49 PALMS OASIS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Growing up in Southern California in the 60’s, Mom was an avid subscriber to Sunset Magazine, a wonderful magazine about southwest living.  A monthly feature was weekend or day get-aways, one of which remains a family joke, our trip to the 49 Palm Oasis.  Driving from Los Angeles my parents listened to our constant complaints of “how much longer?” and “are we there yet?”  At the end of a long car ride and hike to the oasis, we found it in ashes.

The National Park Service describes the 49 Palms Oasis Trail as “a three-mile round-trip hike to a fan palm oasis. It requires two to three hours and is rated moderately-strenuous, ascending about 300 feet each way. This well-maintained trail climbs to a ridge where large numbers of barrel cacti dot the landscape. After winding around the ridgetop, the trail descends steeply to the oasis located in a rocky canyon. Towering palms create a canopy over clear pools of water. Large boulders provide a place to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds of this small ecosystem”.

Sister Kerry traveled from Anchorage, Alaska to help celebrate my 65 birthday in Palm Springs, and Maggie and I have taken a break from trailer life to spend a couple of days at the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, with Alaskan pals Diane and John.

Kerry and Diane did all the research and because the Park was closed in January due to (colossally stupid)  the partial government shut-down, they found an AirB&B just outside the Park entrance.  Today, Kerry and I completed the hike and found the oasis recovering from a more recent arson in March 2018Fortunately, the past two rainy California winters has allowed the oasis to recover, but several of the Palm trunks are visibly burned.  Sadly, during the government shut-down vandals cut down some of the Joshua trees. Yucca brevifolia is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua treeyucca palmtree yucca, and palm tree yucca.[2][3][4][5]

My idea of a good hike is usually punctuated by 18 holes, but Kerry and I had a nice hike catching up on our fond family memories, and enjoyed the wildflowers along the amazingly maintained trail.  Mom instilled in us a love of camping in the National and state parks as our family summer vacations, and often our destinations were first read about in Sunset Magazine.  If you are planning a trip west, pick-up a Sunset, the recipes are always wonderful as well.

As Ken Burns documentary films series illustrates, our National Park’s are still “America’s Best Idea”.  If you haven’t watched the series I hightly recommend it.

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