Hiking on Christmas Eve, and heading home

thousand palms canyon (4)thousand palms canyon (10) I ’m sitting at my desk once again at home in Rocky Point, with snow outside the darkened windows, a blazing fire in the woodstove, and all the glory of high def big screen television illuminating the living room down the hall. Seems almost impossible that two days ago I was feeling the warm sun on my body as I hiked through the Coachella Preserve in a pair of shorts.  In spite of many internet searches and phone calls, we never did find a dog friendly trail for Abby, so instead Mo spent the morning relaxing in the MoHo while I took off hiking with Laurie and Odel, who graciously offered to drive.  It was the first time that I have entered the murky gloom of a desert California fan palm oasis, and I was completely enthralled.  The hike through the palms was less than a mile, however, not enough to even touch the 10,000 steps that are the daily goal of my hiking partners.  Instead we opted for a 4 mile mostly ridge run through the desert. 

thousand palms canyon (15)  The trail offered magnificent views in all directions, and the snow frosted peaks of the surrounding mountains made everything look all the more dramatic. With temperatures in the mid-60’s, the hike was perfect, just a few short climbs to get the blood moving, and long strolls punctuated withthousand palms canyon (16) many stops along the way to talk about all the things that we don’t blog, aka politics, religion, and of course, all the other RV bloggers that we both read and enjoy!  Stopping at a particularly gorgeous overlook, Laurie commented that she thought the huge rift below us looked like a fault.  Bingo, Laurie!  That was the San Andreas Fault, bisecting the park, lying beneath us.  The fan palms are there due to the seeps and springs coming from the fault zone, and the fabulous warm waters of Desert Hot Springs are also a result of the active fault.  Lucky us!  Great hiking, hot pools, palms for shade, and no earthquakes!

Back in camp, Mo and I sat outside in the sun for a long time, until the lengthening evening shadows forced us indoors.  Once it was all the way dark, we strolled through the park, enjoying all the Christmas light displays and listening to the music drifting on the evening air.  With only two days of brilliant sun, and that luxurious hot water pool, the trip felt like a complete success, even with the crazy weather.

Christmas Day 2010 We planned to drive on Christmas, hoping for light traffic and good weather, and we weren’t disappointed.  Christmas morning was beautiful, with so little wind that the mighty windmills were still for the first time since we have been here in the desert.  Traveling I-10, to the 210 through Pasadena (close to my birthplace in Sierra Madre), then to I-5 and over the Grapevine was completely uneventful, except for the ker-thunkety ker-plunkety road sounds that frustrated Jeremy more than any of us.  No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t settle down in his usual spot on the MoHo dash.  The road surfaces in California in many places are very old and very tired, and nowhere more so than on these major interstates.  My truck driving daughter says they are some of the worst highways in the country.  I would agree, especially after just returning from Florida where turnpikes and road fees make for some highways as smooth as butter and as well lit as a videogame.  Ah well, eventually the I-5 smoothed out a bit, the rain stayed north of us and we made our way to Coalinga.  I spent some good phone time with each of my four kids scattered around the country, and talked with friends here and there as well.  Just exactly what I would have done on this day if I had been back in Rocky Point.

Christmas Day 2010 (3) Near Coalinga we passed the Harris Ranch, a huge complex of restaurant, store and inn, with an interesting history.  Mo spontaneously said, “Hey, how about a steak!”.  We parked in the huge lot to the west of the complex and decided to see if it was possible to get in for dinner.  To our surprise, we didn’t even have to wait.   Christmas Day 2010 (11)Did you ever eat a 32 dollar steak in a tee shirt??  It was totally comfortable, with some folks in diamonds and glitz, and others fresh off the road as we were.  The service was fantastic, and the steaks were all natural, no hormones added, grass fed beef.  I had a glass of knarly oak old vine zinfandel that was an experience to itself.  I wouldn’t want to drink that wine alone, but with dinner it was perfect.  I swear I could taste the dirt beneath the old vine in that glass. The ambience was lovely, with a huge old fireplace blazing brightly, Christmas music in the background, and twinkly lights everywhere.  Turned out to be the perfect Christmas dinner for us, and I didn’t even have to cook a thing.

Christmas Day 2010 (20) Back on the road for one short hour of hard driving rain and wind before we found a little KOA at the San Luis RV Resort near Gustine, where we had reserved a space by phone earlier in the day. The site was pull-through, and it just took a few minutes to hook up in the rain.  We lit the flameless candle, turned on the flickering snowman, pulled all the shades, and were suddenly in our own little heaven, safe and warm, watching Christmas shows till bedtime.  I love that part about RVing, the quick changes, the variety, and then the nesty safety of it all.  No suitcases to lug around, to fluorescent lit front desks to deal with, just pull in, plug in, and you are home.

We spent the once again sunny Sunday morning driving to Redding along I-5, again just out of reach of the hardest rains until we landed in our little boring Redding RV Park along the freeway.  There was enough time left in the day for a quick trip up the hill to Mo’s uncle living in Shingletown, so we made a quick call and left for the hills.  Uncle Don was a World War II pilot, and then a commercial pilot, married to his sweet Maxine for many decades.  Maxine left the world a couple of years ago, and Uncle Don is on his own now, and doing absolutely great for a man in his 80’s.  We had great fun visiting and listening to airplane stories, and playing with his little Boston Terrier, Spike.  Down the mountain in the dark, and before long we were again safely tucked in to our little haven.  We spent our last night on the road for our big cross country trip here, and now we are here again.  I would imagine we might use this park quite often, since it is just a mile or so down the road from where we store the MoHo. At $15.40 cash only with the CampClub USA card, it’s a deal.

Christmas Day 2010 (21) This morning was easy.  We found a place to fill the propane, and a great self service car wash big enough for the MoHo to get her all cleaned up for a few weeks in storage.  Have you ever heard of a coin car wash that takes credit cards??  It was great, no quarters clinking away and no bells beeping.  We just washed till we were done and paid the bill. $7.25 a steal for sure! By eleven she was tucked away in her berth and we were on the interstate driving north toward Klamath Falls.  Somehow that last 150 miles seemed soooo long.  For one thing, we were in the baby car, not the big cushy leather seats of the MoHo, and the cat couldn’t figure out where to be and the dog thought the cat was in her space and wasn’t happy about it.  Jeremy, who is really a sweetheart most of the time, reached around the seat and slapped Abby for no good reason at all.  Reminded me of a couple of kids in the car fighting for space.

Now here we are, all settled in at home.  The car is unloaded, the laundry is running, the dog is sleeping at Mo’s feet and the cat is sprawled out on the back of the sofa.  Just like we never left.  Amazing to me how that happens.


Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

11 thoughts on “Hiking on Christmas Eve, and heading home”

  1. “I love that part about RVing, the quick changes, the variety, and then the nesty safety of it all. No suitcases to lug around” … all I can say is: amen to that. I don't think our travels will ever be completely rid of the fluorescent-lit front desks, but there will be fewer of them in our future 🙂


  2. The magic of RVing is very much alive & well in your post. The permanent sticks & bricks folks will never understand this great part of life so many of us are fortunate to have, & are currently enjoying:))


  3. Great post, enjoyed reading this story. The desert area where you hiked with Laurie and Odel is one of my favourite spots in Desert Hot Springs as well.

    Glad to see you made it home all safe and sound and that your trip was a big success!!


  4. Great blog. Love the flowering Kale and I think cabbage. I think they are sooo pretty. I am surprised more people don't use them. Glad you reached home safe and sound with the two furkids.


  5. “I love that part about RVing, the quick changes, the variety, and then the nesty safety of it all”

    As others have mentioned, that's the perfect phrase to describe the joy of RVing.

    If you don't mind, I'm going to add it to my email signature list.

    Keep on writing, you're doing a great job.



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