Saturday, October 16, 2021

"It's the Joshua Tree's struggle that gives it it's beauty." -- Jeannette Walls


Bathroom repairs!  Not a fun room to work in.  It's small, tight, and well, it's the bathroom!  Seems like it's always something.

As we head out for a day of  exploring we pack snacks and our lunch.

Who recognizes the name Gram Parsons?  My brother told me he would like to go to Joshua Tree N.P. because of Parsons' death. I didn't know who Parsons was so I had to do a little research.  He was a member of The Byrds ("Turn, Turn, Turn," and "Mr. Tamberine Man" are two of my favorites) and The Flying Burrito Brothers.  He was fond of Joshua Tree N. P.,  and while staying at the Joshua Tree Inn (I guess a lot of people request room #8) died of an overdose on Sept. 18, 1973.  He was only 26.  His family was taking him back to LA for burial when a couple of Parsons' friends basically stole his body from the airport.  Doing what he had supposedly asked them to do if he ever died, they took his casket with his body inside to Cap Rock at Joshua Tree, set the casket on fire, and prepared to spread his ashes there.  

It was a fascinating story and one that made me decide, along with a lot of others over the years I guess, to visit Cap Rock.  We saw it from the summit of Ryan's Mountain on Tues. and at that time that was as close to Cap Rock as I planned to go. 

If you want to learn more, here is an article, Cosmic Vibes Abound, by Melanie D.G. Kaplan.  "Grand Theft Parsons" (2004) is a movie that also tells his story.  

This trail highlighted many plants that live in the Mojave Desert and how they survive. 

Many plants here, like Peachthorn, look dead in the fall and winter.  They have actually just gone dormant as an energy saving adaptation.

Tiny hairs on the leaves of the Desert Almond help reduce water loss by reflecting heat and sunlight. 

Galleta Grass forms clumps rather than turf reducing the surface area exposed to sun.

The Mojave Yucca depends on the Yucca moth for pollination.  The moths pollinate the flowers where they deposit their eggs.  They benefit each other.

And of course the Joshua Tree, whether alive or dead, provides shelter to various creatures.

One way Joshua Tree's reproduce is by producing offshoots from underground runners.

Looking up at the peak on Ryan's Mountain.

We walked around Cap Rock but didn't notice a concrete marker commemorating Gram Parsons (one person made it sound like there was one), and did not notice anything left by fans (people mentioned finding a cross in dirt and other items). We did see a rock climbing class in action.

Pat standing under Cap Rock.

The gold or silver ore  found in Joshua Tree was processed at Bill Keys Wall Street Mill.  From the trailhead on the gravel Queen Valley road it was a 2 mile easy walk in and out.

Joshua Tree's aren't necessarily pretty.  It was interesting that tree's nearly lying down were still alive. 

There were some old cars along the route. 

Desert Trumpet

A dispute over an access road between mill owner Bill Keys and a neighbor Worth Bagly, led to Bagly's death.  Keys served 5 years in prison before being released when it was determined the killing was in self-defense.  Eventually  Keys was fully pardoned. The entire life story of Bill Keys is very interesting.  This is a replica of the original stone.

Keys ran the mill from the 1930's-1966.  He died in 1969 and is buried at Desert Queen Ranch.  

Just down the road is the trail to the Barker Dam.  There is also a short trail connecting that trail to the Wall Street Mill Trail.  The Barker Dam trail was an easy 1 mile loop.

Parry Nolina looks kind of like a small Joshua Tree.  It doesn't grow tall though, and if there's  enough rain it bears a stalk with a white flower.  Indians would cook the stalks. 

Lots of interesting rock formations.

Barker Dam was built by cowboys to provide water for their cattle.  During the 1900's rain dropped from 10" to 2-5" today so raising cattle was no longer possible.  The dam was built in 1900 with concrete and rock and raised in 1949 by Bill Keys.  

The water disappears during the dry season.

A watering trough below the dam had water from the lake piped to it.

Cat's Claw is also called "tear-blanket" and "devil's claw."

Cat's Claw has yellow flowers and strong, curved thorns--ouch!

Unfortunately these Petroglyphs were  traced over with paint.

29 Palms RV Park

An RV toilet is different from a "real" one.  Pushing on a foot pedal causes fresh water to rush in and a flap at the base to open and let everything out.  In-between uses you keep a small out of water in the bowl to help seal the flap and prevent odors from coming back up from the black tank.  Our bowl was leaking.  The likely culprit was the flap seal.  After 3 attempts, including the replacing the seal and flap, Pat fixed it.  Each time he had to go outside and turn off the water to the entire RV because there was not a shut-off for the toilet, or anything else.  

Shortly after the fresh water supply to the toilet started to run randomly.  Remember, I said the only way to let water out of the bowl is to push the pedal down.   Water coming in, no way to get out.  That was a big problem.  We had to run on our tank as opposed to city water so we could turn the pump off inside  without having to go outside to turn the water off constantly.  No one wants to have an overflowing toilet!  While we waited for a new valve to fix that problem Pat installed a water shut-off on the toilet.    

Shut-off valve installed.

Now to replace the fresh water valve. 

Replacing the water valve. 

Where are the Piepers now? Twenty Nine Palms, CA


  1. If you get to LA be sure to stop at the Getty Museum.


    1. No LA this trip. If we want to go to Channel Islands we'll have to go back. Grand Canyon, Petrified and we're off to winte.