January 31, 2018

Our month in Desert Hot Springs; Sams, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree

We left Death Valley and headed south to Desert Hot Springs, having called about a spot in a place called Sams Family Spa.  We had decided that we wanted to be in one place for awhile, to spend the holidays with the amenities of an RV park...and the monthly rate at Sams was pretty hard to pass up, $575 plus electricity (which ended up right at $30)...for full hookups and access to the hot mineral spas, pool, steam room and sauna.  

We drove in (they don't take reservations but will give you a pretty good idea of whether or not they have room over the phone) and found a spot along the back row of RV's, some of which looked like residents and others that were traveling through.  The friendliness of the staff and the laid back, easy going style of the place was just what we were looking for so we settled in.  

First on our to-do list, before we could explore the area, was to get ready for the holidays!  We had not had steady cell signal in Death Valley so we took to the internet for a day or two, paid some bills, caught up on everyone's lists and did our shopping and mailing...we even managed to do Christmas cards this year!  

And then, as we finished up the only significant thing we had to do for the month, the cold I had been denying for a week or so, turned into a mean sinus infection that just wouldn't let go!  So we lost about a week of opportunity while I was sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching...!

The first sunset, as seen from the UPS store in Desert Hot Springs!
Our first trip into Joshua Tree was really fun...lots of "wow, this landscape is crazy", as we drove through the park and took a couple of short hikes.  I was anxious to see the place, more than almost any other, that had peeked my interest long ago when we first started considering this traveling life...and it didn't disappoint!

Days easily blurred into one another, some days we just hung out by the pool, catching up on our reading...

And enjoying sunsets like this one...

Near Sams is a preserve called Coachella Valley, with a nice hiking trail that loops through desert landscapes to an oasis in the middle of cacti...it was a cool spot for an easy walk...and it's a free park (no dogs allowed because of the wildlife in the area...we heard a pack of coyote pups!).

One of the days we did the most touristy thing in the area...we took the Palm Springs Tram up to the top of Mt. San Jacinto for a hike around the mountain top and a cold beer in the lodge...and then an evening ride down the hilllside in the revolving tram...


Did I mention the sunsets...?

And the pools...

Several people told us about a little whole in the wall place in an out of the way little town called Pioneertown...so we made our way over one evening (made dinner reservations) for a great steak dinner and a live concert (Rose's Pawn Shop)...which was really awesome!

And back to Joshua Tree...this time, to do some night photography...

Oh, we also went to Palm Springs a couple of times, one of those times to the zoo...which was surprisingly very cool...a beautifully laid out, generously sized zoo with unique animals and a wonderful garden-like exhibit throughout the park of the native plantlife.

We also did lots of things without any photo evidence...we met some wonderful people at Sams and enjoyed sharing our time/stories/beer with all of them; Vince, Barbara, Susan and Michael, Bob and Kat!  We also ran up to Idyllwild to meet up with our new friends Don and Chris and Tess (from 13 Roads) for a hike and loved hanging out in that cool little mountain town with them!

One afternoon we wandered over to Sam Cobb's Date Farm, another recommendation from a fellow traveler...and met Sam Cobb himself...who might actually be the nicest person I've ever met!  And, his dates are sooooo good!

In short, we had a pretty great month at Sams.  There is certainly a lot to see and do in the area...and the pools and tubs are wonderful when you don't really want to do anything at all!  The RV park is nice...it's certainly dated, but it's clean and well kept...and they offer activities like yoga and water aerobics for those that like to partake...and movies on Fridays...and we did join in on the Christmas potluck dinner!  The park was about 3/4 full when we got there, but by New Years it was nearing capacity, so honestly, when we left we were anxious to find some open spaces!  The only real complaint we had was our neighbor...next time we would try to choose a spot that was not next to a resident.

And yes, there will likely be a next time...maybe not for a whole month, but the price is good enough that we could come and go in a month's time...mix in some boondocking or even do some tent camping in JT Park...there's always next time!


I never had a childhood home.  Don't get me wrong, I had a very full childhood...with crazy adventures (and a slightly crazy family), travel, unique experiences and lots of love...but, because we moved often, I never had a home where there were pencil marks in a door jam - marks that told a story of the family who lived there, and how they grew...

This home has been our home for nearly 19 years, way longer than any place I'd ever lived before...it is the home we raised our family in...and today we officially sold it!  It's been a long time coming, and yet it seems like it snuck up on us, shockingly unprepared!

We are celebrating, for sure, because selling the house frees up our time and income and gives us even more flexibility and options in our travels in and outside of Gracie...and we are so excited to start that journey up again after this brief, but busy hiatus...but in our celebration is a little bit of sadness as well...  The feeling of loss is strangely significant and yet exuberantly liberating, a disconcerting dichotomy!

We grew, individually and together as a family, in this house...and we welcomed a variety of house guest over the years, all of whose names are forever etched appropriately into a support beam near the foundation.

We cried and we laughed, a lot, in this place...we brainstormed businesses and studied, we endured sleepovers and middle school angsts, we were treated to garage door plays (long live the Satterfield Players!) and banged pots and pans from the balcony at New Years!  We survived teenage romances and arguments over clothes, watched fireworks from the rooftop, had girls nights with junk food and Gilmore Girls.  We knew, too well the heartbreak of losing family members and also the loss of beloved family pets, and we learned lessons of empathy and kindness, generosity and hard work.  The girls' friends were always welcomed into our home, I was always an ear to listen and everyone knew where the candy drawer was.  We made wedding preparations in this home, had Christmases with all the bells and whistles, sang rounds of "down by the banks of" at the holiday table...we built awesome sledding runs that ran right into the road, had prom dinners and surprise parties, birthdays and family reunions...and we loved on our beautiful grandbabies in this home.

This was a home with pencil marks in a door jam that told the story of the family who lived there and how they grew...

That's the thing about new beginnings...it usually starts with something ending...and endings are hard!  The memories we made in this home we take with us, every day of our journey, wherever we wander...we carry it in our heart.

The candy drawer is emptied, but the love remains.  
(And, just so you all know, there is a candy drawer in Gracie too!  We'll be happy to share!)

January, Vegas to homeless!

To be honest, I'm writing this blog post in March and January is kind of a blur...!!!  Not because I don't remember where we were or who we were with, but mostly because of what we did and how quickly the month went by - it was kind of traumatic!

We left Desert Hot Springs and went up to Las Vegas to drop Gracie off at the Airstream dealership to have some minor maintenance work done.  (Note to self; check the Las Vegas convention schedule when planning next time...make sure the CES Convention isn't in town!)  The dealership was gracious enough to let us leave Gracie for basically a month, even though the work would be done in just a couple of days...and we were able to leave the truck there too (another note to self; when the service manager suggests to take the bikes down and store them inside their shop, take him up on it)!

On the way into Vegas I insisted we stop at this random, wonderful art installation!

Seven Magic Mountains.

So fun!

We flew into Pocatello, where our daughter and her family live, and where we have had a home for the past 19 years...and somewhere in between the time we had decided to head north to check on things and spend time with family and when we landed in cold Pocatello, we had gotten an offer on the house...and signed papers to sell...  So, the casual, fun, relaxed time we had planned to spend with the kids was kind of wrecked...because the buyers wanted a quick close!  (We did manage to get in a Bagelry date, or two...and got to watch the girls in gymnastics, go to Harper's kindergarten class and played a bit in between the chaos!  Oh, and we had a fun granddaughter sleepover in a hotel the very last night!)

 We also got to be there when they found out that their third baby, due in June, is a BOY!!!

And then, we got busy...  We had sorted and purged our house a bit, before we left on our travel adventures 8 months prior, but clearly not enough...!!!  It was a big, wonderful house, full of treasures...but honestly, once we started selling and donating our stuff, it because easier and easier to sell and donate our stuff!  We weren't attached anymore to the physical things...the memories didn't live there, they lived in our hearts and minds...  It's so cliche to say that, but it was so true!

We did keep plenty of things...more than we had planned to actually, given our time constraints...but we did pretty well, going from a 4000+ square foot house that we had lived in for nearly two decades to a 250 square foot storage (that isn't even full!).

We signed everyone's name on a support beam in the basement, everyone who had lived in that house, it having been a haven for plenty of family and friends over the years...and I wrote a blessing, of sorts, to the new family and those they welcomed...that they might have as many wonderful memories and as much love in that house as we.

And then, we left!  We flew out and headed West to spend some time with Mike's parents and siblings...and then drove over to our other little haven, our time share on the Oregon Coast.  It was the perfect way to end a crazy few weeks!

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