Our RV Maiden Voyage – Truck Fire and Cholla Garden

Oh what are we going to do now? Do we watch it burn or go make lunch?
Truck burning in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park

“Man this thing is huge! I mean really big.” We both said as we watched the truck in front of us burn – one boom after another, flame spouts and black smoke blowing across the road. There was no way we could turn this thing around on this two lane road in the middle of the desert.Jean had asked me to ride in the RV for the first trip, so I couldn’t even go for help on the motorcycle. How long would we be stuck here in our new “home on wheels”?

Trip Recap

After finding the motorhome near my brother David’s home just outside of Phoenix we left Hawaii with Nalu and Buckingham (dog and cat), 23 USPS one rate boxes, 4 suitcases, and 4 carry-ons.
That’s it… Wow!!! (And we both think we overpacked.)

In the Casa Grande area of Arizona we outfitted the RV, (including installing 4 Fantastic Vent fans – SO worth it), and headed off across the desert toward Disneyland for Jean’s Dad’s 80th birthday.
1st night was at a rest-stop between Phoenix and the California border. Then across the border into California in the morning.

But there’s a National Park along the way!

And one of our goals is to visit every National Park! So we detoured toward Joshua Tree National Park. For those of my friends who rode there when we were young and do not remember it being a NP, it was established a National Park in 1994.

For anyone who has not been to Joshua Tree, there are several roads  on the north side of the park along with the town of 29 Palms, and one road through the park from the south… and that’s where found the burning truck.

Luckily there were 2 cars and 2 motorcycles in a pull-out a little further down the road. They all happened to be watching the fire. I hopped out asked is they wouldn’t mind if we used the turn-out to turn the RV around, all agreed.  We then maneuvered  the RV around the car in front of us, who seemed awestruck at seeing a burning truck in the middle of the desert and was unable to do anything, and used the turnout to avoid having to back down the road several miles.


We then stopped for a dog-walk and made lunch at a roadside exhibit: Cholla. This just seems like a way to punish unknowing desert visitors.

Cholla is a puff-ball of razor sharp barbed needles pointing in every direction. While this may seem fine on it’s own if left alone… it get’s sinister.

While the desert winds blow across this plant of deadly puff-balls, which can get to be 6+ feet tall, it strips away some of the ions or whatever that allow it to be a nice and pleasant plant. It now becomes electromagnetically charged with static electricity and in an attempt to neutralize its static charge it will jump, or swing, or fly (yes, fly) toward anything that may aid in its electrical dilemma. Once it finds you good luck getting those barbed needles out. The barbs are nature’s way of saying it’s here to stay, or at least until your body an process the rejection, which can take weeks. I saw one of these deadly razor-sharp puff-balls embedded what looked like 2″ deep into one of the wooden fence posts while we were there. OUCH

Now here you come, out of your fresh car, sipping your StarBucks, or Gatorade or whatever, and wandering through this scenic (and they really are pretty) desert walk with nice little signs and a walkway. Good luck, don’t get to close.

What would you do?

We decided to visit the Cholla Garden and have lunch till there was only a pile of metal left.
The remnants of burnt and twisted metal.

I opted to make PB&J sandwiches in the RV and enjoy the beautiful scenery until the smoke had died down. We were then able to make out way out of the park to 29 palms where we had a WONDERFUL lunch and spent the night outside of Jean’s Dad’s house in preparation for the weekend.

What’s Your Favorite?

The cholla is a recent favorite of mine for the above mentioned reasons (at least until the day I come “in contact” with one).
What is your favorite, or least favorite, cactus and why do you love or hate it?

4 thoughts on “Our RV Maiden Voyage – Truck Fire and Cholla Garden”

  1. Awesome account of the burning truck. Non-fiction is often more spectacular and dramatic than fiction.

    The cactus story was very very funny. However I HATE all cactus. Come to think of it, that’s what makes it so funny.

    Loved this Blog!!

  2. Whoa!!!A bus you say. You be one serious traveler. How’s the kids doing. Can just see Nalu hanging out the window catching a breeze.

  3. Safe travels, you guys!
    1. Don’t let your cat loose. My in-laws lost theirs in an RV park.
    2. Drop an email when you can — to remind us to check your blog(s) and to keep in touch with the lodge.
    3. I envy your adventurous spirit. I once asked Charlys if we could go on an RV trip. “Only if we can stay at a motel every other day.”

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