Final Palm Springs Post – Thanksgiving, Joshua Tree, Wacky RoboLights and more!

I am writing this from St Louis on 12/31 – Happy New Year!
This is an action-packed final Palm Springs post, including:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Moorten Botanical Garden
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Holiday Festival of Lights Parade
  • Architecture Tour
  • RoboLights
  • Aerial Tram
  • Salton Sea

Thanksgiving: We were so happy to have friends from Chicago in for Thanksgiving!  Jamie (whom I spent most of my Chicago Thanksgivings with!) flew into San Diego and drove over with Cathy & Don!  We had a fabulous dinner (cooked the turkey right side-up this time), great wine, laughs, and relaxation time in the hot tub!  Such a fun time!

Moorten Botanical Garden (Sat 11/28): Founded in 1938, desert trees and cacti from around the world, 3000 plant varieties, and the world’s first enclosed ‘cactarium’.  Worth a visit – $5 entrance fee and takes about 30 min to walk through. 

Joshua Tree National Park (Sat, 12/4), where the Colorado and Mojave Deserts meet!

Our friend Paul came in for a visit and one of our first destinations was Joshua Tree National Park, tops on my list for a visit!  Very happy we went and wish we had more time there for exploration!

Hiking in the northwest corner, Black Rock Nature Center:

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Joshua Tree, the Tree of Life – the Joshua Tree grows primarily in the Mojave desert, highly adapted to minimal rainfall by spreading its roots in a dense shallow network to soak up as much moisture as possible.  Almost every part of the tree is used by people or animals – baskets, sandals, and mats were made from weaving its fibers, birds nest in them, and animals eat its blossoms.  A dead fallen tree provides shelter for lizards, ants, and scorpions.  Eventually termites return it to the desert, enriching the soil for the next Joshua Tree to sprout.

Next we drove into the main park area, drove through Hidden Valley…

Hiked Barker Dam…

and took in the scenic Keys View!

Driving out of the Park….

Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade: We checked out the local Christmas parade before a great dinner at Le Vallarius.

Architecture Tour: Paul booked us an incredible tour of Palm Springs architecture.

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Tonga Hut!  Our second tiki bar – it was slow, we got the grand tour, including access to their ‘secret’ party room!  Cool!

Robo Lights

  • 4 acres, 8.7 million lights
  • Dave and Paul chatted with Kenny Irwin, the artist behind the madness, for a bit. It was pretty funny because at first Kenny was sort of frozen in a display, almost pretending like he was part of it. Strange dude for sure!
  • See a professional video at:

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (Mon 12/9):  largest rotating aerial tramway in the world

Salton Sea (Tues 12/8)

One of the world’s largest inland seas (~350 square miles) and lowest spots on earth (-227 feet below sea level)

The most recent inflow of water from the now heavily controlled Colorado River was accidentally created by engineers in 1905. In an effort to increase water flow into the area for farming, irrigation canals were dug from the Colorado River into the valley. The resulting outflow overwhelmed the engineered canal, and the river flowed into the Salton Basin for two years, filling the historic dry lake bed and creating the modern sea, before repairs were completed

The high salinity (greater than the Pacific, but less than Salt Lake) limits the type of fish that can live in it, now it’s just tilapia.  The bones from fish that didn’t survive now make up the ‘sand’ on the shoreline – not a place you’d want to picnic but the views are pretty amazing of this desert sea!

We drove through Bombay Beach afterwards and it brought back memories of the townships in South Africa – a scary community that time, and the Salton Sea, left behind.

The International Banana Museum (yes) was closed when we  passed through unfortunately!

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Happy 2016!


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