The day started in the dark at 5:00 am in a move we mastered on our last long trip, the "early morning cross desert drive". The obvious idea behind this move is to get somewhere before it becomes too hot for us (Brian, Theresa, and the air cooled bus) to function. Today we were wildly successful, due mostly to not seeing a time change coming. We headed west out of Cottonwood and immediatelly began a steep climb toward an adjacent mountain pass. Clinging to the side of the mountain was a very interesting looking small town called Jerome, a contemporarily populated historic mining town that looks like it would be fun to poke around some day. Sadly it was 5:00 in the morning, so there was no poking to be done and no pictures to be had in the dark. We continued to climb on above Jerome, until cresting the pass and dropping down the back side into Prescott Valley. Highway 89 crossed this and a second very nice and manageable mountain range out of Cottonwood, before hitting desert floor and clinging to just before the teeny town of Congress. Despite the rapidly rising temperatures, the drive through saguaro cactuses and small patches of Joshua Trees was marred only by the appearance of Los Angeles smog on the horizon. Euphamistically called "haze" in this part of the country, pollution has dropped visibility in all of the southwest parks we have been to significantly in the last thirty years. LA's "haze" reaches well into northern Arizona regularly. We continued more or less due west from Congress, eventually climbing on I-10, truly a truckers paradise. We hurtled along, to the best of our ability, into California and depressingly deeper into the "haze". We eventually jumped off the interstate at the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park at around 11:00 am, having unwittingly started our day at 4:00 am California Time. Joshua Tree is another high desert plateau that sports the largest protected Joshua Tree "forest" in the world, not too difficult as they only grow in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. This was one of Brian's favorite places in college, a yearly spring break rock climbing destination. It's been fifteen plus years since he's been here, but we were both delighted to see the sky clear as we cimbed above the "haze" and watched the funky trees and blobs of rocks pop up as we climbed into the park. We did some rock hopping up to a vantage point, took in the completely unique view, and then unfortunately had to drop down into the sad and inhospitable little town of 29 Palms for some groceries. Getting back to camp in the late afternoon, we did a little more bouldering about, sat in the shade and read for a few hours, had some dinner, watched a specatcular sunset and called it a wonderfully pleasant night.