Snow on the Joshua Trees

By: muttler



Who’d have believed it. When we planned our trip, our biggest worry was that we could hit snowy conditions in Utah and Colorado that would cause us to rejig our trip. The dilemma of the hire car is that you can’t really do snowy conditions. But as you will have seen, we were absolutely lucky with the weather all trip.

Until today. We put a few days of Palm Springs in the plan so that we could unwind for a few days with some warm weather, maybe spend a little time in the pool. But today we woke up to rain and about 5 degrees. What was going on?!

It seemed a cold snap had hit most of California, and our desert oasis had become a bit arctic. We didn’t have much planned but we had been talked about possibly going for another visit to Joshua Tree National Park. We had visited Joshua Tree a few years ago and enjoyed driving through the landscape. A quick check of the weather there suggested that it was not raining at all, but that we could encounter snow! So off we went.

On the way we decided to pop into nearby Pioneertown. We had also visited there in the past but only to the awesome Pappy and Harriets saloon. Alas, Pappy and Harriets was closed today, but we did get to see the town in ints glory.








Established for filming westerns, a small number of people live there. There was not much to see outside of a dozen or so old cowboy looking buildings. Fun for a quick visit on our way. Plus always a bonus to meet a gorgeous doggo.

We then headed to Joshua Tree, and it seemed a lot of people were drawn by the very rare snow, as it was quite busy going into the park. But once we were in, it was actually not too bad.








There is one main road that goes through Joshua Tree, with a few offshoots, so we just meandered our way through, stopping to get photos of the snowy Joshua Trees.

We also stopped at the Hidden Valley, my favourite part of the park. It is a great secluded area, surrounded by smallish cliffs where you can wander around, climbing rocks and generally just running amok.









Otherwise we just enjoyed driving through the park at our leisure. While the snow disappeared fairly quickly, it was a delight to experience the park in a completely different way to last time.



We got back to Palm Springs late in the afternoon. The weather was a bit better, so we just kicked around. Dinner was another burger from Stout Burgers (mine had prosciutto on it… mmm) before getting ourselves sorted to move on again tomorrow for our last few days.


Modernism Week

By: muttler



Again I was awake as the sun was coming up, so I decided to get out and stretch the legs with a wander around downtown Palm Springs.

Palm Springs is most known for being a bit of a 50’s time capsule, with the town dominated by mid-century modern houses, as well as Spanish-style villas. So I wandered in one of the more traditional areas before getting back to the room for some breakfast.




We didn’t have a set plan for the day and what we didn’t know when we first worked out our trip was that we arrived into Palm Springs bang in the middle of Modernism Week, their annual celebration of the style and architecture of the town. Sadly, most events were either on the other days we were not here, or sold out. But we spoke with some of the friendly staff, and decided to craft our own driving tour of classic houses, with some support of a tourist office map.









Many are behind large fences, so it was difficult to see many of the “classics” but it was fun to drive around the different areas. It is quite remarkable how many of the houses have been kept true to their original style. Some included Elvis’s Honeymoon House, as well as those owned by Sinatra among other celebrities.



The rest of the day we decided to do our traditional shopping outlet run for new, cheap Levi jeans and a visit to our absolute favourite, the Shag Gallery in downtown Palm Springs. Most know that our house is full of artwork by Shag (i.e Josh Agle) and it is always a delight to see more of his work up and chat with the staff.



The weather had gone quite pear shaped, with the temperature dropping to around 12 degrees and the rain coming, so we stayed warm and dry, before heading out for some absolutely delicious Mexican food for dinner.


Get Your Kicks on Route 66

By: muttler



Today was just a long day. Basically, today was a driving day to get from the Grand Canyon to Palm Springs… about a 7 hour haul. But it had to be done.

Me being the early riser though, I was awake before the sun was up, so decided to rug up and leg it to the canyon rim. So while the sun came up, I wandered along the south rim for an hour or so, watching the sun start to bring shadow and then colour into the canyon walls.











I got back to the room where I warmed up and we got ourselves organised to hit the road. We stopped by another spot on the rim for some final morning photos and then got at it.

So there is not much to report from this day. 7 hours is a lot of driving. One of the highlights is that we got on to some historic parts of Route 66. In fact, one town that we stopped in was Seligman AZ, which is noted as being a main inspiration for the Pixar film Cars. Why you ask? Well, when the new highway opened, just near the town, the town went from being a main stop for people to being bypassed completely.





The main street of the town indeed had some elements of Radiator Springs from the film Cars… the diner, the old school motel. We were actually planning to have an early lunch at the (in)famous diner, however sadly it was closed for the month and not to reopen until next week. Oh well, we tried to do our bit for the town.



So after a bit of getting our kicks on Route 66, we got back on the main road and headed on. Given the diner was closed, I was very happy to find a highway-side In-n-Out Burger joint which I gotta say… I am so going to miss these burgers when we head home 🙁




This was by far our toughest day of driving. Not only the time spent on the road, but also this part of Arizona was not really the most picturesque scenery we had seen, nor was the part of California that we ventured in to.

The other thing was that it was windy. Not windy, it was WINDY. Relentlessly so. But we soldiered on and by about 4:30pm we arrived into Palm Springs.

We grew fond of Palm Springs on a previous visit so were keen to unwind here for a few days. Our hotel was a charming Spanish-style building kept in quite original condition. After checking we went for a walk downtown to stretch the legs and have a cheeky beer to unwind.




When we got back to the hotel we were greeted with a couple of glasses of champers to celebrate Kate’s birthday, and then it was time to relax.


Mid Century Modern

By: muttler

And now the holidays begin! I had flown back from Pittsburgh to LA and spent the night there ready to begin more adventures…


Saturday (2/11/2019):

Kate arrived on her overnight flight from Melbourne tired. But that was OK… I had fairly much adjusted to the time zone and was doing OK. So I met her at LAX, and we went and grabbed a car ready for a few days of driving into the California Desert. First destination was Palm Springs! We had always wanted to go and finally we were going to make it.

After some stops to freshen up and eat and outlet shop, we made it to Cabazon, just out of Palm Springs. It is home to a fairly dodgy looking Dinosaur tourist park. We didn’t go in, but stopped to see the dinosaurs out front like everyone else.

Mid arvo we arrived in Palm Springs and checked in to our hotel, the suitably 50’s Orbit-In. It was great. The owner was a fantastic guy who made us feel very much at home. The hotel was a time capsule to 50s vibe and was a blast. We even had “Orbitini Hour” at 5pm… drinks on the house by the pool. Ah, this is the life.

We didn’t know before we booked but it was actually Pride Weekend in Palm Springs! It meant the main street was going crazy with all kinds of pride events and festivities. It was great fun seeing everyone out for a good time.

We had good times of our own planned. As luck would have it, one of our absolute favourite artists, Shag, was having a print launch at his downtown gallery space! YES!!! So after some tasty Mexican food, we went to have cocktails and chat with the great man himself. We even treated ourselves to a couple of prints.











It was Pride parade day, but sadly we had already planned our day to check a bucket list item off… visiting Joshua Tree National Park. So we disappeared out of town before it got too crazy and made it to the National Park. It was a glorious day, not too hot, so we began our drive from South to North West.

First we weaved through the Colorado Desert, which is quite barren and mostly very furry cactii. Highlight is the Cactus garden where you can explore amongst hundreds/thousands of medium sized cactus plants.







From there you go over a ridge and into the Mojave Desert where the landscape instantly changes. We saw lots of rock and boulder formations, and the Joshua Trees start. Skull Rock is a stopping point and I couldn’t help but climb into the eyeball. Getting down was the hard part 🙂





We also went to the top of the main ridge and looked down on Palm Springs. It was quite hazy but still spectacular.



But it is the Joshua trees that take the cake. People say they are Seussian in their appearance and they definitely are. They are a sight to behold.











Sunset was very early so around 5pm the colours changed a little and the sun set on what is an absolutely gorgeous place.

We were given the tip for place to visit for dinner, a place called Pappy and Harriett’s. We had no idea what it was but went anyway! It turned out to be a cowboy bar of sorts in a place called Pioneertown, not far from Joshua Tree. Turns out it was a movie set in the 40s! The place was packed and a buzz. We had some great burgers and drinks and made our way back to Palm Springs.




Alas it was time to say goodbye to Palm Springs already. We definitely did not have enough time there and both vowed to go back.

On the way out of town we visited the Aerial Tramway, to go to the biggest ridge above Palm Springs (not back in Joshua Tree). It is close to 3000m altitude and often has snow on it! We caught the tramway up and looked out over the area.








We also had time for some sneaky “Welcome To Palm Springs” type pics 🙂



When we entered Palm Springs a few days earlier, a couple of billboards caught my eye which I revisited. They had the legacy of some early Shepard Fairey (i.e. Obey) pasters on them that I had to stop and get pics of.




We fought the traffic back toward LA and arrived at our home for the coming days in Anaheim. After dropping the car off, we rested for a little bit and then decided it was time for a drink to wind down. Where did we go? Trader Sams of course!







We couldn’t resist getting a few tiki mugs and drinks to cap off the day and get ready for some Disney action.