Two Nights in Joshua Tree National Park

Monday, Jan 19, 2015 Quartzsite/Bouse area

This camp near Bouse may be the most remote camp we’ve ever had. (33.84N; 114.04W; elev 1240) Although no other boondocker was visible from camp, if I walked a little ways away I could see two other rigs about a half mile away. And we were far enough from the highway that it wasn’t an issue either. Hard to believe we’re only 10 miles or so away from the Q-hubbub just down the road.

The Arizona desert may be one of the warmest places in the USA during January but it can still be cold, especially at night. Dry air means temps drop rapidly after sunset. And by morning, low 40s or even 30s are common. But we’re bundled up inside the little camper, not bothered that the inside of the fridge, the inside air temp, and the outside temp are all about the same. We prefer to not run the furnace after we’re in our sleeping bags - less noise, less drain on battery, and unnecessary with good sleeping bags - but come morning heat from any source is greatly appreciated.

Which brings up another little problem I’ve found this trip. When the ambient air outside and inside the camper is about the same as the setting on the refrigerator, the refrigerator doesn’t run much… or, at all. I mean… it’s set for same temp we're at so why would it run? While that’s not a problem for items in the fridge compartment, my few meager ice cubes (used to chill down my Dr. Daniels Amber Restorative) in the freezer get a little soft and runny at times.

And one more issue becoming evident is that our 100 watt solar panel can’t keep up with our meager power demands. The fridge pulls 4 or 5 amps (while running) and the furnace blower pulls even more. During a typical January day and night we could, between just those two items, use somewhere around 40 or 60 amp/hours. The solar panel might replace half that during a sunny January Arizona day… but after two days, we’re sucking pond-water in the battery department. Unless we drive some distance (truck’s alternator does recharge the battery too), we’re finding two days is about it. We’re discussing a solution to this issue and will have more info in a future post. Hmmm… more solar? a generator? a Mr. Fusion unit?


First thing on the agenda today was a visit to the famous and very mysterious TD Intaglio. Not known by many folks, we stumbled on it during a walk in the desert 4 or 5 years ago. Every couple years we make the pilgrimage out to it… to pay our respects and hum chants to the gods. Not sure who, why, or what, or how old it really is. We’ve sensed a distinct aura of some far greater power that surrounds the area -- like it knows we’re coming. Very mysterious indeed.

With the help of my trusty hiking GPS, we found it once again. As photos show, it’s holding up rather well I’d say. There is a link on our “links” page to an aerial view where it’s visible if you look closely.

Next up was a not-so-quick transit of Quartzsite, (the traffic is ugly during show week) then up and onto busy I-10 toward CA. Destination: Joshua Tree NP, a couple hours to the west. We’ve been to Joshua Tree with the bushouse a few years ago, but wanted to camp in a couple of their more interesting “big-rig-inappropriate” campgrounds. The drive was uneventful, albeit a long one. We chose to take CA-177 up around the east side of the park and CA-62 across the top to Twenty Nine Palms. After a little orientation at the visitor center we headed for Indian Cove CG. It was now getting on toward late afternoon. Time to get settled for the night. Look closely at the photo. Our camper is down there, among the rocks, somewhere.

Indian Cove CG at Joshua Tree NP

Tuesday, Jan 20 Joshua Tree NP.

We’re ready for a hike today. The recommended walk to 49 Palms Oasis seemed to fit the bill as it was close, rated moderately strenuous, and 3 or 4 miles r/t. Joshua Tree is in a geologically active area. The shaking ground is moving, settling, cracking, and uplifting all the time. At a number of places around the park all this activity has created steady flows of open water that provide the right conditions for palms to grow. A classic oasis. The walk back to this one involved hiking over a ridge and down the other side to the oasis. A very agreeable way to spend a winter morning.

I’m usually surprised by the number of people visiting National Parks. Let’s see, it’s a Tuesday, a little on the cold side, and some of the campgrounds are full. We did find a site at White Tank CG and snagged it immediately. This campground has a 25’ camper/vehicle restriction… so it fit us to a “T”. Another quiet night among the rocks.


Slightly Better than Most