Red Rock Canyon & Donny

Just a little bit west of Las Vegas is a place everyone should visit if you’re ever in the area. This National Conservatory (not a park) is beautiful and can be accessed with your Old Age National Park Pass (OANPP) and a couple of bucks. But, you need to make a reservation because they monitor the number of vehicles allowed every hour. It’s a busy place and the road is one way all the way. it’s probably 13 miles long. I know that’s true because I looked on the map they gave us.. There are stops all along the route to view things.

Here’s a little bit of what we saw …

We also saw Donny Osmond. He put on an exceptional 90 minute show that we both loved.

Palm Springs to Las Vegas

I’m going back a couple of days for this one because I wanted to make all my photos available. As most of you know, I seem to have a problem getting them from my phone to my computer sometimes. But, they’re all there now, so I can catch up.

We left Palm Springs yesterday, two days before our scheduled departure. I’m not sure why we did that, but we did. One of the last things we did before packing up was spend most of Tuesday at the pool. First time we did that and it was very pleasant. People in PS are very nice and no one laughed at my chicken legs and farmer’s tan.

Wednesday morning we packed everything into our suitcases, and all the remaining stuff in the bags we collected during our many shopping trips for one thing and another. Then I hurked all it down to the vehicle, one bag at a time. That isn’t true, of course. I took two items at a time so I could walk straight. With only one heavy item to carry, I tended to walk in circles to keep my balance. So I started with that overweight suitcase and the next one down in size. When packing, I moved all the heavy stuff from #1 and put them in #2 to even things up a little. After I got the suitcases loaded I started on the bags, of which there were many. Diane was a huge help by moving all the bags from the 2nd floor and staged them at the bottom of the stairs. No elevator, remember? It was not easy for her to make those trips up and down and I really appreciated her help.

On our way north, we passed through the little town of Joshua Tree on Highway 62. As we headed up into the mountains I kept getting these annoying flash flood warnings. Never got any of those before so I wasn’t overly alarmed. There were clouds scattered around, but being from Oregon they don’t scare me at all. Shortly before getting to Yucca Valley we were peppered with some rain which was nice, actually. We like rain. It’s refreshing. Clears the air.

As the rain got heavier, before we got to town, we learned that rain in this part of the world also clears the streets and we learned what those warnings were all about.

In Yucca Valley we only saw two (2) storm drains on the main street and they were working just fine. Being the only two, however, didn’t help clear the massive amount of water rushing in from all the streets that didn’t have drains. The result was that pretty much every intersection through town was flooded over the sidewalks in most cases.

Some small cars, whose drivers took the chance of navigating through the water didn’t make it and stood all alone in the rushing water. There was really no danger because the water was probably 6-10″ deep at the most and wasn’t getting inside the cars. Being in the Toyota 4-Runner, we weren’t in peril. Diane did a great job of plowing through the water, keeping a safe distance, and letting the locals with their jacked up trucks fly through the deep stuff which is probably how they get the bottom of their rigs cleaned off.

Finally we got through the worst of it and turned left from Highway 62 onto Highway 247, or Old Woman Springs Road, according to my map. That’s the name of the Highway 247 all the way to Lucerne Valley where all the dairy products sold at Safeways the world over come from even though there’s not a cow in sight.

Anyway, in Lucerne Valley Old Woman Springs Road continues west, but Highway 247 heads north toward Barstow. Consequently, Highway 247 became Barstow Road just like that. I suspect it’s called Barstow Road because that’s where it goes, io Barstow, where intersects I-15 which originates in San Diego, CA and heads for Las Vegas, our destination. So, we turned right and headed that direction. Exit 239 on Highway 237 was fun:

An interesting thing about I-15 is that southbound drivers exit the freeway right across the street from the old CPO Club at 32nd Street Naval Base in San Diego. The last time we were down there the old club was a place to eat an excellent, and cheap, buffet lunch. Pretty awesome.

The drive took about 4.5 hours and we only had to stop once to empty our bladders. Other than the excitement in Yucca Valley, it was an uneventful trip.

That’s it for the trip. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about our visit with Donny Osmond, and our visit to Red Rock Canyon.

Now I must sleep because Diane turned all the lights off. It’s 2330.

More Dinosaurs

When I added the dino photos yesterday it was apparent that guessing what I was photographing doesn’t work well. My screen was dimmed to the point where I couldn’t see anything because the sun was so bright. A little fiddling with Settings revealed that I actually had the ability to brighten my screen display thereby allowing me to actually see what I was shooting. So, for Jasper, here’s a better one of he big guy, and a couple extra just for fun:

The photo with the red vehicle is the one we’re using. I took this to give a little perspective to the metal sculptures.


Along one of the streets Palm Springs is a very large lot that hosts a display of about 17 dinosaurs made out of metal. Knowing that there are some little people in our family who really like those things. So, this is for them, and for everyone else who find joy in these critters. All I have are photos for this. No narrative.

That’s it.

Joshua Tree National Park

Today I got up at 0500 so I could excitedly anticipate our pending visit to Joshua Tree National Park. There are three entrances to the park from Highway 62 on the north side, and another on the south side from I-10. Since we wanted to see the village of Joshua Tree. Also, the Marine Base at 29 Palms was a place we wanted to go because we like to visit any military base we can. So, we drove west on I-10 then headed up Highway 62 to Joshua Tree where we stopped at an iHop for breakfast. After ordering our food it took almost an hour for them to produce our food, but we were talking the entire time and didn’t complain. Because of our good nature, the wait staff was pretty amazed that we didn’t throw a hissy-fit about the wait, but we were busy talking about “stuff” and didn’t really notice. For our good nature, they gave us the coffee for free. We thought that was quite nice even though we were more than happy to just go with the flow. It’s Sunday, after all, and everyone showed up at iHop for lunch after church. They were really busy.

After we finished eating, we continued east to 29 Palms where we turned north on Adobe Rd for access to the MAGTFTC/MCAGCC, the largest Marine Base in the US. I don’t know what the acronym MAGTFTC/MCAGCC means so if you’re curious you’ll have to look it up. I can help a little because I’m pretty sure the MC stands for Marine Corps. Oh, never mind, I’ll tell you: MARINE AIR GROUND TASK FORCE TRAINING COMMAND and MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER. I had to look it up.

We drove around on the base looking at the really nice base housing, comparing it to the base housing we lived in for many years. That was 33 years ago so things were bound to change. It was fun to check it out.

When we drove off the base we continued straight south into the State Park. The change in the landscape was amazing. The rock structures were fascinating. The Joshua trees turned into a forest that filled all the open space between huge piles of rocks that appeared to have been strewn haphazardly by a giant.

Instead of trying to explain it, I’ll just show you …

Split Rock
Diane at Split Rock with a heavenly light shining on her.

Regarding that last photo … the sun was incredibly bright and I was not able to see what the camera was looking at so it was pure luck that any of them had substance. This one, with a light apparently shining on Diane, caused her a bit of concern wondering what it means. Is it a warning? Is it protection? I have a good feeling about it like God’s shining his light on one of his special people. Or, it’s the Star Trek trying to beam her up, but they missed.

I think you get the idea. That last photo was taken at a location that overlooks the valley in which Palm Springs is snuggled. It’s right below Mt. San Jacinto, elevation 10,833 feet, the mountain on the right.

After viewing this, we went back to our abode. It was a really good day. We got another stamp in our National Parks Passport book.

Thriftyness and Sunnylands

Yesterday we took some time off because all this running around is very tiring and we’re pretty sure I caught COVID somewhere along the line. I think it was on Dinah Shore Blvd. I was really hard to tolerate. Well, not everyone thought I had COVID but it was unanimous that I was hard to tolerate. I admit it, OK, but it was some sort of California illness that made me that way. Even though I was in terrible shape I did my best to keep it to myself and went with Diane to a most amazing thrift store. It was called Collector’s Corner. Very unassuming on the outside but inside it was pretty amazing. It was a little like going to Nordstroms but with wider aisles. And, surprisingly, the prices were very reasonable. Mind boggling.

See what I mean? Amazing. The china cabinet in the first pic was on sale for $75. Neck ties and belts for $2, and silverware. I didn’t look at the prices because all I could think about was how excited Cliff would be to search through them.

The only thing we purchased was a $2 leather belt, oddly from Nordstroms, for Diane. Then we went ‘home’.

Once we regained the safety of our rented room we turned on the news and discovered that there was a Haboob lurking around the Salton Sea and it was slowly heading north, DIRECTLY AT US!

As we watched the news, the evening turned dark, and we experienced our first Haboob ever right off our deck.. That’s a dust storm blowing in quite hard. It was an interesting sight as it blew through the trees by our room, obscuring the swale beyond, and mountains beyond the swale. Normally they are very prominent throughout the day. It was very interesting. The only other time we’ve heard about Haboobs was from Julie when one filled her swimming pool in Phoenix. Because of that we always thought Haboobs only happened in Arizona.

So much for Haboobs …

Today we drove to Sunnylands which is located on Bob Hope Blvd. It’s also on Frank Sinatra Blvd, and a couple of other streets. Getting to our assigned vehicle required that we wipe the dust off the bannisters so Diane could use them. Then we discovered a dirty vehicle. I tried to capture it in a photo but it’s deceiving.

See? It was shiny all over just a few hours previously. Now we’ll have to find a car wash as soon as the dust goes away. Although the Haboob has pretty much gone away, there’s still lots of dust in the air.

See. There are mountains behind that haze of dust.

Braving the local freeways in a very dirty car wasn’t difficult because most of the other vehicles were also dirty. So, we wandered over to Sunnylands for the tours that Diane arranged for us. To avoid embarrassment, she parked as far from the venue entrance as she could.

Sunnylands is an enormous estate that was built in the middle of 900 acres of desert in Rancho Mirage. The 25,000 square foot single level home, surrounded by a private 9-hole golf course and 15 man ma,de lakes sites on 200 of those 900 acres. This link will tell you more than I can remember so you need to read it. What did stick in my mind is that all of the trees and plants on the estate were planted because there was literally nothing but sand when the builders started working on it. It took 3 years to complete and is well worth a look.

We took a little tram driven by Noah who was very knowledgeable about the estate. He drove us all the way around the property and gave us all the history. It was very interesting. You should go there.

These are the only palm trees on the estate.

This estate has been used as the west coast Camp David where many presidents came to relax over the years. All of them were pampered and fed as long as they sat at their assigned seat denoted by a card with their name on it.

This display of silver caught my eye because of the name cards …

Guess why …

That’s it for today.

I have no idea what’s going on tomorrow.

What’s in Indio?

Beyond Van Gogh is here for a while, at the Empire Polo Club. We were going to go to this in Portland previously, then Diane learned that it was going to be in Indio during our trip to this part of the world. So, plans were changed to visit that venue here. Never been to a polo club before. Just seen them on TV and in the movies. Seems like a complicated chore for horses, dodging all those long handled croquet mallets, and banging into the other horses. We didn’t get to see any of that, of course, because the Van Gogh event took precedence. It was set up inside an enormous building that is apparently used for polo matches when it rains. Which isn’t very often.

When we first entered the building we encountered a series of small billboard like displays that gave the history about Vincent Van Gogh as well as some short letters that he wrote to his brother Theo and their co-owned dog Buster. Sadly, Buster liked Theo best which is why Vincent never painted a picture of him.

I did my best to read every one of them because they were actually interesting. There was no mention of Buster on any of those letters so I don’t think that’s true about him being co-owned by the brothers. I’ll bet they didn’t even have a dog. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I just made that up.

After zig zagging through the gallery of Vincents life we exited through a doorway into the larger room where the magic happened. As the users said, the display is on a 37 minute loop. There was no set time as to how long viewers could stay watching the display but the fact that mentioning the 37 minute loop planted the seed that after 37 minutes it was time to leave.

The swirling display changed constantly for 37 minutes so it was difficult to keep our eyes moving in such a manner that allowed us to see everything. There was some danger that we’d have to sit through the display again to ensure we didn’t miss anything. You may have noticed that Vincent painted numerous pictures of himself. That because, as a struggling artist, he couldn’t afford to pay models to sit for him. So, he painted what was available to him.

Seeing all these works by Van Gogh was mesmerizing and very calming as soothing music was played for the duration of the show. Starry Starry Nite, played in a subtle minor key by a bunch of stringed instruments, was prominent, but you had to listen hard to catch the melody.

There were a total of three 2-butt benches scattered around the vertical displays and about minute 26 we were fortunate enough to be near one when it was vacated. So we sat for a while. Then a lady stood lurking near us making Diane nervous. It was evident that she was just waiting for an opportunity to replace us on that treasured resting place. So, at minute 39 we relinquished it and moved on to the last stop, the gift shop. The only things we got were a refrigerator magnet and a wall hanging of Starry Starry Night. Where it will eventually hang is currently unknown but we’re pretty sure the magnet will find a place on the refrigerator.

Leaving the building we were funneled around the side of the building which was next to one of the many polo fields in the area. They take their polo seriously in Palm Springs. There are numerous fields like this all around the city – easily hundreds of acres of them.

After Van Gogh it was time for lunch so we randomly chose Sloan’s to satisfy that need. The food was excellent as was the service. We were pleased with our choice.

Then, we went ‘home’ to our desert oasis. That’s actually true because the name of the resort at which we’re staying is the Desert Oasis.

Friday we have tickets to Sunnyland, one of the many mansions in the area. We both will take a tram tour of the grounds and Diane will get the full meal-deal of a guided visit inside. While she’s doing that I get to watch a movie.

Hope all is well on the home front, and wherever you might be. Stay safe.

Palm Springs

Today is Wednesday. That mean we’ve been here four days and we’ll enjoy our 5th nite-nite tonight.

My last post was on Sunday. When we arrived the temperature was 100+ and it was still around 90 when we finally went to bed. Those are outside temps, of course. Inside it’s a comfortable 72 because the A/C runs constantly, 24/7, in every hotel/motel/resort room in every village in this part of the country. The electricity necessary to make all that happen is immense but, as luck would have it, there is one of the largest wind farms in the world. I’m guessing about “in the world” but the Palm Springs Farm is really BIG. So big that there is a local company that provides self-guided tours of the farm for the paltry sum of $24.50 a person. I’m pretty sure we won’t take that tour. I don’t see the logic in taking a self-guided tour of a facility that I can view for nothing simply by driving back and forth on I-10. True, there wouldn’t be the drama of driving on roads that weave themselves around the towers on which 150 foot long blades of death spin uncaged above our heads killing birds that dare to investigate them too closely. What fun would that be?

We’d rather take a ride on the tram, one of the things on our to-do list, but wait! It’s closed for maintenance until the 10th. Not a big deal, really, because there are many other things to do here.

For instance, just driving around looking at stuff, using up all that $7.09/gallon gas. We expected that.

I’m complaining, aren’t I? Sorry. We’re actually enjoying ourselves. One fun activity is visiting thrift stores. We do that wherever we go. Kinda lame, you might think, but we enjoy it. That’s what we did on Monday in addition to grocery shopping to get the items we missed on our Sunday shopping spree.

There’s a pool here that we’ve walked passed a few times, but haven’t taken that next step to shed our clothes, jump into a skimpy swimming suit, and test the water. I suggested that we hit the hot tub first, but since it’s been over 100 degrees pretty much every day that seems kind of dumb. So, we won’t do that.

Yesterday we went to see the Salton Sea. Never been there and decided it would be a nice trip. I made sandwiches which we packed into the new foldable cooler we got for that purpose, choosing a foldable one that can be placed in Diane’s already overweight suitcase. Actually, we’ll fill the foldable cooler with excess items from Diane’s overweight suitcase and it can be her carryon.

On the way to see the Salton Sea we saw a sign pointing to Mecca. We’ve always wanted to go to Mecca so we went.

Turns out it’s not what I expected, but it was interesting. Then we continued on to the Salton Sea.

We drove down the west side of the sea to what we considered a likely place to see the sea but the road was closed. They should have put a sign on the highway to save adventurous people from wasting their time.

So, we made our way north to the top of the sea and headed east so we could venture down that side to a designated state park. We drove for many miles looking for an entrance to the state park. Turns out there are many entrances that head toward the beach but they don’t have signs for the little gravel exits along the highway. We noticed that there weren’t any vehicles along the shore which was probably due to the extreme heat. All the smart people stayed home with their air conditioners.

We finally found an entrance that led us to a number of picnic tables and ultimately to a covered one near a restroom. And, it had the only handicap parking slot in the entire park.

That’s where we ate our sandwiches, waved at a couple of park rangers as they drove through the park. Then I walked down to the shore thinking I’d like to see how salty the Salton Sea is but changed my mind when I remembered a small sign on the fence when we entered the park. I said something about poisenous algae in the water. Looking around, I saw the culprit and saved my own life by not touching anything. Also, there was a particularly nasty smell down by the shore.

Then it was time to leave.

On the way back it became abundantly clear that we were traveling through the date palm capital of the world.

I’m guessing, of course, because I really don’t know if that’s true. I just know we saw many dozens of orchard filled with thousands and thousands of date palms ripe with fruit all protected with bags.

When I saw all those bags around all that fruit I was impressed with the monumental effort it must have been for people to do all that bagging.


Next stop is Indio. I think.

Get Outta There

Someone said that the other day. I’m not sure if it was said to me, or to someone else, but I decided it was me. Diane agreed. So, we got outta there toot sweet. Doing that involved riding on an airplane for the first time in a few years.

We had to board the plane at O-dark-thirty last Saturday. I guess that was only yesterday, but a lot has happened in such a short time that it seems like many days ago. Maybe if I share the details it will make more sense to me.

First, we were picked up at 11:30 Friday morning so we could share lunch with a couple of friends who agreed to take us to Portland, but only if we fed them. So, we took them to the St. Helens Elks lodge for lunch. It was really good and we enjoyed a long visit with them.

After that we took the harrowing journey to Embassy Suites, near the Portland International Airport, or PDX to those in the “know”, to spend a painfully short night in a very comfortable bed. The alarm went off at 0430 Saturday morning which gave us an hour to get ourselves to the airport.

We did that by using the available shuttle service on which we were the only passengers. That meant that it was my responsibility to ensure the driver received an adequate tip for her efforts. It was worth it and we made it to the Alaska counter in plenty of time.

We only checked two suitcases so you’d think it wouldn’t be much of a big deal. However, one of them was Diane’s and I was a little concerned because it was really heavy. I weighed it on two different scales before leaving the house and pegged it at a little over 50 lbs, the max allowed before penalty fines kicked in. So, we decided to take a chance and check it as is instead of shifting some items to our carry ons. It’s not something I like doing. Shifting things around.

When I put the big suitcase on the scales I was disappointed when it came up 59.5 lbs. The agent did some clicking on his keyboard and reported that it would cost us $100 for the overage unless we wished to transfer some things to our other bags. I wasn’t in the mood for that and, besides, Diane had just come in to some money and we thought there was nothing more important at that time than to help Alaska Airlines improve their financial standing in the world. That, and I was pretty sure there was no way I could shift enough “stuff” to make a difference.

When the suitcases were sent on their ways we adjourned to the TSA line which is always a hoot even though we passed the test, and paid a fee to obtain TSA Pre-check status. This day, we were virtually alone in the pre check line so it was a breeze. Before approaching the officers we stopped to eat our bananas but left the muffins we were given in the bag to see what happened. Turns out muffins aren’t considered to be dangerous so we enjoyed them with our first cup of coffee after cleaning the security line in record time. Then it was off to concourse C to await our flight.

We spent our time in some pretty comfortable chairs then went aboard when called.

The flight was uneventful, but it stopped in San Francisco instead of our destination in Palm Springs. Something like 500 miles short of the goal. We actually knew that was going to happen and that we’d be spending an unproductive 4 hours in SFO before continuing on our way. The surprise was the last leg was in a much smaller aircraft. That was fun and also uneventful.

The airport in Palm Springs is right in the middle of town which makes landings interesting.

Our first stop, after baggage claim, was the Dollar car rental place. Abraham helped us drive away in a 2021 Mazda C5. Before we got out of the parking lot a warning popped up on the dash telling us the car was due for an oil change. Diane drove it to the office and we returned it and got an upgrade to a 2021 Chevy Blazer. Nice car, but it was dirty. made it out of the parking lot into the city before it, too, popped a notice that it needed an oil change. None of the phone numbers we had produced a person to whom we could talk about this problem so we went to our hotel to get some needed rest.

This morning (Sunday) we went back to the airport and turned the Blazer in and went back to the office to negotiate for another vehicle. After a long wait in the busy terminal, we finally drove off with a 2022 Toyota 4-Runner. Its red, Diane’s favorite color for a car. But, she really likes it. The first place we went was a nearby Super-Duper Walmart where we purchased a stool so she could more easily get in the drivers seat.

Now it’s getting late and time for bed. Diane tuckered herself out scheduling places to go and things to do while we’re here. I’ll be adding photos later when i figure out how to do that.