Monday, 25 March 2013

Where the streets have no name...

I am writing this from the sofa in my PJs, utterly shattered with the smell of bonfire lingering in the living room. This must mean I have been camping. This was our first US camping trip, using the tent we brought over with our tiny amount of shipped furniture. We used to go camping fairly often at home, but honestly the weather prohibits it most of the time, but every so often we would manage a good day or two. 

In order to ensure we wouldn't wake up cold and a bit damp, we decided this time we would  camp in the desert. Quite a few of husband's colleagues are the outdoor types and had recommended Joshua Tree National Park, so I booked a campsite and on Saturday morning we got up early, packed up the car and went. 
Well travelled tent
It's only about 2 and a half hours from west LA to the park, and the sun was shining gloriously the whole time. It was such a strange feeling to put up the tent and unpack everything without panicking that the rain was about to hit or that we had to move fast. It turns out sand and rock are a lot harder to drive tent pegs into the sodden earth, but once we had the tent up it was fine.Keeping the inner door zipped shut to keep out lizards was different to the usual midges, but the lizards are less bitey, so I was a fan.

Once we were unpacked, we decided to check out the Hidden Valley. It was pretty incredible. The desert fascinates me, coming from a country famed for it's greenery. It's the complete opposite of home, and it's so interesting to me. The Joshua Trees (for which the park, and the U2 album are named) are some of the strangest things I've ever seen. It is no surprise that they feature in a Dr Seuss book (The Lorax.) 
The Hidden Valley. Husband cracked his head off this tree and now has a big scab. I hardly laughed at all.
We made it back to the campsite before the sun went down, since we knew it would be cold and very dark, so we wanted the fire going before the temperature dropped. some yummy burgers, badly burnt corn-on-the-cob and hundreds of cups of tea. I had downloaded the radio play of 'Neverwhere' by Neil Gaiman from the Radio 4 podcast, and we listened to it under the stars. This is the reason I love camping. It's not something I ever did growing up, but I love the feeling of being outside, having no where else to go and nothing to do.

After an awesome night's sleep (the fresh air agrees with me) and a delicious breakfast at Denny's in the local town, we headed out to Key's Point, another area of the park. We were able to drive up the mountain and look down over the Coachella Valley (as in the music festival, which is in a few weeks.) The view was incredible, but it was a bit hazy so the pictures on our pocket camera couldn't really give an idea of the scale, but there was just desert as far as we could see. Incredible.
The view from Key's Point, driving through the desert
I was pretty relieved to get home to my cat (she was alone for 24 hours- the longest I've ever left her. She had plenty to eat so didn't care) and a shower. We were both pretty dehydrated and in desperate need of moisturiser. It was so arid in the park that the moisture was just sucked out of your skin. My lips have never been so dry. It wasn't the most pleasant sensation, but honestly, it's still better than the rain!

All in, an amazing weekend, especially since it won't be camping weather at home for at least another 6 months. Shall try not to boast...


  1. That looks amazing Lorna! Jealous! x

  2. Ahhhh would you believe after 5 years of living here we still haven't made it to Joshua Tree? I need to go. We love camping. It just never seems like the right weather there when we try to plan it (too freaking hot, too freaking cold). We usually go a little north of here for our car camping trips.

    1. I'd love to know where you go up north? We are going to yosemite in July with some friends, any other recommendations? Joshua tree is definitely worth the effort, it was amazing!

    2. For close car camping, we just go up to Leo Carillo or up north to Ojai. If you want to go farther, Dinkey Lakes in Sierra Nevada was gorgeous. We still haven't made it to Yosemite (other than driving through it) because they don't allow dogs and we always feel bad leaving our dog behind.

      Oh, and Chantry Flats in Arcadia is beautiful for hiking and short backpacking trips!


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