We are going back to the desert. This time the destination is Arizona. First stop is Joshua Tree National Park. We leave the Bay Area in pouring rain (monsoon?) and drive I-5 through North LA into the Mojave Desert. As we get to the visitor center at Joshua Tree, we see that the campsites inside the park are full but there is an overflow camping area. So we head towards that and arrive in a huge open area. We are definitely in the desert. There is a very nasty wind and we almost lose the tents a couple of times but it is lots of fun.


It has probably not rained in a while.


After setting up camp, we grab a bite. We hide behind the car from the wind.


We barely sleep that night because of the wind and we get up early in the morning. It’s a beautiful day.


After packing up, we drive to Joshua Tree and arrive in the Jumbo Rocks campground. We are greeted by lots of birds. This one is a Gamble’s Quail. This bird is rarely seen in flight and usually just walks and hops around.


The campground is beautiful as we are in the middle of these giant rocks. This is a view from our camp spot.


After setting up camp, we decide to go for a hike.


On our walk, we spot these little guys enjoying the sun.


We see lots and lots of different plants and flowers. The desert is definitely not empty.


These are the famous Joshua Trees.


Rocks here come in every shape and form.


This one looks a lot like an elephant seal, no?


Later in the day, we decide to do a few hikes. We hike to Barker Dam or Big Horn Dan which was built in 1900 by ranchers for their sheep. It is not in use anymore but it is a gathering place for desert wildlife.


Not very far away from the Dam, you can see Petroglyphs left there the walls of the rocks by native americans.


We do another hike and go see an abandoned mine. On the way, we see all sorts of weird things.


There are a couple of cars around the mine, it seems that whoever last left the mine, went in a hurry.


The mine structure.


This is the detail of a car engine.


Back to the camp, we settle down and enjoy the warm colors of the sunset.


A camp fire is the best thing in the world after a long day of hiking.


The next day, we pack up and head further south into the park. We reach the Cholla Cactus garden. It is an area completely covered with another type of cactus very common in the park.


Some of the Chollas are in flower.


Leaving the park now, we do the obligatory silly picture.


We drive for about 4 hours East and cross into Arizona. We go around Phoenix and head north for about 50 miles and arrive in a very special place called Arcosanti. This place was created in the 1970s by an italian architect called Paolo Soleri and is meant to be an experiment in urban planning. It is the opposite of urban sprawl: the idea is to create a super efficient community of 5000 people called an Arcology. While the goal has not been reached yet, it is a super cool place to visit and learn about more efficient architecture.


Watching the sunset.


After a long day, we relax by playing games. Right here is the game of Carcassonne.


The next day we go visit Taliesin West, a museum and architecture school founded by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Bathroom designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


After Taliesen West, we went to visit a church also designed by Wright.


Next stop, the Biltmore Hotel and Resort.


Back to Arcosanti.


The common area of Arcosanti where groups gather, food is served.


This is how the Arcosanti bells are created.


There are a lots of different workshops, this one below is the pottery workshop.


After we leave Arcosanti, we head to Sedona to do a hike. It’s about 1 hour north of Arcosanti.


This is the Devil’s Bridge.


After Sedona, we continue our journey north and we hit snow!!! The contrast is baffling to go from desert to snow in such a short time. We spot some elks running around in the forest.


The next day, we are in Flagstaff and it is a beautiful day. There are some funny murals on some of the walls.


This is one of the oldest buildings in Flagstaff and on the road 66. It was built by one of the founding pioneers of the town.


Everybody looks very happy after book shopping!


After Flagstaff, we continue north to the magnificent Grand Canyon!! You can see snow on the borders of the rim, and even the clouds on the other side look like they are snow clouds.


After the Grand Canyon, we start closing the loop and head home. We have a long way to go. We start driving West and stop in Lake Havasu which is a large reservoir on the Colorado river. It’s on the border between Arizona and California.


After lake Havasu, we continue West and visit California City which is one of the strangest place I’ve seen. In the 70s, a developer thought he would create the 3rd largest city in California and start creating all the streets, but no one showed up and all the houses are missing. But the streets are still there and all have names. It was hard to take a picture of the madness, so I am just going to show you how it looks from space via a picture from Google Maps.



One of the reasons why no one wanted to live there is because the area is super windy and sandy. We drove on a road that was getting covered by sand and even saw houses and trailers almost covered in sand. It looked like we had stepped into a post-apocalyptic world, Mad Max style


At the end of the road, we get to Red Rock Canyon State Park, a beautiful small park in the mountains of the Mojave Desert.


This is another view of California City.


Sunrise over our campground.


The next day, we continue our journey in California and head to Pinnacles National Park which is right in the center of Pacific Coast Ranges. The park is beautiful and we are lucky enough to grab one of the last camp sites for the day.


Beautiful lichens cover the rocks in the park.


One of the attractions is the Balconies Cave. The caves were created by large rocks falling into the canyon. Thirteen species of bats live in those caves, including the Townsend’s big-eared bats.


This concludes our trip to Arizona and back. Thanks for reading!

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