Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cabot Pueblo Museum ~ Desert Hot Springs, CA

We love rv’ing in the Coachella Valley and one of our stops is Desert Hot Springs, (DHS), CA just minutes north of Palm Springs, CA. Desert Hot Springs has been enjoying a major growth over the past few years and we’ve seen many changes since our first visits years ago. The hard work of their city administration and elected officials has allowed them to proceed with extensive infrastructure and upgrades seen all over the city. It is great to see DHS doing so well.

                                 Two Springs RV Resort in Desert Hot Springs, CA

During the many years of returning to RV here, we’ve stayed in many different resorts and are enjoying our first visit at Two Springs Resort this year. The amenities are great and our view is magnificent.

                                                           Hot mineral pool

We’re parked in a beautiful RV park, with a view of the mountains, desert and usually a blue sky but when the sun sets in the west, we have a perfect view of that, too. The park is about to begin constructing another phase and will be doubled in size in the near future.

                                             Street in RV resort

Desert Hot Springs is situated atop one of the finest natural hot mineral water aquifers in America. None of the springs are visible as they’re capped for water distribution or for one of the many spas here but the soothing pools are available at many locations. You’re not usually required to be a guest staying at the spas to use their pools so if you’re wishing to soak in a hot mineral pool, check one of the local spas for their policies on visitors.
During the 50’s and 60’s, over 80 spa hotels were in DHS. Many of these hotels have been renovated and revived again. Most feature the natural hot mineral water unique to the area, it has no sulfur odor common in other locations. These pools are so hot that they have to be cooled down to swim in. DHS can also boast their pure and delicious award-winning drinking water.

                                       Sunset in Desert Hot Springs, CA

Sunsets are always beautiful, no matter where you are. This one includes the windmills in Desert Hot Springs, which are a common site in the Coachella Valley. The mountains create the San Gorgonio pass that allows a wind tunnel to form and makes an ideal location for windmill farms. This sunset shows a storm passing over.

                                  Interesting sky background for windmills

We love rv’ing in most climates, but rarely do we get all climates sitting in the Palm Springs area. We usually have nice warm weather during our winter visits and expect that it will be cool at nights. We’re absolutely fine with that, but sometimes we get surprised at how the weather can change.

                        San Bernadino Mountains, CA at Desert Hot Springs, CA

This year the weather has been a different winter in the Coachella Valley . There has been record breaking rainfall and with that has come the snow to the surrounding mountains. The San Jacinto mountains, which is just west of Palm Springs have snow that shows their ruggedness but the San Bernadino Mountains, just north of Desert Hot Springs are showing off their snowcaps this year. What a beautiful sight they make !

                                 Windmill farm at Desert Hot Springs, CA
There are over 3100 windmills in the area, some of them are 103 m. (340 ft) high. The largest of them produce enough power for 2000 homes. The wind blows hard enough on 300 days of the year to make them work but they need a wind of 21 km (13 mph) to run and anything greater than 72 km (45 mph) and they will shut down. Windmill tours of 90 minutes are offered and we hope to do that soon.
                 Snow covered San Bernadino Mountains, Desert Hot Springs, CA

It is quite a site to see and although not everyone feels the same way, I think the windmills add a different kind of grandeur to the area. This photo, taken at sunrise just out our RV door, shows the snow covered San Bernadino Mountains in the distance.
The month of January is typically the wettest month but we’ve never seen anything more than a sprinkle in all our visits until this year. I believe they may have surpassed any records set by the rain we have had. It has made for some incredible skies and although I prefer to see the blue sky and sunshine, there have been some beautiful ones.

                                  Cabot Museum in Desert Hot Springs, CA

We have visited the Cabot Museum in the past but improvements have been done since then and there is more to see inside the Museum. It has quite a history and one that most will enjoy hearing about. It isn’t a typical museum and I recommend a visit while in Desert Hot Springs. The construction of the Pueblo was an ongoing project spanning from 1941-1965 when he died at the age of 82. The property was eventually purchased by Yerxa’s friend, Cole Eyraud who restored and later donated it to the city of Desert Hot Springs to be used as the present Cabot Museum and Art Gallery.

                                            Welcome door of Cabot Museum

You will hear the story about Cabot Yerxa, a fascinating and talented man who first came to Desert Hot Springs in 1913 to homestead 160 acres. It was on this land that he was digging a well and discovered the hot mineral water that DHS is now famous for. Then while digging another well nearby, he found pure cold water, now known as the Mission Springs Aquifer. With both hot and cold water available, the result of the fault line running between the two wells, the area that surrounds the Pueblo he built was named Miracle Hill.

There are so many more wonderful places to visit in the Coachella Valley and area.  I will be sharing more of this with you ..... but wait........ I hear the desert calling so it will have to be another day ! 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pioneertown~Yucca Valley, CA~Joshua Tree National Park

We love RV’ing and seeing the local sights and learning all we can about the places we visit. There are so many gems out there and we try to see as many as we can during our stay. We headed out on a very overcast day to see Pioneertown, an old movie set up near Yucca Valley, CA and for a drive through Joshua Tree National Park, all just up Hwy 62 from Desert Hot Springs, CA. We did not see any snow on this day but there was a snowfall within a couple of days of our visit.

Main street in Pioneertown, CA

Pioneertown, CA was founded near Yucca Valley, CA in 1946 by several Hollywood personalities as a permanent 1880’s town for film making. Roy Rogers broke ground with the help of the Sons of the Pioneers, from whom the town’s name was taken.

Storefronts in Pioneertown, CA

Over 200 tv series and movies were filmed here as well as being the backdrop for several films. Many buildings on Pioneertown’s Main Street were built to be used as homes for the actors while filming here and are still used as homes today.

Pioneertown Post Office
This Pioneertown post office is said to be one the most photographed in the U.S. There are 350 permanent residents in Pioneertown and surrounding area, so this is their official post office.
Pioneertown Church

The history of Pioneertown, CA is very colorful and Constance Walsh wrote a great page on it that is fun to read and learn about the ‘old days’ there.

Rocky formations on hills

The drive to Pioneertown, northwest of Yucca Valley is a winding scenic 6km (4mi) drive off California State Route 62 and has been designated a California Scenic Drive. Although the Sawtooth Complex Fire raged thru this area causing lots of damage in 2006, the rock formations are incredible to see. Pictures do not do it justice.

Climbing rocks in Joshua Tree Park

Joshua Tree Park is part of the Mojave Desert (elev. 900’ to 5000’ (275 – 1524 M). and is north of Desert Hot Springs, CA. We planned on visiting the park with friends who had never seen it before. As luck would have it, we had the rain to contend with so that meant our sightseeing was done from inside the truck but the sights were still breathtaking ! We will get back for the blue sky normally seen in Joshua Tree Park, but these huge rocks were all shiny and clean for this visit, which makes for some great sights, too.

Joshua tree

Legend has it that the Joshua tree was named by the early Mormons who travelled through these deserts many years ago. They named the trees after the prophet Joshua because they appeared to have outstretched arms guiding them on their travels.

The Joshua tree will grow up to 40’ in its lifetime. They show no growth rings like other trees but they grow about ½” per year so their age can be determined that way. They do not branch until after they bloom and don’t bloom every year. The Joshua tree, a yucca brevolia is of the giant lily family and their large cream-colored blooms are said to be spectacular in February.

Field of cholla cacti

One of the predominant of the desert cacti is cholla cactus but there are over 700 species of vascular plants and we hope to find some blooming cactus if we time our next visit right. Wildflowers usually begin with the Joshua tree blooms in February, then the lower elevations colorful annuals are out in March. It is usually April or May before the cacti bloom, though.
There are over half a million acres to the Joshua Tree Park and paved roads wind around the large rocks, which on a sunny day will usually have climbers working their way up their rock faces. There are several picnic areas and also some locations are available for overnight camping. Birdwatching, horseback riding and hiking on some of their many trails are all good reasons to visit Joshua Tree park. (clik on park name to see more).


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