Posted by Graham | Nov 08, 2018
With a long weekend ahead of us, of course we’re going to travel. And what better excuse than to test out our new Conqueror UEV-440 rental unit. We’re big fans of the US National Parks system and Joshua Tree National Park happened to be a reasonable distance away. Done.
Our campsite of choice was BLM land just outside of the south entrance of the park, right off of Interstate 10. This was apparently a well-known place to camp, as it was quite busy, especially on the weekend before a national holiday. But we managed to find a great site. It was one of the harder ones to reach, guarded by some rough road patches and big humps, but our rugged off-road Conqueror trailer handle with zero problems. And, as testified by several other campers that stopped by to check us out, we had the sleekest, toughest camper around.
As it turned out, there was a young family camped out right across the big washout ditch next to us that we had to cross, providing several other children to play with our kids. It’s great when that works out like that. They had a fantastic afternoon running around the rocks and climbing the trees, while I milled about checking out the local flora, which was quite different than what we know from Arizona.
The park sections we saw the next day were bizarre and beautiful. Ocotillos, giant seagrass-looking plants, clustered near a massive patch of cholla cacti, a cactus famous for hitching a (rather painful) ride on passersby. By now our kids knew well and good not to touch cacti, but these soft and furry-looking cacti were hard for curious hands to resist. We kept an extra close eye on them.
We came back to camp that night and there was nothing like a good home-cooked dinner on the Dometic double-burner stove to end off our adventure for the day, especially since cleanup was a breeze with the dual sink basins. We grown-ups had a lovely evening around the fire, losing count of the stars, trying to decipher the desert noises. It’s really nice being so immersed in nature, but still being able to cook up comfort food in a flash.
The next morning, it got super windy and quite chilly. The UEV-440 heater worked wonderfully, despite nature’s efforts to cool us down. With wind warnings set for the entire day, we were still able to pack down the camper in a couple quick minutes!
We spent the rest of the day exploring the main section of the park, up in the northwest corner. Joshua Tree NP straddles the border between the Colorado and Mojave deserts, and it is apparent when you cross from one desert to the other. Most of the shrubs are similar, but the major plants are quite different. Once in the Mojave, the Joshua trees were everywhere. They looked truly ancient, like dinosaurs would be roaming amongst them. And the rock formations all around were gorgeous. The slowly eroding granite formed the most odd-looking piles of marbles and boulders. Erosion really does make some of the world’s most unique features.
We found a couple of spots to let the kids (and me) boulder around a bit. We took a 4x4 trail and found an isolated spot to just climb for a while. Everyone had a great time, and we discovered that we really enjoyed seeing different species of cacti that were everywhere. We acquired a newfound appreciation for all things spiky and pokey.
We headed back to camp and the wind had mostly died down by then, enough to have another campfire that night. We have a camping tradition where we put the kids to bed and grill a ribeye over an open flame. Sure enough, once the kids knocked out, I was able to make fire and use said fire to cook meat for myself and my lady, as God intended. Life is good.
Since first getting our Conqueror, camping has become a part of who we are as a family. Our kids constantly ask when we will be camping next. They don’t even care where really. They may not be old enough to appreciate the uniqueness of a place like Joshua Tree like we can, but they love it anyway. They love the journey. And camping in a Conqueror is their journey. And ours, as a family. We love the fact that we can camp anywhere, and cook up a full meal, and take a shower, and sleep in a climate-controlled environment every night, immersed in nature. It’s a great feeling, and one we plan on having again and again in our Conqueror!