’d like to go ahead and plan on getting one per month while I’m on this trip. Seems like a worthwhile investment to keep my body in good working order.

After that, in the early afternoon, I headed out on my bike to check out two locally owned natural food stores—one in Yucca Valley and the other in Joshua Tree—knowing that in addition to enjoying browsing in these places, the journey would take me through the local landscape. The round trip was about 20 miles, and I did get to pass a great many of the local eponymous trees. They are legally protected: it is not allowed to cut down a Joshua Tree, even on one’s own property. My host has at least one in her yard. (See the photo in yesterday’s post.) Today I passed miles and miles of them. It sort of reminded me of the feel of the saguaro cacti in the Phoenix area, dotting sunbaked hills and mountains along many roads.

The desert climate and landscape take some getting used to for me. I wanted to “opt out of winter” in dreary and rainy Oregon, and I’m glad I’m doing so. (Today was 77 here, which I love.) But the starkness and desolation of these desert landscapes feels a bit harsh to me. I think I would find it challenging to live in such a climate. I feel the scarcity of water on a visceral level.

I’ve got lots more desert coming up later in my trip: pretty much all winter will be spent in desert areas in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. I think I’ll be ready for spring in the southeast; I might even welcome the dreaded rain and humidity by that time!

But tomorrow, I’m excited to explore Joshua Tree National Park, and possibly also a hot spring and a botanical garden.

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