I love going out to the desert, more specifically, I love going out to Palm Springs. It's only about three hours from North County San Diego via fun, twisty back roads. I try to make it out at least once a year right around my birthday to check out the wild flowers that grow around that time of year and to potentially see some snow up on Mount San Jacinto.
Palm Springs has a whole bunch of history originally serving as a place for folks in southern California to go during the "brutal" winter months. Over the years it's turned into a snowbird paradise when folks from the northern parts of the U.S. move to town. What we now call Palm Springs is actually made up of bunch of small cities including the cities of Palm Springs, Desert Hot Sprints, and so on. There's about 1/2 million people out there and it gets hot...f'n hot during the summer. This is Palm Canyon Drive that runs through the downtown area of the city of Palm Springs. It's kinda' like main street...
This time of year is usually beautiful out in the desert. This year it was exceptionally green and full of wild flowers, which was bit surprising because it was the greenest I've ever seen it. This is a photo taken near the tram station looking north towards the San Bernardino mountains with some snow on them:
Probably my favorite thing to do is take the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to the top of San Jacinto. It's sometimes referred to the Palms-To-Pines tramway because it starts in the dry desert and ends in the pine trees and (winter) snow at the top of the mountain. This photo was taken at about the half-way point of the ride up where you can see only desert landscape:
This year was a good year for snow because there was still plenty of it on the mountain. In this photo you can see the snow on San Jacinto on the right, the Palm Springs area in the center, the Chocolate Mountains to the left (where part of the San Andreas fault is), and the Salton Sea towards the top right:
I once took the tram up to the top with John to snowboard down from the peak of San Jacinto. It took about three hours to hike up with all our stuff and I remember both the hike and the ride down like it was yesterday. This time, though, it was just walking around, checking out the snow and the views. Verrrrry nice!
On the way out of the desert via the freeway route you pass what looks to be thousands of wind mills. The pass between San Jacinto and the San Bernardino mountains always has strong winds going through it so they've built huge wind farms to take advantage of it. This photo was taken out the front of the car while on the 10 freeway just west of Palm Springs:
I can definitely understand why so many people go to the desert during the winter. It's beautiful and a fun place to visit. I'm just not sure I'd want to have to stay there all summer when the temps are up around 120 degrees or so. They say that it's a dry heat but, damn, 120 and dry is still HOT! I'll happily take my 85 degree days in March though.