This year was completely as far from traditional as Thanksgiving could get.  My little sis and cuz and I decided to camp out for Thanksgiving.  Why?  Honestly, I have no idea.  But somehow we decided to head to the desert and celebrate just the three of us. That meant making dinner over the campfire and hiking during the day.  

A couple of things of note:

  • camping is impossible in California
  • fire restrictions are a real thing
  • drinking beer and being extremely tired don't mix
  • a desert oasis does exist
  • beware of wild critters

People.  This is a desert oasis in the DESERT.  But let me back up and start from the beginning.  

So, it all started in LA.  That is where we all met.  An easy meeting place when one person lives there, another in Mill Valley, and the last flying in from the Midwest.  So, LA was our starting point.  Any easy couple of hour drive east to Joshua Tree?  No such thing.  Not the day before Thanksgiving.  What should only take a couple of hours took five (which it took me almost ten hours the night before to even get to LA).  And I will be honest, as we were driving my car, I was a bit nervous it would make it, it being a pretty vintage Toyota that I picked up last month.  When we were getting close to Joshua Tree we had the brilliant idea to call the park and check in about camping spots, as they are majority first come first serve.  Well, much to our disappoint, the spots had been claimed for the past week.  There was literally nothing available.  Which meant my cuz and I frantically started scouring the internet as my sister drove looking for other spots to camp.  Finally, the only potential spot we found was at a KOA.  Not the prime camping spot we were dreaming of, but we were desperate.  Okay.  So please, does anyone know how you actually score these illusive no reservation spots?  Because every time I try to camp in this gorgeous state, they don't seem to be available.  

So the KOA it was.  We pitched our tent and went to buy some dinner from the closest grocery store.  Hot dogs.  Literally just hot dogs.  And beer.  Which being as tired as I was, I knocked over my second beer, spilling the majority of it and just fell asleep in my camp chair while the youngsters looked for shooting stars.  So, the downside of a KOA, no campfires.  Yep, no campfires.  Super sad stuff.  Camping without a campfire.  That is one of the reasons you do it.  To sit and chill out around a fire.  But no fires to be had.  We cooked our hot dogs over a small gas stove with my tiny cast iron skillet, even warming the buns.  Score...buns taste much better toasted.  The other downside of camping at the KOA the night before Thanksgiving, there was no room the next night, Thanksgiving night.  So, what was to be an epic trip of camping ended up with only one night under the stars before we would have to pack up and head out. No Thanksgiving dinner over a campfire and under the stars.   

We started our day hiking out to see the desert oasis at Forty Nine Palms (which I had every intention of counting the palms, but once there, got lost in the beauty of it all) and then headed into the park proper.  We knew we only had until sunset and then we were going to hit the road back to LA so we just drove until we felt like stopping and just stayed put there, spending our last hours climbing through and over and up as many rocks as we possibly could.  (More pictures to come)

And then like that, we were gone.  Back to where we had come from.