A Weekend Exploring the San Diego Zoo & Joshua Tree NP

February 28-March 3, 2018 San Diego, CA & Joshua Tree National Park During our winter stay in Yuma, we took the time one weekend to drive the 3 hours west to San Diego.  I have wanted to visit the San Diego Zoo ever since the Disney Channel taught me at age 4 that it’s the best zoo in the world.  To maximize our time at the zoo (I mean, at those prices if you’re buying 4 tickets you’d better be there from open ’til close!) we did a very un-Fitzgerald thing and got a hotel for 2 nights.  We were excited about swimming, but it ended up being too chilly.

We may have paid for a hotel…but you wouldn’t catch the Fitzgeralds spending money at a restaurant! This is me cooking our dinner in the jet boil outside our hotel room. I don’t know why I’m like this…
The pool was freezing but the girls enjoyed some hot tub time!
We took a quick drive to the beach in San Diego. We missed the sunset, but got to watch some sea lions and colonies of giant sea birds.

I had a blast visiting the zoo of my childhood fantasies.  I didn’t even let the 5 year old complaining, “I’m tired of the zoo…I want to go home,” starting at 9:30am ruin my mood.

Yay! Bucket-list place for me!
This one. This is the one who tried to derail my childhood dream by becoming bored 30 minutes after we arrived….
Lots of amazing animals at the San Diego Zoo.
One of Coral’s “Zoovenirs” (thanks G & G!) was this giraffe mask. When she fell asleep in it the next day I just couldn’t handle the cuteness…

The next day we drove a few hours north and east to visit Joshua Tree.  (We had intended to visit this park in December before arriving in Yuma, but an ill-timed stomach flu had derailed our plans.)  We had opted to leave Stumbo in Yuma because San Diego RV prices were insane, so at Joshua Tree we opted to tent camp.  The four of us hadn’t slept in a tent together since before this grand adventure began for us!

Our deceivingly beautiful campsite…the strong winds made for a very cold, slightly miserable night! The girls and I had to lay on the tent while Brad put in the stakes to keep it from blowing away.

Our campsite was lovely, but we hardly ventured out of our tent because it was CRAZY WINDY!  We huddled inside our tent, reading and playing games, and went to bed early.  But sleep was elusive because the wind battered against the sides of our tent, pressing the walls down against our heads.  It was a bit of a rough night. The next day was lovely, so even though we were pretty exhausted, we had a great time exploring and playing at the park.  Some people had told us it wasn’t that different from the surrounding deserts, so we hadn’t expected to be very impressed.  We were delighted to find bizarre stone playgrounds, fascinating natural gardens with thousands of cholla cacti, and forests of the biggest Joshua Trees we’d ever seen.

The bizarre rocks and trees made Joshua Tree National Park feel otherworldly.
I brought my happy place to my happy place.
In caves and crevices these girls came up with all kinds of games.
The rocks and trees provided an endless natural playground.
On the way out of the park we passed this cholla cactus garden, where thousands of chollas have grown up in about an acre of space. It was hard to fathom how many of them were packed into this small, natural garden, after driving for miles and miles seeing nothing of the sort.
Pictures can’t capture the scope of this landscape suddenly & completely covered with cacti.

We wished that we had planned more days to explore this incredible area, but it wasn’t the “glamping” we’re used to now…so we were eager to get back to Yuma and get some sleep!

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