Tuesday, June 21, 2011

360 Miles in a Day: Joshua Tree Day Trip!

Each year, when possible, my cousin Dennis visits from his home in eastern Washington. He usually spends the weekend at my sister's who lives nearby. This year, there was a family BBQ on Saturday (with campfire sing-along and ukulele!)

Over pina colada's and BBQ, Dennis and I planned our second annual Fathers' Day road trip: Joshua Tree National Park here we come!

Joshua Tree catching some rays!

Dennis and I comprise two of the three living men who share the name of our ancestors. His dad and my dad were brothers: the only offspring of their parents. Our dads' each had two girls and a boy. I followed that pattern, and Dennis has not yet married. So, in my mind, this road-trip, which fell again this year on Fathers' Day, is a celebration and a bit of a tribute to our fathers. Theirs was a relationship full of cuts and barbs: call it sibling rivalry, or slight dysfunction: either one fits. Dennis and I get along much better. We share a fair amount of family history, we were both residents of Anaheim until Dennis' family moved to northern California when he was in junior high. We also shared a set of grandparents, and we have a common faith (Christian).

Matt from BC on a boulder 

With the help of Google maps I gauged and semi-planned our 130 mile (each way) trip. Google estimated a two and a half hour drive to the western edge of the park. (I guessed closer to two.) The park itself is about 45 miles wide. The drive was two hours each way. We left Orange County at 8 am, and returned at 7 pm. By my estimates, that means we spent about 6 or 7 hours in the park, sight seeing, picnicking, and visiting with other park visitors. We also took pictures, each of us having taken up as a hobby, the profession and passion of our grandfather.

A view from a "window"

Besides the sights, we conversed at length over various topics. Both of us talk for a living: he's a minister and I'm a teacher. We also struck up "instant" friendships with Matt, a rock climber from British Columbia, Canada, and an unnamed family (mom and two teenagers) from the Netherlands. The National Parks is generally populated with a kind and out-going visitors!

Over the course of the next few blogs, I'll be sprinkling in some of the photos from this road trip. Besides the conversations and the pictures, I also brought home a slight sunburn courtesy of the 95 degree sun we enjoyed. (It's a dry heat and there was a pleasant breeze!) ;-)

Where the trees live!

It was a memorable day set against a memorable landscape: enjoy the pictures!

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