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Joshua Tree - Day 2

Joshua Tree National Park
The land of odd trees

After finishing up at White Sands, I hopped back on the road for California.  This day I passed through Tuscon and Phoenix, and knew I wasn't going to make it to Joshua Tree until about midnight, but I was ready for my second 12 hour day behind the wheel.

What I didn't know when I left, however, was that this was one of the hottest days on record in early June ever in southern Arizona.  At one point my car temp hit 115, and when I stopped outside of Tuscon at the Indian reservation to see an old Spanish Mission, it really felt like the earth was on fire.

San Xavier del Bac, Tuscon Arizona
This beautiful church seen in the ridiculously hot Arizona heat in early June.  It was 115 degrees that day, and a record temp for the area.

The Spanish mission was a great stop, and it was fun to see some of the old artwork so well preserved deep in the hot desert heat.  Around Tuscon there's also Saguaro National Park, but in that heat, I wasn't really feeling a day in the desert.

I moved on again and drove and drove and drove.  I passed a few border patrol check points, where it looked like the heat was having quite a toll on the patrolmen as they barely even said anything to me as I went through.  Actually, this has happened quite a few times to me near the southern border and makes me wonder if I just look super trustworthy, which I guess the patrolmen at the Canadian border don't believe, or they have some kind of technology that tells them if there's someone else in the car based on tire pressure or something?  Who knows, but I drove onward and hit my favorite border check point and very oftentimes the most stringent, the California fruit patrol.  I've rarely had a good experience going through these checkpoints, and this time even though the guy was pretty rough, he waved me through without too much delay.

Joshua Tree National Park
Got there just late enough to see the Milky Way work itself high into the horizon

Into the night I drove, finally reaching Joshua Tree pretty late at night, and I found what I was looking for.  Great viewpoints of the Milky Way with the old Joshua Trees in the background.  Interesting piece of history in that the trees were actually named by quite a few settlers, but only the biblical name from the Mormon settlers of Joshua Trees actually stuck.  I will add a caveat here that even though the stars were super bright, they weren't quite as bright as back home in Montana, but for only a few hours from bustling metropolitan cities, Joshua Tree really is quite unique in how bright the stars get.  On top of that, there was hardly anyone in the park.  I guess part of this is because no one is crazy enough to really spend their summer days in the desert, but it was quite a nice place to stop and felt like I had the park entirely to myself.  For some things to do in Joshua Tree National Park click here.  The next morning I caught a pretty little sunrise before driving up to the highest point in the park and then heading out for San Francisco, where my trip got set off course a little.

Joshua Tree National Park
Early in the morning in this desert wonderland

Joshua Tree National Park
I woke up alone to this beautiful little sunrise over the desert

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