Thursday, April 6, 2017

Desert Faces and Flowers

So after yesterday's hike we decided to head in another direction today.  And this one took us toward rocks that look like various faces, whilst passing lots more flowers, among other things.

Skull Rock, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Face Rock, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Tiki Head or Easter Island?, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Geologic Time Line, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Amazing how some of those rocks really do look like faces, or perhaps a better explanation is how much our minds find shapes and ascribe meaning to them.  Good ol' evolution ;-)

On another outing, we came across quite a few more desert plants and flowers.  Amazing how much diverse life there is in the desert.

Sand Wasp?, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Colorful Cacti, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Pin Cushion for Carol?, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I Heart You (Beavertail Cactus), Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Flowering Yucca, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]



Another Bloomin' Yucca!, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

As the sun was setting, we noticed what appeared to be some musicians perched on some rocks, and then made ourselves dinner ("we" as in Carol ;-).  This was followed the next day by a very healthy breakfast as we departed this great (and large) National Park.


Jammin' at Sunset, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

That's a Wrap!, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Looks Yummy!, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo  to enlarge]

Morning Bowl O' Health, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]
Joshua Trees frame San Gorgonio Mountain, Departing Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I think I posted these recipes before, but I like these pictures, so just in case you haven't seen it but wanted to, here are the recipes:

Carol's Chickpea-Artichoke Spread (Vegan)
2 cans (15 oz) garbanzo beans (drained and mashed)
1 can (15 oz) artichoke hearts in water (drained and diced)
1 cup chopped sweet peppers
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped scallions (or diced onion, or dried onion)
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 TBS dried parsley
1/2 cup Vegannaise

Mix together and chill. Makes 8 servings (wraps). Roll up in a tortilla with sliced cucumber, sliced tomato, greens (optional), and sliced avocado (optional).

Carol's Bowl O' Health Oatmeal (Vegan)

We make up a large batch of oats and then reheat each morning. Boil 8 cups water, add 2 cups steel cut oats, turn down to low boil and stir occasionally. Should be creamy after 30 minutes. Then turn heat off, re-cover pot, and let sit for 5-10 minutes.

For each serving (~1/2 cup oats), add:
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
- 1 Tbsp raw shelled hemp seed
- 2 Tbsp raisins
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- and add 1/4 cup Almond milk if reheating (in a pot or microwave) the following day

(Note: we have grown accustomed to this level of turmeric -- you may use less if just starting out. But turmeric is a miracle spice, so it's worth having as much as possible.)

To the warm oatmeal mixture, add fresh berries (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries), if available, or if not, add brown sugar to taste. A banana is also good. Then add more almond milk to get your desired consistency.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Jumbo Rocks and More

So after a couple of nights in the Cottonwood Campground, we decided to head back north somewhat early in the morning, with hopes of finding a campsite in the Jumbo Rocks Campground.  Turns out there was no problem at that early hour (yeah!).

And boy, there are indeed some Jumbo Rocks around this area.  I guess formed from what were plateaus made of stones with different hardness, and after eons of erosion, left behind these interesting rock shapes and sizes.

We Found a Spot, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Conehead Teepee Rock, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Front and Back Doors, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Hanging Out, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Tame Ground Squirrel, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

After checking out the campground, we wanted to take a hike.  But we didn't really see any trails, and this place just looked so explorable, so explore we did.   The hike ended up being a bit longer than expected (what?  we did not get lost ;-).  But it was really cool making our own paths and doing the occasional rock scramble.


Rocks and Con Trails, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Rock Around Thistle Dew Too, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Could That Be "Rocky"? (sorry ;-) , Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Flying High, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Queen of the Rocks, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

We Were Way Up There, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Joshua Trees and Clouds, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

We'll finish up the hikes from this campground, and some yummy meals, in the next post.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Mastodon Trail and the Super Bloom!

This southern part of Joshua Tree National Park is not as well known as the northern portion.  And there really aren't any Joshua Trees down here.  So we felt a bit relegated to the hinterlands, at least, until we took one of the hikes out of the Cottonwood Campground.

The Mastodon Trail is a loop trail, which also includes a visit to a former gold mine, Mastodon Peak, and also happened to include a good number of blooming plants and lizards.  It was a wonderful and visually spectacular hike.  Have a look:

The Force is Strong, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Canterbury Bells, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

The Force is Strong with This One Too, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Flowering Beavertail Cactus, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Dwarfed by the Rocks, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

As we turned the corner from Mastodon Peak and headed back in the direction of the campground, we noticed not one, but eventually, three lizards sunning (sounds like part of a Christmas song ;-).

Side-Blotched Lizard, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Juvenile Chuckwalla, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Adult Chuckwalla, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Heading back to the Cottonwood Campground, we saw more beautiful desert flowers.  I guess we were getting the benefit of this year's desert super bloom!


Desert Dandelion, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Sand Blazing Star, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

A Rose between Ocotillo, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Mojave Aster, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Notchleaf Phacelia, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

After we arrived back at our campsite, we relaxed and then settled down for one of Carol's yummy Vegan Patty Melts, adapted from the carnivore favorite we found at The Shack in Hawaii.    The vegan recipe follows:


Vegan Patty Melts, Mastodon Trail, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Carol's Vegan Patty Melt Recipe (4 servings):

(Note:  we use Crispy Scott Jurek Burgers, and that recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.)

1 large sweet onion (thinly sliced)
8 oz (small box) of crimini mushrooms (thinly sliced)
Saute onions slowly until carmelized (we use water only, as needed)
Add mushrooms and sauce until browned, and set aside

Next make sauce:
1/4 cup Vegannaise
1/4 cup Grey Poupon or Stoneground mustard
1/4 cup diced Dill pickles (remove excess moisture)
Dash of Cayenne pepper
Mix all together and set aside

Toast 8 slices Dave's Killer 21-Whole Grain Bread
Defrost (first) and then heat 4 Crispy Scott Jurek Burgers on griddle
Once hot, add one slice of "Follow Your Heart" American-Style vegan "cheese" to each patty

Divide sauce evenly and spread on 4 slices of toast
Place hot "cheese" burger patty on each slice of toast with sauce
Divide and spoon sautéed mushrooms and onions on top of each "cheese" burger
Top with other slide of toast

Place on griddle, and cover with cutting board with some weight and heat the patty melt on low
Flip once desired brownness occurs (check after 2-3 minutes), and repeat on second side
(Note: our griddle is "seasoned" so we do not need any Earth Balance spread, but a small amount may be needed if your griddle is not yet non-stick.)

Remove from griddle when browned and cut in half, and serve with potato wedges or side dish or salad of your choice.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

Yet Another Change of Plans

We said goodbye to my sister and brother-in-law, with a plan to head back to Sedona (since it had rained the last time we drove through).  But the more we thought about it -- weekend during Spring Break -- we thought it would be very crowded, and we wanted a more serene experience.

So we decided to put that off for either our return trip (if we go south) or future RV adventure (if we are too far north on the way home).  We also need to revisit the South Rim, and those can be done together.

Instead we headed west, toward Joshua Tree National Park, and stopped at a quick boondocking spot on the way there, and enjoyed a nice sunset.

Basking in the Light, Bouse-Plomosa BLM, GPS: 33.85413 -114.03947, Bouse, AZ, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Sunset Behind Tree, House-Plomosa BLM, GPS: 33.85413 -114.03947, Bouse, AZ, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Saguaro Sunset, House-Plomosa BLM, GPS: 33.85413 -114.03947, Bouse, AZ, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Over the Hill, House-Plomosa BLM, GPS: 33.85413 -114.03947, Bouse, AZ, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Sunset Reflection, House-Plomosa BLM, GPS: 33.85413 -114.03947, Bouse, AZ, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Continuing on to California, we stopped to restock the RV, and I noticed this tire cover on the back of a jeep.  This is just how I look after not showering or shaving for 3 days, but somehow I just keep smiling.  And then onward to Joshua Tree National Park (northeast entrance).


Who Needs a Shave?, Walmart Parking Lot, Parker, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Long Drive to Joshua Tree, RT 62, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Kinetic Art, Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


It turns out the campgrounds in that section of the park were already full, or so the signs stated, as we arrived pretty late in the afternoon.  So we were advised that our best chance would be to head south to Cottonwood Campground.  Thankfully they had a few spots still available.


Found a Spot, Cottonwood Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Lady Bug on Cactus, Cottonwood Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


Beautiful Sky, Cottonwood Campground, Joshua Tree National Park, CA, April 2017 © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


We liked it here, and ended up spending two nights in this campground.  We also had a great hike while there, which we'll cover in the next post.