The Sunday of Ditch Day weekend, my alumni friends and I decided to take a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park, located a few hours south in the Mojave Desert.
We entered the park through the North Entrance and hit up 49 Palms Oasis, a hiking trail into the desert mountains to an actual oasis filled with palm trees. As you can see, the landscape of the desert is quite barren and not as boring and clean as found in cartoons–not always flat sands, but often mountains terrain with tiny, stunted shrubs.
Here’s a picture of my friend Kristin taking a photography break on our hike up next to the rocks and mountains.
The oasis had a few more than 49 palms since it had been christened. The water level was higher this year than when I went last year for a camping trip during spring break due to the California rains! Here’s Jerry standing by some reeds.
We met a kindly older couple who took a group picture for us and told us that it was nice to hear young people talking about the ridiculous prices of avocado–we brought them hope for the future, they said, because we were actually thinking about conserving money.
Next, we visited the Cholla Cactus Garden. Cholla cacti are these little fuzzy cacti that will spear anything that comes close enough.
We saw some unhappy bees impaled on the spikes. The entire garden is enclosed by wooden fences or rock barriers to prevent visitors from straying off the path and wandering into the cactus patches, destroying nature or destroying themselves.
We headed off to a place near Skull Rock to do some rock scrambling and possible easy bouldering. It was 103 degrees and disgustingly sunny, the weather growing hotter as the afternoon wore on. Here’s Patrick, Anne, Kristin, and Jerry resting from the climb.
We took a bad boy band pose picture along the way too:
This is the view from the top of Skull Rock–note the gray lines of the roads 100 feet below, and the mountains in the distance.
Attempts at group selfie in the little cranny we had climbed into:
Jerry, our resident mountain goat, going even further to above the cave:
Everyone sliding down the rock mountain on our return journey to the car:
My roommate Sandra and I, red-faced from the heat and exertion:
The Joshua Tree, namesake of the national park and known for their arm-like branches and spiky, scrubby leaves!
Even the wildflowers are sparse in the desert:
We headed back to Pasadena for dinner at one of our old haunts, Viva La Estrella. Pictured below is one of their specialties, the wet burrito–bursting with meat and beans and rice, topped with sour cream and melted cheese, slathered and sitting in a pool of their hot salsa, served with a side of guacamole and chips and lettuce and pico de gallo.
I had to get one last picture of all of our alumni friends, who except for Sandra had all graduated last year :’)
The next day they all scattered to the four corners of the country–San Diego, Ventura, Wisconsin, Chicago, San Francisco, along with our other friends who had left earlier for Boston, for their ventures in the afterlife–working and graduate school. Our time together had been brief, but sweet. I guess that’s what makes these reunions all the more precious…
When we think of Caltech and the Avengers, most of us would not make any sort of direct connections between the two. The only connection that comes to my mind is that many Caltech students enjoy Marvel and the Avengers. But what if we made another sort of connection. Where instead of Caltech students liking the Avengers, the Caltech students WERE the Avengers. If this was the case, what major would each Avenger be? (Note: For my emotional well-being, in this scenario, everyone is alive and happy with their lives at Caltech)
On May 8, the Washington Nationals came to Los Angeles Angels for a lovely Mother’s Day Game. I, being a D.C. native and avid Nationals fan, of course had to attend– the Nationals play the Angels very rarely because they play in different leagues and on opposite coasts. My dad and I have a goal of going to all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, and we had to take advantage of our home team being in L.A., so my mom and dad both flew out for the weekend.
As I write this blog, I’m sitting on a grassy knoll on Pomona-Pitzer’s campus. It’s the last match of my final season of tennis here at Caltech. It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling to be done with my college tennis career (unless I decide to use my final year of NCAA eligibility, granted to athletes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic). Being a part of the women’s tennis team here has been a defining part of my identity and where I met my community on campus. In this blog, I want to discuss a bit of the process of becoming an NCAA athlete, the Caltech experience of handling schoolwork and a sport, and my take on how it affected my growth here.