Joshua Tree Oasis: Get Wanderfully Lost

It’s that time of year again.  Time to celebrate my anniversary with my hubby!  We get to travel out of the country and stay in hotels for most of our trips so I always try to plan something “different” to celebrate this with him.  It was going to be difficult to compete with last year’s anniversary trip to Havasupai .  This year I decided on Joshua Tree.  Joshua Tree is located in Southern California and is where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet.  The desert setting is gorgeous!  Joshua Tree is well known for camping, music festivals, and getting in touch with one’s “real” self.  For this trip, I wanted to sit back and relax and enjoy the pretty scenery.  I wanted to hole up…have a staycation!  I always plan our trips with my husband’s opinion in mind.  I know what he likes and doesn’t.  For the most part though, my husband goes with the flow of whatever I choose.  His mama didn’t raise no fool!

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Ha ha…truth! No, joking aside, I really do plan my trips with what I think will make my husband happy.

I turned to VRBO and Airbnb to look for the perfect place and stumbled upon Joshua Tree Oasis.  It looked perfect by the photos.  It was a bit higher than I wanted to spend, but we weren’t going to be going out and spending any money on wining and dining.  We were going to hole up and cook at home.  Taking that into consideration, it definitely penciled out and we were able to splurge a bit on the accommodations.  This has turned out to be my favorite VRBO/Airbnb yet.  I loved it so much, I wrote a blog on it!

Joshua Tree was about a 10 hour drive from our house.  We stocked up on very gourmet goods to cook our meals, including all the ingredients to make some amazing cocktails.  We also picked up a ton of wood for the outdoor fire pit on the property.  It felt like we were going camping.  We pulled up to our private gate and entered the property.  It was so much more than I expected!  The house was decorated to the nines, we had views from every room, the kitchen was well stocked, we had a bumping sound system that went through the entire property, and the best part was there was not another soul in site.  We literally had this huge slice of earth all to ourselves (except for the coyotes who kept photobombing me).  We had complete privacy for the next five days.  It was perfect for an anniversary trip!  This place was a two bed/two bath with an in law unit with another bed/bath.  We loved it to enjoy as a couple, but you could fit a large family or three couples perfectly.

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I can’t believe I didn’t get the coyote in the background. It was running behind me trying to photobomb me! LOL

The first morning we woke up with bacon jalapeño bloody mary’s in hand and jumped right in the hot tub (bathing suits optional!).  We spent the day doing all there was to do on the property.  Hot tub, cowboy tub (which was very refreshing), horse shoes, more eating and drinking, bbqing, napping, repeat, and finished the night off with a gourmet meal and a campfire.

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Bacon jalapeno bloody marry in hand to enjoy my first morning in the desert.
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This view though…just perfect
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Refreshing Cowboy Tub
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Horseshoes anyone??

This property is also located about five minutes from the Joshua Tree National Park entrance.  The second day we explored the park, saw all the sites there were to see, scouted our favorite campground for the next trip, and hiked the day away.  Cholla Cactus Garden and Skull Rock were fun and perfect photo ops.  The park is huge and there is so much to explore!

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Joshua Trees all around me.

There isn’t much to the actual “town” of Joshua Tree.  This property is just a short five minute drive down the hill to the town but there really isn’t much to see.  We did stumble on a fun saloon called Joshua Tree Saloon (of all unique names).  It was super fun!  They had live music, karaoke, pool, darts, and a beer garden.  Being the incredibly brilliant young lady that I am, I wore the highest heels I own to enjoy this beer garden.  Always trying to look my cutest for my man!  Well, I then returned home to my desert property only to walk through a cactus garden in those five inch heels.  Low and behold, I ate it hard and took a fall straight into a cactus (hands first).  No matter how much I enjoyed that beer garden, it couldn’t numb me enough for the pain of diving hands first into a cactus.  That ish hurt!  My husband had to sit me down and pull out the needles, one by one.  I may have shed a tear or two…and maybe had a shot of tequila or two.  Maybe.  I actually had needles deep in my hand for over a month after this trip.  Very wise advise to share with you guys…don’t wear your high heels to enjoy a beer garden and follow it up with a walk through a cactus garden.  Cactus 1, Jessica 0.  I still love the desert though!

Havasupai and Grand Canyon: The Trip Everyone Reads About, But Few Experience.

The Grand Canyon was always something I heard about growing up.  One of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World?   OK, you have my attention! This beautiful place at the bottom of the Grand Canyon kept popping up on my Facebook feed. …It was an Indian Reservation that you hike down to and camp right on the water with the most gorgeous waterfalls you have ever seen.  It looked like a cartoon almost.  Ok, so again it had my attention.  It was called the Havasupai Indian Reservation.  I called the reservation line and got no luck.  After researching, I found that it is one of the most desired places in the USA to see.  Wanderlust at its best!  I did more research and found that if I ever wanted to secure a reservation in the peak season, it was going to take a ton of tenacity.  Once the phone lines opened up, I gave it my all for 4 days.  A busy signal for 4 days straight can make you go kinda nuts.  Everyone told me to give up.  “I’m not giving 4 days of my life to something with nothing to show for it” said Me.  I actually kept trekking for 7 more days, calling 8 hours per day, every day.  I clocked over 4,100 calls getting a busy signal (yes, I tracked it).  You ever felt like a stalker?  I stalked the hell out of that phone number….and guess what??  After 11 days someone answered.

“Hello?”

“OMG.  Hello, I have been calling for 11 days (tear) and would like to make a reservation”

“Sorry, we are full and all booked up for the summer months.”

I won’t go into the embarrassing things I said to secure this reservation but the point is that I got it.  Never take no for an answer!  When it’s important to you, make it happen…..write that down.

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Here I am starting this 39 mile journey.  GET OUTSIDE OF THE BOX!  I don’t need to sip a cocktail on the beach for every vacation.  I love a new challenge.

To get to the bottom is about 11 miles down.  You need to carry everything in.  Your tent, your sleeping bag, your food, your wine (which is not allowed and I never break the rules), clothes, etc, etc, etc…you get the point.  I was going into the Canyon for four days.  I consider myself to be in great shape however I found this hike to be much more pleasant by throwing my 65 pound pack on a horse which met me down at the campground.  I think it’s awesome how hard core people are to carry those huge packs on their backs for miles and miles.  But quite honestly, it was 90 degrees out and I had much more fun climbing rocks and taking selfies while being pretty much weightless.  To each their own!

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Only water, snacks, camera, and lipgloss on my back for the trek down.

Once, I reached the Havasupai Reservation it was completely surreal.  This village at the bottom of the Canyon was a little city.  School, post office, church, store….everything you need.  It’s considered America’s most remote Indian Reservation.  My camp was another 2 miles past the reservation where there aren’t many Indians and the grounds along the creek are filled with campers feeling like they won the lotto.  I picked up my pack from the stables and set up camp right on the water.

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Not a bad place to call home.

I spent the next two days hiking to the most majestic waterfalls I have ever seen.  Sounds so cheesy but it’s true.  The water is the most beautiful color of turquoise.  Every day I had to filter my water right out of the creek and make my dehydrated meals, which were surprisingly delicious.  I also indulged in the yummiest Frybread.  It is an Indian specialty and there was a little stand selling this at the campground.  Mmm mmm good!

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I had to cross this bridge with my 65 pound pack to set up camp.  Also, every time I needed to use the restroom…even in the pitch black.  Luckily, I never fell in!

The most beautiful falls of all were Havasu Falls.  Photos of these falls is what really ignited my desire to get here.  It was just as beautiful as the photos!  No filter needed.

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Havasu Falls

There are other beautiful falls and hikes to see while you are down there.  I did Mooney Falls on Day 2 and also hiked further into the Canyon.  I wish I had more time to see everything.  One more day would have been perfect.  If I am lucky enough to visit again, I will plan on five days total down there.

If you want your pack on a horse on the way out, you need to wake up while it’s still dark to pack up and have your pack to the stables at 6am.  This, in my opinion, was much more important than having a horse carry your pack on the way down.  The way out is 13 miles straight up from the campgrounds…no thank you to that 65 pound pack!  So many people we met at camp were actually thinking they would take the helicopter out because they had no idea how they would be able to hike out.  People wait in that helicopter line all day long in hopes to get flown out and the line is so long that some people have to wait until the next day to try again.

I dropped my pack at the stables and power walked my way out passing all these people who looked like they might die from heat exhaustion.  It was so freaking hot!  September in the Canyon is no joke.  And these people carrying those huge packs…so core!

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About to start the switchbacks.  38 miles in.

Reaching the top of the Canyon was one of the most exhilarating feelings I have ever felt. I hiked 39 miles on this journey.  Another trip that tweaked me a little as a person.  I grow just a little bit from every adventure.

Hotel I stayed at before hike: Grand Canyon Caverns Inn.  This place is in Peach Springs on Route 66.  It is as close as you can get for lodging prior to starting the hike to Havasupai.  Bonus, it has the largest dry cavern in the United States.  Going down into the cavern on a tour was interesting…and scary.  You can actually rent the space and sleep down there.  It is super cool!!

Havasupai Tribe:  People of the Blue Green Water.

Route:  I flew into Las Vegas, rented a car, checked out Hoover Dam, and cruised Route 66 to Peach Springs.  After hiking Havasupai, I drove an hour towards Las Vegas and stayed in Kingman.  I soaked in the hot tub, ate an entire medium pizza to myself, and watched movies before catching a flight out in the morning.  Las Vegas to Oakland.

Recommend this trip to:  EVERYONE!!  Well, I take that back.  No young kids.  You have to be in good shape to hike this trip.  But if you’re not in the best shape, you can just take the helicopter.  You can also scrap all the do it yourself work and headache of securing your own reservation and join a tour.  I opted to do this on my own because I like the freedom to hike at my own pace and wanted my camp to be my own little space.  I don’t mean to sound antisocial because I love meeting new people, especially when I camp.  But I love my own area too.  To each their own!  The tours hike down together, camp together, and eat together.  It’s all inclusive so they cook you gourmet meals which is pretty cool.  The price ticket is much higher for a tour but some prefer being in a group in adventurous situations and from the reviews it is also a great way to go. Either way, find a way to make it here sometime in your life.  It will change you…I promise.

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