As I write, we’re whizzing down the mountain curves of Highway 50, surrounded by fresh powder that fell as we slept last night. Yesterday afternoon we alighted in Reno from 80-degree Palm Springs to the shocking chill of wind in The Biggest Little City, and then the refreshing cold of Tahoe as we drove the hour back to the cabin. Now, less than 24 hours after our return, we are on the road again driving to Big Sur. Why, you ask? To celebrate three amazing years of adventuring together. Charlie and I are headed to Treebones Resort to spend our anniversary in a yurt on the rugged California coast and eat sushi at their outdoor, ocean-side sushi bar. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to commemorate our time together.
The snow drifts and powder-laden trees that I’m seeing out the car window are a far cry from the palm trees and perfectly-manicured golf courses of Palm Springs. We arrived at La Quinta Resort and Spa last Monday afternoon for a week-long golfing and house-searching trip with Charlie’s parents. The resort itself was a plant-lover’s dream: expansive green lawns with adirondack chairs beneath palm trees; streams, waterfalls and fountains; colorful geraniums, pansies, hibiscus blooms and climbing fuchsia bougainvillea. I explored the grounds with Daisy, who would spend 5 minutes smelling each plant if I let her. Another great thing about La Quinta (besides the gorgeous Spanish-inspired architecture) is that it is extremely dog-friendly. Each of the on-site restaurants allowed pets on their patios, and the room even came with a dog bed and goodie bag.
Lying poolside with your pup after a morning of looking at beautiful houses is not bad. Not bad at all.
The highlight of the vacation was our trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree has been on my lust list for a while now, and since we were just 45 minutes away in Palm Springs, it was the perfect opportunity. I love roadside America, so driving through the small, quirky desert towns on our way there was a treat in itself. As we got closer to the park, Joshua trees started popping up with more frequency. It was my first encounter with a desert landscape like that so I swiveled my head back and forth, not wanting to miss a single thing.
We drove into the park and quickly found a suitable rock pile to climb up for an epic view of our surroundings. I did it barefoot since I’m a terrible packer and forgot suitable footwear. Daisy channeled her inner mountain goat. It was beautiful. As we looked out at miles and miles of Joshua trees and giant rock piles, I half expected a dinosaur to waddle by and start munching on plants. Charlie, who is much more of an adrenaline junkie than I, climbed to the very top of the rock pile, about 200 feet above ground. These rock piles were formed more than 100 million years ago when magma cooled beneath the earth’s surface into monzogranite. Groundwater and flash floods did the rest of the work.
We walked through the cholla garden, where we could see the flowers were a week or two away from bursting open. We gazed at the sculpture-like ocotillo plants which were in bloom with their dainty orange flowers. Climbers rappelled down giant rock faces. Families set up camp.
With frequent pit stops, it took us about an hour to drive through the whole park. It was a totally new way for me to experience a National Park, since we are normally hiking through mountains, not driving through the desert and climbing giant rock piles. We will most definitely be returning for a camping trip very soon. I've heard the stars are amazing there. Now on to those beautiful rugged beaches in Big Sur!