Hot springs in the desert?

Trip Start Jul 04, 2012
Trip End Jun 04, 2013

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What I did
Joshua Tree National Park

Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, December 16, 2012

Well, after travelling for almost six months we all voted to slow our travels down and stay in one place for a while.  Our home for the next month would be Sam's Family Spa, chosen for its close proximity to Joshua Tree National Park and for its hot spring pools.  Not only is the main large pool heated by natural hot springs to a yummy 86 degrees but the four other spas range in temperatures from 93 to 105 degrees.  To say we enjoyed these pools is an understatement!  We spent hours playing and relaxing, even when the temperatures dropped to cool and blustery 8 degrees Celsius.

Coachella Valley is home to several communities, including the famous Palm Springs.  Golf, wealthy retirees and Hollywood stars abound due to its closeness to Los Angeles, its favorable winter temperatures and those therapeutic hot springs.  We quickly got into a daily schedule of homeschooling in the morning and swimming in the afternoon.  Evenings were spent with the famous and rich, cavorting at expensive golf clubs and restaurants........yah, right!  We did however enjoy looking at the beautiful midcentury architecture that abounds in the area, along with the dramatic mountains surrounding the valley.

A quiet Christmas was spent at the trailer after a tasty Christmas Day meal at the Fantasy Casino.  Still can't figure out how to decorate a cactus or palm tree!

Joshua Tree National Park was on the itinerary, so we managed to get into the park on three separate occasions.  Once again the boys were able to complete their Junior Ranger badges, after several walks, hikes and Ranger-led activities throughout the park.  Joshua Tree is special because here two different desert ecosystems converge.  The Mojave (higher elevation, wetter and colder) desert meets the Colorado (lower elevation, drier and hotter) desert.  The ensuing result is an incredible mix of plant life - yuccas, cacti - animal life and geological features.  A rock climbing haven in the winter, boulder scramblers take advantage of the monzogranitic rock - granite rock formed from hot magma being cooled underground and then being weathered and eroded above ground, leaving heaps of boulders scattered across the land.  Areas of ocotillo patches and cholla cactus gardens, along with Joshua Trees make for stunning landscapes.

Natural springs formed oases that lured Natives such as the Mojave, Chemuhuevi and Cahuilla, and later ranchers to the area.  Keys Ranch was one of the only successful homesteads and visitors can still see how life was back in the early 1900s.  The highlight of JTNP was our overnight primitive camping trip, wind and bees included!   Nothing like camping under the stars in the desert and trying to avoid the thirsty bees during the day!!

After catching up on various housekeeping duties and meeting some really nice people in the Southern Desert, our time in California has come to an end and so we head East into Arizona. More desert but much different!

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