Joshua Tree National Park is located approximately 140 miles east of Los Angeles and a short distance to neighboring Palm Springs area. This protected land is comprised of vegetated high desert and low desert making up this extraordinary national park.
This park has many interesting and diverse parts that will appeal to any exploring hiker.
Much of this land expands across both the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and is home to a variety of species living in this desert ecosystem. Here are a few of the living residents of this amazing national park:
Prickly pear cactus
and many more.
Our day of exploration at the park was on National Public Lands day so we enjoyed an entry fee free day. The next fee free day at the parks is November 11, Veterans Day. As we continue our journey through this park, we were more amazed the further we went. The beauty, quiet, serene, and peaceful ora of the desert is intoxicating.
We were lucky enough to also spot some big horn sheep and capture them wandering around near the Barker Dam area of the park.
Some of the key points of interest that you may wish to explore on your visit to Joshua Tree National Park are listed here:
⭐️Lost Horse Mine
⭐️Geology Road Tour
⭐️Cholla Cactus Garden
Barker Dam Trail
Check out the hiking trail at Barker Dam: a short, easy pleasant trail to the historical dam. And wow those boulders and rock formations are incredible!
Skull Rock Trail
Camping is also allowed and the sites are located near impressive boulders and lovely trails, this particular site is located at Hidden Valley; this area was where a cattle rustlers hideout was.
Views throughout the park:
Quiet, serene and peaceful surroundings.
Silver Bell Mine
Cholla Cactus Garden
This garden is comprised of jumping cholla, so you do need to be careful and cautious as you stroll this attraction. It is a bit mesmerizing as the endless number of cholla cactus dominate this particular area of the park.
The cholla cactus (jumping cholla) with its barbed spine, are known to attach to skin, fur, and clothing.
The day we tipped toe through this garden, a female in the group in front of us ended up with a cholla spine in her shoe, and it appeared to go all the way through the rubber sole of her shoe.
Another side note; be cautious of bees near and around the cholla cactus garden area.
Here is a bit more information you should know before you visit Joshua Tree National Park:
1.There is no cell phone service in the majority of the park.
2.Stay away from abandoned mines.
3.Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day.
4.Flash floods are a danger; avoid drainage areas during and after thunderstorms
5.Do not climb unless you are properly trained and equipped. (Rock climbing is allowed).
6.Pets are prohibited on the trails and beyond 100 feet from any park road, campground, or picnic area.
7.Off-road driving is prohibited.
Some camping sites are available at a first come, first serve basis; visit www.recreation.gov to learn more. Campgrounds are usually full on the weekends from October through May. Check out the website to plan your next visit.
The desert may not be high on your list of places to see and visit, but Joshua Tree National Park may change your mind. It is incredible how this desert land teaches us about adaption as these animals, plants, and landscapes adapt to the summer 100 plus degree temperatures, relentless sun, and so little water. That is impressive in my book.
Imagine a life where you are surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes, ocean blue waters, and palm trees galore? We might call this California Dreaming as you may think that no such place exists in your world. Well, this is our attempt to bring that world to you.
San Diego is a vacationers dream with so many exciting attractions, amusement parks, the famous San Diego Zoo, and exquisite dining. However, San Diego offers so much more for you other than the average everyday tourist hot spots. Here are a few different things to discover and see less traveled areas in the San Diego area. Enjoy this photo journal series capturing some of San Diego’s hidden treasures that you may wish to explore. Happy Viewing.
Torrey Pines State Reserve: Hiking and Views
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
This is a peaceful, beautiful trail for visitors to enjoy in a clean, natural environment, and stunning landscapes and views. This is a reserve; according to torreypine.org, a reserve is not a park. This reserve is a targeted area protected for conservation and also has other restrictions different than a park. Read more here:
Torrey Pines State Beach
The beach is at the bottom of 300 foot sandstone cliffs of white and golden stone, with a greenish layer sometimes visible at the very bottom.
La Jolla Cove and Shores are one the most photographed beaches in San Diego County!
It is home to several species of sea life including seagulls, seals, and occasional spottings of Orca killer whales. See more photos of this area here: La Jolla Cove
Sante Fe Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest
Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest
The Sante Fe and Del Dio Gorge Trails are both segments of the San Dieguito River Park area and the Coast to Crest trails. Three pre-historic cultural periods describe parts of this region and portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
Miramar Air Show: Marine Corp Air Station
The Miramar Air Show was spectacular this year and certainly did not disappoint. This years air show theme was honoring 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. Also feature highlights were some impressive aircraft such as the F-35 Lightening II, F/A -18 Hornet, MV-22 Osprey, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, and of course, the infamous Blue Angels! Miramar Air Show is an annual event usually scheduled for some time in late September or early October.
Petco Park and San Diego Padres
If you visit San Diego, you must experience watching a baseball game at Petco Park with an unbelievable backdrop of the city surrounded by the ocean and spectacular sunsets!
You can watch airplanes arriving for a landing in the distance behind the city buildings as you watch the game.
San Diego is an exquisite city to visit and experience. It’s a vacation and travel destination for millions of people. And yes, there are the popular tourist attractions that visitors love to see but there are also the less traveled amazing spots that will leave you speechless. So when you make your trip to San Diego, be sure to explore one or two of the hidden gems that will make your dream vacation more complete. Thank you for reading! California Dreaming!
More Exploration and Adventure in San Diego!
Coming Soon: California Dreaming Series | Palm Springs
The beautiful state of North Dakota might be more known for its friendly people and open hearts. And you might be expecting to read another blog article about beautiful big buildings and structures, exquisite eateries and foodies, or glimmering art galleries. But this article is about more than that; it’s not of something tangible or aesthetically beautiful, but more of extraordinary experiences, places that touch your soul, and discovering a gratitude for life that is magical!
I am born and raised in a very small town in North Dakota, and do try to return and visit as often as possible, because most of my family still live here. On my recent visit, I explored new areas I have not yet explored and discovered incredible rich beauty and culture.
Since I am one of 5 kids in my family, we were a family that lived on a budget while growing up. My parents worked hard and did the very best they could to give all of us kids a good life while growing up. So there was no such thing as a vacation, no high tech gifts, and no name brand or fancy clothing in our house. But one thing there was plenty of… Love! There are, however, a few cool places I do remember visiting as an adolescent, this is closest to a vacation that I can recall. They include the following:
Attending a circus event in Jamestown, N.D.
Medora, N.D. Musical and driving around the South Unit in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. (My memory is very vague)
Visiting the giant Buffalo in Jamestown, N.D.
Road trip to Montana to visit relatives. (This one’s a big one, it seemed it was a day’s long drive)
Since my adventure and exploration was a bit limited as a kid, I made it a point to seek and explore more of my home state on my recent visit to see my family this summer. There are a handful of unique things that make North Dakota not your average ordinary vacation destination. Nope, in fact it is an all around, peaceful, wide open spaces, beautiful and wonderful place to experience! Here is why:
North Dakota Heritage Center
Mostly, the people who live here are just common folks who work hard, care about others, and enjoy time with family. Speaking of spending time with family, I recently had the opportunity to visit the North Dakota Heritage Center along with my mother and her friend. We enjoyed learning about the Native Americans that populated the area many years ago, as well as the prehistoric creatures that lived across the plain states and nearby areas.
ND Heritage Center Fitlifeandtravel.com
ND Heritage Center Fitlifeandtravel.com
ND Heritage Center Fitlifeandtravel.com
ND Heritage Center Fitlifeandtravel.com
Some of the fossils displayed at the museum are actual findings as the one below with the attempt to preserve it and the dirt it was discovered in.
This exhibit is very interesting as the fossil still has some of the outer layer of skin preserved. The center offers static and rotating exhibits as well as a café inside; The James River Cafe. Check out more information here: www.statemuseum.nd.gov
Let’s not forget about street art and other beautiful art pieces around town.
The beautiful Missouri River, downtown Bismarck, open spaces and farmland.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
This national preserve is packed with rugged beautiful bluffs infused with red and sand colored landscape where you can get up close and personal with roaming wildlife.
The North Unit is a 14-mile scenic drive through badlands where you might encounter bighorn sheep, elk, and even wild buffalo. This is the perfect destination for those looking for a unique kind of adventure, history, and bison!
According to the Medora 2018 Adventure Guide; Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Medora for a buffalo hunt in September 1883 and fell in love with the land. After his experience in this area, he became alarmed by the damage that was being done to the land and wildlife.
*Although you can get quite close to the wild animals, there are warning signs posted stating the buffalo are dangerous, so enjoy them at a distance.
Roosevelt later pursued interests in conservation when he established five national parks, 51 federal bird reservations, four national game reserves and 150 national forests. “I have always said I would not have been president had it not been for my experience in North Dakota.” Says Roosevelt. (Source: Medora 2018 Adventure Guide) There is so much more to see and explore, learn about this gorgeous national park here www.nps.gov/thro.
Medora, North Dakota is a town located at the far Western part of the state and is home to the infamous Medora Musical, and gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I visited this place with my parents many years ago in 1983 and I remember I did not appreciate it then because I was so young. My parents have attended this several times over the years. This musical is performed live outdoors on a stage setting surrounded by a 2900 seat Burning Hills Amphitheater under the beautiful Badlands sky! The performance usually is dedicated to President Theodore Roosevelts’ time in the Badlands and to the Spirit of the West. Talented performers come from all over the world along with live horses make this high-energy musical show to be like no other. I look forward to my next visit and seeing this show again in the near the future. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is also located near Medora as well.
There are tons of other things to do in Medora as well, such as golfing at Bully Pullpit golf course, hiking, biking trails, camping and cabins, horseback riding, and a cowboy cookout. Find your own adventure at Medora.com.
Home to the world’s largest buffalo and the city where I was born. A quaint historical city where historical author writer Louis La’Mour walked the streets and gained inspiration for one of his novels called ‘A Walking Trail’. The Stutsman County Fair has made Jamestown home over the 4th of July for many years and one event I’ve enjoyed as I was growing up. Jamestown is also known for their Stock Car Races, which always makes for intense excitement and family fun! Jamestown is also known for the World’s largest buffalo monument.
Elks Camp Grassick
One of the best summer jobs anyone could ever have! I worked here for three summers along with my sister and we experienced some of the most magical times of our lives. As you drive into the entrance off the gravel dirt road leading to the camp there is an exterior sign that states; “Elk’s Camp Grassick, A Very Special Camping Experience.” This is exactly what it is.
Elk’s Camp Grassick is owned and operated by the Elk’s of North Dakota and is a camp that serves children and adults with various special needs and disabilities. My experience working at Camp Grassick was extraordinary. My sister and I worked as Kitchen Staff, but we were still able to participate and be engaged with the camp participants. Here are some of the unique memorable things we experienced while working here:
Enjoying time with special needs children, witnessing their improvements and making new friends. Learning to smile, laugh, and believe in themselves!
Participate in Recreation events such as a costume party, seeing the campers dancing, laughing, and having fun.
Attending the Stutsman County Fair where each staff member was assigned to tend to a camper and assist them so they can too enjoy the fair and feel like a regular kid.
A peaceful canoe ride on Lake Isabel in the evening with other kitchen staff members, who have become lifelong friends.
Making new friends with counselors, campers, and creating a special friendship with Camp Directors, Dan M. and others.
The small town of Tappen, North Dakota is so small that if you blink as you drive on Interstate 94, you will miss the exit ramp. This town with a population of 250 give or take a few; is the town where I lived, attended school, and played piano for the small white church on the corner street located across from the school (there is only one school). There were not very many events or activities happening in this small quiet little town, but the one event the entire town looks forward to is the Tappen Demolition Derby.
This event is action packed and full of hot rods and junkers that crash into each other to compete for the trophy and other prizes. There are only a few vendor stands; there might be T-shirts and food sold. However, this event was free to attend in the past, but recent years, there is a fee now. Many folks from all over North Dakota attend this event, and this year’s show did not disappoint. Attendees bring their campers, lawn chairs, or large pick up trucks backed in as they sit and watch the crashing and demolition derby action. This is a great event for affordable, family fun. Here are a few captions.
A great event for family fun. Tappen, N.D. had celebrated its 125th Year Quasquicentennial Anniversary in 2003, and it was quite a celebration. The entire town was looking like something in a picture book of green manicured lawns, gardens and flowers, and tidy as far as I could see. I remember the 100th year Centennial Anniversary and found some old photos in my parents photo albums.
According to the centennial book, Tappen was a hopping, busy little town. Today, however, it has remained its quiet slow pace, farmers are abundant, and several of the old time buildings have been either torn down, dilapidated, or removed from Tappen and taken to Bismarck. A replica of a small midwest town called Buckstop Junction, has been re-created in Bismarck, using original old building and structures from various small towns. Learn more about this historical place: https://website.buckstopjunction.org:89/
Tappen may be small, but there are a few businesses that help make Tappen a great place to live or stop in and visit this small town USA.
Roadhouse Bar and Grill: Offering a hometown fun and friendly place to enjoy cocktails and food. Occasionally, they will feature a live band. Roadhouse Facebook page.
Marlins Standard: Gas and Auto. (We used to buy candy bars from the station as kids).
Several Organic Farm businesses
Tanning N’ More
Tiff’s Hair Garage
Of course, some of these businesses are somewhat new and were not around when I lived there. I didn’t appreciate the simple good living I had growing up in North Dakota at the time. I do now, however realize how much I miss those wide open spaces, quiet lazy days, and forever sunsets. Everyone knew everyone; my classmates were like my brothers and sisters.
But I was a small town girl with big time dreams, I had goals to achieve, and it was difficult to leave home. I had the drive and curiosity to go out and experience the world that I was so shielded from as an adolescent. I am happy with the choices I’ve made in my life, I gained lifetime of experience and wisdom that is priceless. And although I miss my family tremendously, I do visit them and see North Dakota a couple times a year, which gives me a break from the busyness of life.
So if you have an opportunity to travel or planning on traveling in the future, you might consider adding North Dakota to your list. Read more here: www.NDtourism.com.
Thank you for reading! Do you miss your home town or state? Comment and let me know where you are from, I would love to hear from you!
Dust infused red-orange sunsets, smoldering red rock canyons, and blue skies with puffy white clouds describe my recent road trip to Sedona, Arizona.
After my previous heart pumping, huffing and puffing, 109 degree hot day hike up Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona, I found myself a little hesitant to trek out there in the desert for another scorching hike. The hike we discovered and wanted to explore this weekend, is Devil’s Bridge.
The name sounds more frightening that it really is. Devil’s Bridge is the hike that offers a shorter or longer hiking route to get to Devil’s Bridge, whichever you choose to enhance your own experience. We added this hike to our list only a week prior and knew we just had to go see it. This particular adventure was a last minute unplanned road trip to Arizona for a weekend wandering excursion. We learned from our research that this hike is rated as not very difficult, and on the easy to moderate scale. But learning about the views from the bridge and the background landscape were something we just couldn’t pass by.
So we proceeded to prepare the car, gathered our food and backpacks, and hit the road on a late Friday afternoon. Of course, we prepared the car and we changed the oil, filled the gas tank, put a gallon of water in the car, and checked air pressure in the tires for safety and we were ready to go. See more info on How To Prepare For a Weekend Road Trip Here:
It was a picture perfect desert evening as we rolled into town just in time to relish the golden sunset that said “welcome to Arizona.”
We got settled in our room at a Choice Hotel, and then awoke early the next morning so we could continue onward towards Sedona. We packed our water, power bars, and lunch, as we were ready to tackle that Devil’s Bridge.
Tackling the hike to Devil’s Bridge first required finding it somewhere in Sedona. So here is a rendition of our highly technical research together with my husbands hand drawn map that worked great to guide us to the trailhead and parking areas.
We made our way north on Interstate 17 and near the Sedona area and finally found the trailhead and parking areas for Devil’s Bridge hike. We were a little shocked to see how heavy traffic was on that Saturday morning in the middle of Summer in the desert. Of course, we do not have an all terrain vehicle to park in the closer trailhead to the Bridge hike, as the road that lead to the parking area was very rugged, steep, and contains many holes and is very sandy. So we parked at the Mescal parking area.
We wanted to take the longer hike to make our hiking experience a little more fulfilling and see more. The hike starting at the Mescal parking area is a little more than 4 miles give or take round trip, so not too bad. It is considered to be an easy to moderate hike.
This is the route that is a little more scenic as well and is great for spectacular panoramic landscape photos.
Prior to reaching the trailhead parking areas, we needed to take bathroom breaks and make sure our water supply was full. So we stopped at the Sedona Library just outside of trailhead parking areas on the two-lane road heading towards Devil’s Bridge hike. It was a very quaint library and a model train expo was going on this day. We peeked in the door and saw very long model train tracks and a moving model train tooting along the tracks set up on several tables!
I did not notice any restrooms or portable potties at or nearby this trail, so make sure you are prepared for these couple of hours out here on this trail.
The trail was mostly simple, smooth, clear paths, and very scenic. Together with quiet, peaceful, and not too extreme heat, it was a perfect setting for hiking to Devil’s Bridge. We captured some spectacular shots of the landscape on the trails.
As you get close to the bridge area, there are a couple steep incline switchback areas that you will need to climb. The boulders and rocks may be hot, so be cautious as you find your grip to help keep your balance and to climb up.
Then at the top you can wander, relax, eat lunch and carefully walk towards the bridge and take the money shot of the bridge or of you on the bridge.
Some people take turns on the bridge, so everyone can have their own photo opportunity of standing on Devil’s Bridge. The day we hiked this trail, there were a handful of people, and the wait out on the bridge was very short. Everyone was courteous and took their turn on the bridge.
Adventure is a trait that many of us have, and when we are curious about something new, we long the desire to go out and experience it. Devil’s Bridge was an awesome experience that satisfied both curiosity and our adventure desire on this unplanned weekend getaway. Life is too short to miss out on an experience because you may be a little hesitant or because of things in the past. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see something new! We are so glad we did! We danced our way onto Devil’s Bridge!
Thank you for reading! Please contact me if you have anything to add or share, I always enjoy hearing from you! Please follow my blog and social pages to read about more adventure and exploration!
The excitement for an upcoming trip can be exhilarating. But it can also be very stressful as you have a million things to remember to do days or weeks leading up to your trip. I, however, have a few extra things I need to do to prepare for road trips due to my auto-immune disorder. I have to plan for meals and food as I manage my disorder through diet that involves more natural ingredients and nutrient dense foods; hence, I have a restricted diet.
Anyway, when we have a road trip coming up, there are several things I do to plan and prepare for an enjoyable worry free travel experience. When I say ‘Weekend Road Trip’ I am generally referring to a trip consisting of approximately 250-300 miles. We usually travel on road trips to Arizona, Palm Springs, or Nevada from the Southern California area. My road trips usually involve a hiking adventure, so this information is geared towards hiking or exploration. One of the most critical things to do to prepare for your road trip is to make sure your vehicle is safe and in good operating condition. Here is a list of things I do for the preparation of our weekend road trip; I start with a vehicle inspection.
Open the hood and glance over the engine and check fluids.
Make sure oil is at good levels
Make sure water is enough for windshield wipers
Bring jumper cables in the trunk
Bring a gallon of water
In case your car overheats while driving. You don’t want to be on the road someplace in the middle of nowhere and your car breaks down and overheats, and you do not have water.
Make sure the oil and oil filter has been changed
Bring a blanket
Bring a roll of toilet paper
Bring a handful of tools
Bring the air compressor. Make sure all tires have the appropriate air in them
Make sure the spare tire has appropriate air in it as well.
Full tank of gas
Hot climate travel – turn off air condition as you incline mountains etc.
Maps if needed (we do not use GPS); good ole fashion paper maps.
Ice chest – ice – zip lock bags of ice to fit in cooler
I found a styrofoam cooler at Walmart for $2.67 and worked great.
Bring lunch meat turkey breast
Enough almond milk for the weekend
Bottles of water
Healthy snacks; nuts, cut veggies, tortilla chips
Energy bars- protein bars
breakfast cereal- cheerios, oatmeal
Hiking Checklist – local hikes or short hiking
Bring enough water bottles to fill take for the hike
Energy bars and nuts
Appropriate clothing for hiking – hot or cold climates
Small compass, small mirror
A hiking partner
Let someone know where you are hiking, if hiking solo
Small tool-Swiss army knife
Research local hiking trails, gather info, trail length, difficulty, etc.
Proper shoes and clothing
Clothing and Personal Checklist
Check the weather to determine to bring lighter or warmer clothes
Jacket or not
Umbrella in the car
Essentials- Lotion (for dry climates), chapstick,
Hats or visors
In summary, road trips can be a little stressful because of the preparations involved and other unplanned items that may come up, but they can also be exciting! Road trips allow you to be more flexible on your trip, for example, you can take a different route returning home than the route you took going to your destination. You can take detours and stumble upon some amazing gems! Here is one of our hidden gems we stumbled upon on our detour return from Oregon going South. We came across a detour from I-5 to bypass the large fires happening in Northern California areas. Check out beautiful Diamond Peaks mountain range.
Weekend road trips are like a mini vacation that allows you to getaway for a short while to rejuvenate, refresh, and renew! So maximize your life and fill your weekend road trip with excitement, fun, and exploration! Open your mind and go out and wander!
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Summer is one of my favorite times of year, so I wanted to compile a recap of some of the most spectacular #sunsets in places I have had the privilege of visiting. In the last 10 months, I have had the opportunity to go exploring and travel a little more than previous years. We seen places that we’ve only talked about and had a desire to visit, and now finally we have made our dream come true. Although there are many places we have yet to see, these sunsets have made for lasting memories and remarkable experiences we won’t soon forget!
Take a look at these stunning places and sunsets!
Some of the most memorable moments are captured during sunsets, make sure you don’t miss out on your next moment! Hope these inspire you to go out and explore and venture for that perfect view and/or #sunset!
Weekends are very special to people, it is considered very valuable time for some. It means taking advantage of time off from work, or it might mean spending quality time with family and friends. The weekend is also perfect for running errands and doing tasks that you weren’t able to do during the week. But the weekend is not only for playing catch up on household work, it’s also great for going outdoors and exploring the local area hiking trails. And hiking on the San Diego area trails are perfect to fill your weekend with fun outdoor adventure!
If you have the desire to make the most of your weekends, here are a couple hiking trails I thought were very easy and interesting. The Santa Fe Valley Hike and the Del Dios Gorge trail heads are located directly next to each other. There is a rock gravel parking area that you can park at no charge, then go and explore one trail and continue on and hike the other; exploring both trails all in one visit. Directions: I-15 to exit Via Rancho Parkway, Go West 3.5 miles, go left on Del Dios Road 5.4 miles, and turn left when you see a organic fruit stand building and veer to the right and continue driving down the road that will lead to the gravel parking area for the trails. DIRECTIONS
The Santa Fe Valley trail is not only great for hikers but you can also bring your bikes out on the trail. There is even a bicycle repair station to use if you need a few tools to do a small repair or simply need to add some air in your tires on your bike. Also, one of the pleasant viewpoints of this hike are the beautiful views of the Crosby Golf Course.
My visit to these trails did not only present striking natural landscapes for viewing pleasure, but I learned they also have archaeological significance. The flood of 1927 apparently exposed countless artifacts of the areas early inhabitants.
Three pre-historic cultural periods describe this region and it portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail
The Santa Fe Valley and Del Dios Gorge hiking trails are both segments of the Coast to Crest Trail, which expands 55 miles from the ocean to the Pacific Crest.
One final thought, the next time your weekend is full of an endless to do list, make sure you add hiking and going outdoors to that list. Something to remember; make the most out of your weekend as well each and every day you get. Maximize life by learning, exploring, making memories with your family, and treasure every moment of this life.