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

The Joy of Golf

The legend is that Mark Twain once wrote that golf was “… a good walk ruined.” History tells us that he may not have said this at all but it has always been my opinion on golf. It seems a major investment in time and money for something that is essentially free. Golf seems to also cause a lot of anxiety and as a former country club bartender I could tell you some stories.

That said, a lot of people love the sport and for them I took this picture of a sculpture that seems to capture the joy. This is at a resort in Palm Desert California.

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The Joy of Golf

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

Another View from Indian Canyons

Recently I posted about Indian Canyons. That post featured a view along Murray Canyon Trail.
This view was taken from the foot of Palm Canyon Trail. in the background are the San Jacinto Mountains.

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Another View from Indian Canyons

Goal Post Cactus

These two large cactus seem to act as a goal post for the other cactus. The setting sun provides an interesting back lighting making what was beautiful seem somewhat sinister and spooky.

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Goal Post Cactus

Goal Post Cactus

Indian Canyons California

Palm Springs is surrounded by the San Jacinto Mountains on the western side of the city and leading up to the mountains are the world famous Indian Canyons.. There are a variety of hiking trails and while many are strenuous, less serious hikers can also find suitable trails. Palm Canyon is the most popular but we hiked the Murray Canyon Trail.

We couldn’t make it back to the waterfall because of the violent storms that preceded our hike. It was a beautiful day and the palm trees in the desert made me think of the desert oasis I was reading about in the novel,The Alchemist .

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Indian Canyons California

Indian Canyons California

Sunnylands Center and Gardens

The estate originally built by Walter Annenberg in 1966 was used as a winter residence by the ambassador and his wife. Sunnylands Center has since been used by many famous people and where President Obama recently escaped for a few days after finishing his term.

The gardens are stunning and free to the public. Tickets can be purchased to tour The Residence when it is not in use.

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Sunnylands Center and Gardens

Sunnylands Center and Gardens