Saturday, 13 November 2010

Joshua Tree and the Mexico Border

The Joshua Tree was named by Mormon Settlers who were reminded by the trees shape of a tale in the Bible of Joshua shaping his hands skyward in prayer.

On day 142, I went to the Joshua Tree National Park, not knowing what to expect. Sure, I knew I would see some Joshua Tree’s but I had no idea what the setting would be, or what else might be there. As it turned out, the Joshua Tree’s were not the main attraction, as there are many interesting and competing things to see.

The park is huge and comprises 794,000 acres, with parts being in an enormous valley.

The Joshua Trees are to be found mainly in the northern part of the park....



















































There are however many other interesting plant species that I have never seen before.

I liked the way the sun light was catching the needles of this cactus....


























Mohave Yucca....













































Another very prickly cactus....




















The shape of the rocks attracted my attention. It wasn’t until later that they reminded me of the Adidas logo....





















My absolute favourite plant species was the Cholla Catus. These strange shaped plant look as if they come from another planet. They are also called Jumping Cholla as if you brush against them, they will attach themselves to you. I loved the shapes they made in an area of the park called the Cholla Cactus Garden....







































I thought this was another cactus, but it isn’t. This is an Ocotillo, a thorny deciduous plant which can grow and drop its leaves up to five times a year, depending on rainfall....


























The rocks in the park were odd, in that they just sat there, seemingly out of place in the desert environment. I read later they were forced up from underground by volcanic activity. In a molten state, this granite like rock was pushed up from deep underground and was pushed through the overlying rock. It can into contact with groundwater where it cracked and over time, weathering has made the cracks deeper and wider, and formed the rock into the angular shapes seem today. In some places the rock has split into boulders which look as if they have just been dumped into a pile....




















While I didn’t stop for a look around, I rode through Palm Desert which seemed like a very up-market place to live. The houses were large, with very well tended lawns and gardens. Long streets lined with immaculate palm trees were abundant. I saw shops with all the up-scale fashion brands. Palm Desert is a wealthy city for sure.

Just south of Palm Desert the “Pines to Palms” highway rises steeply on a wonderfully twisty and fast windy road.

This is looking down on the road....




















The view back to Palm Desert shows large green areas – indicating the lush planted areas that money can buy in the desert....




















Just a few miles further south and I found rows of post boxes, just crying out to be photographed....







































In the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, I crossed the 21,000 mile point of my tour. I of course stopped for the now customary photograph....




















I stopped to look at these trees, no doubt killed by the rising water....




















I pressed on south and reached the town of Campo, where the road passes very close to the border with Mexico. I looked up the hill I was riding close to and realised I was looking at the border fence....




















I was now headed wet following close to the border and heading towards the Pacific Ocean. This road is obviously used a lot by illegal immigrants and I rounded one bend and there was a border patrol checkpoint. The odd thing was this checkpoint is on a road that runs alongside, not across the border. All vehicles are stopped and you are asked to show your passport or other ID. After chatting with the guard about my tour a long line of cars had formed behind us, he trusted that I was English and not Mexican, said he didn’t need to see my passport, shook my hand and sent me on my way, wishing me well. Nice guy.

As I rode away from the checkpoint, I remembered the song “I want to live in America” and I was singing the one of two lines from the song that I knew, over and over again. I was pretty sure this song was about Mexicans wanting to live in America, but later checking on the internet, it turns out I was wrong, as it relates to Puerto Rico. The song is from the musical West Side Story and even if I got the country wrong, the sentiment is the same....



I stopped at Imperial Beach – the closest point on the Pacific to the Mexican Border. I had travelled from the top right hand corner of the USA to the bottom left hand corner. I stopped and looked at the coastline as it turned from being in the USA into Mexico and reflected on what different lifestyles the people have either side of a fence.

In the picture below the buildings beyond the people on the beach are in Mexico....




















I had ridden a long way today, 323 miles in total. Nearly all of these were on quiet, 2 lane twisty roads. I was very tired indeed and enjoyed just sitting on the beach for a while.

I got back on the bike and found myself in the strange position of riding north!

Later that afternoon I stopped for the night in a great city – San Diego.

12 comments:

Eve said...

Love the mailbox photos Gary!
Just think of the beautiful country the Mexicans could have if corruption wasn't running their country. They would have no need to try to come to the US for anything but sight seeing. That is pretty sad.
Ok so I'm thinking next time you can go from top left to bottom right!!! Then you can work your way to the Smokey Mountains and pass through ALABAMA!!! Just for fun!!!! That trip down to the Keys will be beautiful!!! What da ya say???!!!!
Ride safe!

Donna aka Froggi said...

Ocotillo in spring is gorgeous, check out this pic taken when we were in Joshua Tree, http://2takinga5th.blogspot.com/2010/04/playing-catchup.html

http://froggi.smugmug.com/photos/837291323_dDCj3-L.jpg

iansolley said...

i took some pictures of that exact same row of mail boxes!!

Anonymous said...

Gary, wonderful to have met you this morning at Starbucks in La Jolla. Fascinated by your journey and look forward to reading about the trip. Hope you enjoyed your time with us here in America (and San Diego).

Joel
jlarabee@gmail.com

Charlie6 said...

Interesting segue you did from Joshua Trees to the complicated border issues affecting the USA and Mexico....I liked it.

You're still keeping a wary eye on traffic around you right?

dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

chessie said...

Hi Gary,
I'm a huge fan of photographing cacti... I'm so pleased to see you too are a fan! Your entire journey is one for the books...looking forward to seeing what you have to say about moving north into CA.
Live well Gary.

George F said...

Nice photos once again, I would love to go down or up :-) the “Pines to Palms” highway, looks beautiful. Like Eve said, you now have to do it from North/West to the South/East.. Check my blog, search for alligator alley or Key West for lots of pictures, it's beautiful down south :-)

motoroz said...

You know you are going to have to return and ride from the far southeast corner up to the northwest part of the USA - Alaska.

Great photos again. Interesting info in your post, again.

Gary France said...

Eve – Those mailboxes were crying out to be photographed! The state Mexico is in without a doubt is very sad and seeing the huge border fence really bought home what a huge problem it is, for both sides. I might do top left to bottom right one day!

Froggi – Your pictures of Joshua Tree National Park are very different to mine, as yours are when everything is in bloom – wonderful! I took a picture of the Fried River Wash sign as well.... what a funny name!

Ian – It is a small world!

Joel – It was good to meet you too. I had a great time in the US and in San Diego – what a great city! Good luck on that bike of yours....

Gary France said...

Charlie6 / Dom – Yep, still got eyes in the back of my head. And the sides..... I rode through LA on the interstates yesterday – horrible!

Chessie – I didn’t realise I was such a fan until I tried it. I have already done the ride down the coast from San Francisco to LA, so take a look a few recent posts to see what I said and saw.

George – The twisty bit of the Pines to Palms isn’t very long and you could ride up and down it in about 30 minutes. I have driven from Miami to Key West before but that was in a car and as we all know, things are much better when seen from a bike!

Oz – Maybe one day I will do that ride.....

Susette aka Limness said...

Well, well, well dear Gary .... you have turned in your bike (temporarily) and bid us a fond farewell... how grand it has been to have you visit us, and what an honor, to have you check out the USA, stem to stern, north-east to south-west, (and then some!), recording every bit of the way.

Your biking chronicles with all the photo's, film and journaling are a stunning record of this land and it's people. You made it though several months and many thousands of miles, safe and sound, with amazingly few inconveniences and as far as I can tell, no major mishaps. I am very happy for that. It says a lot for your literal street smarts, your savvy, toughness, commitment, as well as something about the nature of the good people that hosted and encouraged you along the way. Right on!!

Blessings to you, your cute wifie, your kids and your country, may your life continue happily as you savor your adventures in one of the most interesting, breathtaking, and admirable/enviable tours to date.

Thank you so much friend and fellow adventurer!!

Susette - aka - Limness

Susette aka Limness said...

PS... fantastic that you've committed to write your book Gary ...It would appear you have much of it completed already and Best wishes on your new career!