One Tree Hill, A trip to the U2 Joshua Tree

There was never a point in time that I was not aware of Joshua Tree’s.  Growing up in Southern California, they are a common site in the high desert and after all there is a National Park named after them.  Many nights I have spent camping in the national park and asking my dad about the Joshua Trees.  They are just so weird.   Their limbs twisted in the wind.  They thrive in the harsh desert environment, yet don’t offer much shade.  The are a symbol of the desert southwest, and perhaps would be THE symbol of the desert south west if not for the saguaro cactus.

U2's Joshua Tree - 2016

U2’s Joshua Tree – 2016

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Darwin Falls

Darwin Falls is a waterfall located on the western edge of Death Valley National Park near the settlement of Panamint Springs, California. Although there exists a similarly named Darwin Falls Wilderness adjacent to the falls, the falls themselves are located in and administered by Death Valley National Park and the National Park Service.

Darwin Falls is a nice hike near Death Valley National Park, CA

Darwin Falls is a nice hike near Death Valley National Park, CA

There are several falls, but they are mainly divided into the upper and lower with a small grotto in between. At a combined 80 feet (24 m), it is the highest waterfall in the park.

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The Green Gopher

Growing up in the 70’s I learned and spent a lot of time camping, hiking, being outdoors and active.  Every spring summer and fall, my parents and I would load up the truck, and later the trailer and head out.  Typically preparations would start the week before departure, and the loading process would start on Thursday afternoon with my brother and I hauling all the gear into the yard, while my mom packed the vehicles.  Friday could not come soon enough and when it did, my dad would come home from work, change is clothes, wrangle up two kids, maybe a dog, adjust the mirrors, and exclaim “We’re off” as we drove out of the driveway.  For the most part, for my family nothing much has changed much from my dad.  It is however the details that matter.

In 1972, I was one year old and to celebrate my dad bought a new truck.  Details of the vehicle back then are scare.  From my point of view, my dad previously owned a 1964 International Scout.  He drive this car for years all over the desert south west in the late 1960s.  When my dad married my mom, my mom made him sell the Scout because the breaks were horrible, and at least three times they failed completely.  It was a wise decision considering the stakes for the family at the time, but the loss of his beloved Scout was difficult and for decades despite its faults the Scout cast a long shadow in our family.

Returning to 1972, my dad decided to purchase his truck.  He chose a Sea Foam Green 1972 Ford F-100 pickup sporting a 302 inch V-8 sporting with a 3.2:1 gear ratio, two fuel tanks, and a four speed manual transmission which included a “Granny Gear”.  The extra costs of a four wheel drive were not an option for my dad at that time.  So, the truck became the “ultimate compromise”.  He opted for 2 wheel drive, but to offer improved traction he chose a four speed with granny gear.  The differential was geared up to offer improve gas mileage, but the little 200 HP V-8 could not pull a grade at any sort of highway speeds.  A camper shell, home built bed, pass-through rear window and the “green gopher” was complete for the initial incarnation.

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Henry Wade Escape Route

Harry Wade Exit Route – Some 100 wagons found themselves in Salt Lake City too late to cross the Sierra Nevada. They banded together under the name of Sand Walking Co. and started for the gold fields in California over the Old Spanish Trail. After being in Death Valley with the ill-fated 1849 caravan, Harry Wade found this exit route for his ox-drawn wagon, thereby saving his life and those of his wife and children. At this point the Wade party came upon the known Spanish Trail to Cajon Pass.

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Fish Canyon Escape Trail

The route discovered by William manly as an escape route from Death Valley in 1849.  After being lost of months in the wilderness of Death Valley, William Manly finally discovered a route out of Death Valley.   On his return, he discovered that only two families survived his absence. This trail is part of his route.

The trail is mildly rocky and suitable for most SUV’s

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