Joshua Tree Back Roads - Easter Weekend 2003

Saturday night, we replenished our spent carbs by cooking up enough food for a small army. As Dana observed, 12 people brought fixings for 12 people, so we could have fed 144. I don't think we had quite that much food, but the potluck dinner was aptly named the "All American Pigout." We had Sirpa's salad, Strickland's sausages, Lory's corn on the cob, Jason's Dutch oven stew and so much more. Drew provided the soundtrack for the evening on his acoustic guitar, and Lory's Book of Questions stimulated fireside discussions about religion, politics and everything in between. I felt like I'd known these people I'd just met for years.

Though I was in serious need of a shower, Sunday came too quickly. Loading up the vehicles again, we left the park by way of Pinkham Canyon and Thermal Canyon Roads (again, rated for four-wheel-drive vehicles only). This time, Lory got her shot in the saddle of my Explorer and loosened the reins on roads that were even more fun than Black Eagle Mine Road. Drew also joined the fun in his pristine 1955 Land Rover, looking more like he belonged in the African bush than the California desert. And even a minor setback like Christian nearly running out of gas provided opportunities to see otherworldly caterpillars and blooming prickly pear cacti out in the middle of nowhere.

The denouement of the trip took place on the tram from Palm Springs to the top of Mount San Jacinto, a trip involving a 6,000-foot rise in elevation and a 40-degree drop in temperature. Lory and I, however, skipped this final adventure in favor of getting home at a decent hour. But secondhand reports suggest that the group had a blast avoiding Karen's snowballs.

I feel lucky to have found such a great group of people, and look forward to many more travels "off the beaten path" with Total Escape. So much so, in fact, that I'm going to Baja in two weeks!

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