Arrival in L.A.

This trip we planned to visit a more southern area than on previous mountain hiking excursions. Arriving in Los Angeles would let us see a bit of the city and also get out to Joshua Tree National Park, as well as doing a mountain hike in the San Bernardino Mountains/San Jacinto area. Not only that, but travel to the White Mountains, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and Death Valley managed to fit as well.
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Map of the route needs to go here

After landing late at LAX we went to Dollar to get our reserved rental SUV. Well, many of the staff had called in sick and there was a huge line waiting. An hour and a half later, still with no help added, there was a pretty sad short list of SUV's. I will never use this agency again. So finally off we went, to the hotel in Ventura, arriving there about 2 a.m. Sleep came fast and the sunny morning came soon.
Our first destination was Idyllwild in the San Jacinto Mountains where we planned to camp one night before heading to Joshua Tree National Park. Towards the end of this trip we're planning to come back and do several days of hiking up to San Jacinto Peak so this is a good first recce of Idyllwild which will be the jumping-off hiking point later on.
Getting directions in town to the State Park (near town) we drove a short distance, pulled in, found our campsite number and set up. It was very nice although the loop roads seemed a bit different than the rough map we had seen. Anyway, it was a great night's sleep, and we headed out in the morning early. Well, it turns out we had camped in the County Park which was also close by - in this case, the wrong people got the money!
The San Jacinto State Park Ranger station in Idyllwild has some pretty interesting displays.

Idyllwild is a small mountain town with lots of local color, such as this pickup with an illuminated mascot (smoking a cigarette)
To get to Joshua Tree, we head north on the 243 up to Banning, onto Interstate 10 towards JT. Banning looks a long way down...
Just before Palm Springs we turn left on the 62 which will take us around to the north side of the park after passing through the Morongo Valley.
The tent got set up next to some great bouldering rocks in Indian Cove campground and we has a look around before calling it a day.

The next morning we packed up and then went for short hike to 49 Palms,which consists of a real desert landscape and then an oasis.
After our hike, we drove to the town of Joshua Tree. We stopped in a small clothing, crafts and equipment shop with a very creative change room door, complemented with a bottle cap ceiling. Lunch down the street was excellent.

This bike was in the parking lot. Notice the minimal hand control on the ape hanger bars.
Camping tonight in the Jumbo Rocks campground, we decided to have an evening hike for a couple of hours up Mt Ryan for sunset.
An overlook of the Coachella Valley gives a sense of scale to the place.

The next morning at our new campsite the sun is already beaming at wake-up time. After breakfast we go exploring around a local historical site called White Tank (where water collects after heavy rains), and snapped some pics of imaginary animals, and then a real bunny out for a morning nibble.

Stopping at the Park Office on our way out of Joshua Tree, we enjoy watching this kinetic sculpture as it oscillates slowly with breaths of wind. Now it's off to Palm Springs and the famous Salton Sea...
This is a fair sized map but it shows the extent of our trip's travels completely from the northernmost White Mountains down to the Salton Sea. The heavy distances between places this time are all pretty much on Interstates and main highways, with the longest remote mountain segment being up to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains. From  Hwy 395 the Sierras and Mt. Whitney are very impressive and so are the more distant White Mountains.