The real reason we were in Twentynine Palms in February was to visit Joshua Tree National Park. It was Robin’s birthday weekend and although we have had some pretty nice dog walking we had not done any real hiking in a while and she was looking to get out. Our twelve year old Labrador peters out now a days after an hour or two and unfortunately, a lot of national parks don’t allow dogs anyway. So we planned two days in the park without dogs. I have to admit we have some great pictures of a few nice national parks but my memory of some of the days in these parks is not all that fond. We are from Colorado and have been hiking and exploring together forever. Yes, the national parks are great places to check off the “done it” list and wow your friends with some slick photos, but at least for a couple we have been to, it felt like being in a nature amusement park of some sort. Our two days exploring Joshua Tree were much more our speed. It felt like real hiking and exploring. There were some crowds to deal with as it was a free weekend that we took advantage of. There was also plenty of room to get away and we had perfect weather. The park is enormous and absolutely gorgeous. The first day we drove the truck in and did various side hiking excursions. One of which was to the impressive Cholla cactus garden. Pronounced “chohl-yah”. I would get to know these plants, also known as “jumping Cholla”, a little better at one of our next destinations in Tucson. We did a few other hikes and bouldered our way to a secluded spot for lunch. Our second day we did a very reasonable hike to the 49 Palms Oasis. This was an enjoyable, short but not simple hike. Miles of nothing but rocks, cactus and dessert and then boom – palm trees, water, and shade. Overall, probably our most enjoyable National Park trip to date.
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