Sharka Visits Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Where to begin?

The opportunity arose to drive out to California and do some cool stuff. I’ll show more of that in a very near future blog post. This blog is about the stop I made on the way to the LA area. A place I’ve wanted to visit for years – Joshua Tree!

Rally Livery

Rally Livery – click to view larger

Stickers? What stickers? heh, Probably some explanation is in order.

See, Sharka had (has) this spare tire on the trunk lid. That isn’t the normal “clean” look that I go for with my cars, but it looked kinda purposeful to me. Kinda vintage rally car. So I cut out some big roundels on my vinyl printer. (46cm before you ask). And that looked pretty damn cool, so I printed some big red REV heart stickers. Then I did the large Mazda stickers for the back. And then things progressed from there.

This is my quicky tribute to the vintage 70s rally cars. I’ve never done a livery on Sharka and had a blast doing it. The reactions from folks on the way were fantastic.

Miles of open road.

Miles of open road.

My route took me along I-10, which passes near the southern entrance to Joshua Tree. It’s in a different climate zone than the north, so it has quite a different look. Gorgeous rock formations, lots of neat desert plants, and a very bleached out landscape.

And no Joshua trees.

Yuccas

Yuccas

Ocotillo

Ocotillo

Flattening out those hills.

Flattening out those hills. – click to view larger

My original plan was to be in Joshua Tree National Park (called JTNP for most of the rest of this post most likely) for sunset, but… man, the sky was boring. Not a single cloud. The park was gorgeous, but no pretty clouds means boring sunset photos.

And I didn’t wanna drive all that way for boring photos. So I went to my nearby hotel and resolved to get up super early for sunrise and hit the north side of the park.

Sharka's "hotel".

Sharka’s “hotel”.

Earlier in the month I searched for a hotel nearby to JTNP. I knew I’d be along I-10 so I started looking in the Palm Desert / Indian Wells area. I found a few hotels near the freeway that looked kinda… not great. Parking Sharka in a hotel that shared an IHOP parking lot didn’t really appeal to me, so I dug a little deeper into town.

Just down the road was this huge resort with golf, tennis, multiple pools and covered parking for only $60 more than the IHOP hotel. I booked.

It turned out to be a timeshare resort covering about quite a few hundred acres. I had a view of the golf course and a pond with ducks. Sharka had a protected parking spot with no way of parking anything on either side of him. It was bliss.

And at 3:30 AM, the bliss came to an end and we boosted up to the north to see some sunrise Joshua trees!

BOOOOST!!

BOOOOST!! – click to view larger

Success!!

Success!! – click to view larger

Moon over Miata

Moon over Miata – click to view larger

The road between Palm Desert and JTNP north entrance is fantastic. It rises about 4000 feet in elevation over 20 miles and has some great curves. California canyon driving. Then there were some slow small-town miles. And then I was inside Joshua Tree.

Joshua trees were EVERYWHERE! The horizon was filthy with them. Success!!!

The north road into JTNP has these signs saying “55MPH Limit STRICTLY ENFORCED” which were just hilarious. The road is extremely not-straight. Lots of hills and fast turns. And I really did try my best, but I couldn’t maintain 55 over the whole thing. I did a few full drift turns trying to maintain speed (and was the only one on the road at the time) but I was just not enough driver for it. That road had a wildly optimistic speed limit.

And at the end was my reward – sunrise at JTNP.

Sunrise.

Sunrise. – click to view larger

Peaceful.

Peaceful. – click to view larger

No one for miles.

No one for miles. – click to view larger

Line of Defense.

Line of Defense. – click to view larger

Once I got inside the park, I was in a race against the sun. I was high on adrenaline from the 55mph-strictly-enforced backroad and low on sleep. I was a panicked ferret with boost and a camera. No wife or daughter around to calm my mania. Just my automotive alter-ego urging me to drive faster and beat the earth’s rotation.

The park was EMPTY. We passed a few cars parked off the road with no humans nearby. I’d guess they belonged to hikers on the way to a good sunrise viewing spot. So it was just me and Sharka.

The earth rotated under us.

Actual size.

Actual size. – click to view larger

just... profound silence.

just… profound silence. – click to view larger

BOOOST!!!!!!!!!!!!! Squeal! Engine idle. Door slam. Click-click-click! Pause. Door slam. VROOOOOOOOOM!!!

Over and over. If anyone was around to see or hear us, we were probably pretty obnoxious. I’d find a nice spot, get out, take some pix, and then Sharka raced to the next nice spot ahead.

Full boost. Full volume.

Until we found our sunrise spot.

Mission accomplished.

Mission accomplished. – click to view larger

Happy tears.

Happy tears. – click to view larger

Happy shark.

Happy shark. – click to view larger

So worth it. There are no words.

Once we found our spot and parked, this feeling of serenity washed over me. Sharka and I became a part of the silence. We just sat and watched the sun appear over the hills. We listened to the tiny birds call back and forth to each other.

We existed in the silence.

Goodbye Joshua Tree.

Goodbye Joshua Tree.

Sufficient adjectives are not appearing in my brain to describe our time that morning in Joshua Tree. Words fall short. My photos are decent, but they don’t capture the whole experience.

It was truly an experience.

I feel beyond privileged that I was given this. That my life included that morning in Joshua Tree and that my little Roadster was there with me.

No words. So much love.

The room is dusty you guys. More on my California road trip soon.

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  • GT-Alex says:

    Damn, there’s some wallpaper material !

  • Brad says:

    Beautiful pics Adam. Having lived not too far from the I10, and traveling along it from Phoenix to San Diego once, I can say I don’t envy that stretch of your trip.

    However, it seems JTNP was well worth it. Gotta say, you’re a bit nuts for tackling an unfamiliar road, in the dark, at any sort of daring pace. Not that I wouldn’t do the same, assuming I was rested… night time has a funny way of making perfectly reasonable speeds seem like a riot and so much faster than when you can see down the road…

    Digging the rally livery, you’ve done well.

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