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Joshua Tree National Park, California (Part 2)

I am back "home" with my little group. We name our campsite the cul-de-sac.

Today, Sandra and I are going on a hike. It's one of Sandra's favorites, the Ladder Canyon and Painted Canyon Trail (5 miles). Keep in mind, you do need to drive on a dirt road to get to the head trial. I know ahead of time that I will need to climb up a few sets of ladders, but I am okay with that because my fear of heights usually takes over when I go down.

The hike is so much fun! The ladders adding a challenge, but still within my comfort level. Part of the hike is through a slot canyon. I love this part! It reminds me of a similar hike I shared with my boys last May at Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, the Dry Fork Narrows, Peekaboo, and Spooky Slot Canyons. If you are ever in that area, this is a must!

After climbing our way up, we get to hike along the ridge. That always brings me a feeling of gratitude to be so high and feel at one with my surroundings. We sit for lunch overlooking the Salton Sea.

Well, when you climb up, you need to get down. The trail slowly descends to the bottom of the canyon, where we are rewarded with the blooms of many flowers. Our hike is colorful and beautiful. We let the silence take over to listen to the many little creatures living at the bottom of this canyon.

Just as we get closer to the end, Sandra mentions another set of ladders ahead of us. My first reaction is, 'no problem, I can do it'. At this point, everything should be a piece of cake for me, until I see what I'm supposed to do to be able to continue. Very quickly, the smile on my face disappeared and was replaced with a deep dread in my heart. Sandra quickly realized my emotional state and helped me be more comfortable with the challenges ahead of me (Thank you, Sandra). Sandra is a true inspiration to me!

Fear is a state of mind; with gentle practice, I hope to overcome my fear of heights.

We are all avoiding going into the park since it's the weekend. Instead, we all take the weekend easy and run some errands - do laundry, stock up on groceries, etc. The everyday chores on the road take much longer, so having the weekend to regroup is great.

Some nights the weather is comfortable to sit around the fire and enjoy each other's company. Although our ages range from 45-75, our love for the nomadic life magically bonds us.

I can't sit still for too long, so I am heading to explore the north side of Joshua Tree for the day. I will be back at the cul-de-sac at the end of the day.

I am anxious to start my day and fit in as much as possible. Twenty minutes into my drive, I find myself stuck behind a slow car. At first, I am annoyed, but very quickly, I enjoy the gift of time to embrace the depth of this vast landscape. It is a range of mountains in a play of three shades of brown folding into each other in their own rhythm. I decided to slow my day. I will see and explore whatever the day will bless me with.

My first stop is The Lost Horse Mine trail. It's a modern uphill hike with a beautiful view of the valley. As I climb in elevation, the Lost Horse Mine comes to view. I still have at least a mile to reach it, but I can't ignore its perfect location on the mountain. Here goes my designer mind creating a six-bedroom bed and breakfast with a rustic feel and a touch of elegance with gold features and color intertwined. After all, it used to be a gold mine.

I drive through the park to the little town of Joshua Tree, make a quick stop to get the feel, and head back. I am so glad I took the day to drive back and forth, stopping at many viewpoints and climbing the rocks along the road. Even though the drive is about an hour and a half from north to south, the landscape and weather are significantly different.

As I drive back, the last light of day shines the valley and the mountains ahead of me to create a feel of the moon's surface. Funny how sometimes songs can reflect your feelings. The song "The dark side of the moon" by Pink Floyd is playing from my favorite list.

It is time to say goodbye and go our separate ways. However, we all have the feeling we will meet again!

What's next? With the recommendation from Susan and Sandra, I join a women's camping organization, "Sisters on the Fly". Coincidently, while I will be visiting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, there is a group camping event, so I sign up. How wonderful Sandra is squeezing in a few more days of camping before returning to Canada and will be joining as well!

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