Today we applied $15.00 more to the price we paid for our National Parks Pass. We've used it twice so far and have recouped $20.00 of the eighty we paid for it. A few more parks and this pass will have paid for itself and we have lots of National Parks and Monuments to visit in the next few months.
Today we traveled just about an hour to get to the entrance of the Joshua Tree National Park which was a National Monument until October of 1994 when it was designated as a National Park.
On the way we were able to snap this closer picture of the snow capped mountain that we can see from our site.
Also on the way we passed this HUGE windmill farm. Hundreds and hundreds of windmills in all sizes.
"Arnold" had been after the Federal Government for some time to put funding in place for this energy producing project but couldn't get the needed backing. Hitting a brick wall, California legislature decided to find the means to fund this project itself. This windmill farms generates enough electricity to light up a good portion of southern California and parts of Nevada.
So let us welcome you on our tour of Joshua Tree National Park.
The tree for which this park is named.....The Joshua Tree
The National Park spans two deserts, the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert. You can tell when you move from one desert to the other, there is either an overabundance of Joshua Trees or very few.
This park is also a haven for stargazers. The Andomeda Astronomical Society holds monthly "star parties" so that visitors and locals have the opportunity to view planets, galaxies and star clusters through powerful telescopes. In 1997, photographs taken of the comet Hale-Bopp from the park received national media attention. A photo of a streaking comet framed by Joshua trees and granite boulders became a Time Magazine Picture of the Century.
So let's get this tour on the road...
One of the first things you notice are the
R O C K S ! ! !
It just fascinated me so much that the rocks looked like were so precisely placed and balanced.
Right now some of you are saying to yourselves, "Oh no, she's gonna tell us how rocks got that way millions of years ago and I'll have to read through a geology lesson". Well, maybe I am and maybe I'm not. The next paragraph may start out that way, but who knows, I might slip in a juicy bit of news and if you skip this you won't know! I think it would be your best interest to keep reading all the way through.
Now that I have your attention...I can pass this information on that I got from the park brochure.
<<clearing throat>> The rock piles began underground eons ago, that means a lot of years ago, as a result of volcanic activity. Magma, in this case a molten form of the rock called monzogranite, rose from deep within the Earth. Gosh, how can you not be thrilled beyond words to learn this stuff? Continuing on.....As it rose, it intruded the overlying rock, the Pinto gneiss (pronounced NICE) formation.
Hang in there, we're almost done. As the granite cooled and crystallized underground, cracks (joints) formed horizontally and vertically. The granite continued to uplift, where it came in contact with groundwater. Hey, I'm not makin' this stuff up! Chemical weathering caused by groundwater worked on the angular granite blocks. widening cracks and rounding edges. Eventually the surface soil eroded, leaving heaps of monzogranite scattered across the land like careless piles of toy blocks. OK, we're done, now that wasn't bad was it?
We packed a picnic lunch and stopped at of one of the many designated picnic areas. A nice table was provided, a grill if you wanted it, trash bins and recycling bins and close by were clean and well stocked rest rooms.
We were almost finished eating when we had a visitor. This little squirrel had absolutely no fear of us and readily came up to Bob's outstretched hand that held a potato chip in it. I know, I know, we shouldn't have done that as we are both guilty parties here. But he/she was so darn cute and it made its wants known and we are obviously not the first ones to fall to this little creature's charms if you look at the width of this squirrel. We'll try to do better, we promise we won't try to feed the bears in Yellowstone.
Lunch over, we took to the road again. We stopped and walked a one mile loop to Barker Dam. This dam was built in the early 1900's to hold water for cattle and mining use. The dam today forms a small rain fed reservoir used by the park wildlife.
As you can see, the water level is pretty low.
I don't know what it is but these rocks seem to bring out the kid in you.
THE KING OF THE HILL
On the way down Bob met up with this.
This little guy wasn't scared either!
Bob did have him/her by the tail for a few seconds but he worked his way free pretty quickly.
Every day more and more in the desert is blooming. Some of the pretty flowers we saw along the way. (Click to enlarge)
You can see where this rock just split in half.
Some of the rocks were even named.
....and then the end of the day was upon us. Hope you enjoyed the trip!