Monday, March 7, 2016

A Few Days in the Springs



We had a really great time at Jojoba Hills, thanks to Terry and LuAnn introducing us to pickleball and meeting so many friendly people who reside there. Although we know several other people there already, John and Linda, Judy, and Pete and Fredrika, we just aren’t sure that is the place we want to call our home base. We did take a membership packet in case we change our minds, though. And as always in this lifestyle, it was time to say our goodbyes and move on.

After 66 slow miles and a scenic, winding drive (I drove the car separately) over Hwy 74, aka the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway, we arrived at Catalina Spa and RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs, CA. This was our first time here, as we have always stayed at Lake Cahuilla County Park in La Quinta, but there was a fishing tournament taking place there over the weekend and the campground was full. So with Catalina now being a Passport America park, we took advantage of the $22.50/night rate (including tax) for full hookups, and they allow you to stay up to 14 days at the Passport rate. And I took advantage of the pool and spa. It was so nice to come back to after hiking in the heat.

Sites are close together and most are not level, but after several tries we found an end site in the upper area with a nice view. We like that they do not assign a site, you pick one and go back to the office to pay after getting set up. FYI, the upper level pool and spas allow kids, but not the lower ones.



The one thing we failed to take into account was the wind, which was projected to increase over the four nights we stayed. After the second night, with sleep interrupted by a frightened Sophie cat and the wind buffeting our passenger side, we knew that even stronger wind was yet to come. So the next day we moved to a site in the older, lower level, where we’re protected by vegetation, and are facing into the wind. It was a good move.

On Thursday evening after we arrived we drove to Palm Springs, about 12 miles away, to stroll the downtown streets at the Thursday night Village Fest, a weekly street fair and farmer’s market. We were shocked by the crowds and difficulty finding a place to park, but found some great buys at the farmer’s market, including a wonderful loaf of whole wheat walnut, carrot, raisin bread, along with dates, avocados, and tomatoes.


This young guy singing and playing guitar was really good. Sounded a lot like Jason Mraz.


Jim needed a beer after trying to make our way through the crowds, so we stopped at Alicante, a nice little restaurant where we had a really good veggie pizza and the much needed beer.

The next day we went to the Coachella Valley Preserve (or Thousand Palms Oasis) for a hike. Several years ago we applied for a volunteer position there but had never been. They ended up needing someone sooner than we could get there so we didn’t get the job, but we were curious to see what it was like. There are over 25 miles of hiking trails so we stopped at the visitor center for a map and recommendations. With temps in the mid 80s we knew we weren’t up for a really long hike, but ended up going to the McCallum Grove, then continued on the Moon Country trail. After a couple miles the trail began to descend into the canyon and we lost the breeze, so that seemed like a good place to turn back.

It was nice and cool under the shade of the palms.




And always a pleasure to find water and some colorful flowers in the desert.







We also came across a couple of interesting reptiles, this first one being a Western zebra-tailed lizard, I believe. It was small, probably under 6” long.


Then we spotted a much larger one on a rock, that had to be over a foot long.


It appears to be a Western side-blotched lizard, but I’m about as good at identifying reptiles as I am with birds.



Speaking of birds, this cute little one has been pecking at our windows for the past two days. Needless to say, it’s driving the cats crazy! A house finch, maybe?


We had planned to go for a hike at Whitewater Preserve, another place we haven’t been, but after deciding to change sites on Saturday morning we didn’t think we’d have enough time, so instead we went back to downtown Palm Springs and got another couple loaves of bread from Aspen Mills (highly recommended!), stopped for lunch at the all-vegan Native Foods, then hiked up the North Lykken trail from the west end of Ramon St.

Nice neighborhood at the trailhead.


The trail climbs up fairly steep switchbacks to a group of picnic tables, where it intersects with the Museum trail, an even steeper descent that comes out by the Palm Springs Art Museum. From there you have to hike through neighborhoods to get back to the car. Somehow we went the wrong way (it’s not well marked), and ended up on a rock outcropping well above the picnic tables. The sun was already behind the mountain at that point, and we had hiked over a mile and a half, so decided to just turn around, where we knew we could find our way back. We climbed around 1,100’ so the views were pretty nice.




Spying on the rescue helicopter.



We think this may be Bob Hope’s neighborhood across the way. We hiked up the Araby trail on a previous visit, which takes you above his former house and into the hills.




We found a few cactus that were starting to bloom.



The elusive picnic tables below. It’s a nice trail. Maybe next time we can make the entire loop.


After strong winds all day yesterday and overnight, and now a morning of more wind and drizzle, it looks like the worst is over. Today we’re making our way towards Death Valley. Hope they are getting a bit of rain to help the rest of the flowers bloom.


  1. Bob Hope's 'Mushroom House' is the famous one, but he had a second home in Palm Springs where he'd sit in the yard and wave to passers-by. Ah - those were the days when the famous appreciated those who made them famous.

    Any hike in the 'Indian Canyons' is worth the time, also a short hike from the Tahquitz Visitor Center thru the old commune site to the waterfall and filming locations of Lost Horizon I can recommend both :)

  2. Thank you for some of the best images in a blog post in 2016!

  3. Hope we can get to JoJoba and San Diego next year. They were in our plans for this winter but I'm not complaining as David is in much better health after his good medical treatment.
    The wind is howling here in Deming glad when this front gets through.
    Really enjoying your hiking trips!

  4. Both of your campgrounds are places I want to visit so I really appreciate the information and the beautiful pictures of the hikes.

  5. Death Valley should be beautiful this time of year.

  6. Thanks for the info on Catalina Spa and RV Resort. We may stop there the next time we are out that way.

    I just love seeing the desert explode in color! Your photos are so lovely.

  7. The lake is so unattractive at Cahuilla, I'm glad to see there is a reasonably priced park in that area - love that you can pick your own site! Wonderful pics of the oasis and flowers and lizards. Still so cold in NM that we're not seeing any color or critters (just bunnies). The contrast between the big city and the wild desert is amazing.

  8. We enjoyed seeing you guys, sorry we missed seeing you again and glad you enjoyed the hiking and pickle ball. And who wouldn't enjoy T&L! (BTW, we too, are astounded by the energy of some of our elders at JJH.) Good to see the tips about Palm Springs, and you actually braved Hwy 74! Isn't that feat of engineering?! Looking forward to our next in-person encounter, meantime, enjoying your posts.

  9. We were in Palm Desert/Palm Springs at about this time last year and enjoyed hiking and biking the area far more than we expected. But oh my, was it hot. Beautiful photos!

  10. Oh those dam SW spring winds. Lovely oasis. I like the boardwalk idea and so nice to see the flowers. Which I think you'll see a lot more of at Death Valley.

  11. We have not been to Catalina Spa but one day we should probably check it out. We have hiked some of the trails around the Palm Springs area, including in the Thousand Palms Oasis. We hiked the South Lykken trail instead of the north. We also found some great little buys at the Village Fest, although did not enjoy fighting the crowds. I am looking forward to your Death Valley photos.