Monday, April 14, 2014

Joshua Tree

At the beginning of the month, my family had the opportunity to go camping at Joshua Tree National Park with a group of people.  We went back and forth about whether it should be a family trip or not, finally deciding to make the 1100 mile round trip with everyone.  The children travelled very well, and we enjoyed listening to Swallowdale on the way down and Peter Duck on the way back up.  We are all very good travelers when we have a great audiobook!

Joshua Tree was windy, cold, and absolutely gorgeous.  I have not spent much time in the desert before, and this was a challenging, but rewarding introduction.  I thought I would share some pictures from our trip so that while the pictures don't do the place justice, you all could get at least a little glimpse.

Now that I'm mostly caught up from being gone (and largely recovered from fatigue and dehydration!) I'm hoping to restart my various intellectual pursuits this week and finish Chapter 4 of A Living Page.  I hope to post on that sometime Easter week.

The rocks next to our camp were great for scrambling.  The kids had so much fun exploring and climbing.  You can also see part of a Joshua Tree on the left of the photo.

The Yucca look something like the Joshua Trees, but they don't grow as tall and they have something like white strings that peel off their edges.

A close up of the Yucca bloom.

A Joshua Tree in bloom.  Experts think that the when the growing tip of the Joshua Tree is damaged by frost, it is stimulated to bloom and then branch.  So by looking at a Joshua Tree and seeing how much it has branched, you have a good idea of how many times it has bloomed.

Headstone Monument Rock.  My husband climbed part of this!  Joshua Tree is known for its amazing and bizarre rock formations, favorites for both photographers and rock climbers.

It is was wonderful to be here in the spring so we could see all sorts of flowers in bloom.

I believe this is a pencil cactus.  It certainly looks formidable, doesn't it.

A rock formation on the Geology Tour Drive in the north part of the park.  I took the younger kids on that while my husband and the older kids climbed.  The cold and the wind was just too much for the little guys.

Joshua Trees and a view of a distant, snow capped peak.

The growing tip of a Teddy Bear Cholla (pronounced choy-ya)  

These things were quite fierce looking. They largely reproduce when a piece breaks off, which rolls to other areas, roots, and grows into a new plant.  There are pack rats that will gather these pieces and bring them to their nest, which they use as a sort of barbed wire around their entrances.  Somehow they are able to move around them and carry them without getting too injured, and they offer protection against the coyotes and other predators that would like to dig up their middens and eat the rats.


  1. Wow--incredible photos. What an amazing nature study opportunity. And look at all those wildflowers!

  2. Thanks, Celeste! It was an amazing opportunity to study an environment so different from where we live. I wish the weather had been a little more conducive to sitting and sketching, but I'm glad I was at least able to take some pictures.

  3. Great photos! Interesting, and beautiful in its own way ... especially up close!