Holiday Road Trip 2010

But we haven’t seen any caution snakes yet.

Mike and I decided to blow our Christmas present money this year on a 3-week road trip through southern Nevada and California.

He has a break from graduate school, and technology lets us both do our work remotely. We loaded up Van with climbing gear, food, beer laptops and Prosecco, and headed first to the Alabama Hills, located south of Bishop in Lone Pine.

Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills at dawn, Lone Pine, CA

If you’ve seen classic Westerns, you’ve seen the Alabama Hills; Joshua Tree National Park-like granitic formations lying at the base of the highest peaks in the Sierra Nevada, including Mt. Whitney, Keeler Needle, and others. The climbing is similar — mostly bolted face climbs on pretty good rock. We saw hardly anyone, the weather was warm and windless and we heard hooting owls in the rocks in the evenings under a clear, starry sky.

Camping in style in the Four Season Ford, Alabama Hills.

joshua tree national park

Mike climbs a tricky seam at Stirrup Tank, Joshua Tree.

A couple days later we headed for Twentynine Palms, CA to visit Bill Vecchiarelli, who lives in a cute little house just outside the Park. Climbing, visiting, drinking good tequila, and soaking in his backyard hot tub were on the agenda for the next few days.We had a couple of days of calm and warm-for-Joshua-Tree weather before the more typical cold winds moved in ahead of a massive storm system heading in off the Pacific. In the meantime, some good routes were done and much fun was had.

indio and coachella valley

A rare wet spot in an arid land: California fan palms (Washingtonia filifera) at Thousand Palms Oasis, Coachella Valley Preserve.
 

Calico hedgehog cactus.

Next, we headed to the south side of the park to visit Mike’s parents, who live in Indio. The storm system loomed closer but we managed to get in a couple of nice walks in Coachella Valley Preserve and in the south end of the park. And, we made a traditional visit to Rincon Norteno, the best Mexican restaurant in Indio. They hadChristmas tamales on the menu and of course I had some!

 

Mike's parents on a remnant of an old (ca. 1880) mining road to Cottonwood Spring, Joshua Tree National Park.
Another lush spot in a Joshua Tree wash.

plan b: arizona

The next phase of trip was going to be a short backpack and float in the Chemehuevi Range and Colorado River south of Needles, but the storm off the coast continues to throw lots of moisture at southern California. It is dumping feet of snow in the Sierra. We are headed to Arizona to find the sun and climb at Cochise Stronghold south of Tucson. Stay tuned …

2 thoughts on “Holiday Road Trip 2010

  1. Great pictures, as usual. We’ve been watching the weather out there and it sure looks like California is going to get continually blasted for the next week or so with storm after storm. Hope you outrun the bad weather going to Arizona, but we see some rain in the Phoenix area as well.

    Enjoy your Christmas sojourn–we’ll be thinking of you and Mike.

    Love Mom and Dad

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