As I mentioned last week, Hubby and I took our little dog, Roxy, with us on vacation to California this year. We had an excellent trip and saw incredible sights, both in the desert and at the coast. Over the coming weeks, I’ll share some of the highlights here on my blog. I’ll try to keep it mostly to photos, but I’ll also include a little information that I gathered along the way. I love learning about new places and things.
Roxy, at the Kelowna Airport, eagerly awaiting her big adventure.
Little did the poor pup know that part of her big adventure entailed being stuffed in a bag under the seat. I’d been nervous about how she’d do, but she managed quite well.
Saying goodbye to home
And hello to Palm Springs Airport
We rented a vehicle at the airport and when I presented a coupon for a free upgrade, the guy at the counter informed us they were a little short on vehicles in that category. We had the choice between a Mustang and a small SUV. Envisioning us cruising down the highway in a tough-looking muscle car, I eagerly turned to Hubby and he promptly burst my “cool” bubble by requesting the SUV. I mean, really, an SUV over a Mustang? He’s the driver, so he got the final say, and off we drove in our nondescript white Ford Escape. I’m not knocking the Escape, it’s a nice enough vehicle, but a Mustang, it’s not.
Roxy took a day or two of being clingy before she settled in and started to enjoy her warm location.
We tried taking her for a walk every day so she’d have a chance to use real grass to do her “business” rather than the narrow strip of garden in the backyard.
But Roxy isn’t much on walking and Hubby didn’t have the patience to coax her along, so most walks I carried her, discovering in the process that even three and a half pounds gets heavy after an hour or so.
Every vacation, we do a great deal of walking, and because I’m prone to getting terrible blisters on the balls of my pampered little feet, I always bring those expensive blister pads with me in an attempt to ward off the inevitable. And then I forget to use them and end up cursing myself and the nasty blisters that make every step I take excruciating. Of course that’s exactly what happened on this trip, first day in, first long walk. Putting the pads on after the fact helps to a degree, but for the rest of my trip, I suffered with those blisters. I have no one to blame but myself—and my stupid blister-prone feet.
On our second day in Palm Desert, we set off for some hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, which is situated in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. I’ve seen pictures of the park and longed to experience it for myself. I happen to think Joshua trees are rather unique looking and was disappointed to discover there actually aren’t any Joshua trees in the section of park we were visiting.
The first stop just inside the park grounds was a quarter-mile loop called Bajada Nature Trail. This was a rather mild walk, definitely not a hike, and there wasn’t a whole lot to see. I wasn’t worried, I knew the best was yet to come.
After checking in at the Visitor Centre and paying our $15, we began hiking the trail to the Lost Palms Oasis, an eight mile round-trip hike.
The very helpful fellow at the Visitor Centre warned us of the windy conditions out that way and he recommended doing the Cottonwood Springs loop which is only two and a half miles total, but I had my heart set on the longer hike. For the most part, the trail was rather stark, but we kept finding little treasures and some very large ones along the way.
About a half hour in, we realized the wind was picking up, and despite knowing an oasis awaited us at the end of trail, we turned around and headed back to take the Cottonwood Springs loop as suggested.
Steps carved out of the granite rock.
Hubby’s sharp eye spotted this little fellow. Not sure what kind of lizard or gecko it was.
I found the multitude of unusual rock formations fascinating. They made me want to yell, “Yabba Dabba Doo”.
They’re piled and jumbled every which way, everywhere you look, making you wonder how exactly they got there (well, they made me wonder, anyway).
The scientific explanation is that the rock piles formed underground eons ago as a result of volcanic activity. As the Magma rose, it intruded into the rock. When the granite cooled, cracks formed horizontally and vertically. As the granite continued to rise, it came into contact with groundwater. Weathering by groundwater widened the cracks and rounded the edges. Eventually surface soil eroded, leaving heaps of rock called “monzogranite” scattered on the surface in careless piles.
In amongst that interesting, but inhospitable rock, life has found a way of surviving.
Hubby wasn’t certain about climbing Mastodon Peak, as it isn’t a maintained trail, but I convinced him we couldn’t pass it by without at least trying.
The hike up was only difficult in a few spots and to celebrate we decided to park ourselves at the peak to eat lunch and enjoy the expansive view.
View of the other side, from Mastodon Peak
A perk of the breezy weather was an unobstructed view of the Salton Sea from Mastodon Peak. (We’ve visited the Salton Sea on a previous trip) It’s the largest inland sea and one of the lowest spots on earth at 227 feet below sea level. Unfortunately, it’s also in very bad environmental shape and is much more beautiful to view from a distance.
Back, safe and sound, on fairly flat ground, with Mastodon Peak in the background.
We soon happened upon the ruins of the Mastodon Mine. Apparently the area is peppered with abandoned gold mines.
The trail we’d taken so far had wandered up and back down about 400 feet, but I found the last section the most challenging. It was a flood plain and the ground was covered with deep, coarse sand which had a maddening habit of finding its way not only inside my shoes, but my socks as well. Mindful of my unhealed blisters from the previous day, I had to stop frequently and empty out my footwear.
To make the situation even more uncomfortable, the beautiful blue sky clouded over and the wind picked up a notch, combining to drop the temperature into the chilly range. It was getting late in the afternoon and we’d covered a lot of ground, so I was happy to see our trusty SUV waiting in the parking lot.
We continued up the Pinto Basin Road about twenty miles to the Cholla (pronounced Choy-ya) Cactus Garden. Un-freaking-believable how many cacti grow in this area. Photos can’t do it justice.
Hexie Mountains in the background
Pinto Basin in the background
This area, between Cottonwood Springs and Cholla Cactus Garden, is called Turkey Flats
When we got back to Palm Desert, we discovered it had rained heavily in town while we were in the desert. We managed to miss what happened to be the only rainfall of our entire trip. Rain in the valley means snow on the mountains and the view the next day from my father-in-law’s place was pretty spectacular.
I’ll close this post with some pictures of the hummingbirds on FIL’s back patio. They’re beyond adorable and offer endless hours of entertainment as they flit and feed and squabble.
Next week we travel to San Diego for four days of sun, sea and sights. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.