I awoke early (4:00 am) to check the star situation because I wanted to catch the rising sliver of the waning moon. The stars were shining, so I headed to the entrance to Joshua Tree. Mission accomplished!
Since there wasn’t much of a sunset the night before (no clouds) and the moon looked mostly clear, and although I did have breakfast provisions in the car, I decided the show was over until later and I googled MacDonald’s. I drove a few miles, and found it located in a Wal-Mart (probably my least favorite store ever). I went in and MacDonald’s was not open yet! By this time it was 6:15 am. I decided my car breakfast sounded ok after all and proceeded to the parking lot. As I was getting my little one burner going for coffee, I turned around to see the beginning of a beautiful sunrise – keep in mind the sky was clear for my moon shot so this was totally unexpected. There I was, in an empty Wal-Mart parking lot with huge light standards, the early bird cars parked near the door, a couple sleeping RV’s overlooking a Home Depot too far from my ‘nice’ background for a wonderful photo. I did the only thing I could do, turned around and watched probably the most spectacular sunrise I’d seen in ages and enjoyed the red colored view of the sky from east to west through the obstructions while enjoying my coffee and PBJ. A missed opportunity!
The photo group had met at Pioneertown and had a great lunch at Pappy & Harriet’s. It was one of those places that gets written up as an undiscovered jewel and was very tasty but super crowded since it was a holiday weekend. The caravan then traveled to Joshua Tree for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Joshua Tree National Park is a new addition to the national park system – established in 1994. You can tell by the remnants that Ryan’s Ranch isn’t too far past its use as a ranch.
Since I had a five-hour drive, I hiked out along with a few others in the near darkness to start my trip home. The majority of the group was staying for stars as it was not quite a two-hour drive for them. I was skeptical about start judging by the clouds. However, the last shot of the day that I also missed was the adobe with light glowing from within (by light painting), while the stars shone through a hazy cloud cover – taken by my friend John – trust me it’s awesome!