A Blog

A Trip to Joshua Tree and Back

September 07, 2014

[Editor’s note: the author will try not to make any terrible U2 jokes, but no guarantees, k?]

On drive back from visiting my grandfather in Palm Springs, I started to notice a few interesting spots right off of I-10. I got to thinking that even though I’ve driven that stretch of road dozens of times I’ve never seen what’s just down the various exits. When I got home I asked a friend if he wanted to go with me on an adventure, we set a date and went off.

I decided that I didn’t have enough stress on my wallet and rented an amazing Nikon D800 with a lens to go with it.

I was blown away by the dynamic range of the D800. I thought I’d appreciate the step in quality over my older D300, but wow! I haven’t had the opportunity to use a medium format setup, but I think I understand just how much of a jump in quality a larger sensor size can make.

Anyways, here’s our journey.

Salome Rd, North off I-10

Some kind of utility shed off of Salome Rd
I'm not totally sold on the value of having a maximum aperture of f/1.4 on a 24mm lens, but this cactus demonstrates that it can look pretty. Also further down Salome Rd, then Eagle Eye Rd.

Out Past Blythe

No Hunting
Blythe is a town that people usually stop in for lunch on their way to California or Arizona. We decided to see what's out on the roads that go beyond the fast food.
Rusted Car
According to Apple Maps, Lovekin Rd is supposed to go all the way up to Highway 62. I'm sure it does, but at about 3/4's of the way it becomes a private road and is no longer paved. This rusted out hulk was about 100 yards away from the end.

Storm and Desert Center

Storm Comin'
Back on I-10. We saw a big weather system moving in and managed to get onto an overpass before it hit us.
Desert Center is what gave me the idea to do this trip in the first place. Most of the town looks abandoned, and yields some pretty interesting photo locations.
Family Cafe
It was pouring at this point, but I did manage to run out in the rain long enough to grab this.
Old Gas Pump
Next to the café was an ancient gas station. Each of the pumps were in various stages of decay.
Chevron Supreme
Chevron Supreme!
A little west of of the cafe was a group of pre-fabricated houses, kind of like what you'd see from Habitat for Humanity. All of them were basically destroyed from neglect and looked like a refuge for squatters.
All of them were vandalized too.
To escape the weather we headed north from Desert Center up Highway 177. In the distance you could see the dust blowing against the mountains.

Joshua Tree Park

I finally found what I was looking for. [ed. Argh! You were warned.]

Joshua Tree
Joshua Trees are interesting. They look like palms trees, but with multiple heads.
Joshua Tree
This is the Dynamic Range I was talking about. The sun is literally right behind the tree, but you can still make out plenty of detail in the shadows.
Fat caterpillar
We also found lot's of fat caterpillars. This guy looked like he was getting ready to do the chrysalis thing.
Jumbo Rocks
If you like bouldering or climbing rocks, this would be the place for you. After this trip, I want to return and camp there to be able to explore all of its crannies.
Joshua Tree
By this point I was coming up with various schemes to justify keeping the D800.
Joshua Tree

Coming Home

My Scion
We drove my car The way out of the park back down to I-10 was filled corners and S-curves. Needless to say, I loved it.

Oh, and if you like these, did you know that I have a photoblog? You should follow it.

Scott Williams

Written by Scott Williams who lives and works in sunny Phoenix, AZ. Twitter is also a place.