Wednesday, January 14, 2015

December Retrospective - Part 1 - Joshua Tree

And now it's January

A time to look back; a time to look ahead.   2014 was a year of changes.

We had reservations at two state parks in Arizona but ended up staying on at Two Springs through December to be closer to family.  Tom visited his mother in November and returned with the lament that it might be the last time he saw her that she would recognize him.   We did not realize that it would be the last time he saw her at all.

Boots was in and out of the hospital and a skilled nursing facility through late November and early December.  Finally a doctor took over the case who could see the reality of the situation and who could help Tom and especially his sister Leslie with the decisions. Their mom went "home" to her apartment at Mountain View Assisted Living on Saturday the 13th under hospice care.  Tom left that day to be with her.   Once home she was able to relax and let go and passed away quietly early in the morning of Sunday the 14th.

Being the on the front-line through all of the past months, Leslie deserved a break.  While he was there, Tom talked Leslie and her partner Terry into coming to visit the desert for a week.  They brought their fifth-wheel down to Two Springs, arriving on Christmas Day and staying until Saturday the third of January.  We wish it could have been longer.  Maybe we can talk them into traveling with us more often.

We discovered that it is possible to cook a Christmas turkey dinner in our convection/microwave.  Thanks go to Costco for putting together an easy-to-prepare turkey breast/vegetable/stuffing combo with the absolutely best gravy included.

We've been to Joshua Tree National Park many times, but it's always fun to go again and introduce new people to the beauty of the Mojave. 

It was a cool and clear day the Saturday after Christmas.  Note to self: perhaps a holiday weekend isn't the best time to visit.  You could barely walk in the visitor center.

Leslie taking a photo-op.

It was a climbing school kind of day.  One place we even watched a group of children in the 5- to 8-year-old range learning to scale the rocks.

Yes, his mother said he was five.

Up at the Keys View overlook it was the clearest we've seen it.

View toward the west.  Desert Hot Springs and Two Springs are just hidden by the ridge.  You can clearly see the line delineating the San Andreas Fault running down the valley. 

View towards the south-southeast all of the way to the Salton Sea.

We returned to the Coachella Valley via the route south through the park.   We stopped by the cholla garden.   I don't believe that Leslie had ever seen jumping cholla before.  I can personally attest to the fact that they will jump out and nail you!


A few days later a winter storm moved in, bringing snow to the surrounding mountains.

San Jacinto, towering over downtown Palm Springs and protecting it from the winds in the north portion of the valley.

Big Bear to the Northwest.

That was enough of winter!