Pt 58 – Joshua Trees, Dead Fish & Space Ships

Thursday, June 27th – Friday, Junes 28th, 2013

I was under attack by ants as I sat down on a rock to brush my teeth. We headed back to Bishop, CA and got coffee at “Black Sheep Coffee Roasters” before heading to the laundromat to clean some clothes. We were hoping to utilize their showers too, but they weren’t available until 5 that evening. We ate at “Schat’s Bakery” (insert childish giggles here), a recommendation from the lady we met at Squaw Valley, and I got some cinnamon raisin bread to go. I took “a sink” at Starbucks, always a great place to go since they almost always have single stall bathrooms. Then we went to the car wash to rinse off the van… and our hair.

We headed out of Bishop through the Mojave Desert, and it was stupid hot! It was 101˚F in the shade, which didn’t bother me too much given it’s a dry heat, but the van was not happy. We kept our fingers crossed that the van would survive California, let alone the entire trip across the country! We saw Joshua Trees for the first time as we passed through little shanty towns, like Johannesburg, CA, where we took a short stop to get some cold water. I’m usually content with room-temperature water for drinking, but our water was currently hot tub temperature. Not too refreshing when you’re already in a heat wave.

From there we took Route 58 East to I-15 South to stop at Barstow, CA to phone home while we had service, then took I-15 North to Route 247 South to get to Yucca Valley, CA. We parked at Walmart and grabbed milkshakes at the Sonic across the street to cool off. Trevor was sad after he dropped most of his trail mix on the ground which he was in the process of mixing. He tossed it by a rock that was topped with an animal turd in hopes that the birds would enjoy it later. The van was swampy that night.

The crows woke us up as they swarmed around the trail mix. We got some bananas at the store before heading to Joshua Tree, CA.


We paid the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center a visit before checking out the little desert town by the same name. The people there were super friendly and we really enjoyed all the quirky little shops. We grabbed some refreshing veggie juice at “The Natural Sister Café,” and filled our water bottles at the park entrance before exploring Joshua Tree National Park.

It was a very hot day at 116˚F and there’s no questioning how the park got its name given that the Joshua Tree is nearly the only plant you see in the vast desert landscape.


One of these days I’ll strengthen these noodle arms and give rock climbing a try.

We checked out Skull Rock, the black cactus garden, and saw some other unusual vegetation as we left the park.

Skull Rock. That’s one freakishly, mutant skull.

We were dying from the heat and decided to give the van a break while we ate nearby Coachella, CA. We filled up the tank, enjoyed more hot drinking water, and took I-10 to Route 86 South to Route 11 South towards the Salton Sea. We decided to get ice to cool down our water which was reaching its boiling point, and passed by many palm trees and grape farms before arriving at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area.

We were under the impression it would be a nice place to swim…wrong. This is an example of why it’s good to briefly research where you’re traveling too instead of making assumptions. Dummy me.

We paid $5 to enter the parking area. Then we were overpowered by the smell of sulfur and attacked by biting flies as we approached the empty beach. The beach seemed to be made out of tiny seashells, but as I looked closer, those were not seashells I was walking on, but tiny, little bones.


As I got closer to the water, I noticed many dead fish around me and the water was murky. There would be no swimming.

This fish died from smoking cigarettes.

After looking at the birds and reading some plaques posted around the recreation area, we rolled out.

The road paralleled with railroad tracks, and we followed alongside trains, farmland with dairy cows in the masses, and impoverished neighborhoods.

Life Lesson 149: Duct Tape solves most problems.

We drove by wind farms as we took Route 8 West to Desert View Tower in Jacumba, CA, where we also saw a rock painted like a turtle and space ships.


Then we passed through Cleveland National Forest before being stopped at a Border Control Checkpoint. Apparently we were very, very close to the Mexican border, so much so that my cellphone kept welcoming us to Mexico. Border Control seemed a little upset when their drug dogs didn’t respond to our hippy van, but we got to see some other vehicles get vigorously searched as they let us pass through.

We found a Walmart to stop at in Alpine, CA. People in the parking lot kept waking me up throughout the night. One man walked around our van with a woman commenting on all of the stickers on the van not realizing that we were sleeping inside. Other people walked closely to our van as well, and I suspect they were doing the same. The shopping cart attendants would also snap me out of sleep shuttling stray carts back to the store. Sleep is just one of the things I gotta sacrifice in order to live life on the road.

Jump Back to Part 57: Yo-Seh-Myte & Squirrel Tourists

Jump Ahead to Part 59: Gymnasts, Nicholas Cage & Sinners


Start Over at Part 01: The Blue Bubble, Freebies & A Rude Awakening

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