Often when we are visiting this part of the desert, we fill up the days with lots of “doings”. This time we decided that we needed a bit more “being” and a little less “doing”. That didn’t mean we wanted to sit around all the time doing nothing but hanging out, but we did limit our excursions to one thing per day for the rest of our week at Catalina Spa. Not counting swimming and reading of course, those two were on the list every single day.
I finished knitting a winter scarf in camo colors for my great grandson, who loves all things camo. Managed to get it mailed from the Desert Hot Springs post office in plenty of time. On our first afternoon in town, after setting up at Catalina, we decided that it was time, after 8 years of driving east on Dillon Road from Indian Canyon road, past the Dillon Burger and Grill that we needed to stop for one of their down home hamburgers.
The ambience of the bar was great, funky old bar with fun people eating and drinking, a bunch of guys from some plumbing company on a work break, and a bunch of bikers on the patio enjoying the sunshine. The burgers were decent, not fancy or fabulous, but decent, and at 4.95 each our lunch was under 20 bucks including the beer and wine.
On another day we explored the stone sculptures at the big yard down on Dillon Road. Another place we have passed often and never visited. The sculptures were amazing, the artist was a character, and he talked to us about the cost of installation and transportation for these gorgeous pieces of nature’s art. He has installations all over the country. We imagined one the of pillars with windows sitting by our driveway at the entrance to the new house, but probably will never pop for the $5000. it would cost to do that.
On Thursday afternoon, we made the half hour drive into Palm Springs to enjoy an early dinner at a restaurant we enjoy. Macarena’s is Mexican place right in the center of town, with outdoor seating along the main street where every Thursday night there is a great street fair. We got a streetside table and good service while watching the vendors set up their booths for the evening festivities. The Happy Hour appetizer menu had perfect choices for each of us to share,and I had a killer good marguerita to go with it. I like it when a Mexican restaurant has good flavors that surprise me, instead of the same ole same ole. Dinner was delicious and we ate every bite, no leftovers! It is easy when you order appetizers instead of the full course deal.
As darkness fell, we joined the throngs walking down the center of the road, enjoying all the vendors and art for sale. Before we left home, Mo and I scoped out some large exterior walls of the new house, thinking we needed a bit of house art. I thought at the time that we might find something either in Palm Springs, or Tubac, Arizona, and we scored in both places. We found a beautiful sun sculpted in stainless steel by a local artist at the street fair, and I managed to get through the crowd of people without puncturing anyone with the pointy sun rays. Photos will come later for this piece, waiting now in our garage for the bad weather to lift before we decide exactly where it will be placed on the house.
As the evening wore on, the crowds thickened to the point of being tiresome. We were really glad that we came early and had supper before strolling the street fair. We were back home by 7 fully satisfied with our meal and our outing and ready to settle in for another swim. It was hard to share the pool with all those other people, you know the ones, the noodlers. It seems that evening time is when folks like to “noodle”, where they all gather in little pods, floating on their noodles and chatting and laughing. I have no problem at all with that, but I do wish that they would at least leave me a tiny lane on the far edge of the pool to actually swim. Another reason I miss my 3 AM swims. I actually like to swim!
The next day we woke up early to travel south again to Palm Desert to visit the Living Desert. We went there for the first time in the winter of 2016, just after the little giraffes were born. Those babies are now 2 year olds, and there are more young ones that are part of the group now.
We arrived in time for the morning feeding, and while we were on the other side of the feeding fence, we laughed watching all the little kids holding out carrots to be wrapped up by those long black tongues. Their responses were almost more fun than watching the giraffes.
The Living Desert is a zoo, but an accredited one that does great things for endangered species. Our timing was good for this visit because unlike last time, the animals were out and about, including the wolves and especially the jaguars. Those are truly amazing cats, who kill by using their powerful jaws to crush the head of their prey rather than going for the jugular as most cats do when killing.
The 3 cheetah sisters were a new addition since our last visit, and they were wonderful to watch. Each day they have the cheetah runs, where the handlers feed them at opposite ends of their enclosure, both for our enjoyment and exercise for them. Cheetahs need to run. It was amazing watching those long lanky bodies stretch out even for short distances.
We had to find the meerkats, of course. I still think that Mattie is part meerkat. I know I know, but she sure does look like one when she sits on her hind end, straight up, and turns her head from side to side with her little pointy nose in the air. Pure meerkat. We confirmed that when we saw the meerkats once again. They have to be on the list of cutest animals ever.
The gardens are beautiful, even in winter, and walking the pathways will get in a good 3 miles of walking without even trying. It is spendy, at $17.95 per senior person, but worth it. I think we might have to go at least every other year, if not every year.
We returned to another favorite place for a lovely morning hike. The Big Morongo Canyon Refuge is just half an hour up the hill to the north in the Morongo Valley. It is a no dog hike, but thankfully Mattie is happy to wait at home in her MoHo bed if we want to head out for some non doggie entertainment.
We had hiked this area in the past, and knew it would provide lovely views and great open space. It was quite chilly when we started out at 7:30 in the morning, but by the time we returned we had shed sweaters and were back to sleeveless shirts.
Unlike the Indian Canyons at Taquitz and Palm Canyon, this hike is free, but doesn’t have the waterfalls and streams, but also doesn’t have the crowds, at least when we went. We passed a few people on various portions of the trail, but most of the time we had the refuge to ourselves to enjoy.
In between all the activity, we still managed a lot more down time for walks with the dog, swims, reading in the chairs in the shade, and just enjoying the 80 degree temperatures, heaven after a foggy winter in Grants Pass.