It feels like I last wrote months ago, instead of a mere seven days. Holidays have a way of doing that, don’t they? They shape time and our perception of it in their own unique fashion. After wrapping up my work week we started to make our way to Joshua Tree National Park for Christmas. On the way we stopped for a night in Mohave National Preserve, where I had a hilarious, cute, and slightly alarming interaction with a tiny kit fox. I was out taking pictures of the sunset when the little guy ran up to me, unafraid, and proceeded to follow me around. I thought it was cute, Mike thought I was for sure going to get rabies.After the kit fox visit we had a quiet, peaceful night in the desert. We almost stayed for another day, but wanted to make it to Joshua Tree by Christmas Eve. We made one more stop in the hot springs town of Tecopa and enjoyed some delightful soaks in the natural springs.Mike was bemoaning our lack of festive activities, and we were both feeling off kilter by being in warm weather for a holiday we’ve always associated with snow. We made a detour to Palm Springs to check out RoboLights. RoboLights are, technically speaking, a holiday-themed art installation in the town’s Movie Colony neighborhood. We found our way there and joined the crowds walking through the quiet residential streets.

And then, there were RoboLights, taking up an entire neighborhood block. The installation is the work of a 30-something eccentric artist and he’s been building it for years using recycled materials. It’s a wild ride in there, but not unlike Slab City and East Jesus. Mike opined that if there is a southern California art style, this is it.Enthralled, but not feeling entirely festive, after we left we drove through a neighborhood in nearby Cathedral City that puts on a more, erm, traditional Christmas light show. Afterward we ran too many errands, got cranky at all the traffic, and rolled in late to a casino parking lot for a noisy night’s sleep.

On Christmas Eve we left the city and made our way to Joshua Tree. Since then we’ve been bopping around to different campsites in and outside the park; spending our time exploring, hiking, mountain biking, writing, playing games (we taught ourselves a fun card game called 500) and reading.Christmas Day we opened our little pile of (useful) presents, took a long hike in Joshua Tree’s famous piles of granite rocks, and made a dinner of mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and ham (a feast, for Hobbes!). I wasn’t prepared for the number of people enjoying a National Park over Christmas. The campgrounds were full, the parking lots packed. It’s nice and warm this week, climbing into the 70’s during the day before dropping into the 40’s at night. Joshua Tree, the town to the north of the park, is a weird place. I can’t quite make heads or tails of it. There’s a lot of diversity in the relatively small population, and from what we’ve experienced some rather unwelcoming (and occasionally hostile) locals. Regardless, we’re sticking around for awhile longer because we have friends joining us on the road! Our friends B + K are driving down from Idaho to spend New Years with us. They spent a chunk of last summer building out their sweet van, Tucker. I’m excited to share a bit of this journey with them.

Subscribe to my newsletter, Wild Places, for weekly updates from life on the road.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Sandy says:

    Sara I am so glad you and Mike have been able to make this journey possible. These memories will last your lifetimes and possibly more. Your documentation isn’t beautiful. These are the stories you get to relive when you tell others of your journey. I have learned from experience that talking with older people of their past, it revitalizes them and reminds them of how they felt.
    Enjoy your journey! Thank you for sharing it.

Leave a Reply