02-11-2018 Leaving Tucson Heading North

Remember that if you click on a photo, (except for maps and internet photos) it will take you to the larger version on my SmugMug site, where you can also see more photos in that gallery.

When Sunday morning arrived, the gorgeous clear skies over Tucson were showing a bit of gray.  Clouds were coming in.  We didn’t know at the time that there was a lot of rain heading towards the big city in the desert, and as the days passed with extended weather reports from friends and news sites, we knew how lucky we had been.  Our entire time so far had been gorgeous.  Sunny, warm, temperatures much above normal, no wind.  Who could ask for more?!

Leaving Tucson, we knew the best way out of town was on the interstate.  To our delight, I-10 at 9 on a Sunday morning was beautifully quiet.  Note to self, always leave big cities which require freeway travel on Sunday morning.  I was driving so we missed photographs of all the amazing freeway overpasses and bridges between Tucson and Phoenix.  Even the fences are covered with gorgeous sculptures, some in cement, some in rusted metal.  We enjoyed all the art along the highways, both in Arizona and in Nevada.  Next time I’ll have Mo drive this section so I can get some photos.

(The two photos here were taken from the internet just so you get the idea.)

I have noticed this trend growing in many places where we travel.  Made me wonder what it must be like to be a freeway graphic artist and to see your designs bigger than life in such a public venue.  Almost as much fun as the mural craze that seems to be everywhere as well.

We were still not absolutely sure about our route home.  I had checked the weather going north along Highway 395 in California, and it looked a bit iffy.  The fastest route would be to take Highway 95 directly north from Las Vegas to Reno, but geez that part can be boring.  We thought maybe we could boondock in the Alabama Hills if we could get through Death Valley.  Both of us remembered some of the climbs in and out of the valley.

The route we traveled from Tucson to Minden, Nevada

We decided to head for Phoenix, and then north, with no real idea of how far we could or wanted to go and where we might end up that night.  Beatty, Nevada was the goal, and then Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley, but who knew the timing.

I used the freecampsites.net website and found quite a few boondock sites north of Kingman.  I couldn’t believe how big Kingman was, and as we passed through, the boondock sites didn’t look all that welcoming.  We continued north, thinking we could find something.  Once again, freecampsites.net led the way.  We saw a big parking lot available across the street from the Hoover Dam Casino, just east of Boulder City and set a beeline for a free night spot that shouldn’t be terribly crowded.

Turned out to be a perfect place, and we never even bothered to cross the highway to visit the casino.  Dinner was once again some excellent leftovers from the freezer while we watched the sunset and settled in for the evening. A few rigs rolled in during the night, but they weren’t terribly loud.  By morning there were a few trailers, and some car and tent campers scattered around the edges of the big space.

Our plan was to continue north and then cross Death Valley, with a stay at Stovepipe Wells, but the weather had other plans.  It was COLD, and when we drove into Beatty I think the daytime temperatures were in the low 40’s, with a hard freeze predicted for the night.  I called Stovepipe Wells, where we were told all sites were taken, and we did a quick rethink.  We had passed a decent looking park on the way into Beatty, so gave them a quick call, and sure enough there was a space, full hookups.  Death Valley Inn RV Park was a good choice.

It was still early in the day, and as we thought about our options, it seemed like a good thing to relax early and spend some time playing and exploring.  We have been to Death Valley a few times, and the things we would see there are sights we have enjoyed in the past.  Something different would be fun.

We headed for the tiny Visitor center in town, next to the cheapest gas in town, and gathered up some brochures on local interesting things to see and do.  Rhyolite is a ghost town that is fun to explore, but we had already done that a few years ago.  We decided to explore some of the back 4 wheel drive roads, and found an interesting loop that meandered past old mining cabins, through “Secret Pass”, south to the desert, and back via the highway.

We explored the old Flourspar Cabin at a mining site before continuing up the road

The 8 miles to Secret Pass was challenging, but that is why we were out there.  I was a bit of a wreck actually, as Mo crawled over the big, pointy rocks, with me jumping out now and then to move some especially big ones.  Once we were past the bad part, it didn’t seem so bad.  I think for me it was the unknown factor of whether the road actually continued through.  I didn’t like the idea of having to back up and out over those rocks and ditches and eroded dry streambeds. 

When we got to an easier part, I started taking photos, and Mo asked why in the world we didn’t get photos of the scary parts?  I was too busy holding on and gasping! 

Of course, we didn’t have a good local map, and the phone map quit working about half way through.  We just kept going, and following our noses, found our way out of the mountains and across the desert back to the highway.  It was fun, and something we love to do when in the desert.  No flat tires, no getting stuck in sand or creekbeds, and beautiful views.

We had seen Big Dune on the way north to Beatty, and our dirt road intercepted the highway just a few miles north of the road to the sands.  We traveled the washboard gravel just 6 miles with the dunes looming in the distance.  This dune is incredible, a star dune out in the middle of the flat desert, and I loved it much more than the dunes in Death Valley.  Maybe because it rises all alone from the surrounding space, or maybe because it isn’t overrun with people, or at least it wasn’t when we were there.  Unprotected the way the Death Valley dunes are protected, it was covered with 4 wheeler tracks, but when we were there on this mid week afternoon, there wasn’t a soul around.

Mattie had more fun than she has had in a long time.  Something about soft sand makes her completely joyously crazy, and she ran around like a wild thing in the wind. 

She does the same thing at ocean beaches, and in big soft grass as well.  The dune was lit from the west with the late afternoon sun and the backdrop of dark clouds was a photographer’s dream.  Gorgeous!

On our way back, along Highway 95, we finally spotted the wild burros that were touted in the brochure.  All along our route we had seen burro apples, but no burros, so we were glad to finally see them.

A great mural in Beatty along the main road into town

The next morning was cold, so we took our time heading west toward Death Valley.  Stovepipe Wells was busy with tourists, and I stopped in at the Visitor Center and General Store hoping for a really good sweatshirt to add to the one I found at Chaco Canyon 4 years ago.  No luck.  I am pretty specific in what I want, and I guess my current version will have to suffice. 

I was glad we didn’t stay there, with all the people, visiting all the beautiful sights we have seen before.  It was enough to pass through this part of the valley and to save wandering around in the back country for another trip. 

Look closely to see the MoHo winding down the grade toward Panamint Springs

We knew about the long grade up from Stovepipe Wells, and then back down to Panamint Springs, not horrible, but definitely long.  We decided to unhook early on rather than waiting for the really big hill west of Panamint Springs.  Mo went ahead in the MoHo and I followed in the Tracker, making it much easier to stop along the way for photos.

We negotiated the really steep hill up from Death Valley toward Lone Pine without any mishaps, and stopped at the top for lunch and a walk with the dog.  The sun was warm coming through the windows, but the wind was really cold!

As we approached the intersection with Highway 395, I was again enthralled with the magnificent view of the eastern face of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Often at this time of year, the highways are snow covered, but this year the snowpack in the Sierra’s is extremely low.  It was our window in time to travel one of our favorite highways without being worried about the storms and snows.  We have been in serious snow storms with chains required on this road as late as Memorial Day!

We didn’t stop along the way, passing places we have visited in the past, reminiscing about good food, beautiful hikes, historic sites.  Many good memories along this route for us, and it was fine that on this trip we simply passed through viewing the incredible scenery.  We were heading home, and no matter how long we are out, when it gets close to home time, we tend to move along fairly quickly.

There is just so much to see and do along this highway, the list is huge.  It deserves a month, preferably in warmer weather, not just a day.  We will return.

Our destination for the night was Minden, Nevada, where we had stayed at a new park back in 2014 on our way home from Florida.  At that time, it snowed on us, April 1, and we were happy for hookups.  This time the prediction was for temperatures in the teens, and once again we were happy for hookups.  I called ahead, and was glad I did since Silver City Resort seems to have developed into a very popular place in the last 4 years.  Most of the people there are in for long term visits.  That surprised me because it can be cold in this area south of Reno.

When we woke up the next morning, the temperature was 12 degrees F, the Tracker was covered in thick frost, and even the MoHo had frost on the lower sides.  We had turned on our tank heaters for the first time in a long time.

It was time to figure out our home route, and we cooked a nice breakfast while debating whether to take our chances over the northern mountains or give up and cross the Sierra’s over Donner Pass and travel home via I-5.  Decisions, decisions!


02-14-2018 Last Leg Home

Our main purpose for traveling Highway 395 toward home was an attempt to avoid traveling north through California on Interstate 5.  We have traveled both 395 and 99 entirely too many times, and when compared to the magnificence of 395, it is simply a no-brainer.  Unless, of course, it is winter.  Highway 44 west from Susanville is a decent road

We made it as far as Minden without mishap, but the weather forecast for the next day made us a bit nervous.  Should we scrap our plans for continuing north all the way to Susanville and then over the mountains to Mt Shasta?  Or should we just give up and travel west from Reno on I-80 over Donner Pass and then home, again, on I-5?

If we had traveled the 5, we may have been able to get up the hill to visit Jimmy and Nicky, but we also had the “horse to the barn” thing going after being away 3 weeks.  We were ready to be home, and the visiting desires were waning.  I decided instead to make a special trip next month for visiting, and will include my friend Maryruth on that visit.  I seem to enjoy it much better when the visit is dedicated to actual visiting instead of traveling.

We looked at the weather, I checked all the road cams, watched the radar.  Everything looks almost OK until Susanville, when the blue streak over the mountains to the west indicated snow.  Still, that blue streak was moving east, and maybe it would pass us by as we headed north and west.

We decided to take our chances, and figured that even if we couldn’t get across 89 up to Mt Shasta, we could no doubt manage 44 across to Redding.  Highway 44 meanders along the north side of Mt Lassen, and except for a very few twisty places, is a fairly good road.  It had been a few years since we traveled that route, when we hiked some fabulous trails in Mt Lassen and returned to Klamath Falls via Susanville.

More choices for getting over the Southern Cascades in California

We were right about the snow, and encountered a few flurries along Highway 395 before we arrived in Susanville, but by the time we continued west on 44, the snow was gone.  The highway was clear and we were even treated to some great views of Mt Lassen.

Even though we were fairly close to home, when we arrived in Redding we decided to slow it down a bit, get a place to park for another cold night, and travel the last 4 hours to home in the morning when we were fresh.  In addition, that would put us at home mid day, much nicer than crawling into our driveway in the dark.

Another happy little reason for taking our time in Redding had to do with Valentine’s Day.  We have a tradition to buy some happy See’s Candy to share as a Valentine’s Day treat.  Such decadence, but at least it is only once a year, or maybe twice if I get some at Christmas.  I haven’t had chocolate as creamy perfect as See’s anywhere in the country, even at some of those fabulous artisan chocolatiers in trendy little tourist towns.

Redding RV Park isn’t fancy, but it is right next to the freeway, and if you get a nice long site on the rows farthest from the freeway it is quiet enough for a good sleep, with space to pull through.  What the very nice looking website doesn’t show is that much of the park is on a fairly steep hill overlooking the freeway.  In all fairness, the actual sites are decently level, at least most of them are. We called ahead for a reservation as soon as we were sure of our route, and it was again a good thing that we did.  The park filled up after dark.

The next morning dawned clear and gorgeous, with Mt Shasta looming in the north to mark our route home.  We again took our time, filled up with gas at the station around the corner from the park, (also the cheapest gas in Redding),and got on the freeway.  Yes, it was I-5, but between this part of California and Oregon there are no other real options.

For the first time in a long time, we stopped at the rest area north of Yreka that is down in a canyon along the Klamath River.  It is also a California Welcome Center with a docent offering information about both California and Oregon, some lovely art, maps and tons of brochures for things to do in both Oregon and California.  We enjoyed the sunshine and the river and Mattie loved the spacious unfenced pet area. 

When we pulled into the driveway at home in the early afternoon, the sun was shining, and we were both still fresh and energetic enough to empty the MoHo and start the laundry. A perfect travel day at the end of a rather amazingly perfect trip.  Love to travel and love to be home.  I am so glad that we can do both.

Art from the Palm Springs Street Fair on the wall at home

Our timing was perfect, because in just a few days winter decided to come to Grants Pass after all, and we had real snow right here at home.  That doesn’t happen often in Grants Pass, and this time as well the snow melted with the afternoon sunshine.

01-29-2018 The Oranges are Waiting!

I know I write about this almost every single year, but I just get so excited thinking about the oranges that are waiting for me at Orange Grove RV Park. I don’t even eat them, I juice them.  Crazy, I know, but with those big bags of juicy sweet oranges, I can have the luxury of making fresh orange juice every single day for at least a couple of weeks.  I can barely stand to drink OJ from a store any more.

We have traveled our winter escape south so many times, and several different ways.  In the years when we stored the MoHo in Brookings, before we bought the Grants Pass property, we traveled south along 101, through San Francisco and intercepting I-5 east of Paso Robles.

In the years when the MoHo was stored in Redding, we traveled south via I-5 all the way to Bakersfield before heading east on Highway 58 over the Tehachapi’s to the desert.  I-5 is in serious need of repairs, and each year it seems to get worse, in spite of the few spots that get repaired.

Mattie is a happy camper when we are rolling down the road.This year we decided to travel Highway 99, the old historic route through the Central Valley, Lodi, to Modesto, to Merced, to Fresno, to Bakersfield.  This freeway can be narrow and crowded, but traffic doesn’t seem to travel quite as fast as it does on I-5.  70’s instead of 80’s.  Also, except for the areas through the cities, the pavement was blessedly smooth.  No bumpety bump d bump for miles and miles and miles, and no 6 inch divots in the pavement.  We had a valve stem go out on one of those potholes, and it just doesn’t seem right that there should be big ugly potholes on an interstate freeway.

The route south to the desert isn’t that long.  Theoretically we could travel it in two days with ease, but it is more fun to take our time, stop after 300 miles or so, and arrive rested and ready to play

The trip was uneventful, leaving Lodi around 9 and pulling into Orange Grove RV Park around 3.  Perfect driving day.  We had fueled in Dunnigan the day prior to arriving at Lodi, and didn’t need gas again until we reached the Costco in Bakersfield. This time, with our travels down 99, the Costco was right off the exit.  Easy off, easy on, and cheapest fuel around.  Traffic was heavy, however, and the lines were long, as usual.  Ah yes, we are back in California again.  We have to pump our own gas.  Always a jokester around who asks us if we know how when they see our Oregon license plates.

Arriving at Orange Grove in the afternoon, we were once again glad that we took the effort to make a reservation.  This is such a popular park for Canadians on their way south and most of the license plates were from various Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Quebec. 

Sometimes they have signs saying “please only one bag per rig”, and that bag is a small plastic garbage bag.  This time, however, with most of the low hanging fruit gone from the trees between sites, they had no such restrictions.  Instead, the maintenance man came up to tell me about their additional grove that is just a bit west of the main campground, loaded with oranges all the way down to the ground, and free for the picking.  I, like many others I saw, filled a grocery bag or two, and they weren’t small plastic ones, they were big Trader Joe’s cloth bags.  I took enough to last as long as I thought they could stay fresh without refrigeration. 

Within minutes I had my first orange, sliced up and eaten from rind to get all the juice.  Then a bit later I did the old California trick of puncturing the stem end of the orange and drinking the juice, before I cut up a bunch of oranges and made a full glass of the sweet stuff.  Darn good thing I don’t have diabetes!

We didn’t pack our satellite this time.  It just has been entirely too much trouble the last few times we were out.  Our TV is not digital, so doesn’t work in all parks.  After all, our rig was built in 2006, before digital was the norm, and we aren’t in that much of a hurry to upgrade.  A break from TV is a nice thing.  We listen to the radio for the news, and thoroughly enjoy the different perspective of NPR in the morning.

Orange Grove does still have cable TV, however, and not the kind that requires a digital TV or a cable box.  Our problem with broadcast TV is that we are so used to watching at our own times and skipping the commercials, that regular TV is a pain in the neck, so it doesn’t stay on for long. 

Orange Grove also has LOTS of outside lights on at night.  It was quiet, with only a bit of road noise from the freeway that is 1/4 mile distant, but we were glad we had darkening shades that kept the light out.  Reminded me of our nights in Alaska, where it never got dark at all, and the shades worked great.  We still have day/night shades, the kind with cords, and the MCD shade upgrade is also something we aren’t all that much in a hurry to complete.  Mo has fixed the shades a couple of times, makes sure the strings are all working properly, and our shades are just fine after ten years.  I can hardly believe we have been traveling in this rig for that long.  She is still great, and we can’t find any other that we would choose to replace her.

Onward to Catalina Spa and RV Park, with our minds curious about what we will find with the new owners and remodel of the park.

01-11-2015 Other Doings in the Coachella Valley

Current Location: Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, near Yuma, Arizona

While swimming, soaking, and hiking in the warm winter temperatures of the Coachella Valley are high on our list of favorite pastimes here, we do manage to do a few other things as well.  For complex reasons, we decided to travel north and east through Yucca Valley to 29 Palms to check out the Marine base.  murals at 29 Palms (7 of 48)

It was a billboard advertisement that called our attention to the murals in the small desert town.  Murals are always fun to find, but in this case many of them were on north facing walls, making photography a bit challenging.  I suppose this might be to reduce fading on the paintings.  A few of the murals were done fairly recently, and one especially was interesting because the signatures indicated that it was completed in just a weekend in May in 2013.  Quite the project.murals at 29 Palms (28 of 48)murals at 29 Palms (25 of 48)

murals at 29 Palms (9 of 48)murals at 29 Palms (13 of 48)The mural on the Little Church in the Desert had colors that rivaled any I have seen.  It was quite dramatic.

murals at 29 Palms (23 of 48)This was my favorite, however, what a great sense of humor!

murals at 29 Palms (36 of 48)As we headed back west through town, this amazing fence caught our eye.  It was in a parking lot of a now closed Farmers Insurance building, and the building was just as creative, with walls and windows of rusted mine metal and old brick, even though the building was fairly new.

murals at 29 Palms (30 of 48)Although I don’t care to travel the distances that Paulette travels hunting for quilt shops in Southern California, there are two pretty nice shops in the valley.  On Saturday, with gloomy skies and needing a day of down time, we drove south toward Palm Desert and found both shops in the vicinity of I-10. 

Rick and Paulett_233As is usually the case with quilt shops, these two have entirely different styles and offerings.  In previous years I have found great patterns and fabric and made quilts when I got home from the goodies found here.Rick and Paulett_234

This time was no exception, as I added considerably to my stash, and bought enough fabulous batiks to make a quilt similar to a sample I saw in the shop that melted my heart.  Can hardly wait to get home to get started on it.  The colors are so gorgeous.

Rick and Paulett_221Sunday after our swim and leisurely breakfast, I drove the short distance to The Sands for a visit with Rick and Paulette. So nice of them to invite me for coffee and “dippers”, a Trader Joe delight that Rylie thought she should share as well.  Rylie was adorable, as usual, full of energy and such a sweet face. Rick and I have talked often about computer stuff, and I follow Paulette’s quilting blog, so we do have some things in common beside simply traveling in an RV.Rick and Paulett_222

Our days usually included a walk through the park, checking out the rigs and the people.  It was especially interesting to notice how many sites were empty this year.  Surprising considering the cost of fuel seems to have many more people on the road.  Even though we stay here most every year, we have never gone to any of the sales pitches, or actually figured out the ownership style of the park.  Who knows.  We aren’t buying anyway.

murals at 29 Palms (40 of 48)Some people seem to have bought more than one lot, and just down the road from us in the lower park, an owner was installing landscaping, and gravel on one lot next door to his motorhome space.  It looked quite nice.  I was curious how long these owners are allowed to stay in the park, or if they have to leave as some of the other kinds of park memberships require.  However, I didn’t care to find out enough to sit through a sales pitch!

murals at 29 Palms (42 of 48)On another note, I learned again to make the trip to the upper park laundry rather than using the one in the lower campground near our site.  Once again, as in years past, I lost money in the machines with no way of getting a refund. The office was closed on Sunday, the machines are owned by someone offsite (according to the lone person around in the guard shack).  The only way to get back my 1.25 in quarters was to fill out some extensive paperwork and after the problem was resolved, they would mail the money to me.  Right…I never did ask if I had to pay for the stamp for that service which would have cut my return in half.

Traveling South_035The other minor thing to keep in mind at Catalina is the soft sand and uneven sites.  We put pads under the front levelers, but had nothing under the back ones.  When we lifted the levelers, the back one had sunk at least four inches into the sand.  Be sure to have supports for your levelers and plan on complicated leveling.  We have semi-automatic levelers, so can only manage two at a time, and it gets a bit crazy sometimes in these uneven sites.

Don’t want to end thoughts of our stay at Catalina Spa with negative stuff, however.  I still give this park a 9 out of 10 for one of our favorite parks to spend time in the winter.  The pools are the best part, and I will continue to come south for my allotted seven days as long as this park honors our Passport America.  I would NOT pay the regular price of $65 per night no matter how good the pools were!Traveling South_030

We left yesterday morning, traveling east on Dillon Road toward Quartzite and then south toward Yuma. 

Next: Visiting Judy and the birds at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge


01-09-2015 Thousand Palms Hike

Current Location: Catalina Spa and RV Resort, Desert Hot Springs

Midnight: I have been lying around listening to the clock hands turn.  Not very entertaining to say the least.  The silence was broken by the pit pat of raindrops on the roof of the rig, so I jumped up to bring in the towels and swim suits draped around the chairs and tables on our patio.  I think the 3 percent chance of rain might not do much damage to our drying swimwear before morning, but why take the chance.Thousand Palms_177

We began our day as usual, with swimming and soaking, breakfast with the news, fresh orange juice.  Although the weather predictions were for cooler temperatures and cloudy skies, by the time we got in the car around mid day to go hunting for our hike, it was sunny and again quite comfortable in the high 60’s.

Our plan was to drive south into Palm Springs and explore the Palm Canyons that are behind a toll gate on lands owned by the Cahuilla people.  It was worth paying the price, I though, to see these beautiful canyons and to try out a few of the hikes that are well reviewed by folks who have visited.

Thousand Palms_210As we emerged from the driveway, toward the north and east the skies were blue and clear, but toward the south, murky smog was obscuring the San Jacinto’s.  It only took us a moment to make the decision to drive north and east rather than into the brownish bands of gooky air that seemed to be coming filling the entire western part of the Coachella Valley, slipping in like a dirty fog through the canyons into Palm Springs.  I guess that is the price we pay for calm air and no winds.  Smog.

21A short distance east on Dillon Road, the major east west road bisecting the lower end of Desert Hot Springs, is the huge Caliente Springs Resort.  I know folks who love to stay here so we thought we would once again check out the digs and see what we thought.  It certainly is big, and the large three sectioned pool is quite lovely, and under a shady structure to keep it from the glaring heat. 

26There is lovely landscaping and several ponds, a golf course, a huge recreation room with posted entertainment venues and several pages of craft classes and activities. It is beautifully landscaped and seemed quite upscale, at least on the surface.

22Quite the spot.  Most of the sites are very nice versions of park model homes, both for sale and for rent, with a very few RV sections mixed in.  Problem for us, however, is that the RV sections are a long way from the pool, a long way from anything.  I guess that is why most everyone seemed to have a golf cart.  It is a very nice place, but not our kind of place. 

I checked out the four hot tubs and the hottest one smelled strongly of chlorine, and the rest of them were about the temperature of our swimming pool.  Chemicals and chilly.  Not my kind of hot mineral pools.  The biggest drawback, even more than the distance, was the posted hours of open pools from 8am to 10 pm.  Nope, no way.  It really made us appreciate our little park with trees and shrubs between our sites, and our beautiful very warm pools that smell of nothing but pure clean hot spring water.

Whipping back out on Dillon Road, we continued east toward Thousand Palms Highway…actually spelled 1000 Palms on the street sign to keep it short enough to fit I guess.  The Thousand Palms Oasis is in the middle of the Coachella Valley Preserve, operated by the Center for Natural Lands Management in Thousand Palms.

Thousand Palms_166I knew of the hiking trails in the preserve, having hiked the Pushawalla Loop on the eastern side of the preserve a few years ago with Laurie and Odel.  Once again, at the time, our hiking was limited because of Abby, and Mo stayed home while Laurie, and Odel, and I spent a lovely sunny Christmas Eve hiking the trails.

thousand palms hikeToday’s hike.  The blue line is our route, and the red line is the San Andreas fault.

Today the parking lot was almost full when we arrived, it is amazing how many people are out hiking on a weekday.  With the sun shining so brightly, it was magical to slip into the thick darkness of the ancient palms.  Some are as much as 150 years old.  This palm is the only native palm in California. 

Thousand Palms_169We stopped in at the small visitor center to enjoy the displays, including some very detailed information about the San Andreas Fault which runs right through the preserve, and bisects the area in front of the center.  The water that is visible at the surface here, comes from the aquifer beneath that emerges due to cracking and fissuring in the fault.  Thousand Palms Oasis is one of the largest groves of desert fan palms (Washingtonia filifera) in California.Thousand Palms_200

Thousand Palms_176The trail we chose was a short 2 mile round trip toward McCallum Pond, also formed by a natural earthquake seep.  The trail meanders through the riparian forest, up to the desert wash, where plants that can survive with less water than the fan palms but which need more water than is available in the open desert thrive.

Thousand Palms_191Thousand Palms_208Once we reached McCallum Pond, we decided to take the Moon Country Loop for the return trip, adding another mile or so to our walk.  I was glad I had the GPS with me, however, because we managed to get on a longer section of Moon Country than we planned.  The afternoon was progressing and we were still walking north on a very lunar landscape.  I finally tried to double check our location to discover that we had a long way to go before the turnaround.  Enuf!

Thousand Palms_215We decided to backtrack, and then cross the wash off trail to reach the other returning leg of the Moon Country Trail, a great decision.  The hike was only a bit longer than yesterday, but because of the deep sandy washes where the trail goes, we were much more tired when we finished.  Much of it was like walking on a beach.  Best part of the Moon Country section of the trail, however, was the lack of people.  Most folks seem content to stay on the lower trails near the oases, and we only saw a single man hiking out in the direction we had traveled into Moon Country.

Thousand Palms_218By the time we ended our hike, the murky smog was thinning and was replaced by dark clouds to the west.  We hadn’t bothered with lunch, and had a couple of diet pepsi’s and some fritos in the car. Perfect food after not eating all day!  I know better than to drink pepsi any time after 2pm, which is why I am still sitting here wide awake writing a blog!  Next time I’ll be sure to have a snack bar and an orange and more water in the car.

Thousand Palms_212