Joshua Tree Road Trip: A Surreal Travel Day

Static crackled and popped on the radio as we drove down the Interstate. Daniel adjusted the tuner but we couldn’t make out any sounds except for the occasional country song. The date was January 6, 2021 and we were driving across a remote section of country on a Joshua Tree road trip. Miles of desert stretched in either direction and we had no cell service. We were cut off from civilization.

A lack of Internet connectivity isn’t typically a problem since we usually listen to offline content on a travel day. In fact, we were currently working our way through the audiobook version of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

But not today. At our last rest stop, we learned that some sort of violent insurrection or attack was taking place at the United States Capitol. The details were unclear but whatever was happening, it didn’t sound good. I was worried and I wanted to know what was going on.

The beautiful desert landscape in Joshua Tree National Park is very different than the Sonoran Desert in Tucson

Goodbye Tucson, Arizona

Earlier that morning, Daniel and I bid goodbye to Tucson and packed all of our belongings into the RV. We’d been staying in Tucson over the holidays and had really enjoyed our visit there. I loved basking in the sunny weather and exploring the magnificent Sonoran Desert at Saguaro National Park and Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. There was still so much to see in the Tucson area and across the state that I was sad to leave.

But, it was time to move on.

Moving from place to place is a bit more work than it used to be. We initially planned to live in the RV full-time when we started our Great American Roadtrip. The #vanlife dream has become less realistic, however, due to the worsening pandemic. We haven’t traveled as much recently to lessen the risk of transmitting the virus.

Cohabitating in a 21-foot motorhome full-time when we’re not occupied with travel isn’t very fun. So now we primarily use the motorhome to cart our stuff from one AirBnB to the next. If the rental doesn’t have all the cooking utensils or spices that we need – no problem! We just bring in pans and knives and condiments and bedding from the RV.

By the time our monthly rental is up, we’ve typically unpacked the entire motorhome and it takes some work to pack it all back up again. But it is nice to have our own things with us as we move to new locations.

Our motorhome, Appa, in all her glory at Saguaro National Park in Tucson

An Unsettling Joshua Tree Road Trip

Our drive to Southern California started out normally enough. Although Daniel and I don’t travel as much these days, we still have our travel routines down pat. We settled in for a day of driving with our snacks and water and The Hobbit and hit the road.

When we learned about the storming of the United States Capitol Building, however, we turned off the book. That’s when we tried to follow the news on our cell phones or to find a local news station. Or any news station.

To no avail.

Several hours later, we finally found a local NPR station as we approached Palm Springs. It was then that we learned a violent mob had stormed the Capitol Building in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. The building was locked down and lawmakers were evacuated to secret locations by the Capitol Police.

Thankfully, the situation was resolved a few hours later and members of Congress returned safely to their jobs. But not before five people died (or were fatally injured) at the attack and 138 police officers sustained injuries.

Driving along Interstate 10 in Western Arizona

Welcome to Joshua Tree, California

When Daniel and I finally arrived in Joshua Tree, we were exhausted. I was simultaneously horrified at what had transpired at our nation’s capitol and profoundly relieved that it hadn’t been worse. It was hard to know what to feel. We were glad to finally be on the West Coast, however, and in familiar territory.

Daniel and I plan to stay put for a while and hang out near Joshua Tree National Park for two months. I am looking forward to doing some hiking. Lots of hiking. So stay tuned for lots of posts about this magnificent National Park as I have lots to say about that…

Sunsets are gorgeous in Joshua Tree. This photo was taken from the neighboring town of Yucca Valley.
Another photo of the same sunset taken a few minutes later.

Where are we now?

We are in Joshua Tree National Park! But wait… who’s that sitting next to Appa?

Dates: January 6 2021-present
Great American Road Trip Status: Days 186-present
Location: Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree, CA
Total Trip Mileage: 10,360.1

For more details on our Great America (Socially Distanced) Road Trip, see my previous posts:

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