Palm Desert, California – Part Two

We continue our adventure in Palm Desert by exploring a few of the many trails located on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ land, then end with a stroll through the College of the Desert Street Fair.

Tahquitz Canyon

Tahquitz (pronounced taw—kwish) Canyon is a culturally sensitive area preserved and opened to visitors. Along the trail hikers can see ancient irrigation systems, rock art, plants, and a 60-foot waterfall. Artifacts are on display in the visitor center.

Tahquitz Canyon

We stepped up to pay our money, and the ranger said, “You should watch the Legend of Tahquitz first. You might not want to take the trail once you do.” We heeded her advice even though we didn’t believe we’d be scared. The legend says the great shaman Tahquitz used his power for selfish reasons and turned on his people. So the Agua Caliente banished him to the canyon. Some people believe his evil spirit lives there still.

Remnants of the Lebacho-Tahquitz Creek Ditch built in 1830. The symbol is not graffiti. It marks the spot for this point of interest.

As we thought, the legend was not scary. Who knows, maybe the ranger was just monitoring the number of people.

A promotional card gives visitors a $2.50 discount off the regular adult fee of $12.50 for up to 10 people. Children under thirteen years of age and U.S. Military with an ID are free. We picked up the card from our RV park. I’m sure they have them at the visitor information center in town or in hotel lobbies.

Spillway
Tahquitz Falls

This canyon was not always so beautiful or accessible. In 1969 tribal leaders were forced to close the culturally sensitive area after a Canned Heat rock concert drew more than 1,000 people. Many of the people stayed for days and trashed the mountains. Spring break revelers showed up each year bringing guns and drugs. Squatters lugged in bags of cement to make “home” improvements. Trespassers trampled wild grapevines and polluted the freshwater pools. Hikers became stranded, were injured, or died.

Boulders along trail

The tribe was in a Catch 22 situation. People would continue to destroy the beautiful, magical place and use it as a dumping ground if the tribe did nothing. They didn’t want to open the canyon to the public, but had to find a way to save the canyon and still respect the culture.

View of the city below and Desert Hot Springs across the valley

In January 1998 the tribe began a cleanup effort costing more than $100,000. They removed trash, erased graffiti, and rousted homeless who had set up camp just a few blocks from Palm Canyon Drive. They installed fencing, hired security guards, improved trails, and built a museum annex.

Tahquitz Creek

We enjoyed the peaceful surroundings and the walk along the stream while we searched for the points of interest designated by geometric signs. It was an honor to follow the paths where ancient Agua Caliente Indians once lived, and I’m thankful the tribe restored the canyon for visitors like us to enjoy.

Indian Canyons

Indian Canyons, the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, preserves rock art, house pits, foundations, irrigation ditches, dams, reservoirs, trails, and food preparation areas for current and future generations. There are three canyons available to explore: Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon, and Murray Canyon.

Palm Canyon Trading Post Overlook

We headed for the 15-mile long Palm Canyon, the world’s largest California Fan Palm Oasis, arriving just in time for a ranger talk. The ranger took us down into the canyon, where he shared the philosophy of the Cahuilla Indians and how they dealt with hunger.  He pointed out a kish replica made of reeds and brush, and a rock that was used as a mortar. He showed us how to pick out the ripest palm fruit berries that had fallen from the trees, then let us continue on the trail.

Kish
Mortar Rock

There are several trails from easy to strenuous from which to choose. We walked along the stream for a mile or so, then turned around and went back to the trading post.

This picnic table would not be a good choice. It’s too close to the palm skirt where snakes live.

Other options are to take the Victor Trail back to the parking lot or continue along the palm canyon trail. More strenuous hikes also shoot off from the trading post.

Palm canyon creek
Fire scarred palm trees

On our way out, we stopped to find out more about the mysterious gas station dating from the early to mid-1900s. Stories indicate there were gas pumps, except no one remembers gas ever being sold. The station did sell drinks and snacks to visitors. It looked like a place I might have stopped on a trip with my grandparents when I was a little girl, and I imagined Indians might have had tables set up out front to sell their jewelry, baskets, and pottery.

Mystery gas station with an outhouse in the distance

Andreas Canyon was our next stop. The trail was an easy one-mile loop beside a year-round flowing stream. The scenery attracts painters as well as hikers.

En Plein Air class
Jon walks among the towering palms
Andreas Creek

Tahquitz and the three Indian Canyons are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Leaves under clear water
Cabins on a hill

These craggy cliffs reminded me of something one might see in Hawaii.

Craggy Cliffs

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert was celebrating its 50th anniversary and their mission encompasses more than their name implies.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

They preserve a portion of the Colorado Desert in a natural state, foster an awareness and appreciation for the variety of plants and animals in worldwide ecosystems, build up populations of various species of desert animals and plants that face extinction in the wild, and foster studies to protect desert species in the wild.

Aren’t I pretty?
Oh, what long lashes you have
Giraffe ossicones (ossified cartilage).
Giraffes can run up to 35 mph (55 km/h)

The nature preserve protects 1,200 acres of Sonoran desert. Trails, which are closed in the summer, consist of easy half-mile walks and more difficult 5-mile treks. There are two main sections: North America and Africa. Australia Adventures was under construction during our visit with a planned opening in spring 2020.

The following are samples of the different types of animals that live in an environment typical of what they would experience in the wild.

Warthog heads look almost as big as their body
Porcupine
Grevy’s Zebra
Great Egret
African Wild Dog
White Herron

Even the Big Horn Sheep have a mountain and cliffs to climb on.

Big Horn Sheep blends into the hillside

Several garden areas provide shade and a peaceful environment to enjoy. The 1.5-mile walkway meanders through the zoo and garden, or hop on the tram if walking is difficult.

Wander the shady gardens to cool off
Or sit back in the shade and rock away.

Make time to stop by the G-scale model train that sits on 3/4 of an acre. Some of the scenes include the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, and Old Indio.

 

G-scale model train

The College of the Desert Street Fair

Last on our places to explore was the College of the Desert Street Fair, which has operated year-round every weekend for over 36 years. Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables are available along with a wide variety of vendors selling apparel, footwear, hats, handbags, and home goods, to name a few.

Vendors line the long aisles

There is also a food court in case patrons work up an appetite from all the shopping. Parking is free, and there is plenty of shade under the solar panel shelters.

Step right up. Get your fresh produce and dates here.

After our whirlwind in Palm Desert, we were ready for a bit of relaxation. Our next stop was San Diego and a visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Stay tuned.

Safe Travels

Palm Desert, California – Part One

We pulled into the Emerald Desert RV Resort on January 26, 2020, for a seven-night stay in Palm Desert, California. With the freeway and train tracks to the north and Frank Sinatra Drive to the south, we worried about how we would ever get to sleep. Luckily, the fan on our space heater provided sufficient white noise to drown out any sleep-depriving disturbance.

Emerald Desert RV Resort

It had been at least 30 years since we last visited the Coachella Valley, and our mouths watered for a date shake. So, we drove to Shields Date Garden, which has sold the “World’s Finest” date shake since 1936. They also sell dates, nuts, and dried fruit—their apricots are the best I’ve ever tasted.

Don’t miss the dates at Shields
Shields World’s Finest Date Shake

A twenty-five dollar purchase in the store covered our entry fee to the 17-acre date farm gardens.

Lake and date palms at Shields Date Garden

We walked through the oasis in the middle of the city, following the winding path through palm trees, around a lake, and past 14 scenes with 23 statues depicting Christ’s life.

Jesus with the Woman at the Well

The statues once called Vancouver, Canada, home until William and Lillian Vanderzalm sold their biblical garden in 2011 to Shields.

Breaking of the Bread

Be sure to catch the movie The Romance & Sex Life of the Date produced by Mr. Shields. It describes the labor-intensive production process of dates from pollination (done by hand) to picking and distribution.

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

One day we drove to Desert Hot Springs, California. The Desert Hot Springs Spa and Hotel was a place we went during the 1970s to soak in the hot mineral waters, roast in the sun on lounges, and cool off in the swimming pool. We were pleased to see that it was still in business, even though sunbathing is no longer one of our pastimes.

During the drive there, we ran across Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. When we saw the building from the road, we had to stop and take a look. Lucky for us, we arrived just as a tour of the inside had begun. Due to close quarters and the number of people on the tour, photos of the inside could not be taken.

Cabot Yerxa (1883 – 1965) began construction on his cabin in 1914 on homesteaded land using reclaimed and found materials from around the Coachella Valley.

Cabot Adobe and courtyard

In 1941 he used supplies from the cabin to build the Pueblo Museum in its current location, making the adobe style bricks in the courtyard. He was an early adopter of the reuse, renew, and recycle movement, by incorporating old telephone poles, broken pieces of glass, and even a buckboard as a door. He also purchased abandoned cabins, dismantled them, and reused the wood and nails.

Closer view of the adobe

Construction of the museum was completed in 1949 and officially opened in 1950. The four-story structure consists of 5,000 square feet, 35 rooms, 150 windows, 30 rooflines, and 65 doors. Sensitive to Native American sensibilities, the living room, or parlor, has a dirt floor.

Hopi inspiration is noted in the Kachinas incorporated into the structure

What I thought was ingenious was the air conditioning system he designed. The walls include upper and lower cutouts so air flows through the museum to regulate the temperature whether it is blazing hot in the summer or cool in the winter. Desert Hot Springs is known for its wind, evidenced by the numerous windmills in the valley, so it was good to see he took advantage of the natural surroundings.

Books, art, jewelry, baskets, and other products can be found at the Trading Post

Cabot Yerxa was known not only as an architect and builder; he was also an adventurer, artist, collector, entrepreneur, explorer, idealist, visionary, and writer.

Below is a photo of Peter “Wolf” Toth’s carving Waokiye (Y-oh-kee-ay) “Traditional Helper” dated 1978. Toth used a single 45-ton Sequoia redwood log carving. Waokiye’s face stands at 22 feet tall. The feather is 15 feet tall and was carved from an incense cedar from Idyllwild, California. The total height of the statue stands at 40 feet tall, weighs over 20 tons, and overlooks the museum and the City of Desert Hot Springs. The statue is part of the Trail of the Whispering Giants created by Toth throughout the United States and Canada. Waokiye is the 27th Giant in the series.

Wokiye (Y-oh-kee-ay) greets visitors at the Cabot’s Pueblo Museum parking lot

Slow down while speeding along Interstate 10 through the Coachella Valley Desert, turn off at the Desert Hot Springs exit, and take a tour of this unique museum to learn more about the man who helped found the town.

Palm Springs

We couldn’t pass up cruising down Palm Canyon Drive while in the lower desert. Jon and I had one of our first dates at the Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs. The name of the movie is hiding somewhere in my memory. What I do remember is riding down the freeway in a rattle trap that was more like a go-kart than a car and standing in line roasting in my sweater and long pants. We had left the Inland Empire under “late night and early morning low clouds along the coast and inland” conditions only to arrive in Palm Springs where the temperature approached 90 degrees.

Remembering our date in Palm Springs

This trip, we enjoyed a wonderful early dinner and Mai Tais at Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar.

Good eats and drinks at Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar

I’m usually not a fan of toffee because it is too hard to bite. Brandini Toffee changed my mind. The chocolate-covered pieces melted in my mouth. My mouth is watering as I type this. Maybe I’ll order some online.

Stop in at Brandini Toffee for delicious after-dinner desert
Las Casuelas Terraza looked like a good place for Mexican food
Find a favorite star along the sidewalk
This establishment had an enticing menu

Next up in Part Two: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Tahquitz and Indian Canyons, and a street fair.

Safe Travels

Blackhawk Museums, Danville, California

We returned from our fall 2019 adventures a week before turkey day, faced with a whirlwind of activity. As soon as we finished cleaning out the fifth wheel and sorting the mail, preparations for Thanksgiving dinner captured our attention as did the day itself with family and friends. Without a breather, we rolled into the Christmas and New Year season by decorating the house, making lists, shopping for gifts, and planning another dinner.

We never make plans to celebrate our anniversary, which falls three days after Christmas. This year, however, we thought we at least deserved to spend a day together to celebrate our 45th year. We started with breakfast at Nonni’s Bistro in downtown Pleasanton, California. Breakfast at Nonni’s is like having breakfast at a quaint bed and breakfast establishment. Then we were off to Blackhawk Plaza and the Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California.

Behring Foundation wing of the museum

The museum began in 1988 when real estate developer Ken Behring (1928 – 2019) and car collector Don Williams joined forces to showcase classic automobiles in a newly established museum. The auto gallery rotates its inventory to attract visitors throughout the year.

No matter the age or type of vehicle on display, the one commonality they all possess is that they are rare and unique models. One of the earliest cars on display was the Stanley Steamer (a term I thought came from the carpet cleaners).

1902 Stanley Steamer Stick Seat Runabout

This Lamborghini, one of only 40 built, represented the newer models.

2017 Lamborghini Centenario

Jon rushed up to an “Evening Orchid” painted 1965 Chevrolet Impala S/S. “Hey, my dad owned one of these that he called the purple people eater.” I could see his father behind the wheel, wearing a golf outfit to match. He loved bright colors, be they yellow, green, blue, or pink.

1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Sport Coupe with Evening Orchid paint

The holiday fairy lights hanging from the ceiling made it difficult to capture the brilliance and shine of the paint jobs. Occasionally, I found the right angle even if it meant catching the subject in a reflection.

1955 Desoto Fireflight convertible in reflection

This 1950 Monarch (Mercury) “Woody” Station Wagon reminds me of warm summer days, beach towels on the sand, the smell of suntan oil, the crash of waves, and surfers bobbing in the water on the horizon waiting to catch the big one.

Surfs Up

I’ve always been partial to panel trucks and the whimsy of this one caught my eye. It brought back memories of the Helm’s Bakery trucks that cruised our neighborhood in the 1960s and the fresh-baked bread and donuts the driver sold. The crullers with chocolate icing on top were my favorite.

Chevrolet panel or delivery truck

The museum also contains The Spirit of the Old West, a permanent collection of 19th-century North American artifacts of Native Americans and the European expansion of North America in the 1800s.

Howdy pardner. Come on in.

One side of the exhibit tells the story of how Americans “won” the land.

While the opposite side tells the story of how the Native Americans “lost” the land.

Displays include the early years when mountain men explored the territories.

Buffalo-hide coat

Contributions of women during 19th-century California are honored.

Women who shaped California

The Chinese labor force that brought us the Transcontinental Railroad is recognized.

How the railroad hastened the westward expansion

Even a life-sized wagon and oxen are on display.

Imagine walking alongside these beasts

Paintings and artifacts are used to present the Native American side of the story.

Trail of Broken Dreams by Don Oelze
Knife and holder
Replica of a rowboat built in a circle
Native American baskets

A large diorama also tells the stories of the early west. Information panels and audio explain further the objects displayed in the diorama.

How the west was won and lost diorama

Temporary installations occupy additional exhibit halls in the building. We found carvings, masks, paintings, and other art objects dominated the Art of Africa exhibit.

African musical instruments and sculptures
Masks of Africa
Majestic
Maasai Girl

On display in the Western exhibit were various types of memorabilia.

Ride ’em cowboy.
Gene Autry suit and boots. Note the boots on the pocket-handkerchief
Monty Montana costumes
Paintings of horsewomen

Outside in the Blackhawk Plaza, a walkway passes by stores and several restaurants as it meanders through landscaping, beside a creek and water features, and crosses over bridges.

Blackhawk Plaza

Whimsical sculptures near the playground stand to prompt us all to “Imagine.” The plaque below details the meaning of the sculptures.

Sculpture plaque
Girl riding swan
Grandpa reading to girl with museum building in the background
Up, up, and away

We sat and watched a raft of ducks playing in the pond. This duck entertained us for about a half-hour as it bobbed for something at the bottom.

Bobbing for dinner

There’s nothing like a respite from the hustle and bustle of the holidays to remind us that even in our little corner of the world there are places to see and explore.

Itchy feet, however, had us packing up the trailer again on January 24, 2020, for a bit of winter travel in the southern part of California. Our next post will feature the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California.

Until then, safe travels.

Quincy and Graeagle in Plumas County, California

Exploring new territory is our favorite type of adventure and Plumas County in California was a place we had yet to explore. So, on October 4, 2014, we headed north from Yosemite along State Route 49 to Interstate 80, and then north on State Route 89. We had often passed State Route 89 near Truckee, when driving to and from Reno, Nevada, and wondered what lay beyond the thick forest. We were about to find out.

We selected Pioneer RV Park in Quincy as base camp for four nights.

Campsite at Pioneer RV Park in Quincy, California

James H. Bradley, one of the organizers of Plumas County, donated land for the county seat that would become Quincy. Bradley had named his farm in Illinois after John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) and decided that name was just fine for the new town in California. In 1858, the town was formally recognized. The estimated population for Plumas County in 2018 was 18,800, of which about 1,900 people lived in Quincy.

We began our exploration at Buck’s Lake on the Oroville-Bucks Lake Road. Surrounded by the Bucks Lake Wilderness and Recreation area, residences, and resorts, visitors can enjoy fishing, camping, hiking, and water sports during the spring and summer months.

Old fishing cabins surround Buck’s Lake

When winter descends on the valley that sits at 5,200’ elevation, the snowmobiles and snowshoes came out to play. Several campgrounds accommodate both tents and RVs in Plumas National Forest or in private campgrounds. Only a small number of full hookup sites are available.

Buck’s Lake
Buck’s Lake Dam

Our next stop was Thompson Lake where the trees showed off their yellow and gold fall colors.

Thompson Lake

We hiked around Gansner Park where the green grass and shade from the tall pines made for a pleasant stroll. Overall, the park was in good order, except for the tennis courts. It looked like they had been abandoned for several seasons.

Gansner Park
Abandoned tennis courts at Gansner Park

The next day we headed out to the Cascade Trailhead. The Spanish Creek flows next to the trail and leads to five small falls. The trail was originally built to transport water for hydraulic mining and used as a supply road for the Western Pacific Railroad. Fall had surely made its way into the canyon.

Fall marches on
Cascade Trail
Spanish Creek
One of five short falls
Angel wings or a heart?
Spanish Creek
More fall colors
Purple daisies look more like it’s spring

The Union Pacific railroad runs through the canyon. I had seen the tunnel high up on the canyon wall.

Union Pacific train tunnel

Then the roar and thunder of a freight train grew in intensity and soon there it was chugging away and disappearing into the tunnel.

Union Pacific train was right on time

We moved our base camp to Movin’ West RV Park in Graeagle to explore another area of Plumas County. Once a company mill town, recreation now drives Graeagle’s economy. With a championship 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, nearby Plumas County National Forest and lakes basin and the Plumas Eureka State Park, visitors have plenty of activities to enjoy during their stay.

The Plumas Eureka State Park museum was closed when we arrived, which should have disappointed us. Instead, we managed to learn about the artifacts while wandering around the exterior grounds and examining the old gold-mining equipment and buildings. Although it would have been nice to have a docent tell us the history of the place, we were able to grab enough information from reading the signs, which told each object’s story.

Welcome to Plumas Eureka State Park
No one home at the museum
Mohawk stamp mill
Trestle
Stone wheel
Metal Wheel
This Huntington Mill was used to crushed gold-bearing ore for processing
Replica assay office
JT inspecting the antique mining equipment

Fall had definitely descended upon the Madora Lake Loop Trail.

Madora Lake Loop Trail
Hmm, does he want to go through there or not?

We finished our exploration of Plumas County at the Plumas National Forest Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The lush forest, crystal blue lakes, and fall-inspired scenery was the perfect setting to close out our adventures. We selected the loop trail that skirted Big Bear Lake and passed by Little Bear Lake, Cub Lake, and Silver Lake.

Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake
Little Bear Lake
Silver Lake
Standing among the undergrowth
Put down the camera and come on
Bear Lake and Long Lake Trail
Jeffrey Pine
Time for a break
Decaying log

Putting together these past posts has made me homesick for the thick forests, alpine lakes, and trails. I want to lace up my shoes, sling my camera around my neck, and walk the trails exploring new territory.

Jon’s back has been pain free for almost a week as I write this post. Now comes the slow process of avoiding another flare up and regaining strength and stamina. However long that takes, I have hope that one day soon we will once again climb mountains and sit along an alpine lakeshore eating our lunch.

Safe Travels