Oh the adventures of Joshua Tree. So I left you pre Saturday afternoon nap. The nap went a little wrong in that it was meant to be 40 minutes. The plan was to head to well known haunt Pappy’s and Harriet’s for about 5.30pm; we woke at 6.15pm, three and a half hours later. Being later than planned as we dived into the car I heard an unusual statement as Megan sat on her keys ‘shit, I’m afraid my mace may go off in my pocket’. Always a risk.
We arrived at Pappy & Harriet’s having missed the first band and just ahead of the 9pm band kick off. We were put onto the ‘no guarantees’ list for food as they were so busy they couldn’t guarantee to seat us before the kitchen closed at 9.30pm. This was very worrying indeed but we were there so we grabbed a drink and made friends with a lovely Bull Terrier called Luna who was on the hunt for some steak herself.
At 9.10pm we went to check on the likelihood of food. Some searching around and whispered discussions and we were away. To the best seats in the house! We ended up on a table right next to the stage. The meat at Pappy & Harriet’s is amazing – cooked outside on a large BBQ – it did not dissapoint and neither did the band.
Jesse Dayton is a fantastic story teller which I’m assured is key to a great country musician and it certainly made the evening fun. He was funny, lively and had a string of fans old, young and all in between. It was clear that one young female fan would spend her life chasing musicians by seeing her insane glee at watching him play. I myself felt rather special to have a couple of sections of song played directly to me too – I may be aging but still got it.
Waking the next day we were ready to hit the hikes of Joshua Tree. It was a leisurely start with breakfast followed by a coffee at our new favourite place The Station, next to our Motel. Amusingly at the gas station where we were buying sustenance for our hike they were also talking about The Station, notably the giant cowboy out the front and specifically what the cowboy had in his hands today. A couple of weeks earlier in the middle of the night some unknown pranksters had placed in the hands of the said 15-20ft tall Cowboy, a extremely large replica of a gentleman’s private areas, fuzz and all. This caused quite the outrage in the town and the owners swiftly removed it from public display. The conversation in the garage was one of calm applause at the ding dings replacement with an American flag.
Onward from here into the park and our first port of call Mount Ryan for 360 degree views of the park. A steep ascent with no cover from sun they said. 2.8 miles to the summit and 2-3 hrs hiking they said. I give you 1.5hrs including rest stops. Animals! Very sweaty and heavily sun-screened animals, but hiking animals non the less! On arrival back at the base Megan needed the restroom (toilet – fear not Brits I have not forgotten my roots). Our experience of national park toilets is largely an image of me wretching and vomiting and resorting to wild pee’ing. So I told Megan I would be upwind of the restrooms wishing her well – God Speed and indeed may the force be with you and get you out of there swiftly. Thankfully it turns out Joshua Tree ablutions are far cleaner than those of the San Gabriel mountains – I even successfully used some myself later in the day! Enough of that old shit though.
Our next stop was the Barker Dam and the Wall Street Mill. The hint around the dam is that there is water which of course brings lush plant and animal life. Along the way we also saw old Pictographs from original locals who lived on the land. It’s so amazing to think how many feet have walked this land and scary to think of the respect with which they lived on the earth compared to us all in the modern day. I digress slightly to note that I become more and more conscious of this and the need for each of us to do a little better – every little really will count over the expanse of time. Cut the plastic is my current focus. Water friendly cleaning products and home recycling is an established routine.
Walking the loop of the dam we saw plenty of lizard life and blooming cacti. It was supremely peaceful and the warm sandy color of the large surrounding rock formations gave them a comforting rather than a foreboding feel. The clarity of the green plants, their bright pink flowers, the soft yellow rocks and the crystal blue skies were truly a treat for the eyes.
Returning from the Dam we headed off to the Mill. The mill along with the Dam was the property of Bill Keys a phenomenal business man. Bill started off working a local ranch unpaid for 5 years before eventually owning that and amassing much more land and many more business ventures. In 1943 however, he was sent to jail for the murder of former Deputy Worth Bagley. The trial it’s argued was a bit of a mockery since Bagley had allegedly ambushed Keys, yet interested parties for whom Keys being out the way would be beneficial were notably involved in ensuring that result. Despite this Bill himself had accrued many friends and after 5 years he was out. He completed the dam and you can still today see the imprint in the dam of his and his families names from when they built it. Keys also made a plaque to commemorate the site of his shoot out with Bagley but sadly that is currently being refurbished following vandalism. Idiots.
On the Mill walk we saw lots of rabbits and a monster hare too. It was amazing to watch them all but I couldn’t help wondering with all the food running around where the predators were… luckily I was distracted by the realization it was still super hot and I remembered I’m English and super white skinned; it was therefore necessary to adopt good old English facial skin protections measures. Yes, the sunglasses and hat were not enough – it was time for the sweater to be draped over the hat creating a contemporary styled bonnet. Hot. By which I refer solely to the temperature – no one would have been singing to me looking like that.
It was soon time to head back. Not before a gymnastics off between Megan and a random couple we passed. Megan received 10’s all around for her handstand in the road and I like Lord Snowdon captured the perfect shot. I noted to Megan in praise of myself ‘lest nothing be said about me upon my gravestone other than I was a great goat whisperer and handstand photographer’.
As we moved on the sun was low in the sky. I was luckily shaded with my various covers and my hat held directly in front of me to break the sun, yet it occurred to me Megan is driving and I should assist her. I moved my hat to shade her from the sun. ‘Do you want this, does it help?’ I offered, ‘nah I’m good’ said Megan. ‘I suppose having a solid object placed in your direct line of sight whilst driving a car defeats the benefits it may offer in sun protection’ I noted and we drove safely on.
Leaving the park we were aware we hadn’t ate much for the amount of walking done. Hunger was at Hippo scale 11 and therefore food was a priority. We ventured to the highly recommended Joshua Tree Saloon. We had good cocktails, good food and a live band. The night was good and we were ready for bed. Then two random dudes wanted to talk to us. It became apparent they were actually looking for accommodation and perhaps wives and children. Thankfully we swiftly put them off with our modern independent woman ways and as the Stepford Wives left the room in their heads so thankfully did they. Sadly we immediately found ourselves offering marital advice to a young gent, who was undoubtedly very sweet and kind but was over staying the welcome so to speak. Megan felt he offered us get out clauses we should have used, by saying a few times ‘if you guys want to go, if I’m imposing and holding you up just say’. Get out clause? Get out clause indeed. ‘That was mental warfare with a British person’ I noted. By saying that it pretty much obliged me to say ‘of course not, not at all carry on’.
In simple terms the latter part of the evening was like eating a giant cake that simply wasn’t worth the calories. It’s just instead of adding calories it reduced hours sleep. Both inflict painful realities.
The drive back the next morning was painful. I admire and thank Megan for driving – staying awake was tough. Really tough. The weekend however was 10/10.