The famous heart-shaped rock at Joshua Tree National Park was our destination. Plans were to leave from Los Angeles at around 7am, would take us about 2 1/2 hours to get to the campgrounds. However, as we all know, life tends to throw curve balls and change your plans from time to time.
The wife had to work, and we started our drive/adventure at 12:30 noon. Fortunately, our friends did not mind the delay and we got on our way. However, it was late and we were all hungry, a quick pit stop had to be made. As we were driving, thinking what to eat, one of the guys wanted to stop by a camping store, to purchase a knife he had seen online. So, we agreed to stop by Bass Pro Shop while the wife’s got the food at The Hat(across the street). The Hat is mainly know for its famous pastrami. So, the wife and I shared a pastrami sub and chili cheese fries, it did not disappoint.
The time was now 2:00pm, we had gone to camping store, ate, and were ready to continue driving. As we were getting close to Joshua Tree visitor center, I remembered a wine opener was needed, to open a wine bottle, for the wife. A quick stop was made at a nearby Walmart. Finally, we arrived to the visitor center, at around 4:00pm, only to learn there were no available campgrounds. They advised us to drive about 10 miles to Joshua Tree Lake, however, the fee for overnight camping was outrageous. And we would be camping in a cage(literally). No way we wanted to spend the night there. Drove back to a campground at Joshua Tree, maybe to our luck someone had canceled their reservation, we thought . No luck, ranger stations were now closed.
4:50pm and we still did not have a place to camp. Until we found Nate, the stranger. Nate was just using the restroom and filling up on water before heading to an isolated area, free of charge. Time was passing by, sun was setting, and Nate was heading to an open, free campground. He gave us directions, then asked if we wanted to follow him, seeing the look on our face saying, “we pretty much have no choice.”
By 5:30, we were setting camp. The place was actually pretty nice, and best of all, FREE. We were doing what we went to do, camp. Sun started setting, so, fire was started. I enjoyed a nice cold GOOSE IPA beer, and the wife, San Antonio Red Wine. Much needed after a long drive and almost loosing my head looking for a camping spot.
Once tents were set up, sun had set, and we all relaxed, we begun enjoying and appreciate the area a tad bit more. Fire was started, and we sat around goofing around, as we usually do. From then on, it was all fun and games, endless laughs.
We had s’mores, I had coffee(a MUST), and we continued to enjoy the night. We also stared deep into the sky, billions of stars were above us. By 9:30 we started cleaning up and getting ready to go to bed. The next day we would drive a few miles into Joshua Tree National Park, in search of the Heart-Shaped rock.