Joshua Tree National Park, California – The retrieval of Californian police’s honour

The reputation of California’s police is re-established. We have Rick to thank for that. On I 10 we head to the Joshua Tree Park entrance. A highway patrol car has stopped on the hard shoulder. The officer checks another car, but during he fixes his eyes on our truck his head turns for 180°. I have the feeling this won’t be our last encounter. The next exit brings us to the feeder road to the national park. We stop briefly to ask a family on the other side of the street if they need help. The woman lies on the ground, but she only relaxes. As we drive off, a siren sounds behind us. A glance to the side mirror confirms: It is the highway patrol. “I bet the officer saw our German number plate and will ask us for it”, I say. And that’s what happens.

But the officer says hello, is very friendly and wants to know by himself if we imported the truck. He understands the tourists-with-own-vehicle-explanation straight away in milliseconds. He wants to see the vehicle license, but no passports. He comes to the front-seat passenger side to receive the paper, glances briefly on it to get to the subject then: If we want to have a photo session with him? Of course! I am enthusiastic. He asks us to leave the truck. His name is Rick and he has German ancestors. We take photos of one another and we may even sit in his police car. The man from the other side of the road, hoping to see an interesting spectacle, shakes his head in amazement. “You’ve got it!” he repeats constantly. We regained our faith in Californian police officers. Thank you, Rick!

After collecting information material at Cottonwood Ranger Station at the park’s south entrance we set off for the long way to Lost Palm Oasis. The varied hike over many hills leads through Colorado Desert that’s again part of the much bigger Sonora Desert, which spans from southern Arizona to Mexico. Here the lower eastern part of the park is located between 900 ft/300 m and 2700 ft/900 m where good smelling creosotes, yuccas and several cacti grow; among them the cosy looking Teddy Bear Cholla – cuddling not recommended. Many cacti are blooming. The reptiles awake from hibernating. The Chuckwalla, an iguana species, can become one and a half feet long. Feeling endangered it inflates his lung so that a predator can’t pull it out of its cleft in the rock. We even see a desert tortoise eating dedicatedly to satisfy its hunger after a long time of fasting. In the end of the hike a shady fan palm oasis awaits the rambler. Plan an eight miles hike plus another mile for exploring the oasis’ canyon where you have to climb down steeply in the end of the walk.

In the middle of the park thousands of Teddy Bear Cholla grow in Cholla Cactus Garden. Then we have to look for an overnight site, but the campgrounds are fully occupied. We are lucky that a Swiss woman stops us in the farthest corner of Jumbo Rock Campground and invites us to stay together with them on their site. She had already heard from us and recognized the truck – what a coincidence.

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