Checking in from Palm Springs, CA …
Well, we are close to finishing our trek across the Mojave Desert. We’ve enjoyed the sights and the beauty, but we are ready for this part of the trip to end. Just too hot! Maybe at another time of the year. I’ve managed on my walks by starting at 5:30AM and ending by 10:00AM. I’ve basically stopped when the temperature topped 100 degrees. But then we’ve had to endure the afternoon in the oven that our RV can be. When temps hit 115+ degrees, there is no way the air conditioning can keep up. The inside walls of the RV are actually hot to the touch. From 3:00PM to 7:00PM, there just is no relief.
We’ve spent several nights in the military town of TwentyNine Palms with a large military base nearby, the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. The base is home to the 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Tank Battalion, 3rd Combat Engineers, 11th Marines and 3rd Assault Amphibian Division. Leathernecks from this base led the assault and fall of Baghdad in Operation Iraqi Freedom. As would be expected, the town has its share of tattoo shops and massage parlors. What we didn’t expect, however, were the number of barber shops. Must have been seven or eight offering marine cuts, combat cuts, even stud cuts. I’ve felt like a long hair in this town.
Twentynine Palms got its name from the trees that were there when the town was formed in the 1850s by Mormons fleeing persecution on what came to be known as the Utah Trail. There are many more palm trees there now, and the town has decorated its buildings with really nice murals on many walls that trace the history of the area. In fact, Twentynine Palms now bills itself as an “Oasis of Murals.”
Just outside town, there is a large dry lake bed known as the Dale Dry Lake. It is startlingly white and is actually a salt flat that has been mined for its salt for years. On the lake bed, Brenda discovered a meticulously laid-out message made of football size boulders. Covering at least 100 yards in length, the message was obviously intended for aircraft flying over the area. The message read “The Bottom of the Ocean of Air.” We don’t know the source of the stone message but understand that it refers to atmospheric layer that surrounds the earth.
This part of the desert borders the Joshua Tree National Park, and the next town after Twentynine Palms is named Joshua Tree. The referenced tree is very unique and native to only this area. It has a distinctive look with its branches or arms reaching to the sky. The Mormons named the tree after Joshua who raised his arms to the heavens and asked for God’s guidance before the Battle of Jericho.
Next town on the trip is Yucca Valley and then Palm Springs, where we’ll take a down day to enjoy this desert oasis.