We awoke bright and early with optimism in our hearts. The weather network said that our destination for the day, Joshua Tree Park, was 3C with a windchill factor of -6C. But, the sun was shining and the sky was a clear blue and we were certain that the wind would die down by the time we got there. We packed multiple layers of clothing and headed out. The greenhouse effect of the sun shining in the windows of the car was deluding us. As we climbed in elevation, the temperature dropped, but we do not have a thermometer in our car so we were unaware.
We arrived at the first of many destinations in the fabulous park and as soon as we opened the car door, we knew we were going to have to make a decision as the wind was strong and very, very cold. An hour's drive and $30 in park entrance fees swayed our decision. Nathan and Chad were going to freeze so I gave Nathan my hoodie and wore only my fleece lined wind breaker. Andrew gave Chad his fleece vest to put under his hoodie and we were off to the Hidden Valley, where the above photo was taken. It was taken before our eyes and ears and mouths became encrusted with ice. The smiles, however, are frozen.
This little valley among the giant rocks has a very narrow and secret opening where cattle rustlers would drive their stolen cows and hide out from the 'law'. There is a trail around the perimeter but it is really all accessible to the hiker and climber. Look closely at the center of the photo and you will see Ron and Andrew, two of the braver ones of our little group risking their lives for a photo op. The rock they are on resembles a bull from certain angles, watching over the herd in Hidden Valley
This is a barren and rocky land. How these plants live is truly amazing. They have ways of conserving moisture and are themselves, full of succulent juices despite the 120F temperatures of summer. On this cold day, it looked hot, but our blue skin told us otherwise.
Is my sister Carla tidying up, or just showing off her strength? So many of these huge boulders looked like they were precariously balanced, but their massive weight made them immovable.
This formation was called "The Teardrop".
Here we have California's version of Stone Henge. It was disconcerting standing under this huge boulder and looking up, realising we were only a few miles away from the San Andreas Fault and maybe only minutes away from the next big earthquake.
Chad found shelter from the bitterly cold wind, a perfect fit.
Here is Andrew showing off again. He always wanted to be Superman. Don't try this at home, at least not without ropes. Or a parachute.
Our last stop was the Cholla Cactus (pronounced Choy-ya) gardens. Acres and acres of this unusual plant that you do not want to tangle with. The little birds nest in these plants, and I assure you, they are safe.
It was indeed cold, but we all thought it was worth it. In the bubbles and steam of the hot tub that night, the cold was soon forgotten and the recollections of the unusual beauty and fun we had climbing the rocks was what we talked about the most.
A late night movie and a hot drink ended an almost perfect day.