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The Day 7 Replay: Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree


*Woke up at The Red Feather Lodge

*Morning Hike into Grand Canyon, walked West on the Rim trail past El Tovar

*Returned to Red Feather, packed up to drive out and head to California

*Took Route 66 drove through the desert

*Got Gas

*Joshua Tree National Park

*In & Out Burger – Hemet CA

*Arrived at our Family’s House – Hemet Ca



Grand Canyon Morning:

So Josh and I set out for our morning adventure at 7 AM. The sun had already come up but it was still early and the entire place was different than it had been the night before. We drove in since the busses don’t run that early. I did not want to drive in before the sun was up and risk running into any wild life!

The elk were everywhere. Whole families gathered on the sides of the road crossing the streets and just laying in the brush along the edges. I did not know exactly where I was going but just that I had to be there. This morning was not planned, it was free time to wander. We drove down to where El Tovar was. Because I wanted to just see what we missed. Of course it was closed, as was most of the things we saw but we did see the donkeys gearing up for their ride down and the Bright Angel trail head. It was chilly and cool but really nice and quiet. Not many people although more than I might have thought, but we were able to walk around and appreciate. I knew Josh really wanted to get a shirt so we went into the Bright Angel gift shop which was quite impressive, and we did look around at some of the area gift shops. Although I really didn’t have much money for buying things it was still fun to shop just because of the displays and some of it is really creative. I did get Josh a centennial 100 year shirt for my appreciation of his getting up early and accompanying me on the morning wander. I was glad he was with me. This extra day to just "be there" was what my soul needed. Time to just explore aimlessly is priceless.


It must’ve been around nine thirty when we started to head back so we could shower and get on the road by 11. Today we planned to drive to Hemet California where our cousins live and spend the next week with them. We looked forward to driving through Joshua Tree National Park on our way there and stop for some climbing and hiking. The drive: 443 miles, 7 hours, 8 minutes.

This is the longest day of driving.


I knew the next part of this drive was going to be long. And it was. Driving through the desert! Luckily I had some good music on my phone so while everyone was napping I was enjoying the open road and the red mountains and sand dunes feeling like Lightning McQueen. I was on route 66! I could feel the sun beating through the windshield and I could feel the desert air around us. The road was definitely a ribbon of a highway and I was driving like a video game sport. At this point Josh woke up and had to use the bathroom so we pulled off at the last exit in Arizona before arriving in California. It was 108° and we were there for almost an hour! The kids napped while I drove. They had no internet again... lol. When "Life is a Highway" came on the radio they woke up and sang. I enjoyed the shape of the roads, and thought this is why they say "ribbon of highway" it makes sense now.

Joshua Tree: 

Glad we were breaking it up with some hiking in the Joshua Tree National Park, but it took us 5 hours and 46 minutes to arrive!

It was HOT. Desert hot. Boiling hot. Oven hot. 108 degrees in June hot. They say “there’s no humidity” to make it sound better, but it’s like serious kind of heat.

But still, when we got to Joshua Tree, we needed to stretch our legs - the kids jumped out of out rental car; ran, jumped, climbed and wandered the rocky sculpted land and found skull rock with no problem. I climbed too. The big curvy rock boulders were inviting.

The side we drove in on had no attendant so we did not get a map, (or pay - but my America the Beautiful pass was ready to go) and there is NO PHONE SERVICE out there, so luckily I recalled from reading my day trip in the morning and drove from memory. We found skull rock and they jumped like mountain lions up and down the entire rock jungle gym having a glorious time. Everyone just took off hiking up the rocks despite the heat. I got some amazing pictures. But later when the kids showed me their photos I was blown away with their creativity. Then nature called:  I did not know if there was a bathroom anywhere. Fortunately another mom out there had two maps and shared (another GREAT example of good people) and we wandered down to another section where we were able to use rest rooms. The boys did more climbing, and had their route interrupted by seeing a rattle snake! They quickly ran back to the car ready to go. We also saw some bunnies down there. Aaaahhh the wild!

People ask me is it worth the trip to Joshua tree? YES! Such a unique place, and different from everywhere we visited on our journey.

The trees were cool. Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. We were already in Southern California. I felt amazed to have made it this far. Like total mom satisfaction. I imagine this place is pretty wild once the sun goes down, the trees have such distinct shapes and personality.


I wanted some pictures of Joshua with the Joshua tree. He humored me :-)  And then we were back in the car driving out of the park and admiring all the wonderful rows and rows of trees that look like people in the distance. They look like people with wild hair! Very suitable to my Joshua.


We were an hour and a half from our cousins house and most of the roads at this point where like back road to town type of roads. We drove through villages and eventually got onto a highway where we passed a bunch of windmills.

Driving in was not disappointing. Snow capped Mountains coming closer and the climate change again evident to my senses as we were nearing we were getting very excited!


The kids wanted In and Out for dinner so when we arrived in Hemet we made a quick stop to get some. At that point Bank of America took it upon themselves to freeze my debit card! LOL while the kids eat I got that straightened out. And then next stop cousins!


It’s always great to reunite after a couple of years. It was not a very late night for us but nice to be back in a home and out of a hotel we are kind of spread out a little but not too much and started to get our bags/ belongings situated for the part 2! Our cousins were so welcoming, and let us know we were at home.


Tips: Bring Water, more than you think you need, there is no water at Joshua Tree or any place to buy food or drinks that we saw. There is no cell service, so plan ahead for any GPS or service related items.

America the Beautiful pass pays for itself quickly in this itinerary!

Cons: None, this day was better than expected, we enjoyed the long scenic ride and heat since we were expecting this J



Daily Costs:

Grand Canyon National Park – Free (America the Beautiful pass)

Gas - $22.00

Joshua Tree National Park – Free (America the Beautiful Pass)

In and Out - $32.00

Daily Total - $54.00

(We again ate Breakfast and Lunch with the food we bought at the grocery store)

AND – First night of NO HOTEL cost, got to love family!!!!

Next Stop: California!!! Click the Cali button for more.

Joshua Tree
Skull Rock

Skull Rock

Josh the muscle

My strong one


In case it looks easy


Mountain sass


top of the rock



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