Recently, we took a road trip to Yucca Valley, California, to help build a meditation deck for Phil’s daughter and her fiance’ at their new home “Terra Nova” and while we were there, we took one of the hikes in Joshua Tree National Park.

Yucca Valley is located in San Bernadino County in the desert and is only about 30 miles from Palm Springs but very different from that area. It is part of the Mohave Desert.

I lived in southern California for over 40 years and had been to Yucca Valley on a science field trip in high school to gather, preserve and identify wildflowers (probably my very favorite high school class) so I knew a bit about the area and what to expect: desert, of course, lots of cactus and Joshua trees, tortoises, rattlesnakes, iguanas, and other reptiles, and beautiful sunsets!

The Wine and Rock Shop

Yucca Valley is a bit “mystical” and the area has been mentioned in connection with extraterrestrials (specifically Giant Rock, a boulder in Landers) so you’ll find some interesting shops including The WIne and Rock Shop on 29 Palms Highway which sells both booze and rocks and has this guy outside their door!

Shelley, wearing a COVId mask and standing next to an ET outside The Wine and Rock Shop in Yucca Valley

Interesting wines from the wine and rock shop

Because we were taping an episode of our Wine Time Friday’s podcast, we chose 2 interesting wines to taste and talk about. It was great that Lindsay and Brian could be on the show! You can find Wine Time Fridays wherever you get your podcasts!

Nice place to tape a podcast!


Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is on 29 Palms Highway about 3 hours from Los Angeles. Although it appears dry, the area is known to have many underground waterways with high mineral content.  You can find a white crystal quartz hil behind “Giant Rock”. Visitors often go searching for the hidden alien base that is rumored to be located out there. UFO aficionados believe that Joshua Tree sits on the 33rd North parallel just like Roswell.

As you enter Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll see signs saying “Watch for Tortoises” because they often cross the roads. Although I have 2 of them at home, you’re not allowed to take these guys with you as they are on the endangered species list. And you’re not allowed to bring a pet desert tortoise from home and leave them there. You may adopt one (NOT PURCHASE) from a friend whose tortoise had babies or who can no longer care for one (they can outlive their owner.) The population of the California desert tortoise in the Mojave Desert has declined by 90% since 1980.

We chose the Barker Dam Loop Trail to hike. It’s a very mild 1.5 mile hike that is well-marked and easy to follow. Always wear comfortable shoes, a hat and bring water. It can get very hot. There are tall mounds of boulders on either side of the trail and then suddenly, out of nowhere, a small blue lake appears.

Turn left and follow the shoreline toward the Barker Dam itself. It was built over a century ago by ranchers trying to save up some of the desert’s very limited but most vital resource, water. I don’t have a photo but the walk to the dam was a bit thin in one part.

After you pass the dam, you’ll see quite a few Joshua Trees. They’re also protected under the California Endangered Species Act.

Shelley standing beside a Joshua Tree

As you continue walking, you’ll come to a rock covered in vivid petroglyphs. These Native American drawings are more vivid than you’d think because they had their colors enhanced by a film crew working on an old Hollywood movie. I’m curious why that was allowed. Also, some people have tried to add their own graffiti which has been scrubbed as much as possible.

Rocks with petroglyphs


This iguana seemed to be posing for all the hikers.

Some of the beautiful plants we saw:

Beaver Tail Cactus



Prickly Pear Cactus

Yucca Trees have TALL flowers!

The Meditation Deck


Lindsay and Brian deciding where to place the deck

Lindsay and her dad working on the deck

Lindsay and her Dad working on the deck

the finished 16 x 16 meditation deck

The finished 16 x 16 meditation deck

Beautiful views from the deck!

The natural plants at Terra Nova

Mohave Yucca Bush

Yuccas have an interesting story.

Paper Bag (or Paper Sack) Bush



Cholla – stay away from this one! It’s stickery! They have a pinkish-orange flower around May to June


Hedgehog Cactus

Hedgehog Cactus


Littleleaf Ratany

Littleleaf Ratany


Ocotillo or Creosote Bush

Ocotillo or Creosote Bush


Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus


Branched Pencil Cholla

Branched Pencil cholla

Have you considered a trip to Joshua Tree or Yucca Valley?  If so, follow the journey of Terra Nova (Where high vibrations meet the grounding energy of the desert) on Instagram as it will soon be available as an AirB&B.


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