Indio, CA, and Thousand Palms
March 9 - 10, 2015
Hot, hot hot!
We made quite a transition from Joshua Tree National park, at an elevation of roughly 4,000 feet, to the Coachella valley and Indio, CA, at an elevation of roughly -13 feet. Yes, it's below sea level.
To make that 4000+ foot change in elevation, we took Route CA Route 62 West down to meet I-10 just west of Palm Springs. Not a particularly impressive road on the map, but it's quite impressive in person with several thousand pounds of trailer behind you. Shift down early and often or your brakes will be useless as molten lava long before you reach the valley. That strategy worked well for us, though we would have down-shifted sooner had we realized what actually lay ahead.
At the bottom of the hill we saw one of the biggest wind farms yet (video here). We've seen quite a few, coming from WA where we have plenty east of the Cascades, but this one is particularly noteworthy. There seemed to be two sizes of windmills there - Godzilla would have been intimidated by the larger ones, while the smaller ones appeared to be of relatively normal size.
Winds at that point in the valley are notable. Winds from the west are concentrated by the mountains on either side, also sucking all kinds of lovely pollutants from SoCal into the Coachella. So even on a clear day, it's relatively smoggy.
The heat was also impressive, even this early in the year. Each day in the valley temps hit 94 degrees with plenty of sunshine. Thank goodness the humidity was low - after all, this is still a desert, though at this lower elevation it's the Colorado desert - we left the Mojave desert behind at about 3,000 feet.
While in Indio we had a lovely visit with our friends, Bill and Frances, who have a very nice place there. Perfect for snowbirds (rainbirds?) from Seattle, and an excellent place to hang out from November to March or April. They played the gracious hosts to us, allowing us to park in front of their home for a couple of nights while we visited. We had a wonderful time, and really enjoyed their lanai - perfect, shaded, breezy and comfortable on a warm afternoon.
Stomping on the San Andreas Fault
Bill was kind enough to lead us on a tour of the Thousand Palms Oasis, which is situated right on top of the San Andreas Fault. In some places, as the fault slips the water table is directly exposed and an oasis is formed. Imagine a hill split in half down the middle - one side goes left, the other goes right, and when that happens the water table is exposed on at least one side.
At Thousand Palms, this is exactly what happened. There's a lovely oasis with lots of water, and happy native Fan Palm trees grow there in abundance among lovely pools of water and flowing streams.
We went for a lovely walk there, from one oasis pool to the next. While we were at it, we jumped up and down right on the fault line to see what might happen. Predictably, nothing. Maybe if we had eaten a bunch of hamburgers at In & Out before arriving...!