Matt snapped this neat photo.
This was our view from our hotel room (above and two below). We stayed at The Ace Hotel, a very hip place with a lot of very hip people. We kept joking that the people there would find out that we were not hip enough and kick us out.
On our way back from Joshua Tree we stopped at Cactus Mart for the 59c "dig your own cactus" --little seedling cacti you could pluck out of the soil and plant in a pot or mini-garden. Fun!!
As I mentioned, our hotel was very cool. They had lots of really rad modern furniture all over. I especially loved these outdoor chairs by the public fireplace areas.
There were lots of neat birds there too. We saw a ton of hummingbirds all over, and espcially at the Moorten Botanical Garden. This large bird was in a tree at The Salton Sea.
The first few days, we had to get around on foot or on sweet aqua Electra bikes we could rent for free from the hotel. One day, we rode downtown for some shopping and sightseeing. That was fun!
There are miles of beautiful roadway within the park. Drive your car a little ways, park in the designated areas, get out and walk around, and climb some rocks if you feel brave.
We saw one little lizard while we were here. It was too fast to snap a picture of. We also saw a small lizard outside the Kaufmann House, and one scurrying across the sidewalk by the hotel. I caught a glimpse of a roadrunner too! Being from Wisconsin, desert wildlife is very exciting to me!
This place is a rock climbers paradise. We say many, many people up very high on these rocks.
This gives you an idea of how huge these rocks are, stacked on top of each other. Very cool!
As another adventure, on our last day we decided to go see the Salton Sea. It was HOT here! We didn't stay long, because of the heat, but we did get some good photos and learned a lot about it. The Salton Sea is an actual salt water sea located directly on the San Andreas Fault line. It is far below sea level--the deepest part of the Sea is 5 feet higher than the lowest point in Death Valley! Long story short, the Sea as it is today, started to form in 1905 when heavy rainfall and snow melt caused the Colorado River to bust at the seams at the Alamo Canal. Over the next few years, the entire volume of the Colorado emptied into the Salton Sink, forming the Salton Sea.
The Salton Sea area used to be a bustling tourist attraction in the mid-1920's, due to its abundant fishing and water recreation, but has since been nearly completely abandoned. We didn't see any, but there are ghost towns all around the Sea.
Every year, the Sea loses more water than it gains, thereby becoming more and more salty, and more and more inhospitable to fish and other wildlife. The Sea is a big attraction to migrating birds, and at one time, it was reported that 4 million birds were on the Sea at one time. The Sea is also becoming more and more polluted as the water concentrates and more waste water runoff is entering it.
What looks like beautiful white sand from afar is actually crushed shell and bone lining the perimeter of the Sea, due to the high number of creatures that perish from the harsh saline environment.
The view of the mountains above the Sea is beautiful.
I'm so glad we decided to check this place out on our last day. It is very unique and has an incredible story behind it. Hopefully, something is done to clean it up and rescue it from becoming so polluted as to no longer support the millions of birds and other animals that use this Sea as an oasis in the desert.
Check out Wikipedia for info on the Salton Sea.
For our next adventure in Palm Springs, Matt and I took a self-guided modern residential architecture tour. We picked up a special map at the Visitor's Center and off we went.
Holy crap! It's right there on the street! We couldn't believe it. I've seen the house in books, and drooled over it many times, but to see it in person, I felt starstruck!
The landscaping is absolutely beautiful.
Edgar Kaufmann Sr. also hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design Fallingwater for him 10 years before (around 1936). He toyed with the idea of hiring him again for a West coast residence, but decided against it. He wanted something lighter and more luxurious than Fallingwater or, say, Taliesin West.
Seeing this house in person was amazing. Obviously, we just saw it from the driveway (there were small signs warning of an "armed response" to any trespassers), but to two modern architecture nerds, it was enough!
We spent five full days in lovely Palm Springs. The whether was very nice--warm and sunny, being in the desert and all. We had a full list of things we wanted to do and see while there, and took lots and lots of pictures. At the top of my list was the Moorten Botanical Garden. A very short walk from our hotel, the garden is owned by the Moorten family and they have been running it for over 72 years!
I had looked them up online as we were planning this trip, and wasn't too sure what to expect when we got there. Let me tell you, it was amazing! I was kind of thinking the "garden" consisted of a covered greenhouse with a collection of overgrown cacti (from what I've seen in photos online, and reviews I've read). But it is actually a beautiful outdoor "Desertland" with paths and signs of countless verities of gorgeous cacti and succulent specimens from around the world, as well as many desert trees, other plants, and all sorts of other neat stuff. Well, here, see for yourself:
This cacti has a dense coat of beautiful white spines.
From this photo, you can see the abundance of plants in the garden.
There were a lot of these tall, skinny cacti spread around the garden. These are nestled into some interestingly textured wood, others were growing out of a covering of volcanic rock (see below). So beautiful!
In all honesty, I was too busy "ooh-ing" and "ahh-ing" over the plants to take note of the names of many of them. But I'm pretty sure this is a very large Beavertail cactus Matt is posing next to.
Above is an Occotillo. It looks like a bunch of dead spiny sticks stuck in the ground, but it is actually alive and grows tiny leaves and flowers. I love the variation in color.
Like a kid in a candy store. "Wow," I kept saying.
From this shot (I apologize for all the photos of me in them, but Matt insisted on taking a lot) you can see just how many different varities are in the Cactarium (the greenhouse at the back of the garden.)
Above is an interesting form of Crassula Gollum. A very gnarly, woody stem. Below is a large, rare Cotyledon that I actually bought a small specimen of in the "gift shop" of the garden. Lucky me!!
I like this unusual succulent (aloe??)
The owners of the garden have a very good eye for neat stuff to decorate with. Below is an actual dinosaur foot print discovered in Arizona. They also had large fossils of sea shells, beautiful big chunks of white gypsum that looked like ice, volcanic rocks, ancient petrified tree trunks, even a huge chair carved out of an enormous tree trunk.
One of the few cacti blooms we saw.
There was even a corral of tortoises! We were there just in time for breakfast!
A really neat Asian-inspired section of the garden--Buddha is perched atop a mini-staircase underneath an amazing white-barked tree.
If you ever have a chance to visit this place--do it!! It is heaven for any cacti and succulent lover. At just $3 to get in, you can't go wrong. They also have a large area of plants for sale, as well as some other fun stuff. This was easily my favorite thing we did this trip.
Stay tuned for Part Two of the Palm Springs blog posts: Richard Neutra's Kaufman House!