On Road and Trail

After a hearty breakfast of french toast and bottomless cups of coffee, DonQui is ready to hit the road again.

He hastens to add that this is not the vehicle he will be driving, although it would probably be a bit of fun to do so.

The bleak, open, desert landscape is striking…

… and the road seems to go on forever.

It looks like some pretty nasty weather up ahead. Sure enough, when it reaches him, it brings driving snow and blizzard-like conditions. Fortunately DonQui is soon through it and out the other end.

He skirts the southern end of Death Valley, which today does not quite live up to its reputation for brutal heat. Then DonQui approaches Clark Mountain pass.

Once through the pass the drive takes him down to the flat lands of Dry Lake and the Nevada state line.

Crossing into Nevada, DonQui heads off on a small road through Spring Mountains. Unfortunately they look anything but Spring-like thanks to the unusually cold, snowy weather.

Five hours after setting off from Joshua Tree, DonQui reaches his destination. This is Sandy Valley Ranch.

Here DonQui trots along the Old Spanish Trail together with a couple of horses and a wrangler called Randy.

The desert views along the trail are starkly beautiful.

DonQui’s trail guide is a most pleasant companion. His horse, however, is not keen to be seen engaging in conversation with a Donkey.

From Jungle to Desert

After two weeks in Ecuador, DonQui sets off on the third leg of his around the world trip. Next stop Southern California. 

It is a long two day journey: canoe back up the Cuyabeno, car to Coca where he stays overnight, and then three flights in quick succession — Coca to Quito, Quito to Miami, and then on to Los Angeles. He only just makes the connection in Miami thanks to long queues at security and US immigration.

Hiring a car in LA, DonQui drives off towards the Mojave desert.

His first destination is Sacred Sands at the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park

DonQui is more than pleased with his accommodation which is quite a contrast to roughing it in Amazonia.

Joshua Tree National Park is breathtakingly beautiful.

The iconic joshua trees look like a cross between a cactus and palm tree. They are in fact yuccas, which DonQui learns are somewhat bizarrely related to asparagus.

The rock formations dotted across the desert landscape are as impressive as the trees…

… none more so than the other-worldly skull rock.

The small town of Joshua Tree is very pleasant with an artsy, alternative vibe. DonQui finds souvenir shops selling crystals and incense underneath posters advertising spiritual retreats, yoga, sound healings and other sorts of new agey stuff.

The entrance to the Joshua Tree Saloon looks as if a bus load of hippies pulled up several decades ago and stayed. Quite probably they did.

Inside the saloon DonQui feels as if he has entered a movie set with a couple of characters from central casting making good use of the pool table.

DonQui settles in for a couple of hours to watch the locals and enjoy some very good food and beer.

DonQui had expected the desert nights to be cold but his arrival is timed with an unseasonal cold snap with high winds. As he leaves the saloon he is more than a little shocked to find it is snowing. This is not exactly what he had been expecting.