Make a Detour Your Next Destination!

This week I was suppose to be down in Palm Springs for work – but my workload at home derailed those plans. Instead I’m playing catch up and getting balls rolling on new projects. And while I’m happy to have the extra time at home, I do miss the chance to escape into Joshua Tree just a small detour from the Palm Desert.

Growing up in Arizona, road trips to California were common and the perfect night sky could be seen down I-10 (highway 10) at night on the 265 mile drive from Palm Springs to Phoenix. And when I moved to California back in 2010 I would always plan my trips to my home-state (AZ) at night so I could drive with the top down on my convertible (at the time) and let the brightly lit night sky light the way.

There aren’t many street lights – or stops- once you drive west of the Palm Desert which means the only light pollution comes from the head and tail lights of the cars on the 10.

On one trip back to California I saw the exit for Joshua Tree and made one of my favorite detours to date. While the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park is down the street from a McDonalds and a Kentucky Fried Chicken, once you enter the part you are transported to a unique new world.

The following pictures are from my second visit to the park and shockingly not filtered.

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The unique landscape is what I imagine Mars would look and feel like. And while I know we have pictures of what Mars actually looks like, I prefer to think this is what it actually looks like – and that I’ve got to experience more than a National Park, but a new planet.

The rock formations were crafted for climbing and so picture perfect that I’m shocked that instagram models haven’t taken over the park (maybe it’s because theres no wifi).

 

The signature “Joshua Tree” plants are as Suessical as they are described on wikipedia and even more unique and original as your imagine would build them up to be. They are spread out, never really touching and stand tall as if trying to show off their figure compared to the tree next to them, almost saying “look at me instead of her…” Damn, I just made these poor trees bitchy didn’t I? lol

There are mountain-like rock formations, acres of flat and dry desert landscape and rolling hills… A rich variety of landscapes that are unique to this park where the Mohave desert shows off some of its best selling points.

One this day (I cant even remember what year this trip was) the clouds moved faster than I had ever seen them move before. Some clouds as white as can be and a grey and black cloud chasing it from the west. I was hoping a dark cloud would grace us with a little rain – but as can be expected in the desert rain is hard to come by.

I love this picture I took of a Joshua Tree. Its coverings are almost furry and while its structure is narrow, tall and kind of wonky (yes, thats a technical term) you can’t help but appreciate the little bit of shade gifted to you as you trek across the park.

 This photo pretty gives you a little taste of all of the things I’ve come to love from Joshua Tree – the rock formations, the landscape, the racing clouds and Joshua Tree with a fancy up-do.

Of course I had to do a little climbing – followed by a handstand (for handstands sake). My 5’6 (and a 1/2) height was nothing compared to this structure holding its ground off the main path.

 I hope my future holds a bouldering adventure to reach new heights (literally). I imagine I’m going to need to dust off my rock climbing skills as there aren’t any crash mats or safety nets to catch me when my fingers cramp and my forearms give out on me. But back to the big picture – I miss this place.

I need to make a trip back here. Roaming, camping under the stars and climbing for days sounds like an ideal adventure. But I’m going to bee SPF, H2O and plenty of shaded – as you won’t find any of those items in the park.

I am not a photographer, but this place is so pretty it makes me look like I actually know how to take a picture (years of taking pictures of my meals and Starbucks cups might have actually prepared me for moments like these).

If i showed you a picture of these rocks and told you they were 4 inches tall, you might believe me. But seeing me standing tall (or as tall as one can be at 5’6) and seeing the actual scale of these boulders is pretty impressive.

I don’t remember what was going on here – but that is not my suggested way of getting down from the top… but if you do, please for the love of God point your toes if someone happens to casually be taking a photo of you.

So, back to the point (and I use the word “point” vaguely) – If you ever have the opportunity to visit Joshua Tree National Park, make it a destination and not a detour. Camp under the stars, pack and drink plenty of water and take plenty of pictures to remember this journey into this whole new world.

 If you have any pictures from your trips to Joshua Tree, please share them and send them my way! And if you’ve been climbing and camping in the park what are the must-haves to pack!

Thank you for the short trip down memory lane and look forward to your responses!

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The View from the top is great – but you’re gonna have to climb to get there!

Well in an attempt to keep exploring and adventuring in my new home – I tried something different tonight! While furniture shopping and running to different stores to get the correct pieces for the backyard patio set, I found a rock climbing gym (you can’t miss it – it’s huge)! And I told myself “I’m going to go one day and check it out…,” And believe it or not – I finished work around 6:00pm tonight and headed over to Planet Granite!

Www.PlanetGranite.com has four locations, tonight I hit up their Sunnyvale location!

So I have to amend my initial reaction of “Holy crap that’s a huge rock climbing gym….” to now say “Holy crap that’s a huge Climbing, Bouldering, Slacklining, Crossfit, Yoga, Spin and Fitness Center.” I had no idea this place had so much going on in a huge clean and friendly environment!

I parked, walked in and immediately told the staff at the front desk “I have never been here before and have no idea how this works…” They appreciated my honestly and directed me to fill out their digital waiver on an iPad then let me know what they offer and what to expect! It was “Singles and Swingers” night – but unfortunately I wasn’t “belay certified” so I would make a pretty crappy partner. Luckily for me they could fit me into their 8:00pm class so I had an hour to “boulder” and explore my way around the facility.

The climbing belt and shoes where included in the rental and then I had to watch a short video on climbing (and falling) ediquete – actually pretty informative as no one likes to look like a newbie with rockstar climbers going full spider-man up and down every man made rock in the building.

There were probably 300 people there tonight all following the unspoken laws of climbing etiquette. I thought it was really cool how people don’t really communicate, but if someone makes a good move on the wall or has a killer save the crowd will roar and voice their support – the gasp of someone losing their footing or missing a hand placement is a pretty big attention getter as well!
So when I started to climb I tried counting the different climbing options – but 30 minutes I switched to counting aching muscles! This is a workout what takes no prisoners . So many courses and so many sore muscles in the making… lol
This is one of the (many) bouldering sections which I tried out! The courses are all color coded and labels based on difficulty and incline – this is a rock climbers Paradise and for a new comber the crowd was super chill and hospitable to the clueless climbers (like me)
And just when you think you see it all, there are more walls around the corner and even more through a small cave – but watch overhead for swinging climbers who may come your way (gravity wins every time – according to the intro video).

I enjoyed the hour long belay class and instruction. My instructor was detailed, thorough and had a personality which makes learning more fun. I use to climb back in my Huntington Beach years so it was a lot of review, but I appreciated the refresher especially knowing that there are drop in climbing options and I would potentially climb with strangers with my safety in their hands. While learning the basics does take time – I appreciate knowing they have a detailed training program and have high standards to climb in their facility.


I had a great time – could have used a climbing buddy – but doesn’t change that I found a new place for adventuring and look forward to coming back!

Thank you to the staff at Planet Granite and the strangers who helped me learn the “ropes” of the bouldering walls! If you are in the Bay Area I strongly suggest giving this place a try! I’m going to get a day pass on my next visit so I can brush off my slack lining skills from college and then build my climbing skills – from the ground up!