Saturday, January 30, 2010


Got up early this morning and went exploring in another one of our National Parks. This one is just as unique and beautiful as the others we have seen.

Volcanoes were at work in this park just as in several others that we visited. Millions of years ago the volcano erupted and threw these rocks into all these strange, wonderful formations. They allow rock climbing in the park and we saw several groups getting ready to climb or learning how to climb.

The Joshua tree is actually a giant member of the lily family. They are not found in the eastern part of the park which lies in the Colorado Desert. So you need to visit the western side of the park which is part of the Mojave Desert. This part of the park is over 3000 feet above sea level and the Joshua tree thrives in the cooler desert.

In the mid 19th century, Mormon immigrants made their way across the Colorado River. These pioneers named the tree after the biblical figure, Joshua, seeing the limbs of the tree as outstretched in supplication, guiding the travelers westward.

Joshua trees grow approximately 1/2 inch per year. The tallest one in the park stands at 40 feet and is estimated to be 300 years old. They don't have tree rings so age is always an estimate.

In the Colorado Desert part of the park is the Cholla Cactus Garden. These are called "jumping" Cholla because they will attach themslves to anything that gets too close. From a distance the jumping cholla, also known as teddy bear cholla, looks like a fuzzy, soft plant with many short, fuzzy branches looking like teddybear arms, growing from the top. As you get closer you realize that the cuddly looking plant is completely covered with silvery spines. If you are unlucky enough to touch the spines, you will find yourself painfully stuck to a spiny segment that seems to have "jumped" off the plant. Segments will also "jump" when stepped on and attach themselves to your leg. So beware if you visit this garden.

We drove up to Keys View which is at an elevation of 5,185 feet and offers a magnificent view of the Coachella Valley. Only one problem - all the smog from LA is channeled through the pass and down through the valley so you will see a lot of haze in the pictures we took. You can sort of see the Salton Sea and kind of see the San Andreas Fault. You can also see Mount San Jacinto.

As we came down the road frm Keys View I wanted to get a picture of Jim with a Joshua tree so I had him turn down a dirt road so we could find a great tree. We drove about a mile down the road and all of a sudden in front of us in the road was a coyote. What an experience. I've been hearing them everynight out in the desert but to actually see one in the day time. I love being able to see and enjoy all of the Lord's creations.


Thanks for visiting today. I look forward to reading your comments. Have a beautiful day.