Palm Springs, Skull Rock, and Vegas, Baby!

Before the two-and-a-half hour trip east, Tara wanted to finally see Palm Springs so we rolled the Majestic down the road twenty-five minutes into downtown. We also took the opportunity to find both Elvis’s house, and Marilyn Monroe’s. That entire area is something else – all of Palm Springs was. Stops like this are why we agreed that ideally, doing a trip like this would be at least a three week venture with it taking a minimum three days both ways to and from B.C.

From there, we were going to do the aerial tram but instead chose to just venture up to Skull Rock which is within the Joshua Tree National Park and what does National Park signal along the west coast? High mountains. Oh joy.

The way we came in through Twentynine Palms was a good clime, but there were no scary cliffs – just flat dessert. Of course, I didn’t know that for sure so my steering wheel grip was its usual death grade – it was for the entire day. I should have trusted the terrain map I started examining the night before our next day on the road.

Skull Rock is quite cool. There are a few spots where you can climb these astounding rocks, but this one was recommended by a friend and confirmed safe and fun from Minnesota Bill and Leanne. The surface of the rocks is rough which makes it easier to grip with your shoes, but it can be hard on your hands and as Abby and Hayleigh found out, a killer on your knees. Tara and I also did a little climbing, while Emma nervously stood watch below. Each of us has our anxieties, but for some reason this wasn’t it for me. It was like after driving through all these scary freaking mountains, I might as well give these rocks a whirl. I still only climbed the bunny hill of Skull Rock. There isn’t such a thing, but it’s the comparison that came to mind.

Although Emma was ready to head back to our RV to safe ground, we let the other two explore a little more because it was good for them to be doing this and it’s important that our anxieties – which were also high as parents watching the two monkeys climb – don’t get in the way of the adventurous and courageous nature of the youngest among us.

It was now time for Las Vegas, baby! We were about an hour-and-a-half away, but it was probably the longest trek on our trip ahead for a different reason. Most of this road had already been void of much traffic, but there were a few small desert towns along the way. From Skull Rock onward, we found the definition of the road less traveled.

We might have been passed two or three times between Twentynine Palms and the main east/west road into Vegas, as we ventured through lonely desert, up and down the mountains, until finally jumping on Interstate 15 at Mountain Pass. This route we took is part of the original Route 66 – which was decommissioned in 1985 but about 85% of the roadway still exists under different highway names – which takes you to one of many historic Route 66 stops, Roy’s Motel & Café which is a popular Hollywood filming location. Of course, the adults got out to take lots of pictures. Thanks to our tour guide back home – who was traveling along with us via Facebook Messenger – for letting us know about the must-do stops. We didn’t touch on even half of his recommendations, but little things like Skull Rock enabled us to keep the kiddos entertained, when things Like Disneyland or a tour of Warner Brothers, were beyond our already stretched budget.

After we stopped at a Smith’s – a highly recommended grocery chain – to stock up our fridge and freezer for the rest of the trip, we finally arrived at the RV park mid-evening – in the dark once again.

It was a little intimidating feeling like we were the only vehicle driving through the dessert, but all we could do was make sure we had lots of gas, supplies, water in our holding tank, and a full tank of propane, and push our way through. I did start to worry as the sun started to set behind the mountains, but we were on Interstate 15 with a little daylight to spare. Right around the time we hit the Nevada state line in fact.

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