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Published: February 11th 2020
December 7, 2019 we left Lake Havasu City for 29 Palms, California to explore Joshua Tree National Park. The drive was desolate and in several areas you could see forever. We drove through more desert surrounded by mountains. I was very excited for our next campground as it was CHEAP! and included everything....HOWEVER once we got there, we turned around and found another place. It was tight and we were met by a woman who came out of her rundown broken window trailer advising us our spot has shown to be difficult to back into from seeing others our size try. She suggested the spot across the street. When I looked at that I noticed broken glass all over as well as all over an adjacent spot. I called the person I made the reservation with and she denied having any trouble there but I told her we didn't feel safe and were moving on. I left with the car and Mike followed in the RV after have to do some point turns to get out of there. So we ended up paying double but found a safe spot. And by double, it was in line with what we usually find
for a fee.
This area, 29 Palms, CA, was not very inviting at least along the main road going through the area and we didn't really ever find the downtown. There is a Marine Base there about 5 miles off of the main route. I do recommend the area if visiting Joshua Tree National Park from the North entrance. There were some newer hotels and the campground we found was decent.
Joshua Tree National Park was very unique. We didn't know what to expect but being a National Park and passing through we wanted to see it. The Joshua tree to me looks like a cross between a palm tree and saguaro cactus. When we first entered the park the area was desert like with the surrounding hills, then we saw the trees and then around another corner saw towering boulders! They were called Jumbo Rocks. They looked like they would be fragile sand hills but they were tan granite. They are carved and scattered like blocks. We read they were sculpted underground by ground water and then exposed through erosion. I sent a video of it to Sam and Ben and told them my first thought was
if they were to see it they would drop their bags and NEVER leave. They love to rock climb. They told me they thought the same thing when they saw the video!
We hiked a 6 mile trail called the Lost Horse Mine Loop. Named because a man found the mine one day when he was out looking for his lost horse. There were still some mechanical remnants at the site and we found an abandoned chimney along the trail too. The loop was desert terrain through a Joshua Tree Forest and washes (areas that flood when they have heavy rains) and then the trail climbed around the back of the mountain to the mine. The views were amazing. We started out cool with layers and hats and then warmed up but boy when we made it around the mountain and up higher the wind was whipping and I had to take a wide stance to not get blown over taking pictures! It was a great hike and we really enjoyed the views and the mine.
We drove up to a higher point that overlooked the Palm Spring area in the far distance but didn't hang out too
long because the wind was so cold. Then we explored the rocks for the boys. It was, as I often say to Mike, "another full day"
The second day we did a hike in another area of the park called 49 Palms Oasis trail. It was about 4-5 miles round trip out and back to an oasis of huge Fan Palm trees. Again we zigzagged through some hills and into a canyon area where the palms were. It was amazing and the area they were in, the rocks looked more like what you would see in a Maine River bed, not like what we were seeing in the area. Sadly we learned a hiker when missing on this trail in 2018 and about a week after we hiked we heard on the news some remains were found not far off of the trail. We did not ever hear whether or not it was the man who was missing 😞.
With our experience with the campground we booked for this stay, we decided on our last day to drive to the Palm Springs area to scout out our next parking spot. We could see that the area was supposed
to be warm and we didn't need to be anywhere until our week for the Rose Bowl. We didn't really have anything in Palm Springs specifically to do or see but wanted to find some warm weather. We ended up finding an awesome RV resort. Believe it or not it was cheaper than the KOA across the street! With amenities you wouldn't believe. It was mostly park models that people buy and then go there for the winter. They had hot tubs that were naturally fed by hot springs. They had tons of activities going all the time. We played some water volley ball, I did a couple water aerobic classes and we enjoyed the library exchange. We also got to take advantage of free laundry as they were updating their laundry room and had some issues with the "app" system they were setting up. We ended up staying there for 2 and 1/2 weeks, over Christmas. I brought some of our favorite ornaments and some lights with us and strung them along the windows. We also have a small ceramic lighted Christmas Tree one of Mikes' co-workers gave us last year. We set that out on the dash each
night. I missed being with the kids for sure but we had some long video chats with them and that made it easier. It was so great to hear their voices and see their faces. We also talked with other family members throughout the week.
We both came down with terrible colds that knocked us both on the couch for days. We had a burnout on our circuit board for the furnace so we had a day/night without heat, (yes we are still using the heat) but fortunately we were able to find a replacement locally. We had a rain storm during that time too and it was incredible to see the rain/snow line on the mountain side we were facing. In fact, 29 Palms got a couple of inches of snow in that storm and we had just been there...so glad we missed that!
We drove into Palm Springs a couple of times for shopping and it was pretty. The old part of the city was Art Deco and you could just imagine what it must have been like during the "Rat Pack" days. Lots of golf courses, shopping centers, and gated communities. The resort we stayed
in was in Desert Hot Springs. That town wasn't quite as nice but the resort was very nice. It was really strange to not do anything but "hang out" at "home" during that time. It was our first stop that we didn't explore. We did see an owl who hung out daily in a pine tree next to the pool area and one evening when we were leaving it swooped down and just about hit me! It was so cool as they are usually something you don't get to see.
December 28 we made our way to Bonelli Bluffs in San Dimas, CA. We had a week booked for the Rose Bowl as it is about 25 miles from Pasadena. The campground sits on a hill in Bonelli Bluffs County Park which is an LA county park. they had a lake and trails, lots of picnic areas, boating, horses and we learned that it will be the site of the Mountain Bike course for the Summer Olympics in 2028. We could see the next town with really nice homes on the hills. In the valley at the bottom of the campground was a small airport and a large FairPlex
and an NHRA drag racing strip. We had some resident owls here too. Once evening I could hear them so I went out and one was on the ground right behind our RV neighbors home! At first I thought it was a big cat when I saw it move. It looked like a big Maine Coon Cat.
We did a couple of hikes around the park while we were there in between going to the Rose Bowl events. We went to see the floats being decorated. That was incredible! They decide on their theme and then make the forms for the shape. Then everything has to be covered with plant/organic material. They had many volunteers cutting tips of flowers, painting on glue and sprinkling on the crushed up flowers, or seeds, beans, coffee, leaves. If I lived near there or go again, I would volunteer to help it was awesome! We didn't go to the parade because we went to the game but seeing them on TV after seeing them being put together, was so cool!
After we spent a few hours there, we went to what they call Band Fest. The bands that are invited to be
in the parade do performances on the football field at Pasadena City College. We saw bands from a couple of local high schools, a high school in Texas, Hawaii, Mexico, and Costa Rica. They all were great and nice costumes/uniforms. My only disappointment was they primarily faced the opposite side of the field and it was had to make out their formations from behind. Some did one song in our direction but I wish they would have at least alternated the primary side as they came through. Or plan to get their earlier to get seated on the "right" side.
For the Rose Bowl game we took a commuter train into Pasadena and walked to the stadium. It was so cool! The game was a great one with Oregon winning by 1 point. I wanted them to win but more so we wanted to see a good game and it was! The energy was incredible. EVERYONE was into it. The college bands were great with their shows but Wisconsin was the best. They prance when they march and it looks so cool! (they must all have incredible calves!). They dedicated their show to the armed services playing each branches
song and creating the corresponding emblems in their formations. During the National Anthem a stealth bomber flew overhead! and they had planes spelling out Happy New Year 2020 in the sky. What an experience!
The days after the game we spent exploring the area in the car. We drove into LA/Hollywood. We walked to the Griffith Observatory to see the Hollywood sign. We drove down Hollywood and Sunset Blvd. We didn't get out we just wanted to get an overview. It was not as glamorous as I expected it to be. There were lots of billboards and we did see the Capitol Records building. We drove down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, it was palm tree lined and still decorated for Christmas. We went on to the coast and drove up to Malibu walking on the beach and the pier. The homes were pretty big on the hills and small along the beach with literally no space but they were on the beach. It was really pretty. Once we were ready to head back it was getting to be rush hour so we drove through the back streets through neighborhoods in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. We saw the
entrance to Bel Air. It was a long day but we saw a lot and it was pretty.
The next day we drove south through the Temecula Valley which is horse and farm country. We saw some wineries, farms, and a large palm tree nursery. We also went over to Oceanside along the beach south of LA. We were scouting where to stay next. We found a small RV resort part of a casino. It was quiet, impeccably kept. We met a couple from Sanford Maine! I couldn't believe it when I saw a Maine Plate. We did visit the casino and wasn't as lucky this time but we did break even😊 We spent a week there once we left Bonelli Bluffs before meeting our friends Lisa and JB in San Diego.
The rest of our time at Bonelli Bluffs was spent back on the couch as we both got sick again! We had tickets to Price is Right and didn't get to go(we even had some t-shirts made, I'm sure they will show up in a post at some point). 😊 We chilled out at the casino resort too recovering from the cold/fever/body aches. All I can
say is we were so lucky and happy to be cured by the time we met up with JB and Lisa!
Thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoy the pictures. Next is our week in San Diego! We had a great time and saw A LOT!
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