Riding Bitch

The daily musings of a writer.

Take a Journey to Joshua Tree


If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that I love getting away from the city to Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding areas. I’ve written about it here, here and here. This past weekend, a national holiday here in the States, I went to The 29 Palms Inn, a motel where Kaz and I once stayed for his birthday. Quite a different experience travelling with a canine companion. For one, the motel didn’t feel quite as romantic as I remembered. I also noticed things I hadn’t noticed before, like the dozens of rabbits, lizards, birds, and hundreds, if not thousands, of ant hills, all of which Ruby gleefully pointed out to me.

We arrived just after sunset, a little later than expected but a beautiful time to view the hundreds of wind turbines near Palm Springs, part of California’s effort to use natural energy.

JT windmills

The next day we woke up a little after dawn to catch the sunrise.

JT sunrise

Ruby stared at the vista for a while. We were clearly very far from the city.

Ruby zenRuby zen2

I was a bit nervous bringing her to the desert in July, when temperatures can soar as high as 105 Farenheit. Before leaving I read some articles about how to manage with a dog in extreme heat. They all said to keep the dog out of the sun, hydrate the dog often, walk the dog only in the morning and evening, pay attention to signs of heat stroke and, if the dog is pale, apply sunscreen (dogs can get skin cancer too). I ended up taking her on a couple of early morning hikes and with lots of cold water and ice rubdowns, she managed pretty well.

We saw some amazing scenery.

JT vista5JT vista4JT vista3JT Ruby on hikeJT vista2.pgJT vista

JT tree

My city friends often ask me why I love going to the desert so much. I suppose it’s one of my favorite places to think and write. While I’m not a religious person, I have often felt a certain something while in the park, similar to how I felt at Mount Sinai in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula years back. Joshua Tree might not be as historically and religiously significant as Mount Sinai, but it contains a silent power nonetheless, and inspires a feeling I can best describe as oneness.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. Apparently, the tree’s unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer. All I know is it’s a special place… and not without a sense of humor.

Joshua Tree is a favorite destination for rock climbers because of the incredible rock formations, formed 100 million years ago from the cooling of magma beneath the surface. Groundwater is responsible for the weathering that created the spheres from rectangular blocks. The most famous formations include Skull Rock, which looks quite a bit like a human skull.

(source: andreea.francu.com)

(source: andreea.francu.com)

There’s also Jumbo Rocks, Split Rock, and the Hall of Horrors rock formation where someone actually fell to their death last year.

Kaz and I used to play this game of naming the rock formations we would come across. I think if we had seen this one, we would have called it Listening Rock.

JT listening rock

This one might have been Hamburger Bun Rock.

JT doughnut rock

Overall, it was a great weekend. Hot but restful. I missed Kaz, missed having a person with me, but was grateful to not be entirely alone. Ruby made a good companion and charmed everyone she encountered. She seemed content to slow down, sleep in the shade and be near me in this hot, dusty, windy, wild-looking place. Times like these I feel very grateful to live in California.

JT Ruby and me

Do you have a place of natural beauty near you?

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Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

13 thoughts on “Take a Journey to Joshua Tree

  1. Very cool. It sounds like you two had a wonderful and restful time;)

  2. What a great adventure. I love the desert as well. Glad you both had a good time!

  3. Weren’t you just saying you need a new camera? These shots are gorgeous!! and you didn’t have a new one!
    I love the Listening Rock 🙂
    And Ruby is just adorable!!!

  4. Hi, Nivaladiva,

    Just love, love, LOVE Palm Springs!! Used to drive over the 2 hours and 20 minutes from Beverly Hills nearly every Friday to Sunday to visit with my parents and even was (the stand-in for the lead/stunt double) in a movie filmed there — right in the wind turbines. A little difficult to get clearance to be running around through them but got the OK and it made for a really cool scene. I know the place. I also agree that Joshua Tree is one of the most amazing places on earth to just sit and take pictures and meditate a little. I imagine that it took on new meaning for you and your Ruby. Sometimes it’s nice to just go somewhere and soak it all in…don’t need another human being there to TALK about it, just soak it all in… Very calming and peaceful.

    Haven’t been on here for awhile. But, I do read everything from “Riding Bitch” on my iPhone the minute that it comes up. So, thanks for that!! I enjoy being a part of your life. Hope you write about your next adventure together.
    Ciao for now,
    P.S. Photos are flipping incredible!! Kudos.

    P.P.S. On another note: (Put your director “hat” on for a minute, so I can ask you a quick question…) Do you have a preference of screenwriting software for yourself or your writers? I am switching from my current software… If you had to choose between “Final Draft” and “Movie Magic Screenwriter”, which do you like best? Or your writers…which do they prefer?

    • Hey Shawn, that’s cool you filmed among the turbines. They’re so photogenic!

      I only use Final Draft. In fact, I optioned a script from another writer not too long ago and sort of insisted she get FD too, so we’re working with the same program. Converting from one to the other creates headaches.

  5. Dogs are allowed in Joshua Tree? I thought they weren’t allowed in any National Parks. I am taking a road trip with my dogs from Seattle to Vegas in May and may have to stop here (one of my fav places) with them along the way.

    • Yes, they are allowed, but only on the roads and campgrounds, and you’re not supposed to go on trails with them, or have them off leash. As you can see from one of my pictures, I broke those rules, twice. The second time I ran into a Park Ranger. He was kind enough to let me pass with a warning (not a ticket). So, you can take your dogs but keep them on leash and off trails.

      If you need a place to stay with them, the 29 Palms Inn allows dogs and is a really wonderful desert oasis. Enjoy your road trip!!

  6. I think, the owner of a dog (esp. dogs like yours with a lot of energy) has to take responsibility. For your dog, other people, animals and nature. Those rules make sence and i wonder, how laissez-faire you could say “i broke those rules – but no problem.” No Problem for You, but a problem for your environment, for other dog-owners who take responsibility, for, for, for….. not for you. Thats why, i hope you will get a ticket sometimes, that’s the only way to bring you up to a responsible human being.

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