Desert Modernism in Palm Springs

DHS_Trip_18 (8) I suppose that our foray to the local Wal-Mart in Palm Springs shouldn’t quality as a step into Desert Modernism, a new phrase that I just found to describe all the flat, square buildings around here.  I kept saying to Mo, “This reminds me so much of my ugly, cement childhood in the suburbs of LA. Lots of flagstone, flat roofs, square facades, dull colors.  The worst of Frank Lloyd Wright on steroids, surrounded by graceful palms.  As we drove down Gene Autry Trail I kept wondering why everything looked this way, why it all looked like we had stepped back into the 50’s.  The more we drove, the more I realized that all this squareness was actually on purpose.  Even new buildings, new apartments, had that “look”.  Hmmm.  Later, hunting desperately for a dog-friendly hiking trail in Palm Springs I happened on the phrase: “Desert Modernism”.  It’s real, and Palm Springs and the surrounding towns are very proud of it.  Palm Springs has the largest concentration of mid-century modern architecture in the country. I guess that explains it.  Maybe my escape from mid-century LA basin life many years ago to the rich northwest world of Craftsman and cabins ruined me for appreciating this particular style.

DHS_Trip_18 (12) But back to Wal-Mart. All I can say is “Ugh”!! The store here is so huge I couldn’t find the exits and the bathrooms were horrendous.  It’s sometimes really easy to catch the mixed up lists of needs at a superstore, but maybe not quite worth it.  Somehow I expected better in this upscale area.  The Wal-Mart we visited in Minnesota was pretty darn nice, and almost as big.  We won’t go to this one again, that is for sure. After adding to our supplies at this scary place, we continued driving along HWY 111, the main route through the desert towns here in the Coachella Valley.  Upscale is definitely an understatement here, and the El Paseo shopping area was not exactly the place I wanted to be in my denim shorts and Keen sandals.  As we sat in traffic among the Mercedes, Jaguars, BMW’s, Mo suddenly said, “What in the world is THAT car?”.  Turns out it was a Maseratti.  I don’t think I saw one in real life before.  We were glad we had at least washed the Tracker before coming to town. The rain held off all day but the skies were threatening, and our plan for the day was to explore the area, check things out, get our bearings. 

DSCN5984 Home at Catalina RV Park and Spa looked tremendously welcoming when we finally arrived, still frustrated with no internet connections, but at least Mo had the news and I decided to try out the swimming pool.  Our park has a truly wonderful pool, large and crystal clear, with a hot spa adjacent that is probably close to 104 degrees.  The night was chilly, with wild white clouds obscuring the moon and revealing it in turn, but I thought maybe the pool would be warm enough to swim, since it appeared that steam was rising from the water.  Ahhh!!  I was enveloped by a balmy 93 degrees of pure mineral spring water that is pumped from the parks own well at 130 degrees and cooled with fresh water to a safe level.  The large swimming pool has no chemicals, and neither does the spa.  All the water is naturally changed several times a day by the influx of fresh water.  Unlike many hot springs, this water is full of minerals but has no sulphur, another great thing since there is no bad smell at all.  I floated on my back and watched the moon and stars come and go amidst the clouds and let all the frustrations of the last couple of days slip away.

DSCN5982 This morning we woke to more heavy clouds, and threatening rain.  Reading about the Street Fair at the College of the Desert was interesting, so we took off to try out the local fairs.  By the time we got there, the rain was a bit heavier, but not so much that we couldn’t walk without umbrellas.  However, many of the vendors were giving up.  It wasn’t such a bad thing since the fair turned out to be just a tacky as many flea markets, and our only purchase was some great lettuce for tonight’s salad and some dates. By the time we got back home the rain was coming down hard in Palm Springs, but once again it was dry where we are camped. 

The park here is quite nice except for the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity. We paid the fee to supposedly connect, but the only time I have been able to actually get to the internet was before 6am this morning.  After six, all came to a screeching halt.  You all know how frustrating that can be!  Instead, as darkness falls, Mo and I are sitting here at the Starbucks in Desert Hot Springs, listening to Christmas music and trying to catch up on all things internet.  I am still searching for dog friendly hikes and Christmas lights.  Tomorrow evening is a real treat, when we will meet Laurie and Odel for dinner at the Fisherman’s Market in La Quinta.  The sun will come out eventually, I am sure, eventually.  In the mean time, all I can say is that I am glad I am not camping in a tent.

Traveling south to Desert Hot Springs

DHS_Trip_18 (16) Rain in the desert is often lovely, except when I have dreamed of blue skies and warm sun and planned a major MoHo run south to find it.  We have had snow and dark skies in Klamath for several weeks now, and my week in Florida was challenged by 20 degree weather.  A long trek to the Coachella Valley should be the remedy.  I think the weather forecasts show a bit of a break next Thursday.  Last night, however, the skies were beautiful, with soft shades of pink and rose among the gray, cream, and yellow lit clouds.

DHS_Trip_18 (2) A quick run south, leaving behind the cold and snow of Rocky Point, is only possible because we decided to store the MoHo in Redding this winter.  Enclosed, insulated storage isn’t cheap, and we tried for the smallest unit possible.  We also decided to forego winterizing thinking that the temperatures in Redding rarely drop below freezing.  The water tanks were all empty and the lines emptied out, but we didn’t do anything else before parking in mid November. It was with a bit of trepidation that we opened up the big sliding door.  Everything turned out just fine, with the trickle charger keeping the battery charged up and the house batteries were still even on 12.6.  We brought along a couple of gallons of water to fill the tank and everything worked just fine.  Although next time when we pull into the storage spot we will have some pink stuff in the drains, at least.

DHS_Trip_18 (5) See that gorgeous sun in the photo above?  The trip over Mt Shasta on I-5 to Redding was gorgeous once we left the icy freezing fog behind in the Klamath Basin and Highway 97.  Little did we know that was the last time we would see brilliant sunshine for a long time.  I am still waiting.  By the time we got to our stop over point in Lodi, the rain was coming down hard.  We hoped to get to the desert with only one overnight stop, requiring 400 mile driving days.  By the time we reached the Flag City RV Resort in Lodi we were worn out. We shared the driving duties, but it still is a very long haul.  Flag City is really nothing more than a reasonably comfortable stopover, with perfectly level cement pull through sites, and full hookups including fast Wi-Fi and cable.  I have no idea what else the park offers because we didn’t care in the least.  The MoHo was stopped, and everything we needed was right inside our cozy home.

On Friday we thought our trip to the desert would be about 8 hours of driving so thought leaving at 9 would be just fine for a 5 pm arrival.  We didn’t factor in the hard, driving rain, or the plan to take HWY 58 through Tehachapi rather than brave LA traffic.  As dark fell on the desert we still had 90 minutes to go before reaching our camp.  We took 247 south from Barstow rather than drive through Victorville and all the traffic there as well. It’s a narrow road with lots off ups and downs, but oh soooo beautiful.  It looked like a lot of BLM land, open and free, and in the coming desert twilight it was all I could do to keep from begging Mo to just head out into the desert and boondock. 

DHS_Trip_18 (7)When we finally arrived at the Desert Pools RV Park, I remembered again why we try to never,  never, never land after dark.  Everything was strange, the night person didn’t have our reservation, and offered to let us stay for one night only “off the road”.  Somehow I had messed up the reservation (they don’t take them) and instead I opted for the “just come in and talk to the hosts and you can stay for two days”.  Dumb.  Of course, the fact that the park had recently disconnected their cable service wasn’t exactly a good thing either.  After a long day on the road we at least wanted Wi-Fi and TV.  Otherwise I would be back boondocking in that gorgeous desert!  Mo is a little bit easier about these kinds of things than I am, and I wasn’t much fun to be around that night I am sure.

DHS_Trip_18 (6)In the light off day, the park was every bit as ugly as it appeared the night before.  The pool was small and brown as were the three spas. We took the dog for a walk and everyone was just so dang friendly!  The night host came up to us and urged us to stay, saying the park was “so much fun with a lot going on”.  I guess we aren’t very social, because that actually sounded just awful to me.  Although the hot cinnamon rolls in the dining room were pretty good. 

Our original plan was to spend six days at the Catalina RV Park and Spa, so we called them hoping for a chance to come in a day early.  Success!  With great relief, we packed up and didn’t even bother to hook up to drive the half mile back to the Catalina.  Through the gate and immediately we could see the difference.  Even though this is a very large park, with spaces fairly close together, there are trees and shrubs between sites, and while our site is on packed sandy dirt, it isn’t so bad that we couldn’t level the rig without blocks.  The cloudy, threatening skies were breaking here and there with a bit of lightness, so that helped my mood a lot as well.  Thank goodness!  Our plan now is to spend the day adjusting to the local area, do some driving around, and just try to catch up a bit. Wi-Fi is still an issue, but hopefully I can find a spot somewhere around to actually get on the internet.