For the first time in two and a half years, I was on my own for a full week of solo adventures. My primary reason was an annual guys golf junket in Palm Springs California. However, our golf clubs were in our storage box in Las Vegas, so I tacked on a quick trip to Vegas to retrieve the clubs before returning to Palm Springs. So I left Diana in Puerto Vallarta and made my way to California.
Golf Get Together in Palm Springs
Before exiting the fast lane of life in Silicon Valley, I was lucky enough to find a group of co-workers who got together in early December every year to play golf in the Palm Springs area. I became friends with the guys in the group and was elated to hear the tour was on again this year. Diana and I made our travel plans so I could participate in this guys-only event.
The group stayed at the La Quinta Resort since they have a Stay & Play package with the PGA West Golf courses. A round each day and some quality time in the hot tub was accompanied with libations and off-color jokes. Good times. I’m counting the days to the next time I can join in.
My plan for this trip was to fly into Palm Springs and drive roundtrip to Las Vegas to collect my golf clubs from our storage unit. The drive is about 4 hours each way. I arrived in Palm Springs mid-afternoon after 7 hours of air travel from Puerto Vallarta, so I wasn’t inclined to tack on another 4 hours of driving alone through the desert at night. So I decided to drive a little out of Palm Springs and stay in the Yucca Valley.
The Yucca Valley is about 40 minutes along my chosen route to Las Vegas and is one of the towns bordering Joshua Tree National Park. After checking into a cheap motel for the night, I ventured out for some Mexican food, which, ironically, I didn’t feel I had had enough of during my week in PV. I found a nearby joint, packed with locals, and settled in for a Happy Hour house margarita, Monday Night Football, and a shrimp burrito, the special of the night. The best part was the harpist who started playing directly behind me shortly after I arrived. Small towns frequently find ways to surprise and delight.
I pulled into The LINQ hotel on the strip on a Tuesday, after briefly swinging by Henderson to collect our mail. I chose the LINQ because it was inexpensive and I had a ticket for a show across the street at Caesar’s the next night. The proximity meant I could just walk there and back. My simple room was $37/night plus another $35/night “resort fee” plus $15/night parking. The resort fee extortion covered the pool, local calls, and WiFi.
I spent a few hours collecting our golf clubs and a few other items from our storage box in town. The box is so full that the door can get jammed when something shifts in transit. Apparently, the workers there know this and there was a guy waiting with a forklift to tilt the box to assist in getting it open. I wasn’t the only one this happened to while I was there.
I spent time trying to rearrange the stuff in the box to make it less likely that it gets jammed the next time we visit. Fingers crossed.
The only other notable thing I did in town was to catch Reba with Brooks & Dunn at Caesar’s. I’m not really a country music fan, but I figured they would be good entertainers and the cost was not too dear. I only recognized one song, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”, which was originally done by Vicky Lawrence. Still, I enjoyed the show and the cheerful crowd made things even more fun.
Draw of the Mohave Desert
“I’m the type of guy that likes to roam around
I’m never in one place I roam from town to town” – The Wanderer
While some people syncopate by the sea, I often find a new rhythm in the desert. Such was my experience driving to and from Vegas through the California Mohave desert. From afar, the broad, desolate valleys seem daunting, even depressing. It is common to stumble on the sun-bleached bones of some unfortunate critter, unable to survive the harsh landscape. Abandoned structures tell stories of failed attempts to overcome the forces of nature.
Still, upon closer inspection, life abounds in the rock crevices and sand. Even in the lengthy asphalt highways crossing the valleys, where cracks develop and nature sprouts through the road toward the sun and flourishes. Seen at this level, the desert can be life-affirming. Hope springs eternal, literally. I draw energy from these visits and always emerge hopeful and ready to take on the next challenges.
The desert was full of yucca trees, shrubs, and various cacti. However, I saw a section of yuccas torched in a recent fire that was particularly stark. Although not flora per se, there is a small section of sand dunes along the way, just begging to be explored. Perhaps another visit.
Mohave Mining Driven
Most of the region has a mining past or present. I passed an ancient sea bed where chloride continues to be mined in open channels, with the effuse piled all over the valley.
Train tracks used to transport the mining product crisscross the terrain. There is a National Monument at the former Kelso train depot, a boomtown that sprung out of nowhere a century ago to house workers. The depot was used to manage helper engines used to push the heavy ore loads up a long grade. Modern train engines removed the need for helper engines. By the 1980s the depot was shut down and became a ghost town until the National Park Service took over its administration.
Closer to the town of Twenty Nine Palms is the Valley of Wonders. The artist community has smallish homes along the road that vary wildly in their condition and are surrounded by immense areas of arid land. Some houses are comical, featuring a new car next to a new tiny home with nothing else around.
This foray into the desert marks the first time Diana and I have ventured separately since we began being home-free in July of 2019. Long-time friends often remark they are a bit surprised we haven’t tired of so much togetherness. We usually respond that we are a little surprised by that, too. Our lives prior to launch frequently sent us to different places. While we both enjoyed a little space this time, we were also happy to see each other again and we are ready to resume our adventures together. We feel fortunate to each have an accomplice for our adventures.
Which places resonate with you?