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!!
There are still some of the original old signs along the way!
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!
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.
He was also an artist and wanted to create an artistic community.
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.
The Walk of Stars is dedicated to over 300 Hollywood stars who loved and played in the desert!
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.
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!
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.
We were also lucky enough to see baby warthogs!
and were there in time for the Giraffe feedings! Who knew they had such long tongues!!
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.
Next up? Our little bit of paradise, San Felipe, Mexico!
Until next time…….