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September 27, 2016

Joshua Tree Ventures

Sadly, this year we weren't able to take any days off for our Anniversary.  Ideally we would take a week off and travel to a different country. At least, that was the promise we made to each other when we got married.  But alas, life gets in the way and we had to postpone our international trip to December (We're going to Tokyo, friends!!)

Fortunately for us, we are only a mere hours away from amazing destinations, so we planned a weekend anniversary getaway to Joshua Tree for some one-on-one time with nature.

It was lovely.

We got in late Friday night (thanks to the wonderful LA traffic) and arrived at our airbnb destination. More on that in a later blog post, but it was nothing short of amazing.

The next morning we woke up relatively early and headed over to Joshua Tree's very own vegetarian restaurant, [Natural Sisters Cafe], to kick start our day the healthy way.

We ordered a veggie omelet and fluffy biscuit sliders with veggie sausage and scrambled eggs. So flavorful and perfectly filling.  Just what we needed to fuel our bodies before a day of hiking and rock climbing.

We also ordered 2 green juices and the very powerful wheat grass shot since Dan was feeling under the weather. It was my first time taking one of these bad boys and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. However, the benefits are never ending so I'm willing to overlook the taste.

After breakfast, we headed to the health food store next door for some jerky and energy bars in case we needed sustenance during the hike. When we left the store, we noticed a charming farmers market nearby so we walked on over to check it out.

How beautiful are these berries! I wanted to buy all of them but refrained.

We also came across this tea stand that had the cutest labels!

After that distraction, it was time to start our exploration of [Joshua Tree National Park]

Once entering, it began to dawn on us just how massive this park was. It would take hours to drive the whole thing so we clearly won't going to see all of it. We that being said, we had two areas that we wanted to hit up:

- Hidden Valley
- Cholla Cactus Gardens

Of course as we drove through the park, we ended up stopping every time we saw a fun spot to run around and climb some boulders.

We were so excited we stopped at the first sighting of rock clusters.

I'm sad to say that between the taking of these two photos, I was jumping from boulder to boulder, when my phone fell from its "secure" location and tumbled down and down. I was lucky it fell in a place I could still retrieve it, but alas, the screen was shattered. Fortunately it was still in great working condition, despite the occasional glass splinter.  However, it didn't stop me from taking hundreds of photos and certainly not from rock climbing.

Continuing along!

See what I mean? 

It was so much fun, I felt like I was reliving my childhood where I spent my weekends climbing trees.

Once we left that area, we continued along in search of Hidden Valley.  On the way I had to stop and take the obligatory shot of the deserted road.

Just beautiful.

You also see the famous Joshua Tree for as far as the eye can see. 

It truly is a pretty and scenic drive.

The joshua tree is so weird looking, yet oddly beautiful. It's said that Dr. Seuss got inspiration for his world from these trees. 

I can definitely see it.

We made it to Hidden Valley and started the nature trail which is roughly a mile long, easy peasy.

The loop is beautiful and circles a small valley surrounded by mountains of tall boulders. Also, because of the higher elevation (roughly 3,800 ft), you can find various trees that can't be found anywhere else in the park. 

The surrounding rocky landscape is breathtaking and so unlike anything you can find in the east coast.

Hidden Valley is also the most popular place in the park to climb since you are literally surrounded by boulders.  So climb we did.


While climbing, we spotted a Chuckwalla, the largest lizard found in the park.  They can grow to over 2 ft long! However, this guy was only a little over a foot long.  Still fairly large, as far as I'm concerned!

After we got our fill of Hidden Valley for a couple hours, we continued along to Cholla Cactus Gardens.

Cholla cactus gardens is about a 30 mile drive from Hidden Valley and is found at a lower elevation at the foot of a mountain. You'll know right away once you've arrived because all of a sudden you are SURROUNDED by cacti. 

They are quite beautiful but very painful. They are known also as the jumping cholla since they like to cling to anything that touches them.  Mind you, they are extremely painful and annoying once pricked because it's not simply one needle but possibly handfuls that you are having to pry out of your skin.

There are warning signs everywhere as you walk along the quarter mile trail to not venture off and stay on the trail.  They also said to not touch, which I clearly listened to.

We have these smug faces because we managed to not get pricked during the walk.  Little did we know what would be waiting for us that night when we got back to the airbnb.

SPOILER ALERT:  Someone stepped on a piece of the cactus that fell on the ground (not pointing any fingers) and the tiny impossible needles got EVERYWHERE. On our clothes, bed and fingers.  We were pulling out tiny needles well into the next day.

But alas, it's all part of the adventure I suppose.

All in all, I loved Joshua Tree National Park; the landscape is incredibly beautiful. Added bonus that it was essentially a giant rock climbing playground and I couldn't be happier. It's also worth noting, that yes, we were in a desert, but the weather was PERFECT. It was 75 degrees and breezy the whole day, couldn't have asked for better weather.  

If you go, it's best to still wear sunblock and drink plenty of water.

We can't wait to go back!

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