This morning we set off from the Hilton at Universal City in Los Angeles and I must say I was very glad to see the back of that mediocre hotel masquerading as fancy one (my scathing review will come when I finally get a chance to catch up on the blog). I’ve decided that if I don’t go back to blogging day-by-day then I will never finish the stories about the trip. So again we are skipping ahead. I’ll just quickly catch you up – dance trip is now over and most families (including my mum) have left USA and are safely back on Australian soil.
Two dance mums and myself decided it would be a great idea to hire a bus and drag our 6 offspring from LA to Vegas via the Grand Canyon. I was very surprised and honoured to be nominated for the role of designated driver, given my ability to be very easily distracted. Not sure how/why I ended up in the role of Captain but I’m running with it and so far have avoided any minor or major incidents. I do have an excellent First Officer who keeps me from getting distracted and an excellent food and beverage handler whose main job is to keep the children as far away from me as possible and to prevent whinging by constantly throwing food/drinks to the back two rows, which is where we have confined the children to.
First day was awesome!! I was worried that we would have heaps of traffic leaving LA, due to Coachella, but we made pretty good time. Lunch was spent in Pioneertown at a bustling little pub called Pappy & Harriets (http://www.pappyandharriets.com).
Pioneertown’s name is very misleading. It is not a genuine, historic Pioneer Town but instead is a very authentic Western village built by Hollywood producers back in 1946 to serve as the set of various Western movies. I would name some for you but I really don’t like Westerns and can’t be bothered googling. I’ve been informed that I need to be up at 6am tomorrow so I’m trying to hurry this along. Feel free to google yourself.
It is a really cute little village and is in great condition. Much better condition than actual ‘ pioneer villages’ are I’m sure. The pub is amazing and serves brilliant food that is very reasonably priced. My salad looked so good that I decided it was instagram-worthy!! I don’t often decide food is instagram-worthy (with the exception of food I’ve cooked myself).
From Pioneertown we hightailed it to Joshua Tree national park. The scenery driving through California was so unusual and completely different to what I had envisioned. It is very dry, hilly and rocky. The huge mountains from what I could tell were made of rock (no grass visible to me). They had a sprinkling of green bushes all over them that reminded me of skin with bad acne. The towns we drove through were huge and so spread out, but also definitely had a country vibe.
All I knew about Joshua Tree prior to my arrival was that there is a U2 album named after it and it’s a national park with rare Joshua trees. Not sure how rare they will be when I get through with them. I was able to purchase Joshua Tree seeds from the information centre. The lady assured me that I would be able to get them through customs as they are merely seeds. This remains to be seen…. All going well, my Europified garden will be Californianised with it’s very own rare Joshua Tree. People will come from all over Australia to admire it – in 500 or so years!!
Similar to how no two snowflakes are the same, no two Joshua Trees are the same. Their limbs reach out in any number of directions, kind of like they can’t make up their mind as to which way is up and which way is down. Some will be short and stocky with an abundance of hairy limbs. Others will be tall with only one or two limbs. It’s almost like as a species, they haven’t got their shit together and sorted out how they want to evolve.
The Joshua Tree was named by the Mormans in the 1800’s as the tree reminded them of Joshua from the bible reaching up to pray. I saw a couple of Joshua trees that looked like Isabelle bending down to tie her shoelaces and one that reminded me of Rohan jumping on the trampoline, arms and legs flailing everywhere…. so I didn’t see the similarity. To be fair, I don’t know who Joshua is in the bible or what he would look like reaching up to pray.
The trees are stunning. I feel like they could possibly be my spirit tree as there is a familiarity in their haphazard, undecided ways. They are nestled in amongst huge rock boulders. Some of the rocks are massive and smooth, some resemble a skull (if you squint your eyes, look at it from a certain direction and make sure the sun is in the right place) and some look like a gigantic dump truck has dumped 1 million tons of small rocks in one big pile. I would love to go in to the geology of the area and how those big piles of rocks were formed but I’m under pressure. The designated driver needs her sleep!!
Kids LOVED scrambling all over the piles of rocks and climbing up “Skull” rock. Before I had even hoisted myself out of the bus Kylah was off and climbing up to dangerous heights atop the rocky mountains. The two other mums, who have far less children than I do, looked at me in alarm. “It’s okay.” I told them “I have an heir and three spares.” Truth is I gave up long ago trying to prevent such expeditions. Especially when Ben is usually accompanying us and is the main instigator. I still have nightmares about the time I told Kylah and Jazzy to please not swim with Daddy in the waterhole as there was a ‘WARNING!! Esturine Crocodiles inhabit this area” sign that Ben decided to completely disregard. They stared at me blankly for about 3 seconds before diving in the water with daddy. In Ben’s defence, he reckoned that there was no chance in Hell any crocs would be around and the sign was merely there for litigious purposes. In my defence, there was a sign.
We only spent a few hours in Joshua Tree National Park and barely scratched the surface. It is such a unique and stunning place I have definitely marked it as a place to revisit for a longer period of time.
Our hotel for the night is the Best Western at 29 Palms. The town itself is quite small and definitely has more than 29 palms. My expectations for the Best Western were very low, as the travel agent had said it is 2.5 stars. It is brilliant!! If this hotel is 2.5 stars then the Hilton at Universal City is less than 1 star. It is a bit out of town but the staff are lovely and helpful, the rooms are spacious and clean, the internet is lightening fast and the beds are super comfy. I’m very happy here.
I had planned on educating my blog readers about why U2 called their album Joshua Tree and also more information on the local geology but if I don’t go to sleep in the next 4 minutes, I will not be rested enough to Captain my bus efficiently. Tomorrow we have 6 hours of driving to get to the Grand Canyon. That’s 6 hours if you do the speed limit (which I don’t – I go well under) and don’t stop (which I will, unfortunately young children do not have the same superb bladder control that I have).
If anyone wants to look these facts up and add them in the comments that would be greatly appreciated. I do plan on doing it but considering I haven’t even finished my NY blog, Anaheim Blog or even began my LA blog posts (of which I have SO many stories to report on), I doubt it will happen.
Thanks for reading!!
Please enjoy the pics below.