Winter Break Palm Springs, Day 7

Rest day / relaxation day.  Sleeping in.  Soaking in our hotel’s hot tub.  Getting a doughnut at a recommended donut shop.  Lisa wanted to get a haircut, so she got one.  We also visited the Palm Springs Art Museum at Palm Desert location.  Window shopped at the local Westfield Mall and along the Rodeo Drive of Coachella Valley — El Paseo.  Split a burger and fries at Habit Burger, which I haven’t had for over ten years.  Delicious.  Lisa felt like watching a holiday-themed movie, so we used our movie passes and saw a stupid but funny “Daddy’s Home Two.”  Super awesome happy hour at Las Casuelas Nuevas — queso dip, enchilada and steak nachos.  Oh man that was good!  And one more soak in our hot tub before calling it the night, our final night here in Palm Springs.

Log of daily expenses:

$4.10  Apple fritter donut and coffee
$6.66  Habit char cheeseburger and fries
$26  Happy hour

$31.76  Total plus $21 daily average for rental car

Winter Break Palm Springs, Day 6

Day six already!

Lisa wanted something other than the oatmeal and fake cheese omelettes offered by our hotel, so this morning we treated ourselves to a real omelette and some delicious banana pecan pancakes at a local diner.  We continued with a visit to the Sunnylands Center and Gardens and then did a two-mile hike in the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve.  After lots of walking in sandy washes yesterday, we were not thrilled to find the same type of terrain on our trail.  It was super windy too, so the hike wasn’t all that memorable despite the palms.  I’m guessing that we’ve been pretty spoiled with what we’ve already seen in the Indian Canyons hike.

After our hike, we drove to the Desert Hot Springs Hotel and Spa to check out their pool area.  They offer a day pass for just $8 per person, and we thought about using our last full day at a local spa or pool.  With eight pools of different temperatures and all having natural mineral water, this could be a great day for relaxing.  The only problem is that it is pretty windy and Friday’s temperature is only supposed to get to a high of 65 degrees, so it might be a little chilly for us to attempt hanging out at the pool all day long.  In addition to the Desert Hot Springs Hotel, we walked to their sister property Miracle Springs Resort and Spa to check out their amenities — at $14 per person, it is a little pricier but it is adults-only and it the grounds are a little more spread out.  Both properties passed muster so now we’ll just have to decide if we want to do an all-day spa Friday.

Our next stop was a guided tour of Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, which has nothing to do with Native Americans and everything to do with some dude who, at the age of 58, decided to make a Pueblo type house made of recycled items that he found around town.  It was really engrossing and well worth the admission cost and hour tour — all about some random guy who led a life that could be turned into a pretty interesting movie.  It was time for us to eat, so after our tour we used an Entertainment book coupon to eat at a ‘holistic’ vegan restaurant.  I had a “mesquite beet” burger and Lisa opted for a falafel wrap, and while both were pretty darn good, we both agreed that we love meat too much to give up being omnivores.

We finished our day with a visit to the Village Green Heritage Center, the Palm Springs Art Museum (free admission after 4pm on Thursdays!) and a stroll down VillageFest, a closed-to-traffic pedestrian-only street fair with arts, crafts, food and entertainment.  With all that we’ve done, there is so much more to see and do, who knew??  But now it is time to turn in for the night, on this the shortest night of the year — happy Winter Solstice!

Log of daily expenses:

$19.00  Breakfast – CJ’s Diner
$17.48  Lunch – The Gray Cafe
$16.58  Dinner – Las Casuelas
$1  Mud Pie dessert from a dollar store

$54.06  Total plus $21 average daily cost for rental car

Winter Break Palm Springs, Day 5

Today was our big day of adventure — touring Joshua Tree National Park

Early rising at 5:30am, hoping to be on the road by 6:30am.  But that is wishful thinking, we didn’t leave until 7:15am.  I was a little worried about the rush hour morning commute, but then I realized that half the people who live in the Palm Springs area are probably retired, so they don’t need to get anywhere!  Traffic was fine and we arrived to the park by 8:15am and at 8:45am we were on the first of many hiking trails…

  • Hidden Valley, one hour.  Awesome rock formations in a once hidden valley
  • Barker Dam, one hour.  We saw big horn sheep!  Well, we had to use our binoculars to really see them, but it was pretty cool!  Our trail also had some petroglyphs.
  • Wall Street Mill, one hour.  A hike to an actual ore mill that was abandoned years and years ago, relics of the past included some rusty old cars.
  • Keys View — this is the park’s viewpoint that we drove to and had lunch
  • Ryan’s Mountain, one hour fifteen minutes.  This 2.8 mile round-trip hike is rated as moderately strenuous, with a suggested time of 2.5 – 3 hours hiking time.  Lisa wasn’t feeling up to it, so I sent solo and ascended to the top in under 32 minutes.  I took more time going down because I stopped for more pictures, but in total I hiked up and down the trail in half the suggested time, oh yeah!
  • Skull Rock, one hour fifteen minutes.  More awesomely cool huge rock formations, the loop trail passed through a campground and continued on the other side of the Park Road to complete the loop.
  • The Arch, 45 minutes.  Right at sunset, a very short hike to the arch and some photos of the setting sun.
  • Cholla Cactus Garden, ten minutes.  We hiked this loop very fast because it was getting very dark, it was super cold windy, and we didn’t want to have any accidents with the cholla cacti!

We exited the park just before 6pm in pitch black darkness — tomorrow is the winter equinox and the shortest day of the year!  After our full day of burning calories, we opted for an Italian dinner and capped off our night with some Cold Stone Ice Creamery treats.  At not even 9pm has arrived and Lisa is out, as soon will be I!

Log of expenses:

$27   Italian dinner
$5.75  Cold Stone Ice Creamery

$32.75  Total; our rental car averages $21 per day and we already bought our Joshua Tree pass yesterday at $25

Winter Break Palm Springs, Day 4

After some action-packed, whirlwind days of hiking and sightseeing, today we took a more leisurely pace:

  • drove around the Salton Sea, visiting Salvation Mountain and Slab City.  Salvation Mountain is basically a huge art installation by a dude who wanted to spread the love of God.  The guy has passed on a few years ago, but his legacy continues with a non profit board continuing his work.  Hopefully I’ll be able to figure out how to post up pictures to show off just what I’m describing.  On the other hand, Slab City is a community of squatters and people outside the fringes of society — if you have a tent or RV, then lay down your stakes and call it home.  We drove around the open areas and found that some enterprising people have opened up a hostel, Internet cafe, library and more.  But with temperatures reaching 120 degrees in the summer, this is one place that Lisa and I won’t be retiring to.
  • the Salton Sea is 35 miles long by 15 miles wide and has been the subject of so many shattered dreams and land speculating, we just had to check it out.  From far away it is beautiful — who wouldn’t want to live near it? — but come closer and you can smell the odor of yuck … from dead fish to blue algae growth to neglect.
  • we drove Box Canyon Road through the Mecca Hills and up to Joshua Tree National Park, taking a quick stop at the south entrance Visitor Center before heading out to Shield’s Date Farm and happy hour at a local Mexican joint.
  • we finished our evening at the Living Desert WildLights – fortunately it wasn’t super cold, and we managed to stroll around for almost two hours admiring the holiday lights and catching glimpses of animals still on exhibit like the porcupine and the giraffe.

Expense log; rental car averages $21 per day

$25   Joshua Tree National Park entrance fee (good for seven days)
$15.78  Happy Hour at Pueblo Viejo Grill — the steak nachos were the bomb!
$20  Living Desert WildLights admission
$7.25  Date butter gift
$20.20  Gas
$7.24  Subway lunch



Winter Break Palm Springs, Day 3

Whew, what a day!

Early rising for a quick workout, breakfast and out the door by 7:30am…but as is the case, best laid plans usually have a few delays, so we didn’t actually leave until just before 8:30am.  We drove to Indian Canyons and did a series of hikes — Murray Canyon (four miles), Andreas Canyon (one mile) and finished with the Palm Canyon/Victor loop (three miles).  Super hikes, easy enough and just beautiful.  Once again we took too many pictures and the sad thing is that the pictures will never do proper justice.  Our evening finished with a ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tram for twilight views and a dinner on top — but man was it cold up there!  Over 8,000 feet, the tram travels up and down in just under fifteen minutes.  It’s not cheap, but we are glad we did it.  Now, on to some sleep!

Daily expenses.  Rental car average is $21 per day.

$18   Admission charge to Indian Canyons (it is on Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indian land)
$5  Palm Springs Aerial Tram parking fee
$72  Palm Springs Aerial Tram Ride and Dine package (regular tram price is $22.95 per person)
$22.72  Costco gas at $2.68 per gallon

$117.72  Total daily expenses (plus $21 for rental car)