When you hear the words ‘Desert Oasis’ what comes to mind? The first thing that comes to my mind is Palm Springs. The quaint, quiet little desert town nestled in the middle of the Sonoran desert.
It’s a place known for its hot springs, golf courses, and spas. Many Hollywood stars also made it their getaway place and built additional homes in a particular area east of Palm Canyon Drive, calling it “The Movie Colony.” (Source: Wikipedia.com)
The Palm Springs area has been the filming location for numerous films and TV shows but this is not the reason of which it draws my sweetheart and I to frequently visit. It’s a place great for a weekend getaway or simply a perfect one day road trip. We have done both and here are a few of our experiences.
We love the tranquility, the peaceful feel, and the enjoyable hiking trails.
We’ve been lucky enough to live only a short distance from the beautiful desert oasis.
This makes for a perfect one day road trip getaway with usually only a 2 and half hour drive one way.
Hiking: Art Smith Trail
This hiking trail will leave you with feelings of wow and awe as it is rated as difficult and the complete trail distance is 12.2 miles and is 2641 feet high.
However, the first couple miles are a gradual climb and mostly easy trail paths. We hiked about 2 miles the day we explored this trail and enjoyed the quiet, serene landscape, and the scenic views overlooking Palm Springs area.
Art Smith trail is located in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. There is a visitor center located directly across highway 74, which has a vast array of information and another hiking trail. This is at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center
Shadow Ridge Golf Club
The Shadow Ridge Golf Club formerly was associated with former PGA Golf Pro Nick Faldo, and is the home of Marriott villas and resort club.
We’ve spent time using the golf practice facility and would hit and chip balls for the entire day for fee of about $20. We’ve also stayed in one of the villas and thought they were quite exceptional.
From a rejuvenating massage to lingering in the pool, this place will have you saying wow. I felt renewed, relaxed, and rejuvenated after the day I spent here.
The grounds at La Quinta Spa are just as enticing as the services! The relaxing patio and lounge area used for those who are awaiting their treatment, or the adult swimming pool area to take a dip and cool down on a steamy afternoon.
Then you can slip into the jacuzzi spa to unwind at your maximum potential to top off your day.
The spa hot tub area.
All the while I am at the spa relaxing and indulging myself, my husband is enjoying a round of golf. Located in LaQuinta, California near Palm Springs, the PGA West by Greg Norman is located a short distance away from the resort and spa. Golf learn more.
Art Galleries in Nature: Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden
This beautiful garden is full of scenic colorful settings together with sculpture art displays. With an easy lighted pathway that leads to various areas where you can sit on a bench and relish the moment, this is a perfect place to appreciate some culture, art and history. Take a look:
Although we are not really what you would call foodies, we do enjoy our favorite dining place. Maracas offers delicious entrees as well as drinks, free chips and salsa, and a very friendly atmosphere. The staff are extremely attentive and friendly! This is where we dine every time we visit Palm Springs area. I do have food sensitivities and Maracas has never caused a problem for me, I do order my food dish without cheese, and the food appears to be fresh and quality.
So if you are in the mood for a weekend getaway or just a one day road trip, depending on where you live; then you should visit Palm Springs area. You might consider an experience to Palm Springs at least once. Directions to Palm Springs
*The comments mentioned within this piece are solely based on my opinion and experiences only.
Imagine a life where you are surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes, ocean blue waters, and palm trees galore? We might call this California Dreaming as you may think that no such place exists in your world. Well, this is our attempt to bring that world to you.
San Diego is a vacationers dream with so many exciting attractions, amusement parks, the famous San Diego Zoo, and exquisite dining. However, San Diego offers so much more for you other than the average everyday tourist hot spots. Here are a few different things to discover and see less traveled areas in the San Diego area. Enjoy this photo journal series capturing some of San Diego’s hidden treasures that you may wish to explore. Happy Viewing.
Torrey Pines State Reserve: Hiking and Views
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
This is a peaceful, beautiful trail for visitors to enjoy in a clean, natural environment, and stunning landscapes and views. This is a reserve; according to torreypine.org, a reserve is not a park. This reserve is a targeted area protected for conservation and also has other restrictions different than a park. Read more here:
Torrey Pines State Beach
The beach is at the bottom of 300 foot sandstone cliffs of white and golden stone, with a greenish layer sometimes visible at the very bottom.
La Jolla Cove and Shores are one the most photographed beaches in San Diego County!
It is home to several species of sea life including seagulls, seals, and occasional spottings of Orca killer whales. See more photos of this area here: La Jolla Cove
Sante Fe Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest
Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest
The Sante Fe and Del Dio Gorge Trails are both segments of the San Dieguito River Park area and the Coast to Crest trails. Three pre-historic cultural periods describe parts of this region and portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
Miramar Air Show: Marine Corp Air Station
The Miramar Air Show was spectacular this year and certainly did not disappoint. This years air show theme was honoring 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. Also feature highlights were some impressive aircraft such as the F-35 Lightening II, F/A -18 Hornet, MV-22 Osprey, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, and of course, the infamous Blue Angels! Miramar Air Show is an annual event usually scheduled for some time in late September or early October.
Petco Park and San Diego Padres
If you visit San Diego, you must experience watching a baseball game at Petco Park with an unbelievable backdrop of the city surrounded by the ocean and spectacular sunsets!
You can watch airplanes arriving for a landing in the distance behind the city buildings as you watch the game.
San Diego is an exquisite city to visit and experience. It’s a vacation and travel destination for millions of people. And yes, there are the popular tourist attractions that visitors love to see but there are also the less traveled amazing spots that will leave you speechless. So when you make your trip to San Diego, be sure to explore one or two of the hidden gems that will make your dream vacation more complete. Thank you for reading! California Dreaming!
More Exploration and Adventure in San Diego!
Coming Soon: California Dreaming Series | Palm Springs
The following guest blog I wrote for CancerCare Parcel, a resource that offers comfort, support and inspiration to those dealing with or affected by cancer.
MUM, CANCER AND ME: HOW I HELPED MY MUM FIGHT BACK FROM ACROSS THE MILES
It’s Probably One Of The Worst Things For Someone To Be Told: “You Have Cancer,”
It can be devastating for a spouse or family member to hear it as well. I admit it, I felt my stomach fall to my feet when my mother called me on the phone to tell me the horrible news that she has breast cancer. I felt intense emotions of fear, sadness and guilt because I lived over 2000 miles away from her. I held back tears as she told me she had Stage 4 breast cancer and will be having a mastectomy and up to 9 lymph nodes removed. So, some of you may be thinking well this isn’t too big of a deal, there are people learning they have cancer every day. But you see, this is my mother; my mum, a sweet, kind, and gentle soul.
There are so many beautiful hiking trails and nature walks throughout San Diego County, but one of San Diego’s most popular and well known hiking spots is Mt. Woodson. This hike will offer you plenty of nature viewing pleasure and scenic landscapes.
But the point of interest that captures many hikers is Potato Chip Rock. This narrow, thin looking piece of rock might appear somewhat risky and scary. This is the most popular selfie and photo taking spots on the trail. Here are my captions from this gorgeous San Diego hiking trail.
Mt. Woodson: Backside Trail: 4.1 Miles Elevation 1220 feet DIRECTIONS
The backside trail is one of two different trails to hike to get to the Potato Chip Rock area. We decided to take the backside trail to see what Mt. Woodson was all about. Especially since we wanted to enjoy a more moderate level trail and not over do it for the weekend.
This was a beautiful trail and we were complimented with a gorgeous sunny afternoon too. Parking for this trail is actually along CA-67; and it can be busy so be careful and be patient in looking for a space to park.
The trail starts off nice and easy with neat walkways and shrubs and treeline paths. Then there are some steep incline areas as it reminded me of being on my stair stepper at the gym. I definitely encountered some heavy breathing, but that’s my kind of workout. Once you reach near the summit, you will see some radio antenna equipment and towers. Just slightly past that area is the infamous Potato Chip Rock, and if you hike during the weekend you may encounter a waiting line to step onto the thin appearing but steady rock piece that looks like a potato chip.
San Diego has such a vast array of things to do, including the beaches, nightlife, amusement parks, and more. But if you just want to take a few hours and explore the outdoors and keep it simple, go check out Mt. Woodson near Poway, California. Directions
Beginning of trail from the backside path, (parking off of Highway 67).
The excitement of moving to a new home and new community can be both overwhelming and exciting! Oh, did I mention that the move is driving across the country to a state I’ve never lived before over 2,000 miles away? Making a local move is one thing, but packing a moving truck and driving across the country from California to Florida on your own is another. I need to add in here that we’ve done it twice now. We went from calm quiet days and evenings in California, to thunderstorms and rain everyday and possible hits of hurricanes flying by for 6 months of the year! I was indeed a little nervous but excited too!
Our first move, we spent approximately two years living near the Tampa area. These were the years that Florida had massive hits by hurricanes. It felt as though a hurricane was coming our way every other weekend. We would embrace, hold our breath, and be prepared to be uncomfortable and expecting damage to the house or property. Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jean made their visit during this year.
It was 2004, approximately a month; mid August, after we arrived into our new Florida home and were working to get the house and ourselves set up and settled in. When suddenly, those thrilling happy feelings would be swooped away by the warnings of the first of 4 hurricanes to visit and impact our new home state during the year of 2004.
Hurricane Charley made its direct hit just south of us in Punta Gorda, Florida at its maximum strength as a Category 4 hurricane. Charley brought massive destruction through this area as well as central parts of the state and to some northeastern states also. I remember sitting in our house hearing the winds and watching the rain slam against our thin windows, and of course not sleeping through the night as the tree branches and twigs fell on the roof all night long. We received approximately 8.5 inches of rain in less than 12 hours as I recall. We were not located in a zone that was ordered to evacuate, so we hunkered down and rode out the storm. We would be without power for approximately 3 days or so although others had no power for several weeks. We were thankful we made it through unscathed and safe. Read more info on Hurricane Charley here:
The second hurricane we had the unlucky privilege of experiencing is hurricane Jeanne, the deadliest storm of 2004. Now, in this case we were not in Florida during the time this storm was making its way towards Florida. We were visiting relatives in North Carolina and were considering when or if we should return home to Florida at this time. Jeanne was making its way towards east and central Florida and it included a path that would take it through the East part of the state and up through the northeastern states.
So, with the understanding that hurricane Jeanne would be moving north, we thought we might get a head of it or we could drive around it as we packed our vehicle and decided to head back home to Florida. Well, we were wrong. We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the storm as we approached northeastern Florida towards Orlando, and wound up driving through a major hurricane!
Jeanne was the fourth major named storm of the season to hit Florida in 2004. My husband did all the driving, and had the most intense grip on the steering wheel that I think I saw imprints on the wheel by the time we arrived home. We finally made it home safe and sound, but arrived to a community with downed huge oak trees, power lines, and much more damage. However, our personal property and home were okay, as we proceeded to do our routine yard clean up that had become a very common thing during this year. We were grateful to be safe and fortunate that our property had no damage. By the way, for these two hurricanes, we did not have hurricane shutters.
Fast forward about ten years, having moved back to California after just 2 years of living in Florida, now we’ve packed the moving truck and drove once again across the states back to Florida in 2014 to a new area about an hour south of Tampa and would give Florida another try. Learning that this area has not been hit by a hurricane in nearly 20+ years or any if ever had hit this particular area in Manatee County.
Life was going great and we were enjoying our home, our swimming pool, golfing, and the beautiful nature we witnessed daily in our own back yard.
Well, I guess nature said it was time to throw in a little interesting drama. Hurricane Hermine (read more here: ) made its visit in September of 2016, and hit landfall as a Cat 1 in the Florida Panhandle and we did feel some of the outer band effects from it. We were lucky and dodged the bullet this year, but we would not be so lucky during the year we made plans for another change in 2017.
After a life-changing event, we decided to travel more and make a goal of visiting the national parks, and other gorgeous places in the US. As well, we decided to move back to California because of an opportunity presented to us we couldn’t refuse at the time. So, we put our house on the market, and we received an offer fairly quickly, and began packing up the house. We were on vacation at the time of receiving an offer. So, our vacation was not very enjoyable, as we were dealing with negotiations and contracts while on travel. All the while watching Hurricane Harvey destroy Houston, and learning about the next lurking storm festering up right behind it, named Hurricane Irma.
With only about a month to plan, pack, and prepare for a cross-country move (again), we learned quickly that we not only had little time to plan a move, but also had to prepare for a possible major hurricane as well. Watching carefully, being told this storm could be a direct hit, and its path would slowly crawl north throughout the entire state of Florida! We felt trapped, as we knew we couldn’t leave because our home was in escrow, and yet we didn’t want to go through another hurricane.
We finally returned home from our vacation and immediately got to work cleaning up the property doing the normal trimming, lawn cutting, and sweeping the pool, as the home inspection was scheduled for the very next day after our return from our trip. The Hurricane was probably about a week away, and we were about 3 weeks until closing, we continued to pack and care for the yard and pool. It was just our luck, the pool pump died the day of the inspection and we informed the inspector and home buyers we will be ordering a new pool pump and take care of it. We proceeded with researching the best deal and brand of pool pump and ended up ordering a new one after more days had passed from a company located in Miami, hoping for an on time delivery (prior to hurricane arriving).
Hurricane Irma is more powerful than ever and picking up steam and heading for Florida, and with only 10 days until closing, I found myself running around to find available food (and specific food-Gluten, dairy, peanut Free) on the shelves at the grocery stores and Wal-Mart to only find many items were sold out and several empty shelves remained. I was able to get some items we needed but off name brands and higher prices.
Therefore, instead of continuing to pack our belongings to prepare for the sale of our home and move; we found ourselves gathering food, shoveling sand to fill sand bags, and installing hurricane shutters on the windows, which was a very difficult and exhausting task in itself.
Hurricane shutters installed
Hurricane shutters installed
Hurricane Irma finally made landfall into Naples, FL and was projected to move directly in our path in Manatee County. It ended up a category 2 by the time it hit us with about 100 mile / hour winds of which I heard every one of them all night long. Sounding like a freight train was flying by our house all through the night.
Of course, my hubby was sawing logs all night and I was tossing and turning. We were very lucky once again, and woke up to only one small tree topped over and no other damage. Wow, we were so surprised and felt as though our home and pool birdcage (they call this the pool cage) were built pretty darn good.
We did hold our breath while waiting for that new pool pump to arrive from Miami as it finally was delivered about 2 days after the hurricane passed. We proceeded to repair the pool, finished preparing and cleaning the house for move out inspection and were ready to hit the road. We ended up packing everything we owned and rolling out of town right on time and as scheduled. Now, read about how we prepared and planned to ride out these hurricanes with little damage and unscathed.
Preparing for a hurricane can be challenging and difficult if you allow it to be. Plan ahead and prepare. Here is a list of things I do to prepare for hurricanes if riding out the storm (without a generator); I start checking off this list several days or a week or more when a storm is forming and prior to storm arriving; (to prevent long lines at gas station and empty food shelves). Also, mentally prepare to be without power for long length of time: NOTE: We noticed how over dramatic the national news/weather channel was making this year’s storms appear which caused even more panic and over reaction. We watch the local news for more accurate and toned down reports or news on upcoming storms.
Full tank of gas
Fill 1-2 gallons of water for each person in home. Fill the bathtub with water.
Pick up extra light/lamps (or candles) used for camping
Radio- AM/FM battery
Get food; bread for sandwiches, crackers, cans of tuna,
A. I make sure to have extra food in refrigerator that can be eaten cold also
(hard boiled eggs, cold tater tots, pizza, etc.)
Manual can opener
Clear any loose items around the house exterior;
Small potted plants
Hoses, decorative items
Lawn furniture put in garage
*Use water bottles or pitchers or other containers to fill with water and have several extra, for drinking.
*Get sand bags: I used grocery plastic bags to put sand in, and placed sand bags at the front door and back patio doorways.
*Get a cooler or make extra ice packs using zip locks; fill with ice. Keep the refrigerator door closed as much as possible. (This will maintain its chill for up to several hours).
*Put hurricane shutters on windows; this is not an easy task, so make sure you have all map-instructions, screws, and that each shutter matches its screw hole positions on window.
Modern hurricane shutters
Modern hurricane shutters
*Park cars in garage When hurricane hits;
Close all interior doors.
Be ready to go to the most interior room in the home; stay away from windows etc.
And wouldn’t you know it; these storms always seem to arrive during the night.
Also note: our home was built with cinder blocks and to hurricane codes.
In summary, don’t panic when unexpected things occur that you didn’t plan for suddenly pop into your life. Life is full of unexpected turns, challenges and heartache as well as wonderful good things are always happening too. That is life. Take a deep breath, plan to the best of your ability, stay calm and everything will be okay. I feel very lucky and fortunate, and still can’t believe that the 5 years of living in Florida, we went through 4 hurricanes. And I would still live there again if I had a choice at this time.
Thank you for reading! I hope this will provide some guidance and ideas on how to deal with this type of natural event without being to inconvenienced or chaotic.
Check out my recap of these gorgeous Florida beaches here:
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Koko Crater Head Trail: ‘Koko Head Stairs’: The spectacular views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing during this extraordinary hike up the Koko Head stairs.
This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad tithes) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast and will definitely offer a cardio workout like no other.
Koko Head is the eastern side of Maunalua Bay and the southeastern side of the Island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaiʻi Kai. You will enjoy wonderful views of Haunama Bay and beyond. The climb can be grueling and scenic, so its a good idea to take a rest and take in the views.
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View from Koko Head
There is a section where a larger drop to a ridge is located below, so you take your time and go slow if needed. You may be huffing and puffing half way up the climb, only to learn you have quite a ways to go and are getting higher and higher.
When you reach the summit you will be blown away! It seems to always be windy up there, so be prepared to hang on to your hat or water bottle and be safe.
Things to remember:
1.Wear sunglasses and sunscreen
2. Drink plenty of water
3. Bring camera
4. Hike may take between 1-3 hours
Koko Head stairs is not your average hiking trail. It’s location is centrally located close to all your other fun activities not far from downtown Honolulu.
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So when you break away from your snorkeling, surfing, lounging, shopping and dining; go out and conquer this heart jumping amazing hiking trail!
Dust infused red-orange sunsets, smoldering red rock canyons, and blue skies with puffy white clouds describe my recent road trip to Sedona, Arizona.
After my previous heart pumping, huffing and puffing, 109 degree hot day hike up Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona, I found myself a little hesitant to trek out there in the desert for another scorching hike. The hike we discovered and wanted to explore this weekend, is Devil’s Bridge.
The name sounds more frightening that it really is. Devil’s Bridge is the hike that offers a shorter or longer hiking route to get to Devil’s Bridge, whichever you choose to enhance your own experience. We added this hike to our list only a week prior and knew we just had to go see it. This particular adventure was a last minute unplanned road trip to Arizona for a weekend wandering excursion. We learned from our research that this hike is rated as not very difficult, and on the easy to moderate scale. But learning about the views from the bridge and the background landscape were something we just couldn’t pass by.
So we proceeded to prepare the car, gathered our food and backpacks, and hit the road on a late Friday afternoon. Of course, we prepared the car and we changed the oil, filled the gas tank, put a gallon of water in the car, and checked air pressure in the tires for safety and we were ready to go. See more info on How To Prepare For a Weekend Road Trip Here:
It was a picture perfect desert evening as we rolled into town just in time to relish the golden sunset that said “welcome to Arizona.”
We got settled in our room at a Choice Hotel, and then awoke early the next morning so we could continue onward towards Sedona. We packed our water, power bars, and lunch, as we were ready to tackle that Devil’s Bridge.
Tackling the hike to Devil’s Bridge first required finding it somewhere in Sedona. So here is a rendition of our highly technical research together with my husbands hand drawn map that worked great to guide us to the trailhead and parking areas.
We made our way north on Interstate 17 and near the Sedona area and finally found the trailhead and parking areas for Devil’s Bridge hike. We were a little shocked to see how heavy traffic was on that Saturday morning in the middle of Summer in the desert. Of course, we do not have an all terrain vehicle to park in the closer trailhead to the Bridge hike, as the road that lead to the parking area was very rugged, steep, and contains many holes and is very sandy. So we parked at the Mescal parking area.
We wanted to take the longer hike to make our hiking experience a little more fulfilling and see more. The hike starting at the Mescal parking area is a little more than 4 miles give or take round trip, so not too bad. It is considered to be an easy to moderate hike.
This is the route that is a little more scenic as well and is great for spectacular panoramic landscape photos.
Prior to reaching the trailhead parking areas, we needed to take bathroom breaks and make sure our water supply was full. So we stopped at the Sedona Library just outside of trailhead parking areas on the two-lane road heading towards Devil’s Bridge hike. It was a very quaint library and a model train expo was going on this day. We peeked in the door and saw very long model train tracks and a moving model train tooting along the tracks set up on several tables!
I did not notice any restrooms or portable potties at or nearby this trail, so make sure you are prepared for these couple of hours out here on this trail.
The trail was mostly simple, smooth, clear paths, and very scenic. Together with quiet, peaceful, and not too extreme heat, it was a perfect setting for hiking to Devil’s Bridge. We captured some spectacular shots of the landscape on the trails.
As you get close to the bridge area, there are a couple steep incline switchback areas that you will need to climb. The boulders and rocks may be hot, so be cautious as you find your grip to help keep your balance and to climb up.
Then at the top you can wander, relax, eat lunch and carefully walk towards the bridge and take the money shot of the bridge or of you on the bridge.
Some people take turns on the bridge, so everyone can have their own photo opportunity of standing on Devil’s Bridge. The day we hiked this trail, there were a handful of people, and the wait out on the bridge was very short. Everyone was courteous and took their turn on the bridge.
Adventure is a trait that many of us have, and when we are curious about something new, we long the desire to go out and experience it. Devil’s Bridge was an awesome experience that satisfied both curiosity and our adventure desire on this unplanned weekend getaway. Life is too short to miss out on an experience because you may be a little hesitant or because of things in the past. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see something new! We are so glad we did! We danced our way onto Devil’s Bridge!
Thank you for reading! Please contact me if you have anything to add or share, I always enjoy hearing from you! Please follow my blog and social pages to read about more adventure and exploration!