Joshua Tree - Scott Hallenberg - Full-time Photographer | Surf and Snow Country Images (Everyday)
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Joshua Tree

A Spring Road Trip from Park City to San Diego

“…..and I still haven’t found what I’m looking for….” blares over the drone of my truck’s diesel engine as Willy and I drive past the 29 Palms Park entrance. Willy likes to rest chin on the window and gets a few laughs at red lights when we pull along side others. He also thinks he’s getting a treat when we stop at drive throughs and other kiosks. We got a late start that morning as I was desperately trying to wrap a few projects before going off grid for few days en route to San Diego to meet with Susan for some horse stuff.

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For me, exploring the desert provides the time and space to really think….to let my mind wander....allow myself to be inspired….to create……and hopefully to inspire others. Though, I must say the desert is an acquired taste. It’s easy to live and love coastal areas or mountainous regions, but for the uninitiated, the desert takes a little work and effort. As a result, there is a little more reward too. 


Even though I had lived and worked in California off and on for over twelve years, mostly in my twenties I had never been to Joshua Tree. In fact, traveling anywhere east of I-5 was avoided if at all possible. That said, having U2s four previous albums, I was especially intrigued with U2’s The Joshua Tree album when it was released in 1987, and was particularly fascinated with the photography. Like many, I simply assumed this was shot at Joshua Tree National Park rather than Zabriske Point, in Death Valley National Park. A couple of years after the album’s release, I found myself living in California and thought wouldn’t it be nice to visit, but never did.

Decades later, after some iTunes playlist updates followed by a little research in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Joshua_Tree) I learned more about how the American desert among other socio-political events influenced the distinctly new sound the band created for this album. Having experienced several personal trials Bono described 1986 as "an incredibly bad year.... That's why the desert attracted me as an image. That year was really a desert for us.” Adam Clayton explained the impact of the desert imagery they saw while making the album in Ireland, "The desert was immensely inspirational to us as a mental image for this record. Most people would take the desert on face value and think it's some kind of barren place, which of course is true. But in the right frame of mind, it's also a very positive image, because you can actually do something with blank canvas, which is effectively what the desert is."

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Joshua Tree did not disappoint, even though, “I still hadn’t found what I was looking for” Now I have a good purpose to visit Death Valley. For this trip my plan was to camp under the truck cap for quick overnights and use the Springbar Classic Jack for longer stays. Joshua Trees busy season is in the winter due to its moderate climate and March and April can be full with families working around school breaks. Since we arrived late the first night but still with a little sunlight, we entered the park on the north side near 29 Palms and drove past several campsites of which all were full. Just a few miles outside of the South Entrance, there was some BLM land for some easy dispersed camping with no services. I-10 was off in the distance but don’t recall any adverse noise effects. I quickly reconfigured some stuff in the truck bed to make room for Willy and I to sleep comfortably after the long drive. The next morning we drove into the park and were able to land a cool spot at the Cottonwood Springs campground.

The Cottonwood Springs campground has a little more room than most of the others and running water, sinks and flushing about toilets. We were on the perimeter with a nice spot for the Springbar tent. The weather was variable getting up into the 80s and down to the 60s at night which was terrific. However, we did experience winds in the 20 mph range and some very rare rain so it was glorious to have a study roomy shelter for sleeping and just hanging out in during the day in between excursions to other areas of the park.


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I brought the Inergy Kodiak for keeping computer and camera equipment charged. Like most established campgrounds traditional generators can only operate during designated time frames. This site was not exception but generators could only be used for two hours 3 times a day near meal times. With the Kodiak it can be used 24 hours and charged up with the Predator 50 solar panels. Since we did have variable conditions, the truck charger was a useful accessory too. Power was never an issue.

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Of course I love the Rockagator Back Back and Duffle bag for transporting gear. You might think it’s overkill to take waterproof bags into the desert. Maybe that’s true, but something that’s waterproof I have found also dust proof so I really having it with me knowing I’ll keep my essential protected regardless of the conditions.

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The right footware can really make camping feel more like glamping. Olukai product line are excellent for the trail or around the campsite and convey the “anywherealoha” spirit…even if that’s in the middle of the desert. I love the slippers inside the tent and the slaps (i.e. sandals) for around the campfire or for walking Willy around the sites. The Eleu trainers are great for all around like hiking. They’re lightweight, breathable and dry quickly, so they’re easy to keep clean even when hiking through “moon dust” or sandy trails.

Essential Gear:

Inergy Kodiak:  https://www.inergysolar.com/

Springbar Canvas:  https://springbarcanvas.com/

Rockagator:   https://rockagator.com/?rfsn=1033655.5b4e1

Olukai:  https://www.olukai.com/

Here are several other photos for you to browse.  Also, please check out my Wall Art gallery (see the menu) where donations are made to several worthy causes for each purchase.  Thanks you so much!  

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