We go to Joshua Tree National Park. It is April, and warm, though rain is a possibility. We clamber into cars, four to each vehicle, and drive two hours through the desert. The town we are staying in, Twenty-Nine Palms, is in the middle of nowhere. A sign outside a bowling alley/bar proclaims, “Wet T-Shirt Contest!” This is met with a mixture of enthusiasm and disdain.
The cabin we have rented is more like a house, with two bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, huge living room, bathroom, porch and courtyard. We are psyched. There are 10 of us, so it should not be too cramped. We drop off our stuff and drive to the trailhead.
We hike for hours. The sky is overcast, keeping the temperature below blistering, but it does not rain. We see scorpions by the side of the path and ponder what we would do if someone were to get stung. We do not have a first-aid kit. A friend sees a rattlesnake and is a little shaken.
We keep going. We hike for two hours, and the clouds build. When we reach our destination, a canyon full of lush greenery in the middle of the desert, it starts to rain. We pause a few moments anyway, taking in the view, then turn back through the wash and up the cliff and through the desert toward the parking lot. We complete the entire hike in just under four hours; the sign by the trailhead says it takes at least six. We are awesome. It never pours, and a rainbow arcs across the sky as we gather beside the cars.
At night eight of us squeeze into the hot tub, and water sloshes over the side. I wonder if electrocution is a possibility but am too comfortable to worry about it. Hours later we slip out, one by one, and walk back to the cabin through dark woods, listening to coyotes howl in the distance. We roast marshmallows in the courtyard, then go to sleep for a few hours before dawn.