This is the second installment regarding our recent camping trip to the Joshua tree area; part 1 is here.

On day 2 we wanted to go into Palm Springs and we took our friends two children with us as we wanted to try out the Aerial Tramway.

Over the labor day weekend, temperatures in the desert were over 100°F and we had heard that the top of the mountain would be 20° lower which would be a welcome relief.

The drive from Joshua tree is about an hour at most and we had no issues, the tramway was not overly busy and we easily parked. A short walk to the station and we were ready and waiting. One thing to note is that children over 10 pay full adult price so if you are visiting with children you should be aware. We paid our fare and waited for our time slot which was about an hour’s wait.

What we didn’t realize until we started reading the information pamphlet was that the top of the mountain was a full on National Park with hiking trails and wilderness access. We had just assumed it was a visitor centre where we could admire the view and maybe get a coffee or snack.

The ride up the mountain was quite fun with screams from some of the other riders and the car shifted over the towers that suspend the cable. The car itself rotates as it is travelling so everyone with a window view gets to see all the angles.

At the top we ventured out into the park so we could hike one of the shorter trails. We discovered quite quickly that our temperature estimations were a little off and found it was probably half the temperature we expected. In our shorts and tee-shirts we were definitely feeling it.

There was no sun as the clouds were hugging the top of the mountain and it was quite ethereal with the clouds drifting through the trees (dragon’s breath as the kids called it).

We only did a short hike as we were feeling the cold and I lent one of my film cameras to one of the kids for them to try out. With the weather closed in like that we almost got lost on the hike as we strayed from the trail but soon found or way back. By the time we were back at the station the sun was beginning to burn through the clouds and it had started to warm up.

We took the ride back down the mountain and headed into Palm Springs for a sweet treat in the form of an ice cream.

Palm springs has a lot of restaurants and stores along the main street and is surrounded by and interesting landscape with the high mountain next door and the desert the other way. There’s a large wind powered generation area that I can’t help try to capture when I am in the area.

We returned to the campsite to prepare a grilled dinner and to allow to kids time to fish in the nearby lake. It was then I noticed a damp area toward the rear of the trailer; I had seen some water dripping before leaving in the morning but put it down to condensation from the air conditioner. This seemed a bit too much just for that so had to do some investigating. I disconnected the water supply for a while and the dripping stopped so it looks like we have a freshwater leak from somewhere in or under the bathroom. Not something I could fix right away as the source wasn’t obvious so it’s added to the top of the list to get resolved on our return.

The evening was spent under the stars (which are gloriously displayed out in the desert); eating good food and drink with friends.

Next day we did the long drive home (after draining our tanks of waste) slightly apprehensive about the brush fire that had started on our departure which we had heard had prompted some evacuations. The freeway passes straight through the burnt area and it was shocking how big an area it was; it was like another planet with reddish black ground an black stumpy leafless trees as the only vegetation. Our house was unaffected and relatively free of ash; looks like the wind was blowing the other way. No houses were caught in the flames luckily so commendations should go to the firefighters.

We had a really good trip and apart from the new leak and learning our way around things, we were relatively issue free.

This whole area is a favourite of mine The Joshua Tree park itself is very interesting and Palm springs has some lovely mid-century modern architecture which I am fond of. The camp site suited us well so we shall return again for certain.