We have decided on a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to this trip. You are supposed to book all the national park campgrounds we are planning on staying in months in advance, but we a) were not organised enough and b) we couldn’t be sure where we’d want to be and how long we’d want to spend in each place.
And we were very glad we’d played it by ear last Sunday because M had a fever and was quite sorry for herself. If we had pre-planned everything, we would have found ourselves at Legoland in the rain with a feverish little person.
She rallied, and we went to Legoland the next day, which was as good as you could possibly imagine. If they had had lego when Enid Blyton wrote The Magic Faraway Tree, she would definitely have invented Legoland – it’s as vivid and magical as the Land of Goodies.
I think we pushed it a bit too far by squeezing in the water park as well. It was only 18 degrees and so after the helter-skelter-double-whizzy-something slide, M’s lips were blue and her teeth were chattering so we quickly called it a day.
The next day we left the coast for Joshua Tree National Park, and experienced the lows that come with our “flexible” approach to pre-planning. It was 5pm by the time we reached the park and we had no idea where we were going to stay (I am at a loss to explain how it took 7 hours to travel a distance that Google Maps told us was 2 hours 38 mins – I think traveling with kids in an RV requires an altogether different measure of time.)
All the campgrounds were full when I called them on the phone so I spent some time Googling “Can you park your RV and stay the night anywhere?” but after finding dire warnings about safety, we instead drove mournfully around the most stunning campgrounds looking on jealously at all the happy campers lighting their campfires and having a cold beer watching the sunset.
Eventually, I asked a woman how they got their campground, expecting her to say “we booked it back in November of course, you disorganised fool” but she said that they had dropped by the ranger station an hour earlier and even though it was closed, there was a list on the door showing available campgrounds. You have never seen an RV drive so fast, and within 30 mins we were fully ensconced in a spot at Indian Cove in Joshua Tree to rival camping places on a global scale:
Once again playing it by ear paid off.
The next day, we hit another low as we took a little detour via an underwhelming medical centre after poor M took at turn for the worse. A doctor with the bedside manner of a mechanic diagnosed tonsillitis and a 10-day course of antibiotics.
The rest of the park was mostly seen from the van as a result. Mr Hotford and A did go on a mile-long trail while M and I lay in the van and stared at the ceiling. I must confess I rather enjoyed the break.
Joshua Tree is incredible. The thing I liked the most (after the cooked brekkie on the campfire) was the diversity of plant life. I have never been into botany, but cacti are something else. When you see one in flower, you feel very lucky and the colour contrast is unreal.
Antibiotics are a modern miracle. Within 24 hours, M was back to herself and we were able to hit Route 66 the next day. At first it’s just miles and miles of nothing until you get to this bit as kitsch and cute as could be:
And now we are at the Grand Canyon, which is really very grand. Once again we took our chances on the campground and have found that full doesn’t actually mean full. I think flying by the seat of our pants is paying off.This entry was posted in Joshua Tree