Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas sales have started...

...and I am all over them!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

P-RV-m Springs

Thankfully the day passed with no further "Roman incidents", as I believe they're known in competitive eating circles.  We took the RV through the centre of Palm Springs, Anat driving like the professional she is, and stopped at Indian Canyons to the south.

The word to describe Palm Springs is pleasant.  The temperature was in the balmy 80s F and the sun shone in a clear sky.  Gentrified might be another word, and stinking rich perhaps too.  It's a bit like the Walnut Creek of SoCal.  A local old people's centre was advertising an "iPad 101" course for the next day, and even Arbel's presence managed to skew the statistical age only a fraction lower.

We made it out the other side without aging too much and found Indian Canyons.  This was the original Palm Springs, where Native Americans settled centuries back (and attended iPad introduction courses...?)  A river runs through some amazing rock formations, and the tall palms line every side.

I stayed in the RV for a sleep while the others headed off for a couple of hikes, so many thanks to them for the photos below.  It looked like they had a lot of fun without me.  Hmmm.  Anyway, on their return we decided to see if you can get an RV into the passenger drop-off area of Palm Springs airport.  You can!  Anat, Arbel and Shauli are RV-ing for a few days longer, so we kissed them goodbye after an unforgettable Christmas and were soon waiting the usual two hours for fog to lift in SFO and our delayed plane to depart.

All rock and palm trees.

Hiking up.

It's another rock house!  A different builder, I presume.

Family on the bridge.

Looking back down one of the canyons.

Anat takes a breather.

Hannah has found a new mobile home!

Arbel seems quite impressed too.


The place even has a skylight.

The sun sets through the palms.

Hiking back down.

Very pleasant, see?

If only they could be an RV at the other end to pick us up again.

Monday, 26 December 2011

RV Envy

Being sick in an RV is no fun at all.  To be fair, it's probably worse for people sharing the small space with me. I spent a very unpleasant night hugging the portaloo-style toilet having, it seems, picked up a vomiting bug that Anat and Arbel had in Berkeley before we left.  I'm fairly sure I've left some internal organs in the RV's tanks, ready for the next dumping station.  Hopefully I can make it back on our flight tonight, otherwise Jim and Gen - who were meant to be visiting us today but have been warned off - will get an unexpected visit from a recuperative patient.

The others went to the hot springs for which Sam's is famous, and after keeping down a hot chamomile tea and a dry bread roll I thought I should take a wander in the sunshine and fresh air.

Wow, this is a serious RV park.  Jealousy is a horrible thing, but suddenly our plush vehicle seems somewhat cramped.  There are people with multiple slide-outs along the vehicle's full length, some with extra pillars that drop down to keep it all stable.  A few have wheel covers to...keep their wheels clean when they're not using them, I suppose.  Last night I spotted a man with a campfire and a flatscreen tv as he enjoyed Christmas evening outside.

There are also the permanent homes, although I'm not too sure how that works.  Rent seems to be a lot cheaper than in the Bay Area (surprise!) and you get an environment of palm trees, duck ponds, fountains, and the hot springs.  All in all a pretty good deal.  I've already overheard a couple of Alaskans talking about their annual trips here and, as Hannah observed, why go back to Alaska?  Why go anywhere?  I'm off to the manager's office right now.

This is the view from our window.  This guy's truck to pull his trailer is as big as our entire RV!

Good to see others being as festive as us.

The only way to live.

A prime corner spot.

The permanent residents.

Where do I sign?

Hannah enjoys the naturally-heated pool.

 Arbel enjoys the hot tub!

The duck pond, just like every duck pond in England!

My appointment is at 11am.

Josh-RV Tree

The biggest fear of the trip was that Santa would be unable to locate us on our itinerant holiday.  We needn't have worried - the reindeer dropped off stockings for everyone, and we sat beneath the Joshua trees in our campsite for a grand opening and fine Yuletide breakfast. Then it was off to the park itself.

Thankfully roads in this park are lot nicer than in Mojave and we took the RV up to the highest drivable point with no problems.  From there we could see the Salton Sea and the wide valley of the San Andreas fault. The sign at the viewpoint informed us that we were moving north at two inches a year, and that in a billion years we'd be in the East Bay.

We didn't have that long, so wove our way down to a hike at 49 Palms Oasis (20 more than next door 29 Palms City). This was a great choice for a walk. You walk all the way up to a dry rocky ridge and on the way down the oasis appears before you, a blotch of green palms in an otherwise desicated place.

We were feeling a little insecure being outside of the RV and so returned and began the final stretch of our trip down to Palm Springs.  Awaiting us there was Sam's Family Spa Hot Water RV Park.  It delivers on that name, with naturally heated pools and spas all around.  It's also home to serious RV-ers, the type that live in them permanently, moving every few months (or years, maybe). Now I have something to aspire to.

Our shady campground.

The elves have been busy!

We might have some new converts...

Christmas breakfast.

Staying festive, even in the wilderness.

Heading into the park proper.

Hannah scales a mini mountain.

Looking down at a Joshua tree forest from the top.

The tallest trees are only around a hundred years old, apparently.

Another view.  The place was just too beautiful.

This is the San Andreas Fault valley.  Palm Springs is out there somewhere.

Holiday snap #1.

Holiday snap #2.

Arbel gets into the outdoorsy spirit.

Walking to find an oasis.

Dad takes the strain.

And there it is!  Not even a mirage.

Only 43 more palms to find.

Hannah is shocked at the lack of phone reception.  The place looks a bit Mid-Eastern so there might be oil here, and she needs to call her corporate masters.

Travels over, and at Sam's RV Park for Christmas dinner.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas E-RV-e

This morning it was time to get serious - a trip to the dumping station.  Disappointingly, everything that goes down a plughole or toilet in the RV stays there!  Someone should have designed a system that drops this all onto the road as you drive, but no.  Most campsites have a hole in the ground, and the vehicle comes equipped with a long hose and some different valves to pull.  There is also "grey water" and "black water", both of which are equally nasty.

After a fine team effort emptying all this, and then refilling our fresh water, we followed the ranger's advice and drove to Rock Springs.  This turned out to be an interesting move.  The road that we'd been told was "fine for RVs" was anything but, and after much rattling, bouncing and thumping, we completed the trip at a snail's pace.

It was worth it!  A hike to the top of a desert mountain showed us the surrounding landscape in all its glory, and the drive back to civilisation (on an equally unsuitable road) took us through the densest Joshua tree forest in the US.  That wasn't quite enough, so we made our way south to Joshua Tree National Park for the night.

On the way we dropped by St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, in wonderfully named Twentynine Palms, for their Christmas Eve service.  They were somewhat surprised when two Brits and three Israelis showed up in an RV, but were very welcoming and we left by candelight with little gift boxes!  Christmas has started.

Sunrise in the desert.

Shauli shows his expertise.

Poor Arbel, left to play on a dusty track with only an empty bottle for company.

What comes out must go back in.

Out into the desert.

This is the Rock House, quite famous apparently, which an artist built.

Shauli does the hard work of carrying Arbel.

Not much in this river.

Reaching the peak.

Hannah and Arbel keep their own counsels.

Still not the hottest desert I've ever been to.

Here's the actual spring, used through the years by Native Americans, miners, the US army, and various others.

It too was feeling the effects of the cold.  But that made Shauli happy.

A Joshua tree!

A whole forest of them!!

St. Martin-in-the-Fields church.  We increased the congregation considerably.