9 days in Quartzite

quartzite welcome sign

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy Quartzite. Hundreds of RVs, ORVs and people all hanging out on a flat piece of desert.  I know it’s a destination for rock hounders and gem aficionados, when the rock and gem shows are in town.

This time of year is a big RV event.  RV sales and parts, clothing, vendors of all sorts, congregate in town.  Outside of town there is free boondocking camping on BLM land.  My friends drive an Alpine coach and they meet with other Alpine owners to socialize and talk shop about their home on wheels.

One thing I found is I had some serious “solar envy”.  You will see RVs of all styles with the most elaborate solar setups…some never even needing to fire up their generator!  Groups can get a bit cliquish, trying to save a section of desert for their friends…there is plenty of desert to be had, so if you’re not welcome in one area you can move to another. It’s all pretty level, with hardpan and rocks.  Little sticker plants abound.  The sunsets are gorgeous and some of the best star viewing around, with very little light from town or surrounding RVs.

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I didn’t expect to see the beauty that greeted me here.  The mountains are glorious.  Majestic saguaro cactus, as well as ocotillo, cholla and other favorites.

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The one thing about the desert to keep in mind with your dogs…there are lots of things to stick and poke your pups.  My Sheltie, Patches, I had when growing up was a cautious dog and rarely needed to have a cactus spine removed from her feet. Kylie, is also fairly cautious, though I did have to remove a spine from her leg muscle after she chased after Korda through an area of cactus.  Korda, on the other hand…she seemed to be magical how she didn’t seem to pick up any cactus thorns.  Then, she wasn’t.  The worst was off on a 4 wheel trip she managed to get cholla clumps stuck in all 4 feet. Then, when she went to remove one of them with her mouth she imbedded a spine in her gums.  I plucked them all off of her, the one in her mouth gave the most resistance.  She is a real trooper, and didn’t even whimper.

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There is a dog park in town.  It’s separated into large dogs and small dogs. There is patches of grass and agility equipment.

I chose to walk my dogs in the desert.  I would look for washes and roads where there were less likelihood of the dogs picking up stickers and thorns. I also enjoy being able to take in the surrounding beauty while getting a little exercise.

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One day I joined a friend, Dawn Roll Bailey and her husband, Rich, to do some desert exploring.  They were camped at the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, an area I would enjoy boondocking at in the future.  Kofa was named after the K of A mine that was in the area.

Rich and Dawn were driving a RZR ATV and I was following in my Jeep.  We first drove up to a horse tank. The tanks are a natural occurring depression that collects water and is used by wildlife.  The tanks in this area have been enhanced by concrete spillways added by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help larger levels of water to be retained.  They are located in many locations throughout the refuge, and are utilized by all the wildlife.

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We then drove a 4×4 road up by some other tanks and mines.  Beautiful views and fascinating plants and terrain.  Rich and Dawn spotted some Bighorn Sheep ewes along the mountainside.  One ewe even had a lamb with her.  They spotted more in another location where we decided to turn back from.  Sadly, we had to hurry back to camp as there were squalls going on in the surrounding mountains and we didn’t want to be caught up in a flash flood.  Dawn and Rich had gone down one road, the day before, that had some blooming cactus and hummingbirds and we were hoping to go back that route.

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One thing you will learn, if you are new to RVing.  It’s a constant state of repairing and fixing things.  My refrigerator stopped working, one evening.  Todd read about some of the local repair places and I chose Mobil Tech RV & Air.  Jesse Beckett is the owner.  When I called he said there was a $150 service charge to come out to the BLM land. I chose, instead, to drive to his home and park on the 2 acre gravel lot he has behind his home.  He offered power, water and a dump to use while waiting on repairs.

It was a minor fix for the refrigerator, and I talked to him about the other things that weren’t working.  So the next morning he installed a new toilet (the old one was leaking and it’s almost cheaper to just install a new one rather than replace the seals and the time it takes to do that), and two new overhead lights that the ballasts had stopped functioning.  We replaced them with LED lights, brighter and use less energy.  He’s also added some seal to the bullnose (he checked my roof, said you can tell a lot about an RV by it’s roof) said it looked great, but suggested I add some sealant to the bullnose.

He also managed to track down a part for my awning that had stopped working.  Kudos to him, as two other RV repair places said it was obsolete and they couldn’t help me.  A little aside, Poulsbo RV where I bought my vehicle was supposed to replace the awning that wasn’t working.  They insisted they do the work and “make things right”.  Well…they just piecemealed it together and left a bunch of the old parts in place. It worked two whole times before stopping working all together.   I do NOT endorse buying an RV from Poulsbo RV.    The man that had the part recommended just bypassing the circuit board (which would cost $198 wholesale) and putting in a switch which would cost $35.

Jesse was very reasonably priced and if you are ever in need of repair or work give him a call.  He’s busy year round so you may have to wail a bit.  http://www.mobilervrepairquartzsite.com/about-us/

On my way back out to BLM land, I stopped at the RV Pit Stop.  Here you can get drinking water, fill your water tank on your RV, get propane and dump your tanks.  Be prepared for long lines and lots of time spent in those lines, when there is anything going on in town.

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There isn’t much in the way of dining in Quartzite. We ate at the Yacht Club two nights.  The food was ok, nothing special and it’s crowded, hot and service is slow.  It could just be this time of year, but I wouldn’t go back.

I went to the “big tent” at the end of one day, traffic can be atrocious late morning to early afternoon.  I first stopped by the Roadmaster tent.  Roadmaster is a quality, made in the USA, tow system for vehicles.  While I went shopping in the big tent, they removed and replaced some locks (the guts had fallen out of one of them), replaced some bushings, my hooks and cables, and lubed the system. They didn’t charge me anything for it, only asked to donate to the tip jar for the guys doing the work.   Inside the tent there are vendors of all kinds.  Lots of RV products but also things that you would see at a state fair too.  I got a couple of coupons for free nights stays at a couple of RV resorts, chemicals for my toilet, a magnet pocket that I could carry my keys and phone in when I hike in the desert, as well as lots of maps and info for other states I’d like to visit.

Quartzite has some fascinating history, and a stop at the Hi Jolly monument is worth the stop.

About Hi Jolly and the camels:

“In 1856, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis had a novel idea: transporting freight and people across the desert Southwest on camels. He eventually imported over 70 of the beasts. Along with the first batch came a Syrian caretaker, Hadji Ali. His American masters called him Hi Jolly.

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A plaque on Hi Jolly’s tomb says of the camel experiment: “A fair trial might have resulted in complete success.” But the Civil War intervened, Jefferson Davis changed jobs, and without his support the project was abandoned. The camels were set free to fend for themselves in the desert near Quartzsite.

HI Jolly tomb inscription.

Hi Jolly remained, living into his seventies. The locals were so fond of him that, after he died, they spent several weeks building Hi Jolly a special pyramid tomb, made of multicolored petrified wood and quartz. It was dedicated on Jan. 4, 1903. Thirty-three years later the Arizona Highway Department came along and cemented a bronze plaque to the tomb, telling Hi Jolly’s story, and topped the pyramid with a metal camel silhouette.

In those long-ago days the Quartzsite cemetery was remote, just bare ground and a few scrubby sagebrush at the edge of an obscure desert outpost. Now you have to drive through the very busy Quartzsite flea market to get to Hi Jolly. Still, his tomb is the biggest thing back in its tiny patch of desert solitude.

The camels, by the way, outlived Jefferson Davis, Hi Jolly, and even the cementing of the plaque. Their last reported sighting was in 1942.

More on Hi Jolly and the camel corps: Neil Morrison, director of the 11th Armored Calvary Museum at Fort Irwin, CA,said that Hi Jolly had two wives simultaneously, and that there was a second middle-eastern camel trainer as well, “Greek George” (There were originally ten, but the other eight quit when the Army refused to pay them up-front). Greek George eventually settled in southern California. One day he innocently helped a Mexican bandit who had been injured in a fight, was later tried and found guilty of aiding a criminal (even though he spoke no English or Spanish) and was hanged — so no monument for George.” – Roadside America.com

If you venture to Quartzite, and choose to boondock (there are RV parks with hookups) you can choose to be as isolated or as social as you’d like.   Next stop, Yuma!

 

A bit of England in the middle of a desert?

Of course, most people know the answer to this one…the London Bridge in Lake Havasu.  I was a young girl the first time I visited Lake Havasu.  All that was there of the London Bridge, at that time,  were some numbered blocks inside a chain link fence. Where there were a few homes and a tiny town became a thriving and growing city.

We stayed at the Elks here, in Lake Havasu City.  $25 a night for full hookups.  Spaces were nice and level and gravel.  The downside to this location is there really wasn’t a dog friendly area to walk your dogs.  They are expanding so there will be even more available spots.  The food, though!  Tiger prawns almost as big as your hand, and you could have them lightly battered and fried, or grilled.  I had them both ways, and both were delicious!  I heard their prime rib was also good…I just couldn’t break away from those prawns.

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Lake Havasu is dog friendly though.  Lots of outside dining.  There is a roomy dog park, Lions Dog Park, just on the other side of the London Bridge from town.  It’s popular, so expect company.  If you continue on though, there is a dog beach for swimming.  That is where I went each day with my girls.  There was only other dogs there on one day, the other days I had it all to myself.

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A memorable adventure we went on while there was to visit the Desert Bar, aka Nellie E Saloon.  It was built on the site of a former mining camp.  It is located in the Buckskin Mountains, with the nearest town being Parker. It’s only open Oct-Apr, Saturdays and Sundays only, from high noon until 6 pm.  They have live music Oct-March (depending on weather) on Sat from 1-5pm and Sunday 12:30-4:30. It is all run off-grid. Solar panels power the place.  It’s mostly open air with seating under cover and out in the weather. The saloon is an inside building.  There is food offered upstair and down. While the burgers, etc are more reasonably priced, they are pretty tasteless and I wouldn’t buy one again.  Downstairs they have a bigger variety, and more expensive choices.  I can highly recommend the Gyro fries though, if you like Gyro meat.  Crispy fries with feta cheese and Gyro meat…and enough for 2-3 people!  I don’t recommend taking your dog(s) there, though some people do.  It is very crowded and can be very hot for your 4-legged friends. Oh yeah, and BRING CASH! No cards accepted.  You can make it there is a 2 wheel drive car, though I would recommend all wheel or 4 wheel mostly for ground clearance.  It’s a long washboarded and rocky 5 miles.

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Back to Lake Havasu. A great place to sit and have a libation (good margaritas and fruity drinks), enjoy some fresh chips and salsa and watch the people and boats going over and under the London bridge is the Javelina Cantina.  Though there are many locations that would be enjoyable all along the waters edge.

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Leaving Lake Havasu, we headed to Quartzite.  Stopping at a now favorite, Mexican Restaurant, Maya’s Restaurant and Sports Cantina in Parker.  Some of the best salsa I’ve ever had (and they have a salsa bar so you can try different types).  Delicious Chile Rellenos (though they were out on our 2nd time stopping) and tacos.  As a side, the charro beans are tasty choice.

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Last 3 days in the CA desert….

Our last three days in the California desert were spent at the Coachella Eagles.  This is quite a deal for members (Todd was a member so he signed me in as a guest).  It’s a little rundown, but for $17 a night, you get full hookups.  Also, there is a washer/dryer, and shower you can use , not to mention a swimming pool.  There are cement pads to park on, nice and level.  Other than Hwy 10 that is not too far away it is peaceful quiet.  I did hear some coyotes at night and early evening.   Roadrunners appear to include this place as part of their territory.

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Didn’t do a lot during the time we were there.  We did however go to lunch at the Empire Polo Club, at their Tack Room Tavern.  The food was good and reasonably priced.  The décor was perfect.  Saddles to sit on if you were in the mood (though they were western saddles) and polo artwork, mallets and saddles adorn the walls.

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We then went  and visited the Eldorado Polo Club.   Dogs are welcome at the polo clubs on leash.

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Back when I was a kid the only polo club was Eldorado and it was tucked up against the mountain in Palm Desert. I used to watch from above, sitting there on the mountainside with my Shetland Sheepdog buddy, Patches.  My Mom used to love watching the polo games and did so until she left the desert around 2007.   I looked for, but was unable to find some historic photos of the old location.

A little history on the club.  The Eldorado Polo club began in 1957. Then, 11 polo players got together and bought the original parcel of land. “They were Willie Tevis, Peter Hitchcock, Erwin Anisz, Willis Allen, Larry Tailor, L.C. Smith, Gayle Medicott, Bob Haney, Bill Gilmore, Ted Pierce and Frank Yturria. They had a meeting in San Francisco, at the Olympic Club, to purchase 38 acres from Bob McCulloch for $500 an acre. McCulloch was the developer of the Eldorado Country Club. He had some extra land that didn’t fit into his master plan. “Fortunately for thousands of polo players,” says the Eldorado magazine article written by Russell, “the land was perfect for polo.”Each of the men contributed $5,000 to build the Eldorado Polo Club. Homes starting in the low millions now occupy the land the club originally sat on.
It was McCulloch’s idea to name the club Eldorado. He offered the founders a membership in his country club if they did so. “A funny anecdote regarding the free social memberships came after a polo game,” Russell wrote. “Five players rode their horses down the wash over to the Eldorado Country Club. They tied the horses to the trees at the main entrance; at that time there were orange trees at the club entrance where there are palm trees today. The five players in dirty shirts, britches and boots went straight to the bar. As they relived the game, they had a little too much to drink and the group became a little rowdy. As the players partied in the clubhouse, the horses left their calling cards at the entrance, and with that came the flies. The ladies and club members began to arrive after church and were absolutely disgusted. Several days later Tony Veen informed them that Mr. McCulloch, upset over their behavior, had revoked their social memberships.”  – poloplayersedition.com

The location of the original club became too valuable and they ended up moving to Indio in 1979.  “ the facility now is one of the most prestigious country clubs in the desert, called the Vintage Club. I mean, Bill Gates lives there. That’s how good it is.” -poloplayersedition.com

For a bit of even older history of polo in the CA. desert:

“Colorful History of Sport in Village

By FRANK ROBERT  Desert Sun Feb. 27, 1958 Few people will remember Tom Mangan at Smoke Tree Ranch in 1927 and 1928 pulling out the Cresote, and Smoke Tree bushes with a team of horses, and a log chain. By the end of 1928 he had a smooth skin field watered down by hand, and patiently dragged with a team hitched to a large twelve by twelve timber. Tom who at this time was over seventy years old played Polo most of his life in many east, and west games, as well as many high goal international games. He had coached the great Eric Pedley and mounted him in most of his greatest matches With the building of the Field Club in Palm Springs real Polo on a beautiful turf field became a reality. By 1938 fourteen goal Polo with the best players in the west were a regular weekend event. Bill Gilmore, Red Guy, Walt Disney, Harry Patee, Carl Beal, Charity Farrell, Hal Roach. Will Rogers and many other famous names of that time were seen in the various tournaments. WORLD WAR TWO brought all Polo activity to a stand-still in Palm Springs as well as the rest of the world. The only thing left from the old Polo days was the Palm Springs Polo Club, a social group organized to entertain the Polo Players at a cocktail party after each game A special little club house was built for this purpose. and still stands in the same location at the present Polo Grounds in Palm Springs”  – California Digital Newspaper Collection

I understand the “new location” is also in the process of being bought for development.  They say that there will always be an Eldorado Polo Club, and that they will just move further out.  I guess that is to be seen.

From Coachella we headed to Lake Havasu, Arizona.  Along the way we stopped at what once was a gas station to let the dogs have a break.  It ended up being a place that accumulated shoes with laces.  Not sure how something like this gets started,  I wouldn’t want to toss a perfectly good pair of shoes up there.

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Looking forward to getting to where Kylie and Korda can go for a swim!

 

New desert and old desert

Driving to Palm Springs to meet with a friend for lunch I was in for a pleasant surprise.   While most of the desert along Hwy 111 had become overgrown and more like cities, Palm Springs has managed to keep it’s village feel.

Palm Springs is very dog friendly, everywhere you look people are walking their dogs along the sidewalks.  There are many restaurants and cute sidewalk cafes with outside dining so your four legged friend can remain at your side.

Maureen, spends her winters in Palm Springs and summers on Whidbey Island, WA and Montana.  She suggested a quaint little restaurant called Farm.  It is located in the downtown La Plaza shopping center. It is set back off the walkway fromm the retail shops.  The history of La Plaza is an interesting one.

“Back in the 1930s when Palm Springs was in its Hollywood heyday, the city boasted four large hotels – El Mirador, Desert Inn, Del Tahquitz and Oasis; the Chi Chi Club attracted nationally known performers; and the city had more swimming pools than any other place in the country, according to the late mayor Frank Bogert’s “Palm Springs’ First Hundred Years.”
Liz Ostoich, owner of Farm Restaurant, told us that La Plaza was developed by the wealthy Julia Carnell, of the National Cash Register Company. The story goes that she was friends with Palm Springs pioneer Nellie Coffman, who built the Desert Inn and invited Carnell to visit. Apparently Carnell loved the village, but lamented that shopping, entertainment and dining was too spread out. So she built La Plaza in the center of town that encompassed not only shops, a theater, probably a restaurant, but also housing for those working in the shops. Automobiles could park in the cobble-stone plaza near the shops; La Plaza was actually the first “strip mall” in California, if not the country.” -The Desert Sun

When you walk in you feel transported to a lovely French Café.  Most of the seating is outside, with umbrellas and flowers on the table.  Sitting there, enjoying lunch, we had hummingbirds darting around the flower on our table…mesmerizing.  I took a quick walk inside and there were beamed ceilings and fireplaces.  Antique furniture and paintings grace the rooms.

Ah, and the food! So delicious!!  The food is locally sourced, produce, eggs and meat and are used to create traditional French dishes.  I had the Brie sandwich, consisting of Pear, Brie, Date Jam, Arugula, and Walnuts. Served warm on a Baguette.  Maureen had the Croque Madame, Jambon de Paris, Gruyère, Béchamel, and Sunny Egg.  There were so many choices it was hard to pick just one and I doubt you could go wrong with any one of them.  They had lots of refreshing sounding drinks too, and are known to create the best Bloody Mary.  2nd and 3rd photos courtesy of The Desert Sun.

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As we parted, I promised that I would be back!  I would love to go hiking with Maureen and her dogs in the canyon behind her home.

On to the old desert….I stopped by the Palm Desert Historical Society.  It’s a small building manned by docents.  It’s located in the original first fire department in Palm Desert.  It was constructed in 1951.  In two rooms you’ll find a collection of historical photos, newspaper and magazine archives.

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I learned a couple of things that I didn’t know about the town I grew up in.  In the 1940s General Patton established his Motor Pool on Portola Avenue.  The Motor Pool supported the training of troops prior to battling the Germans in North Africa during WWII.

The 2nd thing I learned is that Bing Crosby was the one who built Silver Spur Ranch.  He also had a home there and it was rumored that at that home he entertained John F Kennedy.  It’s also the location where a tryst with Marilyn Monroe happened.  Originally, John F Kennedy was planning on spending his time in the area at Frank Sinatra’s, but after finding he had an “alleged” link to the mob he switched to Bing’s.

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My home for most of my childhood was on Feather Trail in the Silver Spur development.  I had some of my best memories of my childhood there, hiking in the desert daily with my dog, Patches, and my Siamese cat, Suki.  Riding my bicycle all the way to town (a rather steep couple of miles) to go listen to Harriet Oberhaus read stories at the library, or to get a slush at the Circle K with friends.

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There were some pics of Shadow Mountain Country Club.  We’d go to many functions there, and I spent a lot of time in their pool (even though we had a pool of our own).  I ended up babysitting many evenings for the tourists and golfers staying at the country club.

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Mr. Keedy was also represented, he started with a grocery store in 1942, the only other choices were to drive to Palm Springs or Indio.  He later opened the fountain and coffee shop where we often had breakfast or lunch.  It still exists today and when you walk inside it’s a time warp.  Looks exactly like it did in the 60s.

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I was surprised to see pics of White Sun Guest Ranch, since technically it is located in Rancho Mirage, but I was pleased to see them.  I have many fond memories of the times I spent riding there.  I often rode a cantankerous pinto pony named Sony.  My mom said she and dad would just laugh watching him buck all along the top of the wash as we were riding out.  I got to be really good at sticking in the saddle. 😉  In my teens I was hired as a horse wrangler and met lots of fun people from all over the world.

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The last pics are aerial shots of Palm Desert in the 60s and 70s, followed by a pic I found showing what the area looks like today (wish I could have found a shot from the same angle!).   PD historical society19PD historical society18PD historical society17palm desert today   If you get a chance, and you’re in Palm Desert. Please stop in and support this worthwhile museum.

Palms to Pines

I took a drive up to Idyllwild to have lunch with a facebook friend.  I was really looking forward to meeting, in person, Tamandra (Tammy) Michaels who is a talented photographer and fellow dog lover.  https://www.facebook.com/HeartK9/

Hwy 74 is known as the Palms to Pines Hwy.  It had it moment of fame when it was depicted in the opening scenes of the 1962 movie, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. There was a car race and one character drove off the mountain to crash on the desert below (that location is known as Smiler’s Point).

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The movie starred Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney, and Ethel Merman, and featuring cameos from Buster Keaton, the Three Stooges, and Jerry Lewis.  It won an Academy Award in 1963 1963https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/smilers-point

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It looked the same as I remembered (last time driving it was in 1979),  climbing up into the mountains.  It’s about as windy of a road as you can find.  Lots of hairpin turns that you need to slow way down for.  Gorgeous vista views of the desert floor below.   The vegetation changes as you go, ocotillo and cholla, then pinyon pines and juniper to ponderosa and sugar pines.

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When I got to Garner Valley, that was when I saw some change.  It used to have one ranch and now there were many homes with acreage and horses.  I remember when I lived here how I thought it was SO green in Idyllwild…that was until I saw the real green of the Pacific Northwest!

Idyllwild itself had grown but it is still a small town.  We ended up eating at The Mile High Café.  I really can’t endorse this restaurant, it has a eclectic menu..Korean food, Teriyaki, tempura, udon, as well as hamburgers and traditional fare.  Tammy and I both decided to go with the Korean and were disappointed in our choices  (I had bulgogi and Tammy had Bibimbap).  We might have enjoyed a different choice.   This location, as well as many restaurants in Idyllwild are dog friendly, with nice outside decks.  It appeared that the whole town was pretty dog friendly, lots of dogs accompanying their owners around town.

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The Mile High Café was right next door to what used to be an art gallery .  It was there that I took art lessons in pastels from Jon Gnagy.  Jon was the original television art instructor, on NBC with You Are An Artist.  I still have 3 of my “creations” at home.

Jon Gnagy old art studio

 

 

From there we wanted to find a place where Tammy could take some pics of our dogs and let them burn off some steam.  We chose to go to Lake Hemet.  It was brisk out and the lake was very cold.  That didn’t stop the girls from doing some serious swimming.  I  finally had to tell Kylie “no more” because she was shivering.  Of course, when I turned my back, in she went for one last swim.  Tammy’s GSD, Justice, really had a great time romping with the girls.  He loved being chased and was hilarious to watch. A big thank you to Tammy for the great pics!!

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When the dogs were finally exhausted, Tammy and I stopped to have a cup of coffee before we started our journeys home.  I wanted to be down to the desert floor before dark, as the two lane hwy 74 is known for accidents and the narrow, windy road is best done in daylight.   The girls and I slept well after such a fun filled day.

Scrub a dub doggies….

I finally had to break down and give the girls a bath.  On a recommendation from a friend, I went to the Barking Lot in Cathedral City.  $17 per dog for self wash.  Individual stations with a gate, worked perfectly for having both dogs in with me at the same time.  A plus when the weather is warm!   They have a selection of shampoos, a conditioner and a blueberry facial scrub.  Towels are supplied as well as brushes, ear cleaner and cotton balls.

It was all very clean and I can definitely endorse utilizing this facility!  http://thebarkinglotpalmsprings.com/

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Song of the desert

I’ve been at Lake Cahuilla almost a week.  It’s been a great place to stay.  I get a peaceful, easy feeling here.  😉  You are serenaded at night by coyotes and owls, and in the morning doves and mockingbirds.  Herons and White Pelicans share the lake. lake cahuilla1lake cahuilla2lake cahuilla3lake cahuilla4

Spots runs $35 a night for power and water. There is a dump.  Dogs are an extra $2 per dog, per day.  This is one of the places your Passport America can be used and save 1/2 of the daily cost on a few days a week.   They have firewood and ice at the entry kiosk.

The sites are clean, wide and offer beautiful views of the mountains and the lake.  There is a bathroom with showers (.50) There is a dog walking area right by the campsites, though there are numerous trails just outside the park that you can take your dogs on a hike.   If you want something a little more remote there are equestrian sites down a washboard dirt road into a private cove.  The only downside is there is a police gun range at one end of the lake.  Though, I have to say I only heard them one day.

 

If you are here, it’s nice to bbq and sit by a fire at night…though there is a myriad of great eating places.  Mexican food being one of my favorites, I ate at a couple of different ones and enjoyed each of their offerings.   The three places we tried were El Mexicali Café, Macario’s Grill and Mariachi Mexican Cuisine.  They were all delicious and had a variety of things to offer.  Macario’s has a buffet that is worth checking out for a plate full of different, delicious dishes.  Macario’s used to be a date garden and shop back when I was a kid. 🙂

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We also visited an old haunt of mine, Ciro’s Pizza.  I was a bit disappointed in the pizza itself, though I would consider going back for a lunch or dinner special for a pasta dish.

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There are many dog friendly restaurants, due to lots of outdoor dining, as well as dog friendly hikes, all around the desert valley.  There are trails and areas that dogs are not allowed, as well, typically due to wildlife in the area.  Do NOT ignore those signs.  I tend to not like to go where it’s crowded,  with people or dogs, so choose more remote trails in washes (less stickers, cacti in the washes) I can find.   I drove out to Whitewater Canyon, which has a few dog friendly hikes.  The road ends in the canyon at a parking lot, and though there were two signs on the way saying “lot full” I found there was room when I got there.  I found the trails more crowded than I like, so chose to leave after checking out the displays in the ranger’s station.  There are bathrooms near the parking lot.

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I did a lot of driving around, visiting places I lived, worked, learned and played.  Many of the places were still there, but a few were gone.  The one that I was the most sad about was White Sun Guest Ranch, that is replaced with a housing development.

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I did most of my riding as a child there, and became a horse wrangler for a couple of years.  I can still remember the smell of the dusty, covered boardwalk in front of the saddle room.  The chairs lined up in front where we would wait to take guests out on rides in the desert.  The horses all saddled, with heads down and rear legs cocked, all along the pipe corrals. It was a low paying job but probably one of most favorite.

White Sun began it’s life as the Eleven Mile Ranch (because it was 11 miles between Indio and Palm Springs) in 1925.  In 1934 it became a school for asthmatic children.  Will Rogers funded the expansion to include the school.  Unfortunately, with the crash that claimed Will Rogers life it almost destroyed the school.  Were it not for the dedication of a group of Rogers’ friends, including Roz Russell, Mike Romanoff, Basil Rathbone, Mary Pickford, Norma Shearer and Tom Mix, the school would have closed due to lack of funds.  The school was run successfully until WWII depleted the teaching staff.  It was bought in 1946 by Jack Dengler who turned it into a dude ranch.  The White Sun Guest Ranch became internationally known, and blossomed from hosting a dozen guests to nearly 200 in its heyday.  I have a couple of books written by the wife of Jack Dengler on the history of White Sun.  They are one of my most cherished possessions.

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I drove by the home I spend most of my childhood, at Silver Spur Ranch, on Feather Trail.  I drove slow reminiscing over events that occurred there.  Flying around “the circle” on my bicycle, hitting some gravel and crashing.  Being carried home by an older boy who I was infatuated with after being struck in the ankle with a rock by a bully.   Hiking daily into the desert cove with my blue merle Sheltie, Patches.  Raising a baby hummingbird and releasing it back into the wild.  A rattlesnake next to our front doors.  Coyotes howling nightly….ahhhh I could have stayed there for days just thinking about things.  The olive tree my mother had planted was still there, though the ocotillo my grandfather had planted were gone.

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Across from Silver Spur Ranch is the Living Desert Reserve.  Back when we first lived there it was only some cactus that had been planted there.  My mother and I volunteered to water the cactus through the summer (we were one of only a handful of families that stayed during the hot summers).  When they started to finally develop the reserve, I worked there for a year.  There was only one building with dioramas housing things like kangaroo mice and lizards.  There was a Chuckwalla (large lizards) pit in the entryway.  About the time I left the desert they had a mountain fenced with Bighorn Sheep.   Now it’s the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and is a full fledged zoo. http://www.livingdesert.org/

When we sold that house, my mother had another house built on Setting Sun Trail further down Portola.  While it was being built we lived in Idyllwild in the mountains. We would travel Hwy 74 daily to the desert floor,  so my mother could go to work and I could attend school.

This is the house that was built.  I only lived in it a couple of years. My Mom stayed there until she remarried and moved to Oahu.

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Most of the stores and buildings are gone or remodeled and replaced.  A few still exist, like Keedy’s.  It was a soda fountain and we also ate breakfast there now and then.  I stopped in and it was a time warp..the interior still looks like it did when I was a kid.  I almost expected old man Keedy to walk out drying a glass.

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I have to say, Palm Desert was a great place to grow up in the 60s and 70s.

 

 

They say you can never go home again…..

Yes, the desert has exploded with new homes, shopping centers, golf courses, schools etc.  but it still felt like coming home.  I miss the desert, though I’m not sure I could deal with the hot summers anymore.

The first week and 2 days I’m spending at the Indio Elks. $25 for power and water.  Level sites, small citrus laden, grassy patch.  There are some nice dog parks in the area, and you can walk to a grassy depression to walk your dogs.  I, however, prefer heading out into the desert.

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The location of this lodge is very convenient to most everything.  Laundry and grocery store are within walking distance.  Costco and Walmart are close.  Lots of shopping, anything you need.

Another huge plus is there are mobile wash/wax companies that show up at the lodge.  Really reasonable rates, wash/wax for my RV was $250 (and it was badly oxidized), $60 to wash/wax the Jeep.

I had most of my issues with my RV taken care of in Fontana.  I have a couple more problems that I will address when we get to Arizona.  I still have to have my HWH leveling jacks fixed, as well as remove or stow a extended stay propane tank line, and my toilet is still leaking somewhere when I’m moving.

I did need to get my Jeep’s headlights (new LED) aimed as they were blinding oncoming traffic and whomever I was behind.   I looked online and decided to take it to Crawlur Offroad  https://www.crawluroffroad.com/ here in Indio.  I chose them because I was hoping they could also fab some screens for my windows.  With only 2 windows that roll down the interior of the Jeep can really heat up, even though I had all the windows tinted.  Stan, the owner, also let me know that my shocks were shot and that I really needed to replace my Jeep tires that were over 11 years old.  Sigh.  I do so well with being careful spending my money and then my vehicles sabotage me!

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I highly recommend Stan, if you are in the area.  He made some great window screens, replaced my shocks and aimed my headlights (which also had a bulb installed wrong).  He also came out to where the RV was parked, measured and made a part so that I would be able to get my spare tire down.   Now, I will have an available spare in case I ever have a flat again (hopefully never!).

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I’ve taken my dogs out for walks in the desert, where memories come flooding back.  The smell of the creosote, the washes from rains, the smoke tree and Palo Verde trees…I love it all.   I happened to stumble on a nice trail, the Boo Hoff, when I was checking out moving to Lake Cahuilla.  There is a nice write up on some other dog friendly hikes here: https://visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/articles/trail-tails-dog-friendly-hikes-in-greater-palm-springs/

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There is a nice dog park here in Indio.  It’s right across from a reclamation facility (fondly known as the Turd Farm…thanks forever for that one, Todd Legg!).  If you need to dump your black/gray tanks this is an easy access, free facility.

Anyway, the dog park….  It’s called Mulligan Dog park. It’s separates the small dogs from the large.

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There is a staging area going into both sides.

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It is almost always empty, one dog showed up when we were done on the first visit.  It’s a large grassy areas with places to sit.  Unfortunately, it appears that some people don’t watch their dogs…as there are droppings here and there that weren’t picked up. There really is no excuse, multiple stations with poop bags and garbage cans.

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In preparation for the fireworks I know are going to happen on New Years (there were some on Christmas) I decided to move up to Lake Cahuilla State Park.  Fireworks are illegal here, as well as in La Quinta, Indian Wells, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs.  Unfortunately, Indio allows them and also many of the residents think it’s a great idea to shoot off their guns.   I’ll continue my blog from my new location.