Indio, California: We have old (30-years-and-counting) friends visiting from Portland. We all lived in Taiwan at the same time in the 1980's and have remained close. Tamra & Steve came to Palm Springs for Lisa's wedding, they attended our Rose Bowl tailgateon January 1st, and we convinced them to visit us in the Coachella Valley this week.Ya'know. Camping. Roughing it. On Monday we spent the entire day in Joshua Tree National Park. The park is always #2 on the Palm Springs tourist bucket list... after Tacos Gonzales, a date shake, a polo match, art galleries, golf, museums, hiking, shopping... or any of the other many amazing things this town has to offer. Everyone wants to visit Joshua Tree. Everyone should. Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most unusual spots in America. Though we visit the park often, every visit we find something new. Different plants are blooming. Different weather. Different critters show themselves.The Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) are blooming this week. Avoid this pretty stinky plant - it is toxic and has hallucinogenic alkaloids which induce visions. Ocotillo were in full bloom throughout the park. ust a majestic part of nature. Most of the time, ocotillo resemble dead dried-out sticks. Give them a little rain and they leaf-out in a deep green and then produce gorgeous orange-red blooms. Desert blooms
One of the stops on our official tour of Joshua Tree is a walk through the Cholla Garden.Teddy Bear Cholla CactusCactus Wren nest in Cholla Cactus - and a Yucca in glorious bloomBeavertail CactusOur picnic today was a near-exact copy of the picnic we packed for our February visit to Joshua Tree with my brother and his wife - Greek Salad, tuna fillets and hummus with carrot chips. Sparkling water to accompany.One of our favorite stops on the tour is the interesting one-mile hike around the inside of Hidden Canyon - a natural valley completed enclosed by boulder-lined cliffs. The little valley has been used by cattle rustlers and other assorted interesting characters of the western variety for centuries.
During our walk this afternoon, DT felt a little something pricking the bottom of his foot. After removing his shoe (a NIKE running shoe) he discovered a spike from a Cholla cactus (he had somehow stepped on) had stabbed itself completely through the bottom of his shoe sole, through the sock liner and into the bottom of his arch. Steve used his Leatherman tool - pliers, tweezers and scissors - to do a little surgery on DT's shoe.
Be careful out there people. And by "people", I mean "DT".Please notice the lizard on the top of the rock above. Tamra spotted this majorly ugly (or beautiful, if you are into lizards) male Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater)lizard. (Boy Chuckwalla's have a beige-colored tail.) This guy was ONLY about 14 inches long (below-average by Chuckwalla standards). Chuckwalla eat mostly plants and can puff themselves up to look larger but not more attractive.
We were not scared. He wasn't scared. He knew he was special and proudly posed in the sunshine.We took our friends out to Keyes Point for a view over the Coachella Valley, to the Salton Sea and the San Andreas fault. The little white "X" on the top left is sorta-approximately-kinda where we are camped. Steve and Tamra in Joshua Tree National ParkPosing with Joshua Trees... in Joshua Tree National Park
It was a great day - and a great week. We have been golfing, eating, shopping, exercising and generally just enjoying visiting with our friends.
More adventure awaits.
Until my next update, I remain, your entertaining correspondent.
RV PARK: The Motorcoach Country Club