24 Jan 2015

Los Angeles / Joshua Tree

Wolf and I spent a week in California earlier this month, visiting family, friends, and generally travelling around. The last time I visited the state, it was the middle of summer; hot and dry. Coming from the north, especially from Tacoma, it was an unpleasant change. This time in the middle of winter, I got a clearer look of the state. It's not so bad.

Steve Soboroff… I've heard that name before. We saw this walking in Los Angeles (well, Beverly Hills I suppose—but the cities there are all just smashed together without clear boundaries)

Los Angeles wasn't nearly as bad as I'd been led to think it would be. But the smog was exactly as I expected it would be! You can't really tell when you're in local neighborhoods, but out on the freeways you can see into the distance and it's obvious.

We had the good fortune of a free day which we spent in Joshua Tree national park.

The trees are the main attraction and they really impart an otherworldly quality to the place. The different colors of the soil, mountains, and other plants contribute to this.

Yes, Los Angeles's smog even reaches 150 miles to the valley immediately west of the park. It's funnelled in through a pass in a low mountain range.

Smog has a weird blueish skim-milk look to it. Easy to tell the difference between it and fog.

There were a lot of neat rock formations in the park that looked like piles of giant pebbles. A neat line ran through this one.

This was the first oasis I'd ever seen! I was expecting surface water, but once again, man has left an ugly mark on the land. No water has reached the surface for 100 years.

Groundwater rises rather near ground level though, allowing for this stand of water-hungry palms.

It's also host to plenty of wildlife, like this rabbit!

Further into the park you leave the Mojave Desert (home to Joshua trees) and enter the Colorado. Cholla cactus can be seen here.

These shifted rock formations remind me of Michigan's UP where there are a lot of tilted rock formations. These were an eerie light grey/tan that was almost white.

That covers the first half of our trip. After Los Angeles, we drove up CA-1 to San Jose. I'll report on that next week!


  1. Never ending L.A. smog and some very beautiful places. Imagine how terrible the pollution must have been when all the steel plants were still there belching out unscrubbed smoke.

  2. Nice photos, shame about the smog. :)

    1. It's a peculiar feature of the geography. Even before cars and industry, wood smoke would linger in the area longer than it should have. A terrible place for a big city!

  3. In spite of what we've done, it's still beautiful country! Any pics of LA city and the local sites - Hollywood, movie stars......?

    1. No, I didn't get more than a smattering of random photos around the city, none of which were too good. I did actually get to watch a film in the Chinese theater, but it was raining and at night so I couldn't get a good picture.

  4. That's a great looking tree! Not one like I've ever seen before, and I really like trees. Thanks for sharing Nick.

    1. They're very strange trees; when they're young, they look like overgrown yuccas. But the older they get, the more tree-like they get, even down to the bark which looks like a normal tree.