Monday, February 28, 2011


Thousand Trails Palms Springs Park is loaded with beautiful palms, bottle brush and other warm climate plants. Its lovely. After our three mile power walk yesterday morning, we walked to the hot tub. On the way, locals were agog at the San Jacinto Mountains surrounding us with an abnormally heavy snow cover at an abnormally low elevation.
Many of them were taking pictures of the hills with broad smiles on their faces, thrilled by the beauty of this unusual site.

Our Saturday night performer, Cowboy Jack,  commented that he had to drive through ice and slush on Highway 10 to get to our park. Snow is big news around here.
The pool and the hot tub were deserted, but we had no compunctions about hot tubbing in the snow. Well, it wasn't really snowing on us, anyway. It was quite cool outdoors and the hot tub was comforting and good therapy for my bum arm. We stayed close to the motor home and worked on computer tasks, mostly pictures, through the day.
A friend of Jim's, who lives in Palm Springs,  had invited us for an Oscar's Party, but we declined since Jim still has a cold. Haven't seen who won what. Probably wouldn't recognize any of then anyway. When it comes to movies, we are culturally deprived. Palm Springers throw a huge public Oscar's Party complete with red carpet, participants dressed to the nines, entering  past a phalanx of  flashing camera bulbs, with an elegant dinner and about four big screen television screens. Its a popular event, somewhat pricey, but certainly a wonderful way to do the Oscar's if you like that sort of thing. Remember it if you are in Palm Springs at this time of year. This town is still home to Barbara Sinatra and other notables. You see streets like Bob Hope Drive, Gene Autry Trail, and so on. This was once the hangout for the "stars". At the visitors center, they sell maps to the homes of the rich and famous, kind of Hollywood in the desert.
 I'd hate to be famous.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Thousand Trails typically has some sort of program on Saturday nights. It could be a dance, a potluck, or a professional entertainer. They hired a good one when they invited  Cowboy Jack to play for us. His father gave in and bought him a guitar at age 12, knowing the music business was a hard way to make a living. Jack went professional right after college and never looked back.
A deep base voice on Johnny Cash songs can make you think the "Man in Black" is in the room. Jack played the Opry, and his band was the warm-up act  for many famous musicians. He's done the honky tonks in the U.S. and his music has taken him all over the world. The best Thousand Trails entertainer I've heard, so we had an enjoyable evening with the lone cowboy.  He does solos in the Southern California area and gigs with his bands. He plays under several names for various events. He is Paniola Jack, for Hawaiian venues, and Cowboy Jack, for Western music. His band is called The North County Cowboys and another is the Band In Black.
He sings mostly country music but his two most popular productions, are a Hank Williams Sr. Tribute and a Johnny Cash Tribute. His website has a number of pictures of him and his bands and a clip of him singing, though the clip doesn't do him justice. You can check him out on the following link.
When he performs, he uses an old, favorite, Martin Guitar and a harmonica. The website give his performance schedule. Very enjoyable performer who engages the audience. It was a full house for Cowboy Jack.

Da tee da...."I'm so lonesome I could cry"...

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Marching across the landscape like some strange tree stand windmills by the thousands, or, more technically correct, wind generators by the thousands.
Starkly outlined against the sky and hills, they have a beauty of their own.
The Altamont Pass, in Alameda County, has a similar installation. I believe it was the first such installation in the state. There windmills of many different types grace the steep hillsides of the pass, but you are unable to view them closely.
 Here they are quite close to the roads.
This generating plant can supply electricity for the whole Choachella Valley. And, it, too, has mills of at least three varieties. Some have two blades, some have three, and the supporting structure varies.
 The wind blows so hard here street crews have a constant job of removing sand that blows onto the roadway. The strength of the wind prevented me from opening the car door a couple of times, but, then I have a bum arm right now. At one point, I got the door open, stepped up onto the floor of the Bronco, the door blew against me and held me upright while I leaned against it to take a photo over the roof of the Bronco. Its easy to see why this wind farm was placed here. Yet, up the road, in the shelter of the San Jacinto's, the wind dissipates and the sun shines warmly and you know you are in Palm Springs once more.

We didn't wander too far from the motor home. Jim's cold is hanging on. He quit our power walk early and slept most of the day. A group of about twelve people walk a 3 mile course together at 8 a.m every day.

Friday, February 25, 2011


From a distance, desert gives way to what appears to be some strange, fat palm trees clustered together in batches. Its a sure  indication of water. The Visitor's Center for Choachella Desert Preserve sits in the middle of this stand of palms.
The center is a three room house from long ago built entirely of palm wood. The exterior has totem type carvings.
We elected to hike the McCallum Trail to Mirror Pond. We power walked three miles earlier in the morning and this trail is one of the shorter ones, though none are particularly rugged.
And those fat palms are the same graceful species we see everywhere, except in their natural, un-groomed state, they retain their fibrous, dead fronds like a cloak. Its easy to see how the desert foxes, coyote's and cougars can find cover in this dense stand of palms.
On hot days, hikers can find respite in this spot trimmed to provide a shaded sanctuary under the palms.
The palms grow so clustered together, they make a solid front to the wind, homes for birds and smaller animals and birdsong greeted us as we approached the pond.
The pond water is constantly replaced, rather displaced by what appears to be a running creek. The center explains that the water is displaced and forced up from underground by the San Andreas Fault.
The amount of fiber these trees produce is overwhelming. The fiber is coarse and strong. One can imagine native populations choosing it for clothing,shelter, building, waterproofing and fuel.
The frond stems are tough, strong and barbed.
Layers of leather looking "shingles"  adhere to the trunk where the fronds break off.
The green fronds have fiberous threads and are also tough and unfriendly to the hands.
On the edge of the cluster, the wind keeps the trees "trimmed". We saw lizards and a rabbit on our hike, but none of the larger mammals in the preserve. Hikers we met who took the 4 mile loop saw a coyote and a wood rat.
It was a beautiful, cool day to hike. If you go, don't forget to bring water. For more pictures, click my link.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


We drove into Palm Springs yesterday, a place I've never visited. Its located in the Choachella Valley where summertime temperatures can reach 120 degrees, but winters are friendly. The San Jacinto Mountains were beautifully painted with snow. Palm Springs has that bit of mystique, for me. Playland for the rich. Expensive. Reading the local papers entertainment guide, it doesn't lack for cultural events, art and, with the Indian Casinos, gambling and high class stage shows. We just missed Crystal Gale. Marty Robbins will arrive after we are gone. But, we didn't venture far from our Thousand Trails Park.

We walked the park and stopped by the Seabergs, snowbird friends from Washington State.  Jan was home but her husband was gone for the day. Their dog, Lacey, loves Jim and always remembers him.
On our way back to our rig, we spotted a roadrunner. I've seen them other places but they move like lightening, you can't get a decent picture of them. This one decided to pose.
It was momentary, but I managed a couple shots. Beautiful coloring. I was grateful to see one not flashing by in a streak.
We set up for two weeks and are looking forward to that warm weather Palm Springs promises. Especially welcome since Murphys' weather has been devilishly cold, snowy, and plagued by downed trees and power lines. Its nice to be in Palm Springs on an uneventful day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Fittingly, the locals near Chiriaco Summit, Ca. have a war museum dedicated to the exploits of General George S. Patton. It was their aim to put Patton on the record in the area where he trained desert troops to go up against the Desert Fox, German General Erwin Rommel. Its all privately funded and includes other war materials, as well;  a Viet Nam Memorial Wall with those who died from the western states; some artifacts from Korea, and other branches of service, gathered by, and honoring locals.

Outside is a "garden" of tanks, about ten of them, located in the desert sands near where they once gave our  troops the experience needed to fight in desert conditions. The museum has a film about Patton that contains remembrances of people who served under him, clips from news reels and speeches he gave. 
Patton was a relatively unknown general when he was tapped to take over the desert training detail in an area of 18,000 miles of desert. Afterward, he took his troops to Africa and not only defeated the Desert Fox, but he plunged headlong into major battles of his own strategy in Sicily, England, France, Belgium,  Holland and Germany. It is said that he saved more American Soldier's lives than any other American General.  There are many books and colorful anecdotes about Patton, for he was a colorful and forceful general, not always popular but fearfully respected.
Besides the usual artifacts of war, this museum has more personal  pieces that drew my eye and interest. I remember having to save copper, and rags and tin, but bones? And paper? 
 War posters hung in every Post Office, but this one was hung where soldiers would see it, not the folks back home.
  Individuals who lost a son or daughter submitted letters, medals, art and poetry to the museum.
And during training, boredom in the desert gave soldiers a chance for artistic expression by carving shell casings.
 Patton and Eisenhower, both made the German people parade through the prisons and view the bodies of the tortured souls who died in them. Patton wrote a letter to his son explaining the reasoning for that and told him the local officials denied responsibility or knowledge of the death camps in this one town. The next morning after the tour and denial, the Burgermeister and his wife committed suicide.
This is the only museum I've seen in America that has scrapbooks on the Holocaust although there are 24 memorials or museums throughout the U.S. that tell the story in various ways; they have study centers and elementary education about hate and tolerance and man's inhumanity to man.
While not as professionally done as a national museum with the money and access to materials, this museum is well worth the stop.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


We wheeled across some dry, colorless territory between Las Vegas and Desert Center, California, but the sky decided to treat us to gorgeous displays.
About 250 miles from Vegas, we pulled into a dilapidated remnant of a town called  Desert Center, two basic buildings and a highway maintenance station.
The market, closed permanently, sits on one side of the street and Desert Cafe on the opposite side. We expected to stay the night here, boondocking. I wanted to take a walk and we were drawn to the cafe where there were a about six old rusting, gas pumps from former days.

Broken hoses, chipped paint...a lone beer bottle sitting upright in the windblown sand.
The cafe front door was mended with tape. Curiosity overwhelmed us. There had to be a story here.
The smells wafting out the door were appealing and we  followed our nose.
The cafe was deserted, but we were greeted by a sweet, friendly woman who only works winters here.  She invited us to look at the menu and explained that everything here was made from scratch. She and her husband are from Walnut Creek California, about a 100 miles from my hometown.
While we ate a man came in and asked us where we were from, what we did. He was retired from PG&E and then worked at Nuclear Power plants, some of those that Jim worked for. I couldn't help but wonder why a guy with a good retirement would choose this place as home. He told us he bought a desert farm that produces a petroleum product and continued to talk our ear off. I've learned never to judge a place by its looks and this place is the center of the universe for locals who live in houses scattered about the area or in a couple of mobile home parks. Its quiet and peaceful here and you can come to love a place like this. And, we learned, this cafe was once the center of operations for General Patton, who had over a million combat troops stationed here for desert training  between 1942 and 1944. It turns out I was sitting in his favorite chair.
The cafe has all of the original furnishings. The cream of broccoli soup, was delicious as was my chili size. The cafe was opened in 1922. This little town was of service to the Colorado Aquaduct crews when the massive canal was built and finished in 1941. It stretches 242 miles and took eight years to build. This little town had the first Kaiser Medical Facility. Now it serves the locals and movie makers. They come here for its look of the past. Wikipedia has some humorous information about the town if you wish to learn more.,_California
 For more pictures,click my album link: