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Joshua Tree, S. California, Venice Beach, Death Valley

February 19, 2010

Yuma, Sedona, Joshua Tree 139

Yuma, Sedona, Joshua Tree 153

After our dreamy week in Sedona, we headed southwest towards Cam’s creative aunt Mary Ann’s in Victorville CA, just north of San Bernardino. On our way we’d spend a couple of days in Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree truly is straight out of a Dr. Suess book, with oddly stacked rock outcroppings, and of course the famous “trees” that have a large round pom pom of sorts at the end of each limb. The days were very nice and the nights down to freezing as it sits mostly above 4000′ elevation. We got in a few good hikes including one three-miler to a real live oasis. A patch of fifty foot, green palm trees in the middle of steep rock shale and desert. It’s appearance there is surreal. We would have spent more time there had we not made plans to rendezvous in Victorville with Cam’s mom Jane, who flew there after our Sedona stay. After three wonderful days with Aunt Mary Ann, cousin John and his wife Dawn and their three girls, we set out with Grandma Jane “kickin it” in Belle like she’d always been there, in driving desert rain, to drop her at the airport bound for her Montana home and us to Venice Beach west of LA and a visit with my ultra hip cousin Trey. The question loomed after we left: would he still want kids someday?  The kids had plenty of cranky pent-up energy when we arrived, and didn’t wear it off until we spent a couple of days on the beach playing in sand, alas after he had left on a business trip.

Trey’s apartment has an awesome location just two blocks from the ocean on funky Venice Beach. We took in some wonderful Chinese in a hole in the wall. The restaurant was BYOB and we decided to pick up a few beers on our walk. To mine and Cam’s surprise we ran into our hometown favorite Big Sky IPA, for the first time in eight months, what a treat. We’ve sampled IPAs from all over the west, Montana to Arizona and everywhere in between and although some may be hoppier or more bitter, you feel like you’ve been hit in the head with a hammer. Big Sky really strikes the balance. Anyway, back to Trey and Venice Beach. What an eclectic, cool, hip place. You could walk the board walk all day just for the people watching. We walked the kids down to the Santa Monica pier one day for a ferris wheel ride, bumper cars and more people watching and we heard some good music while there. On the way we stopped and played for an hour or so on the largest outdoor gymnastics set I’ve ever seen. Adult-size parallel bars, chin-up bars, rings, swings, climbing ropes, and all types of exercise apparatus right out in the sandy beach next to the board walk. A row of 8-10 gymnastics rings hang in single line on a beam about twenty feet in the air. They are spaced a good ten feet apart and experienced gymnast do jaw dropping flips and twist while holding one in each hand, just like you see in the olympics and some people just fly from ring to ring in a rhythmic spider man fashion. Way cool. We took in the Getty Museum for a day. Cam and I could have spent two days there but it’s not the most kid friendly place. All the security guards seemed to have their eyes on us as soon as we walked into a room and Holt almost had one dive at him from a distance when he tried to touch a wall below some priceless painting. The day was definitely done when he slapped the tassels on a three hundred year old bed. Were outta here, before we’re kicked out. We spent another day relaxing on the beach before heading back inland. A super thanks to Trey for this one, not only was it great to see him but what a wonderful locale to visit.

Yuma, Sedona, Joshua Tree 120
We planned to head straight into Death Valley National Park, but due to recent rains a lot of the roads were closed. No problem, we stopped just north of Barstow CA in the Rainbow Basin and liked it and the weather so much, we stayed six days. Cam’s cousin John, his wife Dawn, and three girls came up and camped with us over the weekend so the cousins got more giggling time. The hiking was good, there was even a neat little mud cave that went sixty or so feet through a mountain, one side to the other, and the weather was warm enough we got to see a desert tortoise, kind of a rare spot, esp. this time of the year – apparently they spend 95% of their time in their shell-shaped hole. At night you could see the friendly Desert Kangaroo Rat, a cute little round mouse, a six-inch long tail with a tuft of hair at the end and an adorable little kangaroo hop. Eventually, we were running out of food and nighttime diapers for me, uh.. I mean Holt, so it was time to get. We’re camped in the desert tonight, just outside Death Valley N.P. We’ll hit it tomorrow for laundry, showers and other good fun.

Brief update – We’re in stark Death Valley, there’s no cell access for a few days, just found wi-fi for one hour to post this. We’ll upload tons of overdue photos in a few days, going all the way back to our time with Terri, Harry, Leila and Jim in Yuma. It’s so warm we slept with windows wide open. Very interesting country and people.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Trey permalink
    February 23, 2010 12:28 am

    That gymnastic set on the beach is great! I run the 2 miles down there (in my Vibrams, of course) and do a few sets of pull ups, dips, push-ups, rings, etc. and then run back along the beach. I call it the Hasselhoff… speedo season is coming up! Ha!

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