Our Journey Begins and Joshua Tree National Park, Riverside County, CA

February 8, 2017 was our official Launch Day! There was no way we could be more ready. Our equipment was packed. Our grocery list for two weeks was written. The camper was as powered as we could get it. There was nothing else we could possibly need. And so we hit the road, rosy-cheeked and ready to leave rain-soaked California and head to the sun and warmth of the desert.

Ignore the dog shoved in our closet.

And as I sit here, typing this post in the middle of the desert where we’re currently holed up for two weeks, I acknowledge that we’ve already written kind of a long list of things we’re missing and modifications we need to make. We also grossly underestimated how much water we’d be going through. But in the grand scheme of things, we did a pretty good job prepping. Pats on the back to ourselves. But anyway, back to our launch.

We first stop a random Indian casino off of I-10 to get gas, top off air, and fill the solar shower. As the solar shower starts to fill, it begins to drip from one of the fittings. Clay climbs up to tighten said fitting. Fitting breaks off into his hand. Water gushes everywhere.

Probably should have checked the shower before we left.

So we drive to the wonderful Walmart of Palm Desert, CA, our chosen location to stock up on supplies. And I am serious when I describe this Walmart as wonderful. The employees went out of their way to help us find the most random things and I couldn’t believe I could get that kind of service at a Walmart. Kenny and Henry, if you’re reading this, we extend an invite to you for Thanksgiving dinner this year. You guys are the bomb.

After doing some serious damage to the wallet, we skip over to the nearest Home Depot so Clay can start troubleshooting a shower fix and I can offer emotional support for his endeavors. This process took way, way longer than we anticipated because some fittings of the shower are proprietary sizes, apparently. This was very inconvenient and required some serious MacGyver work, which Clay performed beautifully.

By the time all was said and done, it was almost 9pm and we still had hours of driving to do. Scouting out campsites in the dark is also not the most fun of tasks either. So I pull up google maps and realized we were within shouting distance of Joshua Tree National Park. If only there was free camping at Joshua Tree, I thought sadly, clearly jaded by my recent Bay Area camping experiences. But after a brief investigation… I realized there was.

So a stone’s throw away from I-10, at the south entrance of Joshua Tree, there are free areas to boondock on BLM land that are well-known and easy to find information about online (thanks Campendium!). So off we went. There were lots of other campers around, but it was easy to find a spot with good space away from other RVs. We popped the top, pulled out the bed, and promptly conked out.

We didn’t stay longer than the night as we wanted to get out of California, but we enjoyed the morning before hitting the road again. Especially Lucy, who hadn’t experienced unleashed freedom in awhile.

We drove into the park to the Cottonwood Visitor’s center after packing up. We marveled about the sun, the warmth, the fact that we camped on desert sand the previous night, and the potential to see a mountain goat.

We would have loved to stay longer, but Arizona was calling our name. Next time, Joshua Tree!

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