Joshua Tree: City Girl Camping
#TBT to that time Whitney and I went camping and failed on so many levels, but won because we did it together. This is a story of dreams not coming true in the way you initially pictured them, but having fun anyways.
When Whitney last visited Los Angeles, and we were thinking about things to do that she hasn't done before, we ultimately decided it would be the best idea for us to go camping.
Let me preface:
I had this desire to be more "nature-y." In general, I fantasize about being the type of person who goes out into the wilderness on a whim and just sets up a tent, builds a fire, doesn't have any cell service around, and sees some stars. As if I'm some wilderness woman over here who doesn't freak out by an ant inside a tent or gets picky about the design of a hotel room.
But sometimes I get these crazy notions. And sometimes my friends are all for it.
That's why Whit's the best. Not only did she want to go camping too, she was willing to go to a campsite that didn't even have a bathroom.
I mean, we're talking no amenities here.
She was as excited about the prospects of this adventure as much as I was! This may not be a challenge to some, but for me – and for Whit – every time we've gone camping (which is already pretty minimal) we've gone with someone who knows camping and gets the fire all set because they've done some Eagle Scout passage or whatever leaving us not to have to worry about those things.
So over some holiday weekend, I got camping supplies from my generous neighbor/second family (who used to take me camping when I was lots younger and taught me how to even go to the bathroom in the wilderness), left Los Angeles for Palm Springs, walked around the area, got some food, and then proceeded to our primary camping adventure at Joshua Tree National Park (which I previously wrote about).
First lesson: Make a reservation. Especially on a holiday weekend.
For some lack of common sense, I figured that since we were planning on getting there around 3 or 4pm, that people wouldn't be off work yet, and there'd be open campgrounds. There were not. In fact, all campsites were taken by 9 that morning. So we didn't really have a chance.
Also, in my defense, Whitney and I were planning on "extreme camping" (meaning the no-toilet thing), and the place we really wanted (Jumbo Rocks) did not accept reservations. Most of the campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis. But there are some you can reserve here. Or I guess you could go backcountry camping. Since the sun was already setting – and, let's be real, that would be like XXX camping for us – we opted out of that.
Second lesson: Remember the tent.
Because we didn't make the extreme campsite, we were directed to another place close-by called the Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground. It had a bathroom. But at that point, we needed it and it was almost dark so we really weren't super bummed.
We chose a spot and started unloading the car. Tent set-up first, then fire, then s'mores. That was the plan. Until I realized that the tent was not in the trunk.
I called my mom (there was cell phone service – something you don't get in the wild of Joshua Tree National Park) and sure enough, it was still sitting on the dining room table. So we slept in the car. #winning amiright?
Third lesson: Learn how to start a real fire.
We bought some of those Duraflame logs knowing that we didn't have the necessary skills or tools to light a real fire. I felt kind of fake about it after being advised that that was sort of a camping cop-out. But heat is necessary. The chemicals that come from that though? Questionable.
Fourth lesson: Bring some s'more sticks.
Honestly, this might be the most down-to-earth wild camping moment we had. When we realized we didn't have anything to skewer the marshmallows on, we grabbed some sticks from one of the rare bushes around us (it was mostly dirt) and started our s'more making process.
Of course we remembered all the s'mores ingredients – that's most important for camping, right?
After admiring the stars for awhile, and talking about deep things (maybe), we started getting chilly. Our fire was slowly burning out. And we decided it was time to get in the car and get some sleep.
Because there was service, and because I was in the midst of watching the Friends television series, we decided we might as well watch some episodes. Since we could and all. It was actually a pretty sweet set-up. Not exactly how I pictured the whole camping in nature thing, but it was still excellent in it's own way.
City girl camping at it's finest everyone. At. It's. Finest.
At sunrise, we got up to go to the national park and tried to catch the first rays of the day coming up over the rocks. The sun rose quite a bit by the time we found a spot to enjoy it. We ventured to the rocks and started climbing.
I actually really love Joshua Tree. Especially the trees – they're so whimsical to me. We drove through the entire route of the park, and got to stop at the Cholla Cactus Garden – which kind of became my favorite part. The ombre of color on the cacti and the texture that makes it look sort of soft (misleading) is beautiful.
Maybe I'm not the type of girl who just sets up a tent in the middle of nowhere yet but I'm on my way. And I believe sleeping in a car because there are little to no other options has it's own credential of spontaneity.