02-03-2018 to 02-05 2018 Hanging with Judy

I think most bloggers that read my blog know Judy, either in person, or from her very popular blog, Travels with Emma.  Everyone called her the Bird Lady of Blogland, with good reason.  Judy spent ten yeas of her life traveling from refuge to refuge across the United States, volunteering.  Judy is especially good with the birds, being responsible for doing extensive bird counts on many refuges.

We first met Judy on our southern trip to Florida, stopping at Anahuac NWR for a visit.  The story of my kitty Jeremy and Judy’s dog Emma meeting was a good one.  On that trip, Judy took us on a private tour of some of the hidden places at Anahuac, and I saw my first roseate spoonbills in person.  Gorgeous day.

Since then our paths have crossed a few times, with Judy visiting us at our home in Rocky Point, us visiting Judy when she volunteered at Harris Beach,  and a visit to her home base now in Jojoba Springs.  Judy hung up her blogging hat a couple of years ago, but in spite of her quiet absence, we managed to stay slightly in touch.  I was thoroughly tickled when Judy called me last month asking about when we planned to be at Desert Hot Springs.

We shared dates and plans, and got caught up on Judy’s new life at Jojoba.  The big rig that she never really loved to drive is now gone, and in its place is a nifty new….not park model.  I can’t remember what you call it, but technically it isn’t a park model because at Jojoba you are required to have a holding tank.  Anyway, it sounds lovely, and Judy’s stories of her life and community at Jojoba were good to hear.

But you know how that travel bug gets to us if we are stationary for too long.  Judy found a sweet little Chinook Class B and wanted to try it out with a visit to Desert Hot Springs, and decided to stay at Catalina Spa where we could spend a bit of time together.

She arrived late in the week, and I made supper for us to share  inside the MoHo since we didn’t have an outdoor table big enough for all the fixin’s.  The next morning, Judy invited us over for a Sunday brunch, with the best Bloody Mary’s I have tasted in a long time, and some breads from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

It was Super Bowl Sunday, and without following football this season, we decided it was our last chance to get to the movies in Palm Desert, and Judy joined us.  We sat in those great big comfy recliners with our wine and popcorn to watch Darkest Hour.  An excellent movie, and the wine was cheaper than the popcorn.

On Monday we left Mattie safe in the cool MoHo and took Judy to the Visitor Center and ponds at 1000 Palms Oasis.  It wasn’t too crowded when we were there, and I think Judy enjoyed seeing the visitor center since she has so much experience with different centers at different refuges.  Thousand Palms is a Nature Conservancy site with a great history, and there are some lovely hikes from the main area, but those were for another time.

On Monday evening, Judy treated us to her dinner, “stuff” is what she called it.  She said when her kids were growing up it was either white stuff or red stuff, and the red stuff we had was delicious.  Patio time and conversation time as we both prepared to pull up stakes the next morning and head out in opposite directions.  Judy back to Jojoba and Mo and I to one of our favorite desert boondocks on Ogilby Road.

It was great to have some time to catch up, and to see that Judy is doing well.

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.

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