On Sunday, my best friend & I completed another one of my bucket list items. This one may seem a little weird to some, but it was something I had wanted to do for a quite some time. Visit the desert, mountains, and ocean all in one day. One of the best things about living in Southern California is being so close to all three. I’m about two hours from the desert and the mountains, and only about 30 minutes away from the ocean. I’ve seen them all, but I wanted to do it in one day. It doesn’t leave you much room to actually DO anything in all those places, but we had fun regardless.
We started our trip in Orange County, and headed for Joshua Tree National Park at about 8am. Our destination on the map was Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, which was technically in 29 Palms. It was a bit confusing for a few minutes there, but we figured it out. The high temperature we saw was 99 degrees, but that was only about 10:30 AM so I’m sure it got warmer in the afternoon. The visitor center was cool. Those places are always pretty educational. But my favorite part of Joshua Tree, were the Joshua Trees. I had seem them plenty of times through the Mojave Desert but had never stopped to take a picture until now. I just can’t get over how weird and cute they are!
We also found these random dinosaur things on the side of the road. Probably art. They were definitely worth pulling over for!
Next, we headed out of Joshua Tree and into Lucerne Valley, which leads to Big Bear. Driving through Lucerne Valley would be boring to most, but I think of all the driving we did that day, this was my favorite. It’s so flat and the road is pretty much straight. You don’t have to worry about going off the side of a mountain.
From the desert, we made it up into Big Bear in about an hour and a half. Not bad, considering I thought we’d have to stop due to my Jeep running too hot. That thing was a champ though. Big Bear is one of my favorite places in Southern California. We drove around the lake, stopping a few times for photos. The weather was MUCH NICER than the desert. I think Big Bear only had a high of about 75 degrees. Perfect, in my book.
The last photo was taken at Boulder Bay in Big Bear Lake. It’s a pretty cool place to stop and hang out, but during the summer, and over the weekend, it’s incredibly crowded. Not to mention that because of the drought, there isn’t much water left in the bay there. The scenery is still gorgeous, though. So much green!
After Big Bear, we of course headed back down the mountain. We stopped at the bottom for a much needed lunch/early dinner break. We ate about 4pm, so I don’t know what meal that is considered, but it was SO GOOD. Any food is good when you’re starving and have been in a moving vehicle most of the day. We then continued on our way to the ocean. Our original plan was to go out to Huntington Beach, one of our favorites in SoCal, but when I realized Newport Beach was much closer, we changed our plan. We drove down into Newport Beach, thinking we could park, check out the pier and the water, and head back home. We didn’t really consider that it was a Sunday, and still technically summer… The place was PACKED. I pulled into the parking lot at the Pier and then we were stuck in traffic. It probably took us a good 20 minutes to get out on the other side. So, we just decided to drive south (which is the way home, anyway) and at some point, we would stop and see the ocean. Driving on Pacific Coast Highway, you can actually see the ocean from the road. Of course, we needed to stop for pictures though. We eventually stopped in Laguna Beach. It’s a big tourist destination, but we managed to find a parking spot.
The beach was pretty gloomy looking, which made for weird pictures. But there it is! The Pacific Ocean. By the time we got there, it was about 7pm. We were exhausted and way too tired to walk down to the water. We admired God’s beautiful work, took a selfie, and headed back home.
Here she is! My co-pilot, Brittany. I think she mostly came on this trip because she wanted to hunt for Pokémon. Whatever the reason, I was glad she came with me. In hindsight, it would have been nicer to take this trip in September or October, when the weather is a bit cooler and there is way less tourists out and about. We had so much fun, though. It was about 11.5 hours, spanning 355 miles. Essentially, we drove in a giant circle like shape.
Let’s talk. What’s something travel related on your bucket list that you have OR have not completed yet?