A few weeks ago, I headed over to Joshua Tree National Park for a weekend of adventuring.
My primary goal was to photograph the Milky Way. After all, Joshua Tree is known for its dark skies. In fact, it's an International Dark Sky Park, so it's an ideal spot to get epic shots of the Milky Way.
So, I loaded up my Jeep and my Turtleback Expedition Trailer and hit the road!
But as I explain in the video above, my plans for a weekend of great astrophotography didn't quite pan out.
Despite my best-laid plans, I encountered obstacle after obstacle, virtually from the moment I left my house.
That's the way it goes sometimes, though. Part of being a photographer is understanding that you don't always get the shot you want, despite your best efforts.
So, the theme of this photography trek and adventure turned out to be perseverance. I got some okay shots, but nothing that is portfolio worthy. But you know what? A weekend in a gorgeous place without that epic shot I wanted is still a weekend in a gorgeous place!
After encountering multiple accidents on the drive to Joshua Tree, I found myself getting to the campground well after dark. At that point I was just looking for a place to park and settle in for the night, so I got set up in a spot that I thought would work well.
As I discovered, however, the spot was just a stone's throw away from the campground bathroom. Now, I avoided the record-breaking heat in Joshua Tree by delaying my trip by a couple of weeks, but it was still hot (about 114-degrees in the sun). Needless to say, that outhouse got more and more ripe as Day 2 unfolded. Long story short, I packed up and moved to a new location!
Of all the places I decided to set up camp, I picked a spot next to the outhouse (note the air vent that I'm pointing to). The stench wafted over me like a warm, smelly blanket. I think my face says it all.
The new location was Jumbo Rocks, a very nice (and not smelly) campground that I could use as my basecamp.
With fresh air to fuel me, I got camp set up again, just in time to find shelter in the shade of the awning on my trailer.
I didn't want to be wandering around in the brutal heat, so I had planned to bust out my metal detector to look for relics. Unfortunately, I learned that metal detectors are prohibited, so that plan went by the wayside.
I then turned my attention to outfitting my Jeep and trailer with the new KC lights that arrived just before I left. But again, I found my plans getting thrown out...
As I discuss in the video of this trip, I couldn't get the front KC lights wired because I wasn't completely sure where to pass the wires through the Jeep's firewall. I then switched to installing the rear lights on the Jeep, but the cables were too short! The obstacles to me getting my goals accomplished on this trip were really adding up...
But the hits kept coming.
I mentioned that I delayed this trip by a couple of weeks to avoid the oppressive heat. The problem with that is that I missed the new moon, so I had the light of the moon to contend with when I went out to photograph the night sky.
I also had clouds obstructing my view!
In other words, I didn't get that killer Milky Way shot I was after. I got an okay one, just not a WOW one. Just another bummer moment on this trip.
But...as I said earlier, the theme of this trip was perseverance. A lot went wrong, but I didn't let that get me down or discouraged. This is actually the second time I've been to Joshua Tree to photograph the night sky, and the second time I walked away without the shot I wanted. And that's okay! The key to all this is to keep trying, to roll with the punches, and to be willing to put in the hard work and effort to get that shot!
Be sure to check out the video at the beginning of this article to see my adventure in full. It includes some great coffee, refreshing beer, awesome food, and even an encounter with a rattlesnake.