Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Anniversary Trip Day 3

July 26, 2014
Driving & Boxing around Joshua Tree, CA

We woke up with the sun this morning and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise. It's always fun to see the sun set one night and rise the next morning…okay, maybe not always, but we were on vacation and we're all about relishing every moment of our adventures! We stopped at a brand new McDonalds to plan out our route and pick some letterboxes to get on the way. Oh, and to load up on caffeine…because we REALLY needed caffeine. 

We continued West to Apple Valley, hoping to get a box, but once we got there we realized it was going to take more effort than we planned to find it. After giving it a good try anyway, we had to move on. At least we got some great views of Victorville and Apple Valley from this isolated spot!

Curtis always has more dedication to finding a box than I do. After a while, I just need to sit down and enjoy my surroundings. Sometimes his extra effort really pays off and we find a well-hidden box, but unfortunately today that wasn't the case.

Sometimes while Curtis is looking for a box, I try to pretend I'm like a good photographer or something. :) 

It was about 8-9 now, and we still had at least an hour until Desert Hot Springs. Our goal was to make it as early as possible to avoid any similar situations to Thursday. We drove down some very quiet and deserted roads, West to Yucca Valley, and then South to Desert Hot Springs. It was already starting to warm up, so we didn't try for any more boxes along this route.

We did have to make one stop on the way though - we had to return the letterbox that we had forgotten to hide after our little "break down" on Thursday! I must admit I was nervous when we pulled over around the same spot as before, but thank God, there were no issues this time. Above is where we were stranded just 2 days before! (I didn't take a picture that day because we were a little stressed and I wasn't sure I wanted to remember that. Now that everything's fine, we're okay with this story. Lessons learned!) :)

Facing South as Curtis hid the box - those mountains were amazing.

We made it!! We got to see our Giant up close after all! And it was so worth it. Above, you can see how big he is compared to my little 6'3" husband. ;)

Whispering Giant #27. Our 7th find in a year. Here's to many more vacations centered around seeing them all. :)

He was in excellent condition, considering he is around 40 years old!

Someday, we hope to have one of these statues in our front yard, if we ever decide to "settle down". I don't think moving it would be very easy which makes me hesitant to commit to one now. ;)

What a beast.

After this, we drove South to I-10 in search of "cheaper" gas, and upon being successful we headed back up North to Yucca Valley.

So many of these fans! There was like a huge forest of them on either side of the interstate! They will always freak me out.

After arriving in Yucca Valley, we stopped at a visitor's center in search of ideas of things to do and a place where we could enjoy air conditioning. The main reasons we were here was to visit Joshua Tree National Park, and go to another park that is the home of several letterbox series. While today didn't feel as hot as Thursday did, it still didn't feel comfortable enough to spend long amounts of time outside. We tried going after a box, but with the heat and clues that didn't line up to the trail we were on, we gave up rather quickly. We had lunch in Yucca Valley, and after discussing our plans for the evening and the next day, we changed our plans yet again. It was just too hot to enjoy being outside right now, so we went and checked in at our hotel so that we could relax in the air conditioning. (seriously, it's really a special thing when you drive so much without it!) We decided that we would wake up with the sun again tomorrow and try to do all our boxing and touring Joshua Tree in the morning.

Now, I usually just choose something that's cheap with relatively good ratings on Expedia when I look for hotels. Somehow, we ended up at this beautiful place with really nice rooms, AND a sushi/Japanese steakhouse right next door! What's even better than that, is that people staying in the hotel get a discount on their meal. All this made our day so much better! We recommend the Travel Lodge for anyone who's traveling through or staying in the area. :)

We rested for a while until the heat of the afternoon started to fade away, and we drove North to Pioneertown to do a little boxing before dinner.

An awesome Main-street historic village where several movies were filmed. Every Saturday afternoon they have a shoot out or reenactment, but we passed on that today simply because of the heat!

After boxing here and enjoying the sites, we headed back to our hotel. The drive went through a canyon and was just lovely as the sun was starting to set.

Next up, it's time for ANNIVERSARY SUSHI!!

Beautiful and delicious - this restaurant was awesome! It's called the Kimi Grill and we also recommend this for getting your sushi fix in Yucca Valley! :)

Hotel room just feet away from the restaurant? Okay, I think drinking is okay. We tried hot sake for the first time. It was an experience, but I preferred my plum wine!

Oh, and after years of dreaming of getting "the Love Boat" at a Japanese restaurant, we finally did it!! It wasn't filled with sushi, but it still counts ;) Tempura crab & veggies, teriyaki chicken, beef, and vegetables, and salad with miso ginger. The miso ginger was our favorite part - we hadn't been to a sushi restaurant that used that on a vegetable salad rather than yum-yum sauce or ginger dressing. It was surprisingly delicious! (yes, we are huge fans of sushi restaurants and Japanese steakhouses. After working at one, frequenting it for over 4 years, and writing reports about them in high school and college, I know some things about how they work and what they serve, and it makes me feel qualified to "judge them". Being a sushi critic is one of my many dream jobs.) :) Anyway, this was the perfect way to wrap up today!

End Day 2: drove 156 miles, walked about a mile, found 3 letterboxes

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