My lap around Joshua Tree NP

As most of you know, I like to drive on scenic roads.  They are the starting point for planning my trips and I find them to be more enjoyable to drive on than interstates.  There are a series of roads which go completely around Joshua Tree National Park and Sunday I decided to make a big lap, counterclockwise around it.

I was staying in Yucca Valley, on the northwest corner of the Park.  The first place I came to when I drove west was a Nature Preserve.

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A walked around there a short while hoping to see some unusual birds but didn’t have any luck.  I could hear them but couldn’t see them because of the heavy vegetation.  I don’t like snakes and found myself looking down more than I was looking up, so I left and continued my lap.

West of the Preserve was a good view of Mt. San Jacinto in the distance, on the other side of the Coachella Valley.

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The southern edge of my drive would be on the dreaded interstate, “The 10”, and I found some roads which would let me delay getting on it as long as possible.  I was now driving in the flat desert.  Right before reaching I-10 things quickly changed from brown to green.

Here is where I had just come from:

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And here is where I was heading:

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The transition was achieved when I came to an intersection of two roads and crossed over an aquaduct:

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Aquaducts are a common sight when you are in farming areas of the desert.  They provide copious amounts of water for the farmers to use to irrigate their fields.  From the bridge I was standing on when I took the three photos above, if I went straight (which I did) I would immediately be in Coachella.  If I had turned right I would have immediately been in Indio.  If I had jumped to the left I would have been in the aquaduct!

When I got past the palm trees there were lush green fields on both sides of the road:

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I got on the dreaded interstate and headed east.  When I stopped in Chiriaco Summit for some food and to use the restroom I found the Matzner Tank Pavilion right next to the truck stop/restaurant I was heading to:

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I know someone in Pennsylvania who collects real tanks.  He’d love this place.

I headed further east, then north on smaller roads, then made the turn back to the west to head towards Twentynine Palms, one of the three small towns on the north side of Joshua Tree National Park.

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As I got close to town this little chapel caught my eye:

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And when I say little, I mean little.  I didn’t go inside but I bet it only holds 4 people.  This was part of an impromptu art exhibit in someone’s front yard.  Next to the chapel was this little graveyard.  I really liked what I saw:

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What a clever idea!

There was also this little guy, who didn’t even come up to my waist:

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I drove into town and stopped at the JTNP Visitor Center again.  I had been there before but neglected to take pictures of something which was in front of the building:

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This large piece of art was really tall.  The right disk was stationary but the left disk moved slowly as the wind hit it.  If you look closely you will see that the images on each disk are opposites of each other:

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Also pretty clever…

Across the street from the Visitor Center was this Catholic Church:

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As I was positioning myself to take these photos I noticed something in the air to the east.  I had seen a small airport with a bunch of gliders.  What I saw in the sky was a small airplane towing a glider up to high altitude for it to begin it’s lazy descent back to the ground.

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