We chose Palm Springs, CA from which to visit Joshua Tree National Park, some 50 miles away. From palm trees, dynamic skies and lush water filled landscapes in the desert of resorts, the Mojave Desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park offered cactus larger than men, gigantic boulder formations which hid cattle rustlers of the past, and the strange Joshua trees, which aren’t really trees, but a species of yucca which can grow over 40 feet tall. The Park has been a protected area since 1936 and looked starkly beautiful on an overcast December day; I’m certain it’s an entirely different experience in the blistering heat of summer.
Driving southwest from the desert to San Diego on long switch back roads led us through other alien lands and varied weather, from palm trees mixed with snow-capped mountains, to sun filled valleys nestled in vast barren rocky plains. It was a good adventure, secondary only to the primary purpose we had for being there at all: a visit with family from whom separated much too long.
We had been to the San Francisco Bay area before and always loved it, but perhaps never for so many good reasons as this trip offered: we attended a wonderful wedding in Sonoma at a gorgeous location, dined with long time friends, visited family, and celebrated our anniversary. The weather also favored us far beyond expectation.
We chose to stay in Tiburon, in the delightful Water’s Edge Hotel, just steps from the ferry-boat landing, and once settled in we didn’t use our car again. Taking the ferry from Tiburon to Fisherman’s Wharf offered a completely new perspective on the city, its famous bridges, and Alcatraz. But the best location for immersion and pleasure was sitting on the hotel deck at dusk for cocktails, and for morning coffee. San Francisco was visible across the bay, and the sinking sun brought a shimmer to the view. Darn close to heaven.
Considered to be a coastal invader which can choke out other native plants and alter the soil, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife suggests not planting the species, and removing it whenever possible. A drive along the Sonoma County coast last weekend, in hazy morning light, made that reasonable explanation and request very difficult to support.