Find us on Google+ Rick and JoAnne's RV Travels: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Desert Safari


I have to admit, it was kind of hard leaving the familiar territory of Palm Springs, yet exciting to go into the desert to explore and discover new surroundings and adventures. 

Initially we were going to dry-camp, or boondock, as it is commonly referred to in the RV circles, in the desert, but after the “virus crud” struck we lost some time, and decided to head for Palm Canyon Campground in Anza-Borrego State Park located in the “artsy community” of Borrego Springs, CA

(One of the attractions of  boondocking for us is solitude- interestingly enough the boondocking sites both inside and outside the park were pretty crowded at this time of year.)

 In addition, the fun and exciting news was our friends and fellow camp-hosts from Glacier National Park, Griff & Pam Griffiths met us at the State Park, and together we explored the area for a couple of days. Good thing, as they had a four wheel drive Jeep to navigate the sands and roads less traveled. Our little FIT would have quickly and easily been buried.

You often wonder what the desert has to offer or I should say….I wonder what the desert has to offer but if you just stop, and look closely, it has so many things to say, and do in it. There is hiking, biking, camping, rock hounding; seeking out historic sites and points of interest and so forth...but one of the last things you would think of is a desert safari.

Yes, complete with sloths, camels, horses, mammoths, serpents, tigers and the like. Galleta Meadow Estates is a fascinating and remarkable vision of Philanthropist Dennis Avery and Perris Jurassic Park Sculptor Ricardo Breceda. The owner of the Galleta Meadow Estates, Dennis Avery owns many acres surrounding Borrego Springs and has been responsible for bringing the artwork to the desert. No fencing and he allows the public free access to the artwork. Mr. Avery hired Ricardo Breceda to create free standing art sculptures that would be on display in the desert for all to enjoy.

The photos do not really give justice to the work but will give you a good idea about the surrounding area and the sculptures.

And…BTW…who knew there were Badlands here? Yes, the Borrego Badlands with views from Fonts Point which in our opinion, are equal to those in some of the National Park’s in Utah.

After our visit to  the Badlands we stopped at 7 Palms - who knew you could get mail in the desert? We also stopped at the pumpkin patch.

Of course after all of this exploring, it makes one hungry so what else to do but to ride to the beautiful, apple belt community historic Julian, CA for lunch at the Julian CafĂ© and Bakery. We had been here many years ago and it looked and felt the same. Quaint and charming are the best words to describe this mountain town – and without a doubt, here resides the best apple pie ever!!!!

After we were sufficiently nourished, we headed out to what we thought would be the Wind Caves.

After Griff navigated the horrendous wash areas, we arrived only to discover it was a two-mile round trip hike up some steep and bolder strewn cliffs to the caves. Deciding it was too late in the day, we wandered around the area enjoying the geology. It was time to head back to camp after a full 7.5 hours and 135 miles of adventure. Pam & Griff took off today for parts unknown and Rick left for a hike in the mountains – so I am here writing and enjoying the scenes of this peaceful, relaxing, beautiful place. The desert….ahhhhhhh!!!!

Lots more photos here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back among the living


By Thursday night JoAnne was feeling like she was going to live after all. To celebrate we headed back to Sherman’s Deli.  For those of you who might find yourself at Sherman’s someday, this is #12 on the menu.

On Friday we had planned on getting up early and heading out to the Southwest Arts Festival in Indio. A very overcast day and a steady rain spoiled our plans – now that is something you don’t hear very often in the desert. Instead, we stayed inside and watched movies, paid bills, and played on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google +.

While it continued to rain much of Friday night by early Saturday morning there was enough blue in the sky as my grandfather used to say, “to make a pair of overalls”. So, it was off to the arts festival.

On our way to Indio and just a few miles down the road from where our RV is parked we saw a sign for the Coachella Valley Preserve. Hmmm… I wonder what that is all about? We decided to pull into the parking lot and check it out. Yes, this was another one of those “unexpected” gems. As luck would have it, docent (and retired Palm Desert High School English teacher) Harlan Walker was getting ready to take a walk down to McCallum Oasis and invited us to walk with him. The two and one-half hour walk flew by. The total hike is only 2.2 miles but Harlan turned out to be a wonderful guide and he gave us an amazing lesson on the area history, as well as an overview of the oasis plant, bird and animal life. One of the more unique features of this preserve is the stand of Fan Palms. The Fan Palm is the only native palm in California. The oasis also owes its existence to the fact that sits right on the San Andreas Fault. If you are in the area you owe it to yourself to check out this preserve.

Talk about a change in environment. Our next stop was the Southwest Art Festival, which featured over 300 artists and was located at the Empire Arts Festival in Indio. We had a fun time strolling between the booths and marveling at the wide range of creativity and talent. As far as art festivals go this was a very good one.

Today, we are getting ready for “levelers up” and our short trip to Anza Borrego State Park tomorrow. We have had a great time in the Coachella Valley. So, it is with mixed emotions that we leave. We are already looking forward to returning here again next year.

1000 Palms and Art Fest 012613

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Planning the Plan


JoAnne is fond of saying, “you can plan the plan” then typically follows up with, “it’s about the journey not the destination”.

If all had gone according to plan we would now be in Anza-Borrego State Park. We were originally going to travel to Anza on January 11. But our little “incident” postponed our departure from Sam’s.  No, our insurance claim is not settled but remains in “limbo”. Once resolved it may be, on second thought, will be the subject of another blog post.

Staying put in Desert Hot Springs gave us the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers Rick and Paulette Doyle. That meeting lead to an amazing dinner at Sherman’s - here is Rick’s blog link to that experience.

At Sherman's Deli with Rick & Paulette Doyle

As it turned out there was also an important insurance industry meeting taking place in the Palm Springs area the week of January 14. It was at the Westin in Rancho Mirage which is a really beautiful resort. I enjoyed attending and catching up with industry friends.

Our next departure date was to be January 20. Unfortunately, JoAnne got what we originally thought was the flu (yes, she had gotten her flu shot). After a trip to the doctor we learned that it was not the flu but rather a very nasty local virus. Nothing to do but hydrate, rest and wait it out. Sorry, I am under strict orders – No Pictures! Yet, traveling when you are sick is not much fun. So, we decided to stay put. JoAnne is now on the mend and feeling much better. We are now scheduled to leave for Anza on Monday - But… today I woke up with a slight sore throat. I am still optimistic that I will dodge this virus bullet and we will be in Anza on Monday.

On the other hand if you have to get sick and stay inside what better day to do that when it is raining... and here in the desert rain is pretty rare. Yes, I agree you can plan the plan… and we are loving the journey.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kick'n Back in Desert Hot Springs


Yes, we are still waiting on the Highway Patrol report and resolution to our insurance claim. But that is not why we are still at Sam’s Spa and Family Resort. After a very busy 6 weeks in Colorado over the holidays we are just happy to “chill” out here at Sam’s. I do mean “chill”. The weather has been in the mid to high 50’s during the day and the low 30’s overnight – much colder than usual even for this time of year.

The relaxing part has been great. Not that we have not been keeping busy. I have started back running after taking a several month hiatus. I should know better – I will pay the price getting back into running shape. We have managed to squeeze in three movies - Silver Lining Playbook, Gangster Squad and Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Lining was our favorite.

Last Thursday we got a visit from Rick Doyle a fellow blogger of Rick & Paulette’s RV Travels. It was fun meeting Rick in person and sharing some of our adventurers. Tonight the 4 of us have a dinner date at Sherman’s Deli and Bakery. We have never been there and from what we hear we are in for a real treat.

Saturday we watched the Bronco game – enough said.

Yesterday, we took off early and headed for the Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain and Slab City.  Our first stop was the Salton Sea History Museum & Visitor Center. We had no idea this museum even existed until we saw a small roadside sign. It is off the beaten path but was well worth the slight detour.  We were lucky as it is only open on Fri, Sat, & Sun. This is clearly a passion for founder Jennie Kelly. Jennie is a life long resident of the Coachella Valley and many of the exhibits in the Museum are her personal collections and creations. She spent about an hour with us as our personal guide and storyteller. We learned a ton and she brought much of the Salton Sea to history to life. On the way out of the museum we met her 92-year-old dad.

Next we started our trip around the lake. We had been here before in 2000 Check out this picture of how that trip ended up!

I am happy to report this trip was not a repeat and turned out much better. It was a perfect day to travel long the North and East shore. If you are not familiar with the Salton Sea I would highly recommend you clicking on the link above and reading about this very unique place.

It was then off to Salvation Mountain and Slab City, and the big surprise of the day…Mud Volcanos. The three are fairly close to each other and if you are not an RVer you may not be familiar with these spots. Again, many videos, blogs and articles have been written about both. Salvation Mountain is clearly one of these quirky places that you have to see to believe. Slab City…well, it isn’t for everyone.

The Mud Pots or Mud Volcanos are formed in a geothermal area on the St. Andreas fault where the water is pushing the ash or mud up to the surface forming mini volcanoes. This is a virtually undiscovered area where one can get up close and personal as the mud pots burp, gargle and croak without a sign to mark their presence and without a fence to protect them.

What a fun adventure!

Lots more photos here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Watch out! Crash! What was that?


On January 2nd we left home and headed to Palm Springs to pick up our RV. Our plan is to roam around the southwest for the next several months. On Friday January 4, our plans were changed -slightly. We were on I10, 25 miles from Palm Springs. It was 11:45 am and we were excited and looking forward to picking up Tiger III (our RV) when JoAnne exclaimed Watch Out! Then Crash… What was that? As we were passing a large flatbed truck a large piece of something flew off the back of the truck and hit us damaging the left front of the car. Yikes! Long story short… We caught up with the truck called the nursery that owned the truck and we both pulled off the highway. California Highway Patrol came, report made, and insurance claim filed. I am happy to report that we are totally fine – only the car suffered. Yet, we will be staying in Palm Springs a little longer then we had planned. We are not complaining. There is still a ton of things we want to see in do in the area. We headed to Sam’s Family Spa and Hot Water Resort – we had visited Nina of Wheeling It here last November. We will be settled in at Sam's until we get the claim settled.

As luck would have it there is also a large national insurance industry meeting taking place in Palm Springs next week. As many any of you know, I am still working and am Sr. Vice President for Aartrijk, a boutique branding firm out of Washington DC. We work almost exclusively with the independent insurance industry. Peter van Aartrijk the CEO of Aartrijk and many of our clients will be at the meeting and now so will I.

We still have plans to make it to Anza Borrego State Park and then spend a couple of days in Quartzsite before we head to McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside of Scottsdale in early February. But as JoAnne likes to say… “we are fluid”.