The Palouse

People asked me why I wanted to go to the far south eastern portion of Washington state. Why? I don’t know. I think it was because of all the amazing pictures I have seen on Flickr and through Google of the wonderfully colorful fields and rolling hills, and red, white and brown old barns, and animals, historic bridges and flour mills, and …and… and…

We spent a week in this area at the beginning of May. It was a bit early for all the fields to be growing, but the scenery was still inspiring. I think it would be any time of the year.

DSC_0531-Edit

We stayed in Colfax, which we figured was pretty central to the whole area. Colfax population is around 3000 people, it is the 2nd largest city in the region, after Pullman. It is situated amidst wheat-covered hills in a valley at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Palouse River. The downtown is a National Register Historic District with buildings aging from the 1890’s to the 1930’s.

We discovered the Perkins House, a restored Victorian home built in 1886. The Perkins family occupied the house until 1968. By then it was totally run down and slated for demolition.  In 1970, the Whitman County Historical Society assumed ownership and began restoring the house. We were lucky to get a tour inside the house by a very knowledgeable guide who proudly showed off the colored glass panels above the inside doorways, the working musical instruments of the day, the old family photographs and belongings as well as the buzzing wall of bees believed to be descendents of a hive that found it’s way into the walls when the home was built in 1886! They have survived all attempts to remove them and so the historical society gave them ‘squatters rights’ and allow them to stay undisturbed!

DSC_0576-Edit

On our first day of touring we headed south towards Pullman and then Uniontown. Our goal was to visit the Dahmen Barn. This was probably the first place in the area I had seen pictures of that fueled my interest and desire to explore here.

DSC_0658-Edit

The barn was built in 1935 by the Steve and Junette Dahmen family and was used as a commercial dairy operation until 1952. Steve Dahmen had spent more than 30 years building a wheel fence on the property, using over 1000 wheels! The barn then sat empty until 2004 when the Dahmen family donated it to the Uniontown community.

DSC_0665-Edit

The Uniontown community got together and as a tribute to Steve, a folk artist, and his wife Junette, a water color artist, they transformed the barn into an artisan center! It now houses artisan studios, a shop where you can buy wonderful locally made items, a classroom space, and a ‘Hay Loft’ hall for exhibits and performing arts events.

Speaking of barns!!! There are barns around every corner, red ones, white ones, brown ones, new barns and very old rustic barns! The people of this area take great pride in their properties and do encourage tourists and photographers as long as you are respectful. We came across this well restored 100 year old barn, unusual in its design!

DSC_0741-Edit

We had to drive up a long driveway to ask permission to go on the property to take this picture. We found that everyone we spoke to was appreciative of our ‘manners’ and very happy to show off their heritage!

DSC_0794-Edit-2

DSC_0858-Edit

Along the way, during our back road exploring, we discovered an old rustic covered bridge that was still in use for access to peoples home.

DSC_0814-Edit

Another days journey took us back west to the Palouse Falls State Park. The water falls 200 feet on its path down the Palouse river! Very impressive!

DSC_0897-Edit

One thing I do notice on our adventures around the United States is the lack of barriers where there are high drop offs or even dangerous waters. You definitely go to these places ‘at your own risk’. I thought this eager photographer was a little too daring for my taste!!  I got butterflies just watching him!

DSC_0905-Edit

The views in every direction in this park are stunning!

DSC_0994-Edit

The next day our drive took us a little north of Colfax, traveling through fields of blooming canola on our way to Steptoe Butte.

DSC_1031-Edit

DSC_1049-Edit

Steptoe Butte climbs 3612 feet and offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside! It is built of rock that is over 400 million years old!

DSC_1061-Edit

There were lovely bunches of flowering balsamroot on the hillsides.

DSC_1075-Edit

The higher you climbed the more expansive the view of the patchwork fields, with all their patterns and colors. I could only imagine how it would look a few weeks from then as the new growth appears!

Another days adventure took us north towards Oaksdale where we discovered this gorgeous old building, the JC Barron Flour Mill, built in the 1890’s. The Joseph Barron family owned the mill for over a century until 1960, when they found that their old historic flour mill could not keep with the new huge centralized flour factories. Many of these huge old flour mills were built in the Palouse area from 1870 to 1910 but this is now the only intact flour mill remaining.

DSC_1202-Edit

Further north in Rosalia we discovered the Old Milwaukee Bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. The bridge was designed as a concrete arch, unusual for a railroad bridge.

DSC_1271-Edit-Edit

DSC_1285-Edit-Edit

And the barns! I couldn’t get enough of them!

DSC_1324-Edit-Edit

DSC_1332-Edit-Edit-Edit

DSC_1511-Edit-Edit

There were fields of the beautiful balsamroot as well!

DSC_1624-Edit

And the fields…..

DSC_1653-Edit

DSC_1663-Edit

We had a week in this beautiful area and it wasn’t long enough. Everyday we went a different direction and each day we saw so many different and unique views. I would highly recommend a trip to this region of Washington.

Our winter trip was fast approaching it’s end, it was time to go home!

Until next time…….

 

 

Continuing North, Lake Tahoe, Redding, & Klamath Falls

We were very sad to leave the Bishop area but north we must go! Next up was a couple of days around Lake Tahoe. There was still a lot of snow in the area and most areas were still closed. The views around the lake were stunning though!

DSC_8717-Edit

DSC_8740-Edit

DSC_8882-Edit

From there we went west to Auburn, California for a long a waited family visit! Our niece invited us to park our RV at her ranch property and the views were amazing, California has so many different sides to her!

DSC_9181-Edit-2

Soon it was time to be off again! We chose Redding as our next destination, doing a day trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park and McArthur-Burney Falls. Most of the National Park was still closed but the side trip to the Falls was well worth the drive!

DSC_9421-Edit

DSC_9440-Edit

California has had so much more rainfall and snowfall this last winter, they are finally out of the long drought…….

The next destination was Klamath Falls, Oregon, where we planned to visit Lava Beds National Monument and Crater Lake.

The Lava Beds were amazing!

DSC_9571-Edit

It was so overwhelming to think of the force of nature of these long ago lava flows!

DSC_9618-Edit

There were so many areas of the park to go underground and explore the lava tubes! If you go unprepared, as we did (!!), they loan you flashlights to take into the caves!

DSC_9660-Edit

It gets pretty dark in there when you get away from the entrance!

DSC_9684-Edit

DSC_9706-Edit

The next day was another highlight for me…Crater Lake! This was our second time of trying to get up to see it. The first time was the year of the strike on all the National Parks, this time we got lucky!!! It was well worth the wait!! Outstanding!

DSC_9953-Edit

DSC_9964-Edit

As you can see we found our fair share of snow on the way home!!

The final stop for this installment was Redmond, Oregon. Our planned trip from here was John Day Painted Hills, part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I wasn’t really sure what to expect there. This was our first glimpse!

DSC_0005-Edit

They didn’t lie, the hills really look painted!

DSC_0046-Edit

The views were outstanding and they placed a few benches to rest on and drink it in!

DSC_0077-Edit

DSC_0119-Edit

Think that is enough for now! We are getting near the end of our journey north, from here we spent a week in the Palouse region of Washington State. This area has so much to offer I will save it for another day!

Until next time……

Bishop to Mono Lake, & Owens Valley, California

Now it was time to explore north of Bishop!

I think I mentioned before that even at this time of the year, mid April, many roads and destinations were still closed. Their snow had arrived late in the year but had come fast and furious!

This day we turned north up Highway 395, with more superb views of the Sierra’s!

DSC_8152-Edit

First stop was Convict Lake, elevation of 7850 ft, with stunning dramatic mountains, including Mt Morrison, surrounding it!

The lake was named after an incident on September 23, 1871, where a group of convicts escaped from prison in Carson City. A posse, from Benton,  encountered the convicts near the head of what is now Convict Creek. Posse member Robert Morrison, a Benton merchant , was killed in the encounter, and Mount Morrison was named after him. (wikipedia)

DSC_8167-Edit

DSC_8184-Edit

Next up was Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth is mainly known for 2 things, a fabulous ski hill in the winter and amazing hiking and outdoor activities in the summer! Tourism is the #1 industry. We drove through the town and some residential areas. We saw some signs of the ski hill but there was a lot of traffic this day and parking was almost impossible! We did manage to find a restaurant with a few spaces and had a wonderful lunch before moving on up the road!

Next side trip was the June lake Loop, passing June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Lake. Mickie loved June Lake, she got to chase sticks and play on the beach!

DSC_8224-Edit

DSC_8227-Edit

Grant Lake was equally as fantastic!

DSC_8244-Edit

The Grant Lake overlook offered some incredible views of the river valley leading to the lake.

DSC_8259-Edit

DSC_8288-Edit

Our last destination on this day was Mono Lake. It was something on my bucket list for a while. I had seen many amazing pictures of this strange landscape and wanted to experience it for myself!

DSC_8340-Edit

We learned that Mono Lake and the Salton Sea have a lot in common. Neither has an outlet, which causes high levels of salt to accumulate. It also has a productive eco system and brine shrimp thrive in the water. This lake provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp and blackflies.

However, “The city of Los Angeles diverted water from the Owens River into the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. In 1941, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power extended the Los Angeles Aqueduct system farther upriver into the Mono Basin. So much water was diverted that evaporation soon exceeded inflow and the surface level of Mono Lake fell rapidly. By 1982 the lake was reduced to 37,688 acres (15,252 ha) 69 percent of its 1941 surface area. “[By 1990, the lake had dropped 45 vertical feet and had lost half its volume]” relative to the 1941 pre-diversion water level. As a result, alkaline sands and formerly submerged tufa towers became exposed, the water salinity doubled, and Negit Island became a peninsula, exposing the nests of California gulls to predators (such as coyotes), and forcing the gull colony to abandon this site. “(wikipedia)

DSC_8325-Edit

The California State Water Resources Control Board issued an order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams on September 28, 1994. Since that time, the lake level has steadily risen. In 1941 the surface level was at 6,417 feet (1,956 m) above sea level. As of October 2013, Mono Lake was at 6,380.6 feet (1,945 m) above sea level. The lake level of 6,392 feet (1,948 m) above sea level is the goal, a goal made more difficult during years of drought.

Many of these Tufa’s remain out of the water at this time…

DSC_8333-Edit

…but there are a few areas where you find them emerging from the lake!

DSC_8423-Edit

Our final outing in the Bishop area was driving the back roads through the Owens Valley, it is such a gorgeous area and was just coming to life after the harsh winter! I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves!

DSC_8482-Edit-2

DSC_8492-Edit-2

DSC_8519-Edit

DSC_8609-Edit

DSC_8613-Edit

Our week had come to an end and it was time to continue on our journey home! I will miss this area for sure!

Until next time………

Alabama Hills & Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

The Alabama Hills are such a unique place found in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and in the shadow of Mt Whitney! The rounded contours of the Alabamas are a incredible contrast with the rugged peaks of the Sierra’s.

DSC_7861-Edit

Starting with silent pictures, Hollywood has loved the landscape here. It was close to them and the scenery was stunning. A perfect area to represent the ‘Iconic American West’ in their films.

The first movie totally filmed here was The Roundup (1920), a silent Western starring Fatty Arbuckle! Over the years all of the Hollywood studios have filmed here. The Alabama Hills have appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows beginning in the 1920s and continuing to now, mostly American Westerns – although for many films, they have stood in for India, the Middle East, the Gobi Desert, China and even Africa in two Tarzan Films. Sci-fi producers have found the Alabama’s “out of this world,” for movies like Star Trek V and VII, Deep Space 9; and a perfect landscape for the backdrops of Tremors, Gladiator and Dinosaur. Countless documentaries, product commercials for TV and print have used the areas unique rock formations and valleys as a palette for their products.

There was some filming happening while we were there but not in our immediate location. However we did get to see some signs of ‘the old west’ come through! They offer trail rides through the hills, what a fabulous way to see them and feel as though you could almost be in an old western movie! Maybe John Wayne would ride around the next corner!

DSC_7833-Edit

Alabama Hills are also well known for dozens of  natural arches. The most well known, and widely recognized in film, is the Mobius Arch. It was an easy, and gorgeous, walk in to the arch!

DSC_7855-Edit

DSC_7863-Edit

As with other areas there were many wildflowers blooming also. A wonderful contrast to the natural colour of the rock!

DSC_7841-Edit

DSC_7879-Edit

Our next day trip from Bishop was to drive to see the Bristlecone Pine Forest. From Bishop we went south to Big Pine, then went east on Highway 168 through the Owens Valley, to the White Mountains.

DSC_7936-Edit

These Great Basin Bristlecone Pine trees grown at elevations of 9800 to 11,000 feet!

DSC_7967-Edit

DSC_8015-Edit

DSC_7956-Edit

DSC_8064-Edit

 

On the way up into the mountains we stopped to enjoy the view and discovered all the lichen blooming! It was a beautiful carpet of undisturbed nature! I made sure I left it that way!

As it was still early in their season, the road was only open until the Sierra View overlook, at 9271 feet!

 

DSC_8079

DSC_8075

When we got there I spoke to a photographer who was just leaving with his drone! He said the pictures he got from that elevations were outstanding, I can only imagine! It was spectacular with just my camera!

DSC_8089-Edit

Further along the road is the Methuselah Grove, the location of the  ‘Methuselah’, a Bristlecone Pine that is 4,848 years old! For many years, it was the world’s oldest known living non-clonal organism, until  the discovery in 2013 of another bristlecone pine in the same area with an age of 5,066 years!! ‘Methuselah’ is not marked in the forest, to  protect it from vandals. Not sure we will ever get to see that marvel as our time in the US is limited to the winter months.

It was time to turn around and head back down the mountain, to the valley floor. The Owens Valley, at 4000 ft,  is such a gorgeous area with the majestic mountains framing both sides!

DSC_8122-Edit

I loved this ranch that had all these hides drying on the fence post and the White Mountains in the background!

DSC_8142-Edit-2

Next trip we explored north of Bishop. Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes, June Lake and Mono Lake!

Until next time…….

 

Back in the USA- Ridgecrest, Ca to Bishop, Ca

Once back in the USA we spent a couple of days in El Centro to restock! Then we were back on the road again!

First stop was Ridgecrest for 3 nights. It was my goal to travel home along highway 395 in California. Usually this route is still experiencing winter when we begin our trek north but as we were able to head home a little later this year the ice and snow were gone!

Ridgecrest is just off highway 395, a little west of Death Valley. For our first day trip from there we decided to head east towards Death Valley as I had heard of Ballarat Ghost Town in that area. I love ghost towns and will seek them out!

Ballarat served mining camps from 1897 to 1917, but all that remains now is a few ruins.

DSC_7141-Edit

and a few old cars!

DSC_7162-Edit

There is a caretaker on the property so we visited with him for a bit. He said the Ballarat area really comes to life on warm spring and fall weekends, it is a very popular spot for ATV’s and off roading and camping…..and partying! He said Easter weekend is a very busy time with sometimes hundreds of people showing up….short of physical harm he said, anything goes! (note to self…don’t think we will be camping here! lol!)

Also in this area are the Trona Pinnacles. They are also known as Tufa pinnacles and were formed under water 10,000 to 100,000 years ago in the now dry Searles Lake bed.

DSC_7282-Edit

The pinnacles are mostly made of calcium carbonate, same as the calcium in our bones and in baking soda!

Over thirty film projects a year are shot among the tufa pinnacles! From movies to TV shows to commercials, you may recognize this unusual landscape!

DSC_7263-Edit

The next day we decided to head in the opposite direction, southwest to the Red Rock Canyons state park. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range.

DSC_7342-Edit

During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons from Death Valley, that stopped for water.

DSC_7367-Edit

We were very lucky to get there as the wildflowers were beginning to bloom! As with everywhere else it seems, they too had a wet winter and the spring bloom loved it!

DSC_7456-Edit

DSC_7415-Edit

It seems like the geology changes around every corner here, from the beautiful orange colored rock faces, to tall spires and slot canyons!

DSC_7489-Edit

DSC_7508-Edit

I found this one formation very interesting, it looked like a big mushroom!

DSC_7533-Edit

Time to continue north on Highway 395, next stop is Bishop, Ca for a week. I fell in love with Bishop and felt I could easily live there! I don’t say that about too many places as I really do love where I live in Kamloops, but Bishop called to me! You are surrounded by majestic mountains!

DSC_7750-Edit

With peaks like Mt Tom at 13,652 ft, Mt Abbot at 13,715 ft and Red Slate Mtn at 13,163 ft to the west in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Blanco Mtn at 11,278 ft and White Mtn at 14,246 ft to the east in the White Mountains between California and Nevada it is awe inspiring! Nestled between these 2 fabulous mountain ranges is the Owens Valley.

Mt Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States at 14, 491 ft, is just south of Bishop.

DSC_7610-Edit

We had a week of beautiful spring weather and a map in front of us, what could be better! Some of the areas I wanted to see were not accessible yet due to snow but we were able to get to many of them.

Day one was to retrace our path to a small town we drove through on our way north, Lone Pine, population of approximately 2000.  On the way we stopped to see the Mt Whitney Fish Hatchery, in Independence, about 3/4’s of the way from Bishop to Lone Pine.

It was built in 1916 from 3500 tons of granite! It is one of the most beautiful fish hatcheries in the USA!

DSC_7768-Edit

The stones were not cut but sorted and sized , the walls are 2 to 3 feet thick! It was designed to match the mountains and to last forever!

When construction was completed in 1917, it was the largest and best equipped hatchery in California and could produce 2,000,000 fish fry per year.

In July of 2007 a large wildfire burned upstream to the west of the Hatchery. As a result, a year later, on July 12, 2008, a heavy thunderstorm caused a massive mudslide in the fire-scarred Oak Creek watershed that swept downstream, severely damaging the ponds and water supplies of the hatchery, as well as two employee housing units. The main building escaped major damage.

The Friends of the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery organized restoration work that allowed the interpretive center and display pond to re-open on May 30, 2009. However, the future of full-scale hatchery production is uncertain.

One of the main attractions in Lone Pine is the Movie Museum. The Alabama Hills are in Lone Pines back yard and have been the setting for over 400 movies beginning with silent films to today’s block busters!

DSC_7801-Edit

Before this blog gets too long I will end it here! Next up: Alabama Hills!

 

Until next time!

San Felipe, Mexico

Well, we are 2 weeks away from one of our favorite places on earth…….aaaaaaah, San Felipe. We missed being there for the last 2 winters due to not being able to travel, it felt great to be ‘home’!

DSC_3652-Edit

San Felipe is about 2 1/2 hours south of El Centro, California. You cross over through the border at Calexico. It is an easy drive down Highway 5, in Baja California, with here and there views of the Gulf of California (The Sea of Cortez).

It is a small town, with a population of about 16,702 (in 2010), and swelling by approximately 5000 with the American and Canadian visitors. Many ex-pats own property here.

As San Felipe is on the east side of Baja it does not get spectacular sunsets, but it does get some beautiful ones!

DSC_3714-Edit-Edit

It really out does itself in the sunrise’s though! Anyone who knows me knows I am not an early morning person, that being said I did manage to see a few in the month we were there!

DSC_4756-Edit-Edit-2

Our campsite is right on the beach, it is an amazing thing to just open your door, step on to the beach and see this!

DSC_4959-Edit

DSC_6001-Edit

To say Mickie was in her ‘Happy Place’ is an understatement!

DSC_3625-Edit

San Felipe has also had a wet winter/early spring. The wild flowers were blooming in all their glory when we got there!

DSC_3777-Edit

DSC_3809-Edit

DSC_3829-Edit

San Felipe once relied on fishing as the main ‘industry’ now it is tourism.

In 2016 the government banned all fishing in the vacinity of  San Felipe. The fishing techniques had become a threat to the Vaquita. The Vaquita is a rare species of  Porpoise, endemic to the northern part of the Gulf of California,  and is now the most endangered cetacean in the world. It is largely attributed to the bycatch from illegal gillnet fishery for the totoaba, which is also critically endangered. With the fishermen unable to fish some moved on and some chose to develope a new source of income…..catering to the tourists! They now offer boats for towing people in tubes and on blow up ‘bananas’! Sport fishing is still allowed so that is offered as well.

Most of our days involved playing on the beach!

DSC_3634-Edit

At low tide the water can recede up to 2 kilometers! 3 years ago when we were here the high tide came up so high that our patio was covered in sand the following morning!

DSC_5193-Edit-Edit

When driving around town you can find bakeries, pharmacies, numerous restaurants and car washes! There are 3 bigger grocery stores as well.

A new venture for enterprising business people is to come to your RV and wash and wax it for you! The price was excellent and they did a fantastic job!

DSC_5071-Edit

The main street downtown is the Malecon. It is made up of numerous restaurants and shops that sell everything from t-shirts, dresses, trinkets and souvenirs. Last time we were here they were re building their retaining wall along the seawall. The wall is all finished and the new addition this year is the sign!

DSC_3686-Edit

It is always relaxing to grab a few minutes of just sitting back and enjoying the view!

DSC_5100-Edit

Watching the waves lap upon the shore!

DSC_5343-Edit

The Bougainvillea tree in the campground was blooming gloriously! I loved walking Mickie past every day!

DSC_5499-Edit

The cactus were sprouting all their new growth too!

A highlight for me was seeing the Saguaro Cactus blooming! Usually we are on our way north when these gorgeous flowers blossom!

DSC_5632-Edit-2

What we like about San Felipe is that there are no big resorts, no big fancy buildings. Actually you see a lot of half finished buildings around every corner. Someone said that when the US gets a cold Mexico gets pneumonia. The recession of 2008 hit San Felipe very hard and it is trying to recover still.

A highlight for us this year was being in town for the Baja 250, Score International, off road race! Racers come from all over the world to complete in the brutal drive across the desert for 250+ miles!

People come from all over to watch!

DSC_6053-Edit

And they’re off!

DSC_6111-Edit

DSC_6150-Edit

DSC_6289-Edit

To say there was a lot of dust and dirt in the air that night is an understatement!

I could go on and on about San Felipe but I won’t bore you any longer. Needless to say it is one of our favorite places to spend some time. We love the vendors coming to the campground to show off their jewelry and dresses and hammocks. Some we buy from, some we don’t. It all adds to the charm of a laid back way of life.

It was hard to leave, but leave we must!

Until next time…………….

 

 

Desert Hot Springs and south!

When we left the Mohave National Preserve we decided to travel along the original Route 66, the National Trails Highway! It was fun to think we were on the same path of the original cross country mother road! How exciting that must have been, to cross America for the first time!!

DSC_2557-Edit-Edit

There are still some of the original old signs along the way!

DSC_2564-Edit-Edit

Our main stop was Desert Hot Springs, at the northern end of what I call the ‘Palm Springs corridor’. It is such a busy area with 9 cities altogether, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella. In the winter the full time resident population of 450,000 swells to 600,000, with approximately 150,000 ‘Snowbirds’!! As you can imagine there is always something to do!

We first toured Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs. What an interesting and unique place! This was a creation of Cabot Yerxa’s. In 1941 he began his Hopi inspired home. It was his single minded devotion until his death in 1964, built out of all repurposed materials! It is 5000 square feet, has 35 rooms, 150 windows and 65 doors!

DSC_2597-Edit

DSC_2606-Edit

 

In 1913, at age 30, Cabot homesteaded 160 acres in what is now Desert Hot Springs. Searching for water, he dug a well with pick and shovel, discovering the now famous hot mineral waters of Desert Hot Springs. Nearby, he dug a second well and discovered the pure cold water of the Mission Springs Aquifer. These two wells, hot and cold, give the area its name – Miracle Hill. He was one of the first promoters of developing hot springs for tourists in the area.

Cabot Yerxa was an incredible man often described as a visionary, artist, writer, builder, architect, adventurer, explorer, collector, idealist and entrepreneur. He was a human rights activist concerned about the legal, economic and cultural crisis for Native Americans.

 

DSC_2612-Edit

He was also an artist and wanted to create an artistic community.

DSC_2650-Edit

The Palm Springs area is also well know for it’s wind farms! The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm is one of the 3 major wind farms in California. It is one of the windiest places in southern California.

DSC_2719-Edit

DSC_2751-Edit-Edit

The Walk of Stars is dedicated to over 300 Hollywood stars who loved and played in the desert!

DSC_2780-Edit

There is a sculpture of Lucille Ball, sitting on a bench. You can stop and sit and have your picture taken with Lucy!! Lucille Ball was a honorary Mayor of Rancho Mirage from 1958 to 1965, and again from 1971-1973.

DSC_2782-Edit

Then there is the Palm Springs Tramway. We did not get to go up as the weather at the top was VERY wintery and the visibility was nil! Yes, they do get snow in the mountains in southern California!

DSC_2797-Edit

The Living Desert Zoo is also a fantastic way to spend a day! You can walk or take a tram around and visit all the animals! This year their theme is ‘Save the Cheetah’ (#savethecheetah). The Cheetah is considered one of the most endangered animals in the world. The chief threats to the cheetah’s existence are loss of habitat, poaching and hunting.

DSC_2876-Edit-2

We were also lucky enough to see baby warthogs!

DSC_2854-Edit-2

and were there in time for the Giraffe feedings! Who knew they had such long tongues!!

DSC_2812-Edit

Then there was the Leopard and Tortoise!

My husband was very happy to discover the McCormicks Palm Springs Collector Car Auction! (www.Classic-Car Auction.com)

DSC_3178-Edit

DSC_3186-Edit-Edit

After 10 wonderful days it was time to move on down the road! Next stop was Salton City. We had briefly stopped there on our way up to Shoshone and wanted to return to learn more about the area. Salton City is situated on the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is fascinating to learn about.

The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake. At a surface elevation of 227 feet below sea level, it has a surface area of 243,718 381 square miles. The maximum depth of the Sea is about 51 feet and the average depth 31 feet. The annual inflow to the Sea averages about 1,300,000 acre-feet, carrying approximately 4,000,000 tons of dissolved salt.

With an elevation of -220 feet, the Salton Sea is designated by the federal government as a repository for agricultural drainage. Without this use of the Sea, land in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys would be too water logged and/or saline for agriculture.

DSC_3353-Edit

In 1905, in an effort to increase water flow into the area for farming, irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River into the valley. Due to fears of silt buildup, a cut was made in the bank of the Colorado River to further increase the water flow. The resulting outflow overwhelmed the engineered canal, and the river flowed into the Salton Basin for two years, filling the historic dry lake bed and creating the modern sea, before repairs were completed. (Wikipedia) 6 communities sprang up and the area became a playground for water lovers in the 1950’s.

The Salton Sea is beset by several serious problems. Because the Sea has no outlet, water is lost only through evaporation , leaving dissolved salts behind and gradually raising salinity. The Sea’s salinity has now reached 44 parts per thousand, about 25% higher than ocean water!

The Salton Sea is a tragic area. It looks beautiful, and was once a play ground for the rich and famous. However, many of the settlements have substantially shrunk in size, or have been abandoned, mostly due to the increasing salinity and pollution of the lake over the years from agricultural runoff and other sources. Many of the species of fish that lived in the sea have been killed off by the combination of pollutants, salt levels, and algal blooms. Dead fish have been known to wash up in mass quantities on the beaches. The smell of the lake, combined with the stench of the decaying fish, also contributed to the decline of the tourist industry around the Salton Sea. (Wikipedia)

DSC_3284-Edit

One draw for the area is for Para sailing.  On our first stop we had seen 3 or 4 flying over and it was one of the reasons we wanted to go back. We met a couple from New Mexico who spend a month there every year just for that reason.

DSC_3578-Edit

Salton City is on the west side of the lake. We decided to take a day and drive around the whole distance of the lake. On the east side we came to Niland, California, home of Salvation Mountain! Friends had taken us there years before and we were lucky to meet the founder and developer, Leonard Knight. Salvation Mountain is Leonard’s tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message: “God Is Love.” 

Unfortunately Leonard has since passed away but the property is being protected, looked after, and restored by a non profit group living there. I believe Leonard ‘squatted’ on the property, never owning the land! It is a place that needs to be seen to be truly appreciated! Hopefully it will be designated as a National Historic Site.

DSC_3449-Edit-Edit

DSC_3417-Edit

DSC_3459-Edit-Edit

 

Next up? Our little bit of paradise, San Felipe, Mexico!

Until next time…….