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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coachella Valley Days 2 & 3

We had a pretty chill day on Tuesday. Sophia made crafts at the resort rec center while I did an exercise class in the pool. We went to lunch at Native Foods Cafe in Palm Springs and absolutely fell in love with the place! Yes, everything on the menu is vegan, scratch made, and organic when possible, but besides that, it was some if the tastiest food we've ever had! I had African Peanut Soup and Ensalada Azteca with a watermelon drink. Sophia had "chicken" nuggets & fries with lavender lemonade. We shared a ginger pie and an oatmeal creme pie, and it was too much to finish.

From there, we drove to Shields Date Gardens in Indio so I could stock up on a variety of dates. We picked up a few other specialty items to try there as well. Sophia is looking forward to trying the date syrup on her morning waffles. We stopped at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on the way back to our condo and relaxed with some seasonal coffee drinks, made with almond milk, of course.

We were at the resort only long enough to change into some warmer clothes before heading back to The Living Desert for their Wild Lights display. There were zillions of lights and the park looked beautiful, but we discovered that we are weather wussies. It was 56 degrees and we were freezing! We are official Cali Girls. 

We got to meet an opossum, an African hedgehog and a tarantula.  I passed on petting the spider, but my animal-loving darling daughter did it. 

When we couldn't stop our teeth from chattering any more, we headed to Yardhouse in Rancho Mirage. Sophia loves their Gardein buffalo wings and I love their spicy roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce. We also shared some chilled edamame, roasted Brussels sprouts and hummus. We took the leftovers with us and ate them for breakfast. 

We ended the evening playing the longest game of Crazy Eights ever. I was so tired that I'm not even sure who won. 

Wednesday morning, after finishing off the Yardhouse leftovers, we checked out. I had promised Sophia one game of pool at the red center, and the. We were on our way to the Indian Canyons. 

We timed our arrival to catch the ranger talk at the Trading Post. He was a handsome Apache with a Mohawk and long salt and pepper braided ponytail. He taught us about the Agua Caliente Indians, the canyons and history, and answered questions. He also told us this riddle:  when an Indian lights up a cigarette, what is he about to do? (Answer at the end)

We slathered on some coconut oil, grabbed our binoculars & water, and headed down the path to the Palm Canyon trail.  I shared my knowledge of the desert plants and their specialized adaptations and pointed out some geological highlights. Ha! There are always homeschool opportunities with us!

We were in the canyon for almost two hours and ready for lunch when we returned to our car. I had picked out another vegan restaurant to try, but we both just wanted to return to Native Foods. This time I had blackened tempeh tacos--the best tacos I ever had--and super slaw. Sophia had a bacon cheeseburger (seitan) and we shared a peanut butter parfait. I bought one of their cookbooks and we WILL travel to Encinitas soon to enjoy anotheR Native Foods meal. 

We spent the next two hours walking along Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs and browsing the shops. We picked up a few small gifts for Christmas and enjoyed another coffee treat at The Coffee Bean And Tea Leaf before heading back up the Pines to Palms Highway. 

It was a short trip, but we enjoyed ourselves. We hope to find time to return before Spring and ride horses in one of the canyons. We love the Coachella Valley!

 Answer to the riddle:  He is about to text.   DO YOU GET IT?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Late Fall in the Desert

Our 3-day visit to the desert started out brilliantly! We took our preferred Palms to Pines route to the Coachella Valley and stopped at the overlook on Highway 74. Sophia stepped over the low wall to retrieve a recyclable bottle and called out to me, " Bighorn Sheep, Mom!" 

I made my way downslope to her and sure enough, right before my eyes was a pair of the magnificent animals. One looked up at me at the moment I focused my phone'so camera on it, and then I was able to capture them in a short video in my phone as they grazed on the native shrubbery. I have been visiting the Sonoran Desert for over 30 years and have never seen a Bighorn in the wild, despite countless hikes off the beaten track, and here were two of them, between ribbons of busy highway!

We shared our find with a couple of other travelers who were taking in the view from above. They scrambled down to meet us and we're thrilled at the sight of the pair of sheep making their way across the slope. Once the sheep were out of sight we filled a bag with recyclables then drove the rest of the way down to the desert floor. 

We made a quick stop at the Visitor Center then continued to our first destination, The Living Desert. We ate lunch there, let some goats, fed a giraffe, and saw many desert animals from around the globe. They had a new female Endangered Mexican Wolf that was recently introduced to her potential mate and we watched her explore her new habitat and chase the male around while whimpering.

We checked into the Welk Resort around 4:00 and Sophia went for a swim before dinner. What a dinner it was! I researched vegan restaurants in he area online before we came. The first one on my list was India Oven. It was a small, clean, place with a menu to satisfy everyone. We opted for a full meal platter to share, plus an order of vegetable pakora and channa masala. The platter consisted of a large samosa, basmati rice, garlic naan, Indian pickle, daal maharani, kidney beans and bell peppers..all. Old and delicious. I asked for the channa masala medium, but that was a mistake. It was much too hot for Sophia--it tasted sweet and delicious and then suddenly--I WAS BREATHING ACTUAL FIRE. we left feeling very full.

Back at the condo we watched Guardians of the Galaxy, then hit the sack early.