Moongazing in Joshua Tree in the back of a Chevy Silverado

The pandemic may have reduced our regular air travel, but it hasn’t slowed down our love for outdoor adventures and road trips in California. To our surprise, the pandemic pushed us to buy our first home and our travel budget unexpectedly switched to furniture and home improvements in Palm Springs, but that still didn’t stop our need for local travel exploration. 

Little did we know Joshua Tree National Park is just one hour away, so when Chevy offered me a week to experience the new 2020 Chevy Silverado, I couldn’t believe the timing. I was already imagining all the unique furniture finds I was about to embark on around the desert for our new home that could fit in the back.

Although I have never owned a truck, I grew up In Connecticut where many people had them due to the weather and I could easily see the benefit. I always admired vintage trucks, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do driving such a massive machine. But soon those fears were squashed as my first solo trip was an hour away to retrieve a mid-century dresser I bought online, which easily slipped in the back on a blanket thanks to the extremely generous cargo capacity. 

With one click on the keychain, the tailgate popped open and the corner step allowed me to hop in the back to pull the dresser in. Then another stop – a West Elm Outlet furniture pickup since many purchases were waiting for my arrival, wrapped and placed in the back – even 2 swivel chairs and a king bed frame. I was so thankful for this truck space to take home my exciting new pieces.

Thankfully no city parallel parking was ever needed and I soon became savvy at backing into our driveway. It helps when there is no traffic on the road. My outings happily continued in the Chevy Silverado since I couldn’t imagine the trees and plants and ladder I wanted to buy ever fitting into our 5 series BMW. I started to feel like a tough cookie. Even some people stared at me who pulled up beside me, curious about the girly girl in the burly diesel.

Next up was a trip north to the Desert Hot Springs area to peruse cacti nurseries. We took the Chevy down dry dusty dirt roads to take home some cacti easily; each trip made me feel more comfortable navigating this blue metallic beast. 

On Halloween we cruised in the Chevy Silverado to Joshua Tree for the Super Moon rise. The benefits soon became clear as we sat way up high with marvelous views of the everchanging landscape that went on for miles and miles. As we sped through the desert plains scattered with oddball trees, the clouds would dance and shapeshift over the massive skyline. Now I really wanted to keep this truck, especially with how easy it was to pull over and venture off-road. We marveled at rugged mountains, an oasis of palms, rugged mountains, and gold mining ruins, and rocks that looked dumped by aliens so smooth and round – some in the shape of grand skulls or arched passageways.

Our first stop in Joshua Tree was an easy hike to Barker Dam, a historic reservoir. Although we saw no water, the dam remained along with an old watering horse trough. We spoke to numerous bunnies, desert mice, and a blue bird as we scrambled up and around boulders. I was hoping to see a bighorn sheep. 

A rainbow sliver presented itself atop of all the Dr. Seuss-like cacti species making me feel even more alive and free. I imagined how happy I would be if I was left here to sleep under the desert stars. On the way out, cave painting petroglyphs reminded us that we were not the first ones to call this magic land home.

We made our way south to the Cholla Cactus Garden where I had to show my husband this jumping cactus with yellow spines. Howling coyotes announced their presence in the distance and after meandering through thousands of these shrub-like trees basking in sunlight, we prepared our Chevy for the ultimate evening – sleeping in the back of the truck. My husband blew up the inflatable bed which fit snug in the back – with cozy body pillows and fleece lined blankets to create the comfortable set-up. The tea in our canteens was still hot from when we left.

From our parked car in the Cholla Cactus Garden we screamed in delight as the sunset created a dizzying array of color in all directions while we enjoyed the comfort of being outside in the dramatic desert landscape but toasty warm under the blankets in the back of the truck.  The clouds streamed pink then deep red and swirly blacks then shifted into a brilliant blue-sky glow before the stars presented themselves one by one. 

Due to the clouds that formed, the Supermoon did not rise right away but instead we watched the land below glow surreal over the distant valley through the clouds and just when we thought we would not see the Supermoon, the lunar disk rose from the desert floor. My husband had expertly prepared our telescope in the back of the truck to view the orb’s surface features reminding us how small we really are on this planet. 

All the campsites were booked, so this cozy cargo bed truck life was definitely convenient and something I could get use to. Pull over, park and unpack. This would be an easy and inexpensive way to road trip America without carrying the world on your back.

P.S. After a week with my Chevy Silverado, I averaged over 28 mpg – better than I ever expected. 

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