About two hours away from our home base of San Diego lies an expanse of cacti, sand, and yes–tumbleweeds. It was here, where the wind swirls up colorful paintings with billowing sand, that Michael uncovered his fascination with the cactus. An interesting discovery, considering he spent most of his life in southern California, where there is no shortage of these funky-looking plants. On the other side of the spectrum, I freely admit that I have no great love for the desert; my heart is instead drawn to the cool shade of lush forests. However, I found an eerie, quiet beauty in the vast openness of Joshua Tree. Something about national parks seems to transport one into another dimension.
One of the smallest of the national parks, Joshua Tree is nevertheless a wilderness where two distinct ecosystems marry together to form a natural, rugged landscape. Towering rock formations are interspersed throughout the park, inviting the inner adventurer to a rock-climber’s playground. I spent the day reliving my childhood, leaping from rock to rock [even as Michael shouted at me to be more careful from below]. Despite the crowds, we found some pockets of space where not a sound was to be heard, leaving us to ponder over our own existence. As the sun began to set behind the clouds’ vibrant art display, the cholla cacti we ended our visit with glowed beneath its golden rays.