Sunday, May 27, 2012

Brief stop at Joshua Tree National Park


Katie and I left the Sam’s Club parking lot early this morning (Saturday).  I wanted to find a place we could stay through Tuesday without having to move.  Looking at my Atlas, Joshua Tree National Park (the southern entrance at Cottonwood Spring) wasn’t too far away.   First we drove through some small towns and entered Box Canyon Road in Mecca, CA.  We drove past the agricultural area into the actual canyons, which are a BLM area, I think. 

I haven’t been in an area like this before, the landscape was pretty barren, and I think you can just pull off the side of the road into one of the open areas and park for 14 days.  The only problem is that, even though this is a holiday weekend, there was no one there.  I passed two empty cars, probably hikers, and then further on, another two cars back by the hills. That was it.

I didn’t want to camp in an area where there were no RVers, so I continued on, crossed Highway 10, and kept going until I reached the Cottonwood Visitor Center.  This is a “United States Department of the Interior National Park Service” area, and my Senior pass got me in free, with half price on the campsite, which is $15 (or $7.50/night for me).  The closest campground is one-half mile behind the Visitor’s Center.  These campsites are level, paved parking areas with a picnic table and barbecue.  There is a restroom with water, fresh water faucets every few campsites, and a dump/fresh water station nearby.  It was almost empty, there are 62 sites, and I’d say maybe 20 at the most were taken when I got here this morning.  The Ranger I talked to when I checked in said she was surprised, she thought they would be crowded this weekend.

Cottonwood Spring is a typical desert landscape with lots of different kinds of cactus, bushes, flowering plants, very interesting terrain.   There are lots of birds, and when we got settled and were walking down to the pay station, I saw a chipmunk, lizard and a couple of big jackrabbits.  I can see Katie and I taking a lot of good walks here.  It’s all flat, there are lots of trails, but dogs have to say within 100 feet of the roads, so we will stay on the paved roads.  That’s fine with me. 

Our camp site:

View out our kitchen window

(Can  you see the two tables behind our site?  When we got here, they were empty, but by Sunday morning, there were lots more people in the campground, and the space got smaller and the noise got louder.)

The other campgrounds are 30 miles down the road, into the areas where the Joshua Trees are.  I’m sure there's more going on there this weekend.  Those are the North and West Entrance Stations off Highway 62, where they have a bunch of campgrounds.  I just headed out this morning in this general direction, and ended up at the Cottonwood Spring Campground, which was good because it is quiet and has the only dump station in the park, which I’ll use when I leave.

The only problem is that I don’t have a Verizon signal here, at least in my campsite, so I can’t get on-line or receive phone calls, so I won’t be able to communicate with my doctor.  I’ve paid for four days, through Tuesday night, so on Wednesday morning, I’ll head back to where I can get a Verizon signal to see if I have a message from the doctor.  Then I will have a plan.

When I checked in at the Visitor’s Center, I looked at the books offered for sale. I’ve been looking for a Sibley Field Guide to Birds, Western North America (thanks for the suggestion, Judy!) and there is was!  I bought it, and the first bird I saw here was a Black Throated Sparrow. Very pretty bird. So, along with my Birds of Arizona Field Guide, I’m in pretty good shape when I want to identify the birds I see.  Sometimes I’m too lazy, but I feel like I’ve learned something new when I do find one in my books.  Here he is:

There are three young foreign men across the street from me.  The first thing one did is walk through my site, right by my door, around The Palms, checking out my site. He continued through other sites, and went back to his. Later when Katie and I took our walk, I asked him if he lost something. He said, no, he was just looking for firewood.  1.  Don’t walk around in other people’s campsites. 2.  Do NOT collect anything in this desert. Bring in your own firewood. Those are the posted regs.

Later they got out their football and the wood gatherer stood right in front of The Palms to catch and throw the ball.  He was not a good football catcher, but luckily the ball hasn’t hit The Palms.

There are Blacktailed Jackrabbits here, too - I've seen quite a few of them, but they keep moving, so by the time my camera is pointed at them, they are gone or behind a bush. They're big, and have long legs.  They seem to move slow, but considering I haven't caught one yet for a good shot, I guess they're faster than they seem. 

Some random empty sites - it seems like all the sites are good, but if they were all filled, it would be pretty close.

 Back-in site

 Pull alongside site




It was nice and cool last night.

 Katie, all covered up.

I learned something new last night and this morning.  I like campgrounds with RVs, not tents.  There was a group of young men behind us - they were very active yesterday playing catch with their football, too - but they were far enough from The Palms that I wasn't worried about them.  As soon as it got dark, they got loud.  I finally fell asleep, then woke up around midnight and they were still at it.  Then I couldn't fall back asleep.

RVers seem to be in their rigs after "quiet time,"  or they are just quieter.  Maybe it's because a lot of us are older and talk quietly outside.  But tent campers don't have anywhere to go, their voices seem louder and so their conversations carry to the other campsites.  

I finally fell asleep, and was awakened again before 6 a.m. to the sound of male voices and laughter, and the slap of a football as it was being caught.  Over and over again.  Jeez!

I finally got up, heated my water tank and washed my hair, emptied the garbage, refilled my gallon water jug, got ready and left.  I paid for four days and only stayed one, so I didn't feel bad not paying the $5 for the dump station, which I used on our way out. I also filled the fresh water tank.

Due to the lack of a Verizon signal, I don't think I'll be back, unless I want to be without my phone and the Internet.  But... if that wouldn't bother you, it is really a beautiful area. Next time I'm in an out-of-the-way area, I'm going to check for phone service before I pay.  I don't like being out of touch for more than a day, and not having a phone signal in an emergency isn't good when you're alone.

So I'm parked in the BLM area right near the 10, where I have a good signal. I wanted to check on the other test result, and it's not back yet.  Rats again!  I'll have to wait until Tuesday for that one.  I think I'll head back to a Casino where I can wait; it will be quieter, there will be no football, and I'll have a good Verizon signal.

It's hard to admit, but I'd rather have all my conveniences than a beautiful view. 

From me and Katie, enjoy your Sunday! :)


  1. Really too bad about your camping experience there. Your experience with people in tents versus people in RVs has been exactly the same as mine. I was amazed recently when there was a whole post on just the opposite viewpoint. The other person said that RVers ruined a tenter's quiet interlude with nature because they used noisy generators, ran loud TVs outside, etc. I have to say that I have rarely ever seen that but loud, obnoxious tenters who kept up the drinking and carousing far into the night has been a bit more common. Funny isn't it? Probably those loud obnoxious tenters would also be the inconsiderate RVers--it's probably the person not the mode of camping.

  2. I might very conspicuously get out and take their pictures. Maybe a picture of their license plate. Of course, only if it didn't make you feel more threatened.

  3. Ah, the weekend warriors are out in force. It's something we have to contend with from Memorial Day to Labor Day. They are the 'me' people and no one, but them matters. Too bad they don't travel with their manners.

  4. I prefer both: conveniences and a view. Quiet neighbors are nice also. Sorry to say that combination isn't always possible.

  5. It is always fun for me to live vicariously through you and Katie. I am sorry that you had problems with noise. That makes it really hard to enjoy your stay somewhere. Safe travels to you and I hope you get good test results on Tuesday- xo Diana

  6. It's amazing how inconsiderate some people can be.

    Hey, I just saw the date and realized it's almost your 1-year anniversary! I bet it just flew by ....

  7. We found that Joshua Tree has small areas where Verizon signals can be found. The rangers told us where they were. As for camp sites, Our two sites in J.T. had generator hours as well as quiet hours. Sorry you found a bad area.

  8. not all tent campers are bad..just the ones next to you, I guess.. I have to agree that even if they were in an Rv they would more than likely be inconsiderate..I can remember being parked beside a beautiful Beaver Motorhome! animals till all hours of the night!!!

  9. Maybe those foreigners could not read English. I like a view, BUT i want my comforts too, the 'bare necessities' :-)

  10. That's a shame inconsiderate people camped next to you. I have seen obnoxious tent campers and obnoxious RV'ers. I have camped next to very quiet tent campers and nice RV'ers. I have found that the odds of camper neighbors being obnoxious is much greater on holiday weekends and slightly less so on weekends. I prefer boondocking on holiday weekends for that reason. Best to try campgrounds during the week. It would seem so much nicer then.

    Katie is so cute the way she likes covers.

  11. Holiday week-ends seem to bring out the worst in some campers - either RVers and tent folks. They have three days of freedom from their jobs and they want to make every minute of it count with party, party, party. If we're out there with them, we just hang in there because we know they will be gone on Monday. But I really don't like traveling during the summer. Spring and Fall is so much better. Good luck with the lab reports.

  12. I think its very important for a solo RV'er to have a cell phone signal. I agree with you, I can occasionally do one night without cell service, but not longer than that. When I was at a state park in Arkansas without cell service, I asked the Ranger if they had a payphone, they did not. I had to drive 5 miles to tell my daughter I would not have cell service and then go back to my campsite.

  13. I agree with Teri. It is so important to be able to be in touch when you are solo. You never know what kind of accident can befall you. I recently broke my ankle just by walking into a hole thar was covered by grass. There was no way I could have made it anywhere on my own.

  14. Sorry u had to have such ignorant neighbors in such a beautiful place...just don't know why we can't all play nice. I wouldn't have felt comfortable at all with anyone walking that close to my rv....nor should they have been playing ball that close. With all that open space one would think they could have been more considerate. This brings to mind the subject of carrying protection along...I'm not asking, it's no one's business anyway but I think all solo ladies should have something...whether it be pepper spray, loud whistles or something stronger. I don't blame u for leaving but they should have returned your money. Hope the rest of ur travels are much happier.

  15. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog and your easy-going writing style. :)

  16. That's too bad about your neighbors. Hopefully better luck next time.

    Your baby looked so adorable all cuddled up in the blanket.

    I'm your newest follower and cannot wait to read more about your adventures!


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