Tag Archives: Joshua Tree

USA ’17 – The Video

This has been a while coming but finally I have managed to stitch together all the footage from the dashboard camera we took with us to the US (you can read more about the £20 camera here).

Every day that we were in the car we took a short bit of footage to give an idea of what the local scenery was like that day. I have now edited that down into the short video below. I think that this gives a good idea of the huge differences in landscape we experienced over the three weeks we were in the States. In fact, as you will see, there can be great differences even within the space of a few hours. Enjoy!

USA ’17 – Day 17 – Joshua Tree National Park

OK, so I am running out of superlatives now.

I said yesterday that it was sad now that we have done all the “big ticket” items and we have really. Nobody is going to put Joshua Tree National Park above the Grand Canyon or Yosemite but they should and you really really should. It is a real gem.

We spent all day in the park today and it is the most amazing place. Better even than the Grand Canyon and that was pretty spectacular. Partly that is because, I suspect, that all we had time for at the canyon was to stand at the rim and look down. At Joshua Tree you are in it with it all around you and although it is pretty small in area there is so much diverse scenery to see and be part of.

Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park

As we walked around the many trails and was wowed once more I did feel a little like a vandal through. This place has stood untouched for millions of years and now we are trampling over it and wearing it down at a faster rate than ever before.

Nevertheless, trample we did as we went to Hidden valley, Skull rock, Face rock, Split rock, Arch rock, Cholla cactus garden and Barker dam.

The cactus garden is a great example of the diversity of the area. It is an area of about five acres in which nothing but Cholla cacti grow and they are found nowhere else in the park. Very peculiar.

Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree National Park

By the end of what was a pretty full on day we came back to Joshua Tree the town where we found an Indian restaurant and had a taste of home before returning to the B&B.

Now I am sitting outside our room and there is zero noise or light pollution and if I look up it is so dark that you can see not only many stars but the milky way too.

This is definitely somewhere I would want to come back to again.

USA ’17 – Day 16 – On the Road to Joshua Tree

Today was probably the longest drive of the whole holiday travelling from Williams, Arizona to Joshua Tree, California. Helen and I both realised that even though we still have five-ish days of the holiday left with the Grand Canyon out the way all the “big ticket” destinations are now done (with apologies to the Joshua Tree National Park and San Diego!) which is sad.

The route took as through the Mojave Desert which had long, long straight roads with flat sandy desert either side. Pretty much like the above really. Not the most exciting scenery we have been through on our travels.

The views from our overnight stop though were fantastic, even if it did require some off-roading to reach. The Desert Lily is just at the edge of the Joshua Tree national park and is reached via an unmade road to a beautiful B&B in the quietest location I think we have ever been. I’m currently sat outside in the shade typing this and it really is idyllic (and hot – 30 degrees).


As I have some free time let’s talk about tipping. Whenever you read anything about eating out in the US tipping always comes up and it does seem to be a big deal. That is because tipped workers are paid less than the minimum wage in the expectation that the difference will be made up through tips. I personally think that is outrageous. Basically it is an excuse to pay workers less.

So you are expected to tip heavily. If you tip 10% (which would be usual in the UK) this is considered that you haven’t enjoyed your meal or service in some way. 15-20% is considered the norm.

I don’t mind tipping but my reason for giving a tip is for good or exceptional service not just for doing the job but that seems to be the case here. I remember the service being great in Florida but here on the West Coast it hovers somewhere between ordinary and mediocre. That is apart from the woman at breakfast this morning who I wanted to tell “look you are getting a tip can you please turn off the smile? It’s 8am for goodness sake!”

Where tipping gets really silly is places like Applebees (a mistake going in there I know) where we ordered through a machine on the table and also paid this way. We only ever saw our server once when they brought our food to the table but I was still expected to tip even though I had done all the work!

And while we’re at it the process is incredibly insecure too. First you get the bill which you check over and find that, of course, there are two flavours of tax added. In San Francisco along local taxes (7.25%) there was also an additional 4.9% “in part to help offset the cost of Government mandated expenses”.

You leave your credit card and THEN THEY COME AND TAKE IT AWAY!!! Have they never seen The Real Hustle?

Having no doubt cloned my card and taken the money off it is returned to me (no chip & pin required here, nor a signature check for that matter). I am now also given multiple bits of paper and a pen onto which I can add a tip. This is then returned and at some unspecified later date the additional amount is also taken from your card.

What a complete and utter pain in the arse. It’s a wonder anyone leaves anything.