Road Trip! Santa Monica and Joshua Tree National Park

February 18, 2009

There's nothing like a couple of days of watching the Southwestern Desert slowly unroll in front of you to heal your soul and restore your sense of perspective. So when a business trip took me to Santa Monica, we decided to drive and squeeze in a side trip to Joshua Tree National Park.

The day before we left, we learned that Serge and Jocelyn were in Anaheim for a Power Squadrons convention, so we met them for dinner Wednesday night on our way to LA.

Between meetings Thursday and Friday, we took a stroll along Venice Beach. An offshore breeze following several days of heavy rain made for clear skies and exceptionally lovely spring weather.

It took us 3½ grueling hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic to escape Los-Bernardino-Springs on Friday night, and we felt our way into Cottonwood Springs Campground well after dark.

Filtered sun made for five-star conditions for our hike to Lost Palms Oasis on Saturday. Fan palms are native to California, often occuring along fault lines, where uplifted layers of rock force groundwater to the surface. Five of North America's 158 fan palm oases are located in Joshua Tree National Park. Lost Palm Oasis is the largest of the five, with more than 100 fan palms. The 7.2-mile round trip hike is considered one of the best in park, although you won't encounter a single Joshua Tree! The park sits atop a huge mesa with +2000-foot elevation change from south to north, making for considerable variety in flora and fauna.