Road Trip Day One
First on the agenda for day one of our road trip was picking up our camper van! We chose Escape campers (who I will be reviewing in another post). They’re located close to the airport but we weren’t organised enough to realise this was two bus rides from Hollywood…with all our luggage. Oh well! Typically you pick your camper up at 11 am but that’s a pretty late start to the day. We organised to pick it up at 10 but if you can manage to get it earlier than that I’d recommend it. Once you get there you’ll have some things to go through and you don’t want to waste half of your first day.
After picking our camper we got on the road! In true road trip fashion we got lost almost immediately (thanks google maps!) and so the familiar stress of travelling had already begun! But once we’d gotten on the right freeway there was no stopping us! Here we had our first taste of the beautiful California scenery. The mountainous terrain and the desert sands clashed wonderfully and already I knew California was going to be one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen. First stop on the trip was Palm Springs, the desert retreat of celebrities and millionaires. At just a two hour drive from Los Angeles this place was the perfect stop for lunch. The streets of Palm Springs are lined with palm trees and full of boutique stores and cute eateries. We walked around for a while enjoying the beautiful warm weather and the chance to stretch our legs. It’s obvious why so many people holiday here! We ate at Gyoro Gyoro. Truthfully from a distance we thought it was a Greek restaurant but it is actually Japanese. The lunch specials here were really decently priced and they have a bottomless sake for cheap too! I had a lychee sakitini which was delicious and we both had very good noodle dishes. There were definitely more interesting places around but Gyoro Gyoro was a great budget friendly option. Afterwards we went to Great Shakes. I had seen on trip advisor that this was the number one place to eat in Palm Springs. They make seriously beautiful milk shakes with little doughnuts on top. Ours even had fresh banana slices on top of whipped cream! If they had somewhere like this near me I would probably be there much too often! Prices range from $5.50 to $7.50. As you exit the town keep an eye out for the expensive car dealerships and huge mansions!
After Palm Springs we were off to Joshua Tree National Park! We had booked in to Black Rock campground as it is one of only two reservation camps at the park and we wanted to make sure we had at least our first night of the road trip booked. Honestly though, if I were to stay again I would pick somewhere more centrally located in the park such as Jumbo Rocks Campground. Joshua Tree is only an hour from Palm Springs but we took our time and stopped for groceries so by the time we arrived it was already dark. We made some campfire beans, had some drinks and settled in to our first night of camping!
On day two we got up early, made breakfast and headed into the park. We stopped at the visitors centre to buy a national park pass as if you’re visiting any more than 4 national parks it’s cheaper to buy an annual interagency pass! This covers everyone in your car and is just $80. We also got a park map and a newspaper. Each national park has their own seasonal newspaper. Be sure to get one in each park you go to as its full of handy information about hiking trails, road closures, and the parks flora and fauna. Then it was time to explore the park! Joshua Tree is a truly beautiful national park where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet. Full of interesting rick formations and desert plant life, it’s a great introduction to California’s diverse landscape. It is hot here-we visited mid February and it was 30 degrees Celsius-so bring plenty of water especially if you will be hiking or climbing. There are so many wonderful things to explore here and the park has a surprising amount of history from mining to cattle rustling. From Key’s view you can see as far as the Salton sea and below you can see the San Andreas Fault line. You can rock climb both professionally and as an amateur. The night skies here are light pollution free and beautiful. Explore the park, enjoy the views, have a picnic lunch and then get an early night-tomorrow you drive to Las Vegas.