Friday, February 19, 2010

Trip to the mountains and California as a destination.

We decided to drive up the mountains today.  We went to Palm Desert, and headed up the Eastern Santa Rosa mountain slope.  This is somewhat more shallow, and leads to the center of a valley where there are ranches and mountain homes.

I stopped along the road where we first got a glimpse of mount San Jacinto.

I snapped a few shots.  We were at about 5,000 feet, and it towered above us.  It is over 10,000. We began to get the lodge pole pines that we like in Colorado. 

This closer mountain looked taller but only because it was closer.  

There's the big guy over there in the trees.

 The zoom on the pocket camera is not too optical, but does the digital bit where it zooms the image at a cost of pixels.  But at least it seems closer in this smaller size.

As we drove into the town of Idylwild, we stopped in front of the school and snapped the street.  The school was big but not too photogenic.

Idylwild is all restaurants and gift shops.  It had a bunch of us tourists wandering around, and many colorful locals that hang around downtown..  The tourists were in tennis shoes, and the locals all had on hiking boots!  Most of the locals had winter coats too.

We drove on to the North, and found the lookout over Hemet.  The haze was really bad today, but the close mountains were clear.

What the heck, can you see Hemet down there.  Maybe if you imagine a little.

Beyond Hemet, we could just make out Diamond Valley Reserve Lake.

There it is!

I would have taken more pictures, but I was busy white knuckling the steering wheel as we came down into Banning.  The road clings right to the side of the edge of the mountain as you make switch back after switch back.  It did have a guard rail, but you could easily be convinced you were in Colorado.

Once back in Banning, we stopped at the outlet shopping mall for a quick sandwich.  After lunch we drove the parking lots looking at all the stores, but could not become excited to go walk the interior malls. It is mostly ladies stuff, with very few men's places, so I would have sat it out in the car, but Loyce didn't see anything we didn't have in the outlet mall in Lake Ozark.  Fine with me!

Sandra asks if we would think of staying here versus Arizona.  That is an interesting question.  Some quick thoughts.

The city here is more catered to the higher dollar customer.  This is the golf crowd, mostly retired business folks.  They drive expensive cars, and the shops are geared to their tastes.  More like Aspen, Colorado.  There are ordinary folks here too, but they live over toward Indio, to the East.

Up here in the Desert Hot Springs area, it is more of a Latino community.  There are the Spa's on the North end of Palm Drive, and as you reach the foot hills of the 29 Palms Mountains the homes become gated and expensive again.

We have a golf course here at the RV resort, but it is a public course.  Don't get me wrong, it is quite nice and a green grass oasis with many trees.  Lush would come to mind.

You are not as connected to the desert here as you are in Arizona.  You don't have nearly as many kinds of cactus, and the saguaro's are missing.  I wouldn't be nearly as inclined to find a place to hike, like I would in Tucson.  You do have the mountains that tower above the communities, and they are like going to Colorado.  The road is called the Palms to the Pines Road for instance.

Price wise, it is more expensive here than Arizona.  Gas is three dollars.  Arizona was two and a half.  Groceries are higher too.  Yet by staying North of I 10, and on the monthly registration, you can camp for about the same.  Our single week was $265.  But a month reserved in advance is about twice that.

Again location becomes the issue.  For Rick and Paulette, it is much closer to BC.  For us we would have an extra day each way trying to go back to KC for Christmas.

But would we come back next year?  Sure we would, but not for months at a time.  The proximity to all of Los Angeles and the cities to the South are within two or three hours drive. That might be a destination for visits to acquaintances.  Just different strokes for each of us.

Oh, I forgot to mention the Salton Sea and the Anza Borrego desert to the South.  This is where the Bayfield Bunch is camped in the desert.  The long term areas go for miles and miles.  The little town of  Borrego Springs is an oasis out in the middle of the sand in all directions.  The ATV crowd is really in love with this area, but they are mostly present on the weekends.

Al has been recapping his fellow BLM campers for the last few days, and is interesting reading if you have missed it.

Retired Rod

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