Home Trips Overland Trip: Joshua Tree Pt 2
Overland Trip: Joshua Tree Pt 2

Overland Trip: Joshua Tree Pt 2


OK, so where were we? Oh that’s right, the end of day 2. This is the second part of a 3 part trip review.

Here is the link to the full trip again:

Our Trip Route:  Joshua Tree Map (Please note, the section down Bardoo Trail Canyon is estimated on Google Maps. Do not follow this route when you are out on  the trail. A better map of that trail is located here: Bardoo Canyon Trail).

So the next morning started a little like this. I literally woke up, lifted my camera, and shot this picture out the window of the truck (where we decided to sleep). If you look real close – you can see the FZJ80’s leather up in the sky. I know, I know – those shadows are looking a little short for early dawn. You might be right. I was real tired the night before, the tequila guaranteed it.

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We did not have a set plan (that’s how I like it on these trips), but we knew we wanted to roll through a new section of Joshua Tree and roll through Twenty Nine Palms and check out the Twenty Nine Palms Inn on account-a my gal had another hippie experience there and wanted to check it out for old time sake. Before we left I trotted up the hill to get a morning view of our campsite. Yep, that looks about right:

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We headed on down the road leaving the majority of our gear at the camp. We decided it was a good spot, and we made it our home base. We rolled into Twenty Nine Palms and checked out the place. Its a very rustic Inn with a lot of charm. It has a natural Oasis, and I can just imagine what it must of looked like to the first person to ever see it. It is protected, because many wild animals still use it as their watering source.  These are the things that cause wonder and awe, and part of the reason I love overlanding.

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We met one of the grounds keepers and he helped us plan our day. He started our conversation by looking at my rig and saying, “You understand that too much of a good thing is just about right”. I liked him immediately, and judged him to be of quality character.  We pulled out our maps and he showed us a back roads route that would take us by the tourist location of “Pioneertown” and beyond, over the hills, through the dessert, and into Big Bear Valley.

Pioneertown was a hoot. Not much going on, but some fine folk, and an interesting old west movie set, still in good shape. You cannot help but swagger a little when you walk down the main street.


The town started as a live-in Old West motion picture set, built in the 1940s. The movie set was designed to provide a place for the actors to live, and at the same time to have their homes used as part of the movie set.[1] A number of Westerns and early television shows were filmed in Pioneertown, including The Cisco Kid andEdgar Buchanan‘s Judge Roy Bean.

Roy RogersDick Curtis, and Russell Hayden were among the original developers and investors, and Gene Autry frequently taped his show at the six-lane Pioneer Bowl bowling alley. Its construction was credited to A. E. Thompson in 1947 and Rogers himself rolled out the first ball in 1949. School-age children were hired aspinsetters until the installation of automatic pinsetting equipment in the 1950s. According to the Morongo Basin Historical Society, the bowling alley is one of the oldest in continuous use in California.

Corrie messin around a bit. Totally not staged…

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Yup, struck my funny bone, but I reckon that ain’t for fake.

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After playing Bonnie and Clyde, we headed up the road and into the desert. People became scarce and my map app quickly spun the compass. Time for the old school paper map. This:

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Soon gave way to this:

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Awesome scenery all around. You can clearly see here the four rack-mounted Hella lights and bit of the newly mounted CB antennae.

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After about an hour and a half of travel we crawled up a narrow ridge and a small side road went out on a point. I could see that it would be a great spot for lunch, with a great view of the valley.

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Corrie and I had a great lunch of leftovers. Steak, cheese, yogurt, tomato, spinach in a tortilla. Died and gone to heaven. We continued up the trail.

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There is a good story here somewhere:

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We found some interesting formations of red clay. Did I need to climb it? Nope. Did I have to climb it? Yup.

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I know, I know. The truck still looks pretty clean. Trust me, its a trick of the light.

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After a good stretch of road, I caught sight of something that made my heart go pitter-patter. We had talked to a local at the Starbucks in Yucca Valley and he said foreign nations were buying up the abandoned mines in the area because, “there is so much gold left in those hills it’s ridiculous!” We spied an abandoned mine.

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I mean, it looked pretty sturdy to me. I mean, If I went in there what is the WORST thing that could happen?

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I even have a little hammer and shovel. 🙂 OK, I didn’t go prospecting (this time).

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We headed out and up, and you are going to notice something about these photos. We are entering the high country – forest! It was absolutely a trip to go from the desert, Joshua Trees and sand, to pine trees and, eventually snow!

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It started to feel much more alpine than desert, and for this reason alone I would recommend this drive to any fellow overlanders. It is not often you cross between two distinctly different climates in a matter of hours. The thought of a water crossing just two hours earlier would have been funny.

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We dropped down toward Big Bear, catching sight of the dry lake just south.

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This is the end of the forest road for us, but the beginning for others.

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We pulled into Big Bear and like I said, I was amazed…snow. I entered a ski – town where the Starbucks felt like a ski lodge. Sat by the big fire.

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Am I back in Pinecrest?

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Corrie is laughing at me…

What the hell?

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From this point in the trip it was hard to imagine that we would be back in the desert, surrounded by red-rock, and joshua trees by the evening, but indeed, we hit the highway and soon got back to the desert!

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Home sweet home away from home.

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…and good night!

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Next week we’ll hit the last couple days on our trip including the California Central valley and Mercy Hot Springs!