InterroLoop: Day 19 – Joshua Tree National Park

I had come to terms with the fact that I somehow managed to lose my MiFi despite having only covered open road and staying at a single person’s house since its loss.  I was prepared to drive to Irvine, California to get a cheap replacement but found out the store in question didn’t actually exist, instead only shipping stuff.  I cried at having to pay $40 for overnight shipping on a $130 device but swallowed my pride and hit “buy it now”.  On a lark I checked Craiglist… who had the item for $100 from a local person not 2 miles from host’s house.  I was able to get a refund for the purchased one with my sob story of internet withdrawal on my cross country journey.

My next task was to get an oil change which is normally done at the Robinson Compound Garage.  I went to Jiffy lube which the previous owner had also used and the attendant seemed to be under the impression that the car hadn’t an oil change since 2006 and 55 thousand miles ago regardless of the number of times I told him it’d switched owners.  After a stop at Wal-Mart for a lung-saving rechargeable air pump I left for Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree is a rather new national park having only been opened in 1994.  Getting there involves yet more travel westward on I-10 and despite being a national park there is a mere 1 sign indicating its location.  When I turned off the main road towards the park, at first it appeared that nothing had changed, but as I got deeper and deeper into the park everything got bigger.  The yuccas, agave, and other brush species grew to well above human height and in areas began encroaching on the road like their habitat had been rudely interrupted with road while they were sleeping.  Rather than the mountains being a perpetually “over there” thing their bases were now feet from the road.  The campsites looked like desert sound stages with almost too fine sand, well placed sitting rocks, a place for a fire and almost natural paths that resulted from the poison put out by creosote bushes to prevent encroachment.

The night was much clearer than I’d encountered yet and ring of mountains around the camping area was enough to crowd out enough light to see actual stars.  Acadia and Great Smoky Mountains had more spectacular views but it was nice to have my optical pallette cleansed after so much time in Tucson. For instance, the two pictures below were illuminated at night by two different sources:


Illuminated by car headlights


Illuminated BY THE MOON! (long exposure)

You’d never be able to get the second shot without the sky being white or ringed because of waste light from cities.

Driving up to the 4000 feet elevation of the campsite cut through the 84 degree heat of the surrounding area and settled to a comfortable 56 degrees allowing me to practice some basic photography on the moon.  Ages ago I heard a podcast with advice on taking pictures of the moon but I could never remember what the recommendations were and got this:


Moon, normal exposure

After some messing around I came to the conclusion that to get the moon one had to underexpose for the moon by four or more stops.


All my kingdom for a longer lens.

I had no interest in staying on the sandy waste of the actual site and setup my tent on the asphalt.  I hope death valley is as nice.