Our trip began in Mountain View with an 8 hour drive to Yucca Valley where we stayed the night at an airbnb. Along the way, we stopped at Kettleman City for a refuel and some in-n-out. For the very first time, I tried taking some pictures of the milky way, but the light pollution flooded the sky, making the milky way nearly impossible to see.
The next morning, we drove to Vons to grab some breakfast and lunch for the long day ahead. On Thanksgiving Day, I expected the park to be empty, but on the contrary we saw signs indicating full campsites. Our first glimpse of Joshua Tree National Park.
Hidden Valley, rock-enclosed valley rumored to have been used by cattle rustlers, was our first hike of the day.
Along the trail, we saw some climbers scaling the rocks.
This inspired me to try climbing, but I didn’t make it very far.
As we kept walking, we came across a path that led to the top of a very tall rock.
We decided it would be a good idea to climb it and made it to the top after a short struggle.
From the top, we could see all the climbers down below.
This is a view of the climbers from the other side of the rock.
The hidden valley loop we hiked.
We drove 5 minutes to the Barker Dam Trail.
We reached the Barker Dam about half way into the hike. The water level was quite low and covered in algae.
There was a herd of big horn sheep off in the distance.
This is the view of the man made dam from the other side.
Funny looking Joshua Tree that we found.
Near the end of the barker dam trail, we found some petroglyphs carved into the canyon walls and boulders. Native Americans, migrating through here, carved those petroglyphs.
Initially I had planned on hiking to Ryan Mountain’s peak, but we were short on time so I decided to head over to the Cholla Cactus Garden. Located between the Mojave Desert and the Pinto Basin, the cholla cactus garden has one of the densest concentration of cholla cactus in California.
Unfortunately, my friend ventured too close to a cholla cactus, which resulted in a painful encounter.
We had to ask the nearby ranger for pliers to remove the cholla cactus.
Our final stop in Joshua Tree was Key’s View. On a clear day, the Salton Sea is visible from the view.
With the final rays of sunshine disappearing, I was able to capture a gorgeous shot of the sunset with a Joshua tree.
We drove back to our Airbnb to grab our luggage and then headed over to Palm Springs where we had Thanksgiving dinner at Miro’s Restaurant. After dinner, we drove to the south entrance of Joshua Tree national park to capture the night sky. The milky way is barely visible.
We also took this opportunity to do some light painting.
We woke up around 11am on Black Friday since we didn’t have any shopping to do and we stayed out late taking pictures of the milky way. We grabbed lunch at Elmer’s, which I would describe as a fancy Denny’s.
After lunch, we drove to the Indian Canyons, which had a $9 entrance fee per person. We later found out students cost only $7, but we couldn’t get refunded since the credit card processor had closed.
There are three different canyons in Indian Canyons, but I opted for Palm Canyons because it lead to a longer hike.
The number of palm trees here absolutely blew my mind. For the first mile of the hike, palm trees covered the entire trail.
After the palm trees disappeared, the hot desert sun came baring down on us.
After hiking for 90 minutes, we finally made it to the stone pools.
Unfortunately, there was no water, but some palm trees nearby provided the much needed shade. The hike on the way back was much easier as the sun set behind the mountains.
After the hike, we went back to our hotel to rest up until dinner time at Ruben and Ozzy’s Seafood restaurant. The restaurant was only a few minute drive away from the hotel and luckily there was only a short line when we arrived. The restaurant served lots of seafood dishes that were all delicious.
After dinner, we checked out Plate | Glass, a dessert bar in downtown Palm Springs, which had an upscale vibe along with upscale prices. The drinks here packed quite a punch.
This place didn’t have much going on, so we decided to walk the streets of downtown Palm Springs. Palm Springs seemed to really love giving out free samples since we managed to snag some pizza, desserts, and froyo along the way.
Ended the night by playing the Coup card game w/ some wine.
After a nice breakfast, we set out for Hollywood. However, before making it to Hollywood, we stopped at Din Tai Fung for some XLB and Half & Half Tea house for boba.
We wanted to go to Griffith Observatory to catch the sunset, but cars going uphill were being blocked by transportation control. Instead, we parked at the base of the mountain and took a bus to the top. This saved the hassle of finding parking at the top. We watched the sunset from the rooftop of Griffith Observatory.
The city lights of LA coming on.
Before heading to dinner, we made a stop at LACMA. We spent about an hour trying to take pictures there, but it was packed with the holiday crowd.
By now, we were all starving and decided on dinner at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. The chicken and waffles here have the syrup, butter, and gravy combo, but it didn’t taste as good as 900 Grayson, partially because the chicken bones were difficult to remove.