After leaving the lush oasis that was Palm Springs, a short drive out into the desert proper took me to the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park.
As with every other day I spent out west, it was blast furnace hot, but again, since it wasn't humid like back east, I could deal with it by drinking water constantly, wearing sunscreen and dressing to keep the sun off as much skin as possible.
It has a network of old mine roads, which, me being me and having a rented 4x4, I had to explore. Some were seasonal, unmaintained sand roads like this:
pretty asinine customer-service-wise, I probably won't bother. And besides, if you rent out 4x4 SUVs in the western desert, you probably have to expect that at least some renters are going to put them to use off-road. Still, that Jeep Liberty did everything that I asked of it, and that despite me bottoming it out countless times and pinstriping it on the brush constantly. As you can see, it climbed to the top of more than one ridge.
Farther north into the park, I started running into odd-looking plants like these Cholla Cactus. I saw them in Organ Pipe too, but didn't know what they were.