Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mojave Desert Roadtrip 2013

After Brooke and Marc's wedding, we thought it would be fun to drive from Palm Springs, through the desert, to Las Vegas for a little bit of child-free time. It's about  250 mile trip depending which way you go, and we did it roundtrip, so it was about 500.

Mojave Desert Roadtrip 2013
Hitting the road in Palm Springs

Mojave Desert Roadtrip 2013
Our drive north from Palm Spring to Vegas

Although our original plan (after the weather forecast) was to enjoy the desert from the car, we got adventurous as we got to Joshua Tree National Park. Our "early to Vegas" plans were thrown over in favor of getting out of the car at lots of little sites at the park. Generally speaking, Kevin disapproves of this system of seeing nature and often quotes statistics on how many minutes the average visitor spends outside his car at national parks. But it was 120 degrees! Even with the arid temperature, it was still pretty hot. So we drove around, took some pictures, and agreed to come back and actually hike one day- in a temperate season. This is one of the most amazing national parks I've been to, right up there with our trip to the Grand Canyon, a little over 5 years ago. The rock formations are a crazy natural occurrence, and the Joshua trees (or yucca palms) are beautiful and unique to the Southwest deserts.

Joshua Tree National Park 2013
 Joshua Tree National Park on the California side of the Mojave Desert

Joshua Tree National Park 2013
Rock mountains of Joshua Tree National Park *

Joshua Tree National Park 2013
The View from Keys Point in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park 2013
Kevin with "The Tree of Life"

Joshua Tree National Park 2013
Crazy rock formations

Joshua Tree National Park 2013
This one looks like an elephant to me

We continued on our drive to Vegas. One of the amazing things about this drive is how quickly the terrain changes completely. I took hundreds of photos of the drive back but I will limit myself to some of the more dramatic vistas. These are in chronological order as we drove from Palms Springs to Las Vegas. Also, we leaned that there is a town in California called Zzyxz. Really!

Mojave Desert Roadtrip 2013 
California road with black mountain and visibility forever.

Mojave Desert Roadtrip 2013 
California road with only desert sand and shrubs visible

Mojave Desert Roadtrip 2013 
My guess is that those are salt deposts or sand? It certainly can't be snow!

Mojave Desert Roadtrip 2013
Gorgeous view of red earth and mountains in the distance

So it was basically an amazing drive, though I was sometimes afraid our car would break down on one of the back roads and by the time AAA or a random stranger came by we would be Clou prunes. Passing the Death Valley sign really hammered this point in. Not only were we in the place with the hottest recorded temperatures on Earth, but we were there during a record-breaking heatwave. While we were basically okay in Palm Springs and at Joshua Tree, we got out at some random town along the drive for gas, and the second I exited the car I felt like my skin was burning. We got into the store quickly, but we felt the same way on the way back to the car. Suddenly it felt like how we imagined 120 degrees would feel. Luckily we only had to endure that for less than a minute total.

Mojave Desert Roadtrip 2013
Death Valley holds the record for the hottest temperature on Earth 
at 134 degrees, recorded on July 10, 1913- 100 years ago!

After that, we quit getting out of the air conditioned car. We had already driven through the Mojave Desert Preserve on the way to Palm Springs, but I neglected to take pictures so we did a very quick detour so I could snap some photos. The preserve is a little underwhelming after Joshua Tree, but we had technically seen it first so we liked it at the time. Then we left for "date night" in Vegas!

Mojave National Preserve 2013
We were pretty much alone on the back roads of the Mojave Desert Preserve

Mojave National Preserve 2013
Blurry, but you get the idea.

Mojave National Preserve 2013
Off to Vegas!

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