Family Time – 29 Palms & Joshua Tree NP

Our jacks were lifted and tanks were dumped when we turned right onto Rt 95 N on-time at 10am.   The original plan was to leave by 10am – drive 3 hours and arrive by noon.  “How’s that?” you are probably asking, that math does not add up!  Well, when you are crossing time zones it does!  It didn’t actually work out that way though and here’s why:  The day we left Quartzsite AZ was “spring forward” day!  Well – we had no idea, but AZ does not “spring forward”, so when I set the alarm to allow 2 hours to get ready to leave, the phone clock didn’t change, so 8am AZ time was 8am CA!  No gaining an hour!  Oh well, we arrived safe and sound in TwentyNine Palms just before 1pm, it was all good!

You may be wondering – why 29 Palms CA – what’s going on there?   Well, Bill and I have a Goddaughter, Jessilynn, who lives there with her family, husband Mike, 3 1/2 year old, Gwen and 2 year old, Ang.  Jessilynn’s Mother, Linda, is my BFF and has been for more than 25 years, and is also visiting!  Anyway,  when Jessie learned we were coming for a visit, she insisted we stay in her yard.  We had numerous conversations about the size of her driveway, side yard and the parking area in front of the house.  We pulled up in front of the house and Bill quickly said we would not even attempt the driveway or side yard, if we were fitting anywhere, it would be right in front of the house, between the fence and street.

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Jessie is a Marine, and was stationed here at the Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center.  It is the largest Marine base, and where soldiers from all over world come to train in desert conditions.

The day we arrived was a very special day – Jessie’s youngest, Ang, was turning 2!  What an awesome day!  It’s been a LOONNNGGG time since I’ve been to a party for a 2 year old!

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Jessie made this cake!
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the birthday girl!
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the birthday girl getting help from her older sister, Gwen, and a friend
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Ang didn’t want to wear her crown, so her Mom wore it instead
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getting sassy
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Gwen trying on her present that we brought her from Mexico – so happy it fit! Ang got a matching one, but wanted to keep her Cinderella dress on

We’ve been getting in some walks/hikes since arriving.  Jessie lives backed up to some mountains and Linda knows a trail that takes about an hour, so we walked that one almost every day.

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first morning out on the trail
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desert tortoise – he was NOT coming out!
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random car out in the desert – shot up full of holes – Bill looked all over it for clues as to what kind it was, and finally (after significant research) came to the conclusion that it is a Cooper

 

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One day we did a hike called “49 Palms Oasis”, which is nearby.  We packed a lunch, a baby carrier backpack for Ang, and plenty of water.  Jessie dropped of Gwen at preschool and off we went.  It was not difficult, took about an hour to get the highlight of the hike, known as the Oasis.  We ate our lunch and relaxed for about half an hour before heading back.  Ang walked about 15 mins on the way in and then Jessie carried her in the backpack the rest of the way.  On the way back, Linda carried her for a while, and when she got tired, Bill took over.  I would have loved to take a turn, but my knees were complaining about carrying just me!

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the Palms are in sight!

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the little cutie fell asleep on the hike out – its exhausting being carried!
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love this one!
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Uncle Bill taking his turn!

We have enjoyed some really good eats since we got here.  Some we have eaten out, but Jessie takes right after her parents and between her and Mike, they cook up some awesome dishes!  Pulled pork, lamb shanks, chicken mole, carnitas, and one night Bill and I made rib eye steaks and twice baked potatoes, and another night I made homemade Amish Chicken Corn Noodle Soup.  We all went out to dinner to the 29 Palms Inn.

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I didn’t take too many pics of food – but this was one of my fav’s!

One afternoon, Linda and I stayed home with the girls and everyone else went target shooting.

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Jessie demonstrating how to fire one of the guns

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Derek taking a turn
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Jessie cleaning the guns after they got home

One evening we went to see “The Little Mermaid” at the local community theater here in 29 Palms.  What a great play to take the kids to!  Jessie had helped make the costumes.  It was a great evening and everyone enjoyed it!  They didn’t allow pics to be taken, something about it being a Disney reproduction and their rules.

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waiting for the show to start

One of the bigger highlights of our time at Jesssie’s was our daughter, Michelle (Maeve) and BF, Derek flew out from Pittsburgh to spend time with all of us!  As always, visits with my daughter goes very quickly, but we had fun while it lasted!

The girls stayed home with a babysitter and the rest of us went out for pizza one night, to Pie for the People.  After getting our fill, we headed to Pappy and Harriet’s to have a few drinks and listen to the band that was playing.  It was crowded and loud!  We ended up sitting outside and we could still hear fine, yet be able to enjoy our conversation.   Bill and I especially appreciated getting to know Mike better, as we hadn’t really spent any time with him before this trip.

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Derek and Michelle (Maeve)
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Jessilynn and Mike

We have also spent some time in Joshua Tree National Park.  We  visited the park a few times, exploring different areas each time.

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Linda

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Derek and Michelle

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A Joshua Tree – they are only found in this part of the world and also in Jerusalem

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Derek thinks he’s King of the Hill
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up they go!
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Linda and Jessie scooching (not sure that’s a real word – if it is can’t figure out the correct spelling – sorry!) down on their butts
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Michelle and Derek holding up the rock – ha!
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Bill “rock climbing”
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Jessie and Derek
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Linda helping Michelle down
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Bills turn at King of the Hill
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field of Joshua Trees – seemed like it went on forever
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Cholla Cactus Garden
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Ocotillo in bloom
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Linda and I
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at the Visitor Center

It was not an easy day, the day we had to take Michelle and Derek back to the airport.  Their flight was delayed, so they missed their connection and had to spend the night in Dallas, UGH!  They were not happy – but finally arrived safely back in Pittsburgh.

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this is a tradition, which started when they were small, if I let them take a silly pic (usually with their tongues out like this one) then they would take a “good” one – trust me – some of the silly ones are now my favs!
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the “good” one

Our last day, Jessie took us to see the base. She drove around and showed us various places.  We also stopped at the PX, where they have all kinds of items for sale, mostly at better prices than other stores.  I got a new set of sheets, which we’ve been wanting for awhile.

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We are so proud of Jessilynn’s service to her country!

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Our time in 29 Palms has gone by quickly, but time with family always does.   Bill and I were both thrilled to be able to be a part of their everyday life, even for only 10 days.  I’m not sure when we will see them again, I can text or call Jessie anytime, but it’s hard to be close to small kids without being there.  Helping them choose their dress for the day, brushing their hair, watching a movie together, answering the silly questions they ask, seeing their excitement when they like the gift you’ve chosen, making them some breakfast, comforting their tears when they step on a pricker from the cactus (b/c they refuse to leave their shoes on).   Being there for those things is what builds a relationship with the little ones in our lives, and while I’m grateful for the 10 days, I have no idea when we will roll this way again.  The following are just random pics I took that I liked a lot that represent what I am trying to say.

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Gwen trying on Oma’s glasses (Oma is German for Grandmother)
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Ang eating her breakfast
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Ang with Uncle Bill
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Gwen and I
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Oma (Linda) and Ang
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Uncle Bill making a new friend
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Uncle Bill reading a Dr. Seuss book to the girls – after bath time, I braided their hair, just like I used to braid Michelle and Jessie’s when they were little
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great pic of Oma and Ang
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they can be sitting quietly watching a movie one minute
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and like this the next
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Michelle reading one of the books she brought them
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Gwen modeling her new dollar store finds
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Uncle Bill making everyone French toast
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Gwen showing us her Mermaid side
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Kelly Lady, Gwen (on her way to pre-school with not nearly enough clips in her hair) and Uncle Bill
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this is completely unrelated to everything else, but thought my East coast friends would get a kick out of it – this is REAL – Bill found it at a local store

I’ll leave you with these last few pics – they show the beauty of the area.

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taken from in front of Jessie’s house

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