Saturday, February 6, 2010


Wednesday, February 3 – Drove through Desert Palms. What a beautiful upscale community! Nestled in the foothills of the mountains just east of Palm Springs.



Late in the afternoon, we drove over to have dinner with some new friends we met in Quartzsite. Jeri & Terri Williams and Janice & Jerry Hyder. They are in a Thousand Trails membership campground about ten minutes from where we are staying. We enjoyed a steak dinner and shared memories with each other.


As we were getting ready to eat, we had a visitor. We have never seen a Roadrunner close up. This is the male. The female came along later but it was too dark to take her picture.

roadrunner roadrunner-2

Indio is surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges. It snowed at the top each day. But we were warm with an average of 73 each day.


Here is some pictures of the Fantasy Springs Casino and our parking spot.



We ended a great day with another beautiful sunset.


Thursday, February 4 –
Drove to Joshua Tree National Park today. It was a pretty long climb up the mountains near Palm Springs.


We passed THOUSANDS of windmills used to produce electricity. It was amazing.



More pictures of the windmills.

Soon we arrived at Joshua Tree. We stopped at the visitors center to pickup a map and headed into this desert park.

The Joshua tree is a giant member of the lily family. It provides a good indicator that you are in the Mojave Desert. The National Park is located in the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Years ago, the Joshua tree was recognized by Native Americans for its useful properties; tough leaves were worked into baskets and sandals, and raw or roasted flower buds and seeds made a healthy addition to the diet. The tallest tree in the ark looms a whopping forty feet high. It is estimated to be about 300 years old! They do not have growth rings like an oak or pine. This makes aging difficult, but you can divide the height of a Joshua tree by the average annual growth of one-half inch to get a rough estimate.


According to legend, Mormon pioneers considered the limbs of the Joshua trees to resemble the upstretched arms of Joshua leading them to the promised land. Some trees grow like straight stalks; these trees have never bloomed—which is why they are branchless.


Golly, you can't believe the huge boulders and strange rock formations. The rock formations of Joshua Tree National Park were formed 100 million years ago from the cooling of magma beneath the surface. The park is well laid out so you can drive into the beautiful mountains and around the rocks.




More pictures of Joshua Tree National Park.

With the recent rains the desert was showing signs of new life. We enjoyed some time in the Cholla Cactus Garden. The species of Cholla that grows in the garden is scientifically named Opuntia bigelovii, but often called Teddy Bear Cholla or Jumping Cholla. The latter name was derived from the way the joints break off — very easily after being only slightly bumped or disturbed. Watch the ground carefully as you walk for these stray bits! New cactus start growing from the broken-off joints, and the garden continues to grow and renew itself. The cactus were spouting new growth and there was a slight green tinge to the country side.




Getting ready to flower

More Cholla pictures.

As we drove through the park, we were surprised to learn that the San Andreas Fault runs through the Park. Joshua Tree is crisscrossed with hundreds of faults, and is a great place to see raw rocks and the effects of earthquakes. The famous San Andreas Fault bounds the south side of the park, and can be observed from Keys View.



We made a new friend at the Fault.


More pictures of the Fault.

We spent the whole day driving in the park. There are fifty some miles of road, and I think we drove most of them. We exited the park near I-10 and needed only drive down the 10 mile mountain pass to our boondocking site at the casino.

Later that night we returned to the casino to return some of the meager winnings we walked away with the other day. All-in-all, we broke about even.

Friday, February 5 – Travel Day. Drove about 4 hours and a little over 200 miles to Buckeye, AZ which is thirty miles West of Phoenix. We are staying at Leaf Verde RV Park. It sound like we are near a military base....jet fighters fly pretty low and pretty often overhead.

Hope you enjoyed the blog. Stop back again, please.


Tuesday, February 2 – Headed to the Salton Sea this morning.  The Salton Sea, located in the southeastern corner of California, is actually a lake which occupies a desert basin known as the Salton Sink. This body of water covers a surface area of 376 square miles, making it larger than Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake.  In fact, the Salton Sea is the largest lake in California.  The Sea’s current elevation is about 227 feet below mean sea level.


The Salton Sea was formed between 1905 and 1907 when the Colorado River burst through poorly built irrigation controls south of Yuma, Arizona. Water rushed downhill into the empty sea, and was flowing for 16 months before men could stop it. A new lake 45 miles long and 20 miles wide had been formed! Almost the entire flow of the river filled the Salton Basin for more than a year, inundating communities, farms and the main line of the Southern Pacific Railroad.


The very things that make this lake so unique and such a rich source of abundant life are placing the Sea’s existence at risk. The nutrients that provide such an abundant source of food for fish are at levels that alter the available oxygen in the water. Its salt content, which causes water vessels to be more buoyant, and thus the fastest lake in the nation to boat upon, is compromising the reproductive ability of fish and, thus, their survival. Without fish, the hundreds of species of birds that rely on fish for food, and the economic status of the Sea as a productive fishery, would be threatened. 


We walked down to the shoreline and were surprised that what we thought to be beach sand was actually tiny shells. When walked upon, you really sank down 4-6 inches. Very unusual.


We actually put a finger in the Sea and WOW was it salty. After reading the information at the visitor’s center, we found out that the Salton Sea is 25% saltier than the ocean and getting saltier every day. What makes this body of water so salty, you ask? The salinity is a result of the high evaporation rates in the hot desert climate. Water flowing into the Sea adds the equivalent of a train of salt each day: several million tons a year. There are an estimated 500 million tons of salt in the Salton Sea.

More pictures here.

After visiting the Salton Sea we tried to find the Painted Canyon but were turned back due to road closings. Evidently the storm that hit Quartzsite last Thursday, January 24, did extensive road damage in the mountains in this area.

But before we get to our next stop, we needed to drive on some rough roads. We drove back a gravel and desert sand road about 5 miles into the desert. Then after about a mile hike we entered the Oasis.




We then went to Dos Palmas Preserve. The main oasis is at the base of the Orocopia Mountains. This was really interesting. It is a real oasis out in the desert.

This is what the land looked like around the Preserve.




Now here is the Dos Palmas Preserve.






Very cool and refreshing. It was obvious why these retreats were so sought after by people traveling in the desert.

Dos Palmas pictures here.

We then headed about 20 miles East on I-10 to the General Patton Memorial Museum. This museum was stuffed with artifacts from WWII.


In January 1942, just a month after the United States entered the war, German troops under the command of Field Marshall Rommel started pushing toward Egypt, threatening the Suez Canal. It was evident that U.S. troops would have to engage in a desert campaign. There was no background for such an engagement in the history of U.S. warfare.

General Patton arrived, and the Desert Training Center became operational, in early April 1942. Four days later, he and the troops took their first desert march. Within 15 days, all units at the center had been on a desert march. Within 23 days, he had conducted 13 tactical exercises, including some with two nights in the desert. The first troops to arrive at the Desert Training Center described it as "the place God forgot." It was eventually to become the training ground for more than a million troops in seven armored divisions and thirteen infantry divisions. Patton commanded the Seventh Army during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and in conjunction with the British Eighth Army restored Sicily to its citizens.

This Museum had everything from uniforms




shortwave radios, tanks…M-60 Medium, 48 tons, diesel, air cooled, automatic transmissions


Sherman M4 HVSS Medium, 36  tons, Wright 9 cyl, radial air cooled, manual transmission


and troop carriers. They definitely need a larger building. There was also a duplicate of the Vietnam Memorial and a wall covered with bricks in remembered of all veterans.

One of the most interesting things Marsha saw was called Trench Art. It is the sculpting of shell casings. Soldiers who spent long hours waiting in trenches passed the time between artillery barrages by creating art works out of the available materials. They did beautiful work.

casings-2 casings

The Museum has many maps.The Big Map weighs close to 5 tons and is designed to come apart like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Twelve expert draftsmen created more than 250,000 pieces of fiberboard to depict the 50,000 square miles of land surrounding the aqueduct’s route.


Just when we thought we saw everything, we noticed that they even had a picture of Marsha when she was in the service. She was the leader of a tank gang.


More pictures from the Gen. Patton Museum.

After dinner we headed into the Casino to claim our $50 in “casino money” and try our look on the slots. Once you put $20 of your own money into a machine, the casino kicks in $50 additional dollars to keep you playing. Unfortunately, you can't cash out the $50 and leave. You have to play out the $50. Paul ended up winning $14 and “Hot Shot” Marsha won $39....Yeah!

Our spot in the Fantasy Springs Casino parking lot for RVs.



Driveway to the Casino. Flowers are blooming everywhere…Marsha is in Heaven.


What a full day. How lucky we are to able to see all of this. Hope you stop back again.