April 19, 2015
“Head out to the desert, I can feel it from here
Ride all the way to where the lizards play.”
About an hour drive from Palm Springs is one of the most
beautiful natural areas in California, the amazing Joshua Tree National Park. I
have visited it frequently and never tire of spending time there, but my friend
Lee who was at Coachella with us, had never been and wanted to experience it,
so we made the short drive over in the early morning so that we could get back
for Coachella in the afternoon.
Palm Springs lies in the Coachella valley and to get to
Joshua Tree you must drive up in to the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the
park entrance near the town of Twenty-Nine Palms. It is a beautiful drive in
itself, but the real magic occurs once you get within the park boundaries.
The park contains two deserts, each with a very distinct
and noticeably different ecosystem and the subtle changes between the two are
still quite distinct. The higher and cooler Mojave Desert is the special
habitat of the Joshua tree for which the park is named. It occurs in patterns
from dense forests to distantly spaced specimens. In addition to Joshua tree
forests, the western part of the park includes some of the most interesting
geologic displays found in California's deserts.
The dominant geologic features of this landscape are hills
of bare rock, usually broken up into loose boulders. These hills are popular
amongst rock climbing and scrambling enthusiasts. The flatland between these
hills is sparsely forested with Joshua trees. Together with the boulder piles
and Skull Rock, the trees make the landscape otherworldly.
Below 3,000 feet (910 m), the Colorado Desert
encompasses the eastern part of the park and features habitats of Creosote bush
scrub Ocotillo, desert Saltbush and mixed scrub including Yucca and Cholla
cactus. There are areas of such cactus density they appear as natural gardens.
The lower Coachella Valley is on the southeastern side of the Park with sandy
soil grasslands and desert dunes.
It is a truly beautiful and magical place and we had an
amazing time exploring, hiking and just taking in the beauty of the place. We
even saw a coyote thanks to Lee’s keen observation. On the way back we stopped
briefly in Pioneertown to check out Pappy & Harriet’s and some of the old
former Hollywood backlot Western set. It was a great day and we still had the
entire Coachella experience ahead of us.
Jalak, George & Lee
Back at Coachella, I pretty much resumed wondering around
checking out bands and just taking in the crazy scene. The VIP area is
particularly good for people watching as the need to be seen crowd try out
their latest fashions. At times it sort of feels like you are living an issue of
people magazine as “celebrities” such as Paris Hilton, the Jenner Sisters and
other young Hollywood types prance about trying to be noticed without appearing
as if they are trying to be noticed.
It is just one of the things that makes Coachella
interesting and different from many festivals. Still to me the art and music
are what truly make Coachella unique. I spent time wondering around just
checking out the many amazing art installations including meandering over to
the very impressive camping area where they had a plethora of art, activities