My Virtual Vacation Day 13—Palm Desert California

We had hoped in retirement to travel the world. So far we have done a pretty good job with trips to Mexico, Hawaii, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and The Czech Republic. However the pandemic has stopped all of that for a while. So while waiting for Africa, Alaska and Scandinavia, our current travel is going to have to be virtual. Today’s stop is the Palm Desert of California.

We have visited a few times. The desert has its own unique beauty. Joshua Tree National Park and Indian Canyons are two great spots for desert hikes. The resorts are luxurious and the area has more fountains than any place I can think of. It is so dry that the fountains offer a unique bit of luxury taken for granted in other areas of the country.

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A Desert Oasis

Joshua Tree National Park

Palm Desert

Desert Fountains

One expects the desert to have little water. Of course that’s true. Try driving the back roads from California to Nevada if you need proof. However people who own property in the Palm Springs area seem obsessed with water. Small houses will frequently have fountains and large resorts have many water features from large fountains on golf courses to small little ones in gardens. Here are a couple from our recent trip.

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Desert Fountains

Desert Fountains

The Miniature Trains at The Living Desert

One of the great surprises of The Living Desert in Palm Springs was the extensive miniature railroad exhibit. I have always loved miniature railroads. I have a great set as a kid and have seen some amazing exhibits. The exhibits at the Barnum Museum in Sarasota, at The Science Center in Pittsburgh and The science and Industry Museum in Chicago are unbelievable However, the one at The Living Desert in Palm Desert California is truly unique.

The exhibit is outdoors and is almost an acre large It consists of more than 3,300 feet of track, six different loops and a variety of trains in different gauges. There are all sorts of surprises in this exhibit including Most Rushmore. I imagine the fact that it is outdoors creates all sorts of maintenance costs. Throughout the exhibits are miniature road signs of the corporate sponsors.

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Living Desert Rail Yards

Living Desert Rail Yards

Living Desert Rail Yards

Living Desert Rail Yards

Desert Textures

Some people think the desert is ugly. It looks dry and lifeless. Some of it is pretty rough. We drove from Palm Desert to Nevada and the lan truly looked dead. It is one of the most desolate drives I have ever taken. Truly no country for old me. It is surprising though when you stop you notice all kinds of life. Even when we stopped in the Mohave desert we saw lots of life. Not dead but a different type of beauty.

This image was taken in The Living Desert and the textures of the desert plants provide a different sort of beauty.

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Desert Textures

Desert Textures

A Desert Oasis

The Palm Desert in southern California is home to Palm Springs and famous as a golf resort and winter oasis. It is also the home to Indian Canyons. It is not a national park since the park is on an Indian Reservation. In 1876 and 1877, the U.S. Federal Government created a deed in trust to the Agua Caliente people of 31,500 acres for their homeland. The tribe takes care of the park with assistance from California.

There are many different hikes and canyons and it is worth the short drive from Palm Springs to see the wonder of a desert oasis. We were there after a heavy rain and it was lush and green but also some of the trails were washed out.

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A Desert Oasis

Mountain Textures

My cousin in Los Angeles seemed confused when I told him we were planning to drive to Las Vegas for a couple of days. Oh he understood the occasional need to go to Las Vegas but couldn’t imagine why anyone in their rights mind would drive instead of fly. Especially when I told him we had done the drive before. He has lived in Los Angeles for all of his life and can’t say Desert without putting the word stinking in front of it. He looked at me with confusion when I asked him what to see in The Mojave Desert.

For me, every terrain offers unique challenges and opportunities. Every time I am in the Desert I find the photographic challenges to be unique and also rewarding. It is too bright, too stark and kind of boring. However those very features provide unique opportunities. The drive is hot and tiring but worth it as long as you never stop in Prim Nevada.

This image was taken at Red Rocks outside of Las Vegas.

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Mountain Textures

Beautiful Barstow California

Not every place in California is beautiful. However even the Mohave Desert that runs between Pasadena and Las Vegas has some beautiful and unusual spots. Barstow however is not one of them.

It lies about halfway between the two cities and a lot of people stop there for gas, food, and Alien Beef Jerky. It is a town famous for UFO sightings.

Around town you will notice drawings of aliens and strange men drawn on deserted buildings. There are many of them. This is an abandoned gas station on the outskirts of town. In my opinion, it’s best to drive through Barstow and stop at Peggy Sue’s Diner.

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Barstow CA

Mountain Textures

<a href="http://https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/nevada/red-rock-canyon”>Red Rock Canyon is a National Conservation Area and managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The texture of the different rocks and the structure of the mountains make this a truly interesting wild west terrain. I wonder if the shallow cave has been used for shelter for man or beast.

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Mountain Textures

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

<a href="http://https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/nevada/red-rock-canyon”>Red Rock Canyon is a National Conservation Area and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is not a National Park so like Bears Ears National Monument to the east it can easily be unprotected by arrogant and greedy politicians.

However In this snapshot of time it is still beautiful and pristine. It looks like the real west at every turn. There is a 14 mile scenic drive and many hikes and rock climbing opportunities.

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Red Rocks Canyon

Red Rocks Canyon

Purple Haze

I have visited Las Vegas many times but usually on business and never made it very far from the strip. This time we finally made it to Red Rocks National Conservation Area.

Considering the greed and corruption of our current government I suggest you go quickly before they start, fracking, digging or otherwise destroy this beautiful wilderness. It is truly a magnificent area for climbing or hiking and if your not in the mood the 14 mile scenic drive will provide an easier way to explore the beauty of the area. This purple bush caught my eye. A splash of color in the wilderness.

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Purple Haze