Where in the World: Joshua Tree

In another display of Murphy’s law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong- I decided to take a trip to Joshua Tree.

This decision was the result of several conversations with my boyfriend about what he wanted to do for his birthday weekend. “Where do you want to go?” “Let’s go hiking!” “Let’s go to Arizona!” Overall, he was none to pleased with my constant badgering about where to go. The compromise between my desire to go away for a weekend and his desire to not have to drive several hours and spend a ton of money- was Joshua Tree National Park.

Why the Joshua Tree?

I stumbled upon the national park by accident actually. I was not familiar with where the park was, or that it even existed. When doing research about what was close to L.A., it was a top hit. The Joshua Tree! Also known as a yucca palm, this tree only grows in the Southwest Region of the United States. The park is huge- about 790,000 acres. If you have a hard time picturing that- it’s a little bit bigger than the state of Rhode Island. The most common debate about this tree is whether or not it’s a cactus. Fascinating stuff.

In any case, I was excited to go on an adventure. It was the end of January so I figured, no need to book a campsite! Who even camps at the end of January in the desert anyways?!

Everyone. The short answer is everyone camps in the desert at the end of January especially in Joshua Tree which has some of the best climbing in the southern half of the state.

What Can Go Wrong…

We left Friday, with our bags packed and our expectations high for some desert fun staring at maybe trees- but possible cactus- until Sunday. To get there, you have to go through L.A. We decided to go a little north and run t through Pasadena area, via the 210. Only to encounter a TON of traffic along the way.

By the time we got to the National Park, we had been in the car since 2:30 PM. It was 10 PM when we arrived at the front gate for the tired security guard to say, “Campgrounds are full. You’ll need to drive another 5 miles north to camp on the BLM land.”

Are you kidding me?! You didn’t reserve a campsite?! We drove all the way out here to chance it?!

BLM land is land owned by the Bureau of Land Management. They, well, manage the land separate of the state. People can stay on the land, it’s free, but it’s always in weird areas because there’s no developments on it. The BLM land near Joshua Tree is in the middle of the desert. As I so delicately put it, it’s somewhere where I’m sure people have tried to dump bodies. It’s that creepy out there.

Will Go Wrong…

Luckily for us, it had just rained the weekend before! So the promised BLM land was completely flooded from the storm. We ended up having to camp on some most likely private property next to the land we were supposed to be on. We were in the company of many others who chanced their camping luck at Joshua Tree. Much too late and far too cold to pitch the tent, we slept in the cab of the truck. Not incredibly comfortable and also freezing considering outside temps were barely above 35 degrees.

In the morning, we were exhausted and needed to stretch from sleeping in such a tight space. We traveled in to the park early to beat some crowds and see the sites.

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For Next Time

I learned an important thing about Joshua Tree that weekend. Book your campsite well in advance.

I also learned that if you like climbing or taking desert photos, Joshua Tree is awesome. If you enjoy hiking- may be less awesome. The park is huge but very desolate due to the fact it is, well, a desert at it’s heart.

Wine Tasting: Paso & SLO

Wine tasting is one of my favorite hobbies. I thoroughly enjoy savoring the taste of wine, picking up the notes in a good glass, and learning more about the complexities behind the wine itself.

I preface this article by saying that I am a Syrah and Malbec kind of girl. Occasionally I’ll dabble with Pinots and Cabs. I stay away from whites unless I’m eating fish, because red wine with fish is much too heavy.

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PNW: Seattle Edition

Seattle was a whole new world for me.

The furthest north on the west coast of the U.S. I had ever been was Petaluma, CA. I had never crossed over into the Pacific Northwest.

Amid the absolute beauty of the nature and green forests that line the PNW, there were so many things to do and see in Seattle that it’ll take a lifetime of trips to even feel like I’ve seen 10% of what the city has to offer.

Although the trip was a mere two and a half days, I got to have the insiders look at all things Seattle as I was shown around by my best friend, a new Seattle-ite, and her boyfriend and their roommate, both of whom grew up in suburbs of Seattle.

Getting the less touristy visit of the city is sometimes the best way to see somewhere new. I went to a Mariner’s baseball game, Pike’s Place, so many good eats in Old Ballard, Discovery Park, Green Lake, and was coffee wasted all weekend on the best local Seattle brews. I managed to avoid Starbucks until I was in the SeaTac Airport at 5:30AM catching my flight out early Monday morning.

We even went to the local Farmer’s Market by their apartment in Ballard, which had tons of different locally grown produce mixed in with homemade goods. I am one of those suckers for farmer’s markets, but this Ballard Farmer’s Market was up there in terms of favorites.

If you ever find yourself in Seattle, do yourself a favor and eat the sushi. The salmon was the absolute perfect texture, smooth and creamy, with the right about of flavor.

Everything about the culture, the people, the architecture, could keep me going back for a lifetime.

However, the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a downpour Sunday evening, with lightening and thunder to boot. For someone from California, I mistakenly didn’t bring a waterproof jacket with a hood, forgetting that the further north you get the increase in the chance of rain all times of the year.

Next travels will be to Portland!

Pike's Place Market. Such beautiful flowers for long stretches.
Pike’s Place Market. Such beautiful flowers for long stretches.
Public Market; did you know the locals only call it Pike's Place, vs. Pike's Marketplace?
Public Market; did you know the locals only call it Pike’s Place, vs. Pike’s Marketplace?
At my first Mariner's game, rubbing elbows with the locals!
At my first Mariner’s game, rubbing elbows with the locals!