May 2-7, 2011 – Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park

We left Apache Junction on May 2nd and headed to Desert Hot Springs, CA where we are staying at the Catalina Spa and RV Resort. The dogs really like playing in the grassy, fenced dog park.

We visited the Cabot Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs.  Cabot Yersa built this Hopi style pueblo as a tribute to Native Americans.  He began building in 1941 and used entirely recycled materials for his 35 room mansion.  As is custom in Hopi tradition, no two rooms, windows or doors are alike.  He was only 5’3” tall, therefore, the doors and hallways were very narrow and the rooms very small.  It was a very interesting tour and we learned a lot about a very unusual and adventuresome man.

This detailed carving of an Indian head is carved out of one very large log.  It was standing next to the parking lot.

We toured the Palm Springs Air Museum which focuses on World War II era aircraft with both static displays and real, flyable aircraft. The museum was divided into both the European and Pacific theaters. 

One couple did scale models of different warships. This is a model of a battleship. The detail was incredible.

The high point was being able to go inside a B-17 Flying Fortress. We have seen them scattered all over a mountain side in Colorado and flying over a parade at Apache Junction, Arizona but never from the inside. We toured the “Miss Angela”

Nancy would like to mount one of these 50 cal machine guns in the truck for heavy traffic conditions.

Mitch the Witch II a B-26

This was a really great aviation museum.

We spent two days at Joshua Tree National Park.  What an interesting and beautiful park!  We were expecting the trees but were surprised that the park also has a lot of unusual rock formations.  The Joshua Trees are not really trees but a variety of Yucca.

The temperature in the park was in the high 90’s so we kept our hikes short.  We did a mile loop hike to Hidden Valley – a small valley completely surrounded by rock formations.  It is said to be a cattle rustler’s hideout.  The cattle rustlers used to herd their stolen cattle through the rocks into this valley to keep them hidden.  We had to climb up through these rocks to get to the valley.

Rex likes to take pictures of dead trees and there were plenty for him to choose from

The desert was beautiful with Beavertail cactus blooming

and Hedgehog cactus

Another short hike we did was to Barker Dam – a small dam built around 1900 by cattle ranchers in the area to store water for their cattle. Rex is trying to find a little shade under this Joshua Tree.

There was a small lake behind the dam but we were told that by fall it is just a small puddle.

We drove to and overlook called Key’s View.  From an elevation of 5,185 feet you look across the Coachella Valley.  It was pretty hazy but we could see Palm Springs at one end and the Salton Sea on the other end.  In this picture you can see the San Andreas Fault running through the valley with the Santa Rosa Mountains in the background.

Another short hike we did was to Arch Rock.  We hiked among a lot of different rock formations to this arch

This was one of the more unusual rock formations


We also hiked to an overlook of the Desert Queen Mine. The park service has covered up all the mine entrances so we couldn’t see much of the mine. We came upon the remains of a stone building

The wildflowers were really pretty.  It is amazing how they survive in such a dry climate.  We also saw a small rattlesnake but he slithered into some bushes before we could get a picture.

We really enjoyed our visit to Joshua Tree National Park.  We would like to come back when it is a little cooler so we can do more hiking.

On Friday we went to the Indian Canyons on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation outside of Palm Springs.  Again, it is expected to get into the high 90’s today so we are doing a short hike. We hiked 2 miles into Murray Canyon to Seven Sisters Waterfall.  The hike started from the oasis at Andreas Canyon and soon was into much dryer terrain.  Can you see the tops of the palm trees in the background – that is the start of Murray Canyon.

We saw lots of lizards and came upon this really fat Chuckwalla Lizard – looks like he hasn’t missed many meals!

We finally reached Murray Canyon and what a surprise – this oasis is such a contrast to the dry terrain we hiked through to get here.

We continued hiking up the canyon, crossing the Murray Creek many times.  After about 1¾ miles we came to the Seven Sisters Waterfall – a very nice place to sit and rest and relax.  There were lots of birds in the area and we were hoping to see a Peninsular Big Horn Sheep (an endangered species) but unfortunately we were not that lucky.

Saturday we drove to the Salton Sea, the largest body of water in California.  The area was pretty desolate and run down.  We did drive through a more scenic area with vineyards, citrus groves and palm groves.  We stopped at Shield’s Date Garden and bought some dates and had a yummy date shake.

There is a large wind farm between Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs with around 4,000 windmills.  We drove by it almost every day and it was fun to see which wind turbines were turning.  Tomorrow we are heading north to Sequoia National Park, where hopefully it will be cooler.


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