Park Life :1
After a month into this gig it seemed like we should put some thoughts to paper on this experience thus far. Truly, living in a National Preserve is an incredible experience. We've fallen in love with this stretch of land and all is has to offer. It has all the glamour of a National Park without all the notoriety or visitor-ship. Not officially “Parkies” we've been given and impressive amount of trust and responsibility and since we're volunteers we're the only ones around here who can truly complain about the government not paying us enough. We stay at the Hole in the Wall campground and when working at the visitor center our commute is about a ¼ mile walk down the nature path lined with signs that call out plant names. At the visitor center and sometimes in camp we get opportunities to chat with some real gems. Many folks know the place better than we do. Other times people are happening upon the Preserve because Joshua Tree has become too crowded or they're on their way to see the Death Valley “super bloom”. Either way they are pleasantly surprised to have found such a wonder. Our campground is around 4,400 feet in elevation surrounded by cactus-yucca scrub. The campground nine miles up the road another 1000 feet higher turns into pinyon/juniper forest. Going south the elevation drops and creosote takes over. It's over 80 miles to the grocery store, cell service and internet are limited and sometimes non-existent if the lines go down (often). Needless to say it's remote and we're getting spoiled.
Beyond the real human friend we've made who works in maintenance and lives up the road we are visited often by curious cactus wrens, a cute cottontail and just this morning a Say's Pheobe perched on the bike rack and shared a stare at us through the back window.
Monday through Wednesday are our days off and we trade our weeks with errands and honey-do's with camping in other areas of the park. So far we've camped at Kelso Dunes, up in the New York Mountains and among the Cinder Cones which was my personal favorite so far. We walked around in Black Tank Wash where we heard a burro, saw quail and got to see both petroglyphs and pictographs from a bygone era.
We showed up here in the dead of winter and now everyday a new plant is leafing out or even blossoming, days are longer and warmer (until the next storm). It's an easy lifestyle to live each day in gratitude, even if the work is a little more tiring and creative crushing than we had hoped, it's hard to complain.