Daytrip To The Great Wide Open

No April Foolin’! Susan and I brought Ranger with us and drove all the way out to Wind Wolves Preserve near Bakersfield and enjoyed its magnificence via an eight-mile hike up a canyon and back along a plateau. Here’s a two-frame 360-degree panorama of Ranger and Susan with seemingly the entire park to themselves somewhere between the fourth and third mile markers of the Tule Elk Trail (I’d encourage clicking to embiggify the image):

Follow The Follow The Follow The Follow The Follow The Yellow Rock Road

One of our destinations inside Joshua Tree during our daytrip there this past Saturday was the famous Skull Rock after which Susan and I went for a hike of a couple miles around the rocks in the area.

On our way back we deviated from any marked trail and meandered a bit where we made the totally lucky discovery of an awesome rock-lined spiral path, that certainly took some doing by whoever constructed it (maybe it was a team effort started by someone and then built out by subsequent visitors who happened upon it).

Of course, to honor the efforts of the mystery builder(s) I went to the center of the circle and walked my way out to the other end and Susan snapped me at a point in my progress:

Here’s the timelapse view of the spin I took through it from my chest-mounted GoPro cam:

Afterwards, I went looking on the internet for any information about the man-made formation, but found none. Zero. Then I went to GoogleMaps to see if the spiral was visible via satellite view, and wouldn’t you know? It is (gmaps link):

What a wonderful and entirely serendipitous bonus to an awesome first visit to Joshua Tree National Park, the moral of whose story is: don’t stay on the beaten path because you never know what you’re missing.


Straight Outta Steinbeck

When we entered the south end of Joshua Tree National Park early yesterday morning I wondered rather hopefully but doubtfully to myself if Susan and I would be so gifted as to see both a bighorn sheep AND a desert tortoise during what was our inaugural visit.

Then we went about making our way north through the park awed at the amazing scenery and solitude. By the late afternoon it was time to head home and pretty much as expected we hadn’t encountered either of the two animals. But then, at the last opportunity we literally intersected paths with a desert tortoise crossing the road about a mile from the exit at Joshua Tree.

Being a huge fan of Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” I immediately drew a parallel between this tortoise and the metaphorical one found crossing the highway in that book’s third chapter.

With a crowd of other passersby gathering there was concern the creature might stress and void its bladder (aka “drop its water”), which can often be a dehydration death sentence to a tortoise out there in the dry and wild. But any drama as to what to do with the tortoise who was really in no hurry to get off the warm asphalt, was nicely resolved when a park ranger happened upon the scene and moved it safely (and without dropping its water) well away from the other side of the road. What an awesome way to end our first visit to this amazing place. Next time: camping, for sure!