Friday, December 30, 2011

Villagefest, Palms Springs, California


A Thursday evening tradition in Palm Springs is to enjoy the free Villagefest along North Palm Canyon drive. We’ve been before (read about it here) and not much has changed in the three years since we’ve been here ~
  • Ask A Rabbi still has a kiosk ~celebrating the second night of Hanukkah this year with a giant menorah, music and candles
  • Freaky “armadillo man” ~ he pretends to play his violin to a CD while an air machine blows his cape open is still here………..
  • the guy who spray paints “art” while using household items (tape dispenser, ruler, cardboard) to “create” is still here……..
  • the same produce and food stands are still here….
  • many of the same arts-and-craft vendors are still here……

But it’s still a fun evening out to see all the people, enjoy some food, perhaps buy a few things and walk along the street.

Definitely something to do if you’re in the Palm Springs area on a Thursday evening. Have fun!
 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cabazon Outlets & Morongo Casino, Cabazon, California

First We Shopped~
We were not done shopping yet, as we hadn’t “dropped,” so back to the outlet malls today ~ this time to the Cabazon Outlets, just by the Desert Hills Premium Outlets we went yesterday. A much smaller area, this outlet mall has stores such as Rockport, Le Creuset, Columbia Sportswear, and CAbi.  Be sure to stop in the Customer Service office first, as you can get a free Preferred Customer Card for additional savings at the stores, such as 10% of your purchase at Columbia Sportswear or $20 off  a $100 purchase at Adidas. The cool thing about the Preferred Customer Card is that you can you the same one at any of their other outlets centers, such as Citadel Outlets in CA, the Outlets at Anthem in Phoenix, AZ, or Woodburn Company Stores in Portland, OR.

Then We Ate~
After we shopped, we ate.  This time at the Morongo Casino Resort – their lunch buffet.  Now, we’re not big buffet people, but this buffet is $10.95 and we each got a $10 food credit for signing up for the Morongo Casino Winners Club, so it’s hard to go wrong for 95-cents! There was a vast amount of food from all over the globe ~ Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Vegetarian, American (Roast Beef/Turkey, fried chicken & mashed potatoes), salads, and tons of desserts. Needless to say, we’re full!

Did We Gamble?
No, but check this out ~ so in California casinos cannot have dice games (e.g. craps) or games with a ball (e.g. roulette).  As you may recall, we like to play craps………but without dice, how does it work? Well, get this ~ the guy that sits in the middle, across from the stickman, between the two staff that manage most of the bets, has two piles of cards that come of a shoot like the ones used in Blackjack. The cards are Ace through 6, each to represent the numbers on a die. The “dealer” pulls one card from each shoot, and those are the “dice.” So if a 4 and 2 are pulled, then the point is a 6. A “hard six” is two 3-cards. Get it?  Yeah, no yelling “same dice” when one flies from the table, no “S/he was a hot shooter last time.” talk among the players – none of it. It was the quietest, sublime game we saw.  In case you’re wondering, roulette was played like Keno – ping-pong balls flying in a glass case and people bet on computerized boards.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shopping at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets, Cabazon, California


Desert Hills Premium Outlets is not your typical outlet mall – there are stores such as:
• Barneys
• Burberry
• Diane Von Furstenberg
• Dolce & Gabbana
• Gucci
• Prada
• Ferragamo
• Jimmy Choo
• Judith Leiber
• Movado

Along with the more “typical” outlet stores like Eddie Bauer, Nike, Harry & David and Gap.

We were here when in the area three years ago, and we realized that we went to the same Premium Outlets on the same day ~ the day after Christmas ~ and it was packed! (Obviously we don’t learn quickly!) :-)

If you are a shopper, this is definitely a place to go when in the area, and be sure to get your VIP Coupon Book ~ $5 of free with many affiliations such as CAA, AAA, or a coupon you can find in the Desert Hills Premium Outlet tourist brochure.



Monday, December 26, 2011

Riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Palm Springs, California



Our Portland friends were in town visiting us for the day, so we decided to ride the Palm Springs Arial Tramway and have lunch at the top. Many people that we have met have recommended the tram and the views it provides, so we were excited to for the experience. The Valley Station of the tram is 5-6 miles north of downtown Palm Springs. There are multiple parking lots and free shuttles that will take you to the Valley Station. The tram cost $23.25 for adults and $16.25 for child ($21.25 for seniors). The tram are the world’s largest rotation tram cars, making two complete revolutions during your 2.5 mile 10 minute ride to the top. This insures you get to see everything matter where you are standing in the car. The ride takes you from a starting elevation of 2643 feet at the Valley Station to 8516 feet at Mountain Station. There were great views on the way up. 

While ascending via Chino Canyon, you travel through 5 different climate zones starting with Desert Sonoran to finally Arctic/Alpine. According to the narrated recording we heard on the way up, this is the only place you can travel through this many climate zones in such a short distance. To give perspective, it was in the 70s when we left and 20 degrees wind chill at the top when we arrived. Wow, it felt really cold we must say. Most people donned hats, gloves and many layers of clothing.

The Valley Station at the top has a patio called Chino Canyon balcony that offers great views of the Coachella Valley and Chino Canyon. This is the best place to get your photos of the valley and surround mountains. 

The Valley Station offers a gift shop, lounge and two places to eat; the Peaks Restaurant which requires reservations for both lunch and dinner and the Pines Café which has limited cafeteria style menu. Sense we didn’t know reservations were required, so we were force to eat at the café. The food consisted of three types of pre-made sandwiches, pizza, salad, French fries and typical drinks. The food was okay at best and as you would expect a bit pricey. Bringing your lunch might be the best bet.
 
Out of the back of the Valley Station is the St. San Jacinto State Park. This is a beautiful snow covered forest area that has hiking trails and plenty of snow to enjoy. In fact, many people brought their snow sleds and enjoyed the day of sliding down packed trails. We can image in the summer time there would be great hikes to enjoy and also primitive camping. We walked down some snowy trails for a while until we had our fill. The trams run every 15 minutes so we caught the next one for our ride back down.

This is one of the main attractions in this area and probably should be done at least once. It is a bit pricey but the amazing views make it worth it. You would have a totally different experience at night with the all the city light in the valley below.

The tram construction took 26 months and was completed in 1963. It consists of five towers with the first tower being the only tower accessible from the road at the valley station. This made the construction and engineering challenge and at the time labeled the "eighth wonder of the world”, because helicopters were used to erect four of the five towers needed flying some 23,000 missions, hauling men and all the materials needed to build the towers and the Mountain Station at the top. The trams cars were modernized in 2000 with the new rotating version that is still used today.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!!


Merry Christmas!!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Workamping Can Support Your RVing Lifestyle!!!

This is a long post, but be sure you read to the very end – there is important information for those of you ready to live your RV dream!! Grab a cup of coffee & get comfortable……….

So one of the things we want to do while fulltiming is to do some workamping.

What is Workamping?
An RV’ing single, couple or family who volunteer or work part-time or full-time in exchange for a free RV/campsite and/or pay and/or……..options are unlimited! :-) Combine your interests with places you’d like to live, see and enjoy ~ support your RV’ing lifestyle!

We actually have a couple workamping jobs lined up for 2012 already – one will be Suzanne teaching sign language in an RV park in Mesa, AZ while Brad works on the décor team. The other will be a five-month stint at Mount Rushmore National Monument working in their bookstores – this is sort of a dream-job for Suzanne. Of course we will write more about these areas and our jobs when we’re in both places. We found our about both of these jobs (and many more) through Workamper News.

What is Workamper News?
Workamper News (www.workamper.com) has been around since 1987 and connects great workers with great jobs. Employers (4,500+) use Workamper News to find RV’ing singles or couples ~ they know about the lifestyle, know about the quality of people they hire, and know about the unique aspects of RV’ers. Workampers use Workamper News to find jobs that are in places they want to be, are activities they enjoy and are with like-minded people.

Why do people workamp?
  • Give back to an area or organization you’ve enjoyed over the years.
  • Try on different “hats” or  learn a new skill.
  • Enjoy the freedom of working just a few days, a few weeks, a few months or more.
  • Spend time in one place for an entire season
  • Trade for free RV/camp sites. Perhaps free utilities, cable, propane, laundry…
  • Earn money and/or reduce expenses! :-)
What type of jobs do Workampers Do?
Anything you can think of……….
  • Nascar races for a weekend or longer
  • Spring training camp vendors
  • Pumpkin and Christmas tree sales
  • Amazon hires hundreds of workampers each holiday season
  • Camp hosting – private and public parks; lighthouse keepers
  • Wildlife sanctuaries, animal shelters, waterfowl preserves, gardens
  • State/national park/national forest, COE  jobs – visitor centers, trail guides, interpretation, and more………
  • Private campgrounds – maintenance, restroom cleaning, reservations, front desk, golf attendants, landscaping, activities…..
  • Cruise lines – reservation agents, tour guides, entertainment, dining staff……
  • Amusement Parks, Disneyland/Disney World, Dollyworld, Adventureland……..
  • RV shows
  • Fish hatcheries
  • Boating/canoe guides/rentals, bus drivers, tour guides, shuttle drivers
  • Teach classes – geocaching, woodshop, Spanish, beading, etc……
  • Photographers
On top of the two workamping jobs we described earlier, we’ve also just connected with Workamper News to represent them and educate/introduce new workampers to their fabulous resources and help others learn how they, too, can live their dream of traveling in an RV. There is WAY too much to explain about the Workamper News program online, but we can give a brief synopsis, and please feel free to email us (sb.workamper@yahoo.com) – we can have an email conversation or even arrange a time to have a telephone call to further educate you about Workamper News.

Here is a short-and-sweet summary of Workamper News memberships/resources (all online)

Workamper Plus Green ~ $42/year ****This is the most popular membership.***
***See the Special Offer at the end of this post***
  1. Online issues archive of Workamper News  since 2006.
  2. Situations Wanted AD printed in each issue.
  3. Hotline ads & daily email – these are daily emails (or you go to the website – your choice) that update you to new job openings immediately
  4. Awesome Applicants Resume – included in database searched by employers, can be emailed & printed - the process to complete is very easy & simple - you can specify where, when, and what kind of workamping you would like to do
  5. Online Employer Tours.
  6. Praise Your Employer.
  7. Webinars – live & recorded.
  8. Jobinars – live & recorded.
  9. All Viewpoint Articles.
  10. Workamper Community Site – make friends, share photos, send messages, post your blog.
  11. Workamper Forums Site.
  12. Workampers Dreamers Site.
  13. And more!!
Workamper Plus Standard ~ $54 year US; $60CA
***See the Special Offer at the end of this post***
 Everything you see in the Workamper Plus Green subscription. The only difference  is that you receive the Workamper News in the mail as well as access it online.

Workamper Basic ~ $33 year US; $38 CA
***See the Special Offer at the end of this post***
  1. Workamper News magazine in the mail, 6-issues per year.
  2. Situations Wanted Ad printed in each issue.
If you are not already RV’ing, then a Dreamer membership may be right for you ~ $42 lifetime membership (US & CA). You get full access to the Workamper Dreamers website for life - no expiration.  ***See the Special Offer at the end of this post*** 
  1. Dreamer Exercises.
  2. Four Steps to Freedom webinar series. This series of recorded videos will assist you in understanding the development of desire, and will further assist you in making the shift that will be necessary for you to experience your dream and turn your desire into reality.
  3. Dreaminars - informational webinars that you can attend live or watch the recording later. Includes information on important topics for Workampers as well as interviews with experts in the world of Workamping.
  4. Workamper Campfire webinar events. Have a question about Workamping? Attend this live event to get all of your questions answered, as well as hear questions from fellow Workamper Dreamers. All live sessions are recorded for viewing later as well.
  5. Dream Series - These online webinar events will provide you with the education you need to better understand the Workamping lifestyle. They will also help you get the most out of your future Workamping experiences.
  6. Interviews with Workampers - audio and video interviews with active Workampers already living the lifestyle! Learn from their experience and get their perspective on how they entered the world of Workamping.
  7. Steve's Dreamers Blog - updated twice weekly. Updates and new information to help you work on fulfilling your dreams.
  8. Resources section - recommended books, programs and organizations.
  9. Special Dreamers forum - located on the WKN Forums website. Partake in discussions with retired or active Workampers, as well as other Dreamers.

In sum, for $42, you can get both – a Dreamer membership and Workamper Plus Green membership and have access to both areas of information.

***Special Offer*** Special Offer***Special Offer***Special Offer***

Again, we have joined with Workamper News to educate and explain the many facets and offerings of Workamper News.  Join Workamper News through us and get 14-months (that’s 2 extra months FREE) of your chosen subscription!

What does that mean?
  • you get an extra Workamper News magazine, whether mailed to you or online – FREE!
  • you get an extra 2-months of “Situations Wanted” Ads – FREE!
  • you get an extra 2-months of "Singles Seeking Workamper Partner" ads – FREE!
  • you get an extra 2-months of Daily Hotline Updates (immediate job openings) via e-mail and web (if Workamper Plus subscriber) – FREE!
  • you get an extra 2-months of online access to the current issue of Workamper News via private web address (if Workamper Plus subscriber) – FREE!
  • you get an extra 2-months of access to the private sections of Workamper.com including Praise Your Employer & Forums (if Workamper Plus subscriber) – FREE!
  • you get an extra 2-months of participation in the popular Awesome Applicants online resumè database (if Workamper Plus subscriber) – FREE!
**You must use our Concierge Number (warn2713) to get your Special Offer. When signing-up online at www.workamper.com, enter warn2713 in the first box for the Promotional Code.** 
**Note - this offer is available for new subscribers to Workamper News only.**


Any questions, please email us and we can answer questions via email (sb.workamper@yahoo.com) or call you. If you’re just ready to sign-up with Workamper News and have no questions for us, then you can go right to their sign-up page and simply enter our Concierge Number (warn2713)  to get the extra 2 months FREE. If you do this, please take a moment to email and let us know that you’ve signed-up through us, so the can follow through on our end and be sure you get the extra 2 months.

Thanks for reading this very long post ~ we hope you’ve learned something and perhaps you, too, can live your dream of traveling in your RV!  :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bill's Pizza, Palm Springs, CA


We heard that Bill's Pizza place had great pizza, but we did wonder, since “Bill” isn’t much of an Italian name, but we were looking for some good pizza, so off we went. We were pleasantly surprised - the pizza was very good! They use fresh ingredients, EVOO, and make their own sourdough crust. The place is very casual, lots of tables, very family friendly, and good service. The only negative we must say is that it was very loud, and there were probably only 1/3 of the tables filled with patrons – can’t imagine how loud it would be in a busy night/time. (Now some of you may be thinking that we’re getting old, complaining about the noise level in restaurants, but really, it was loud!)

One more thought – they do not accept credit/debit cards or checks – cash only.  $$$

Monday, December 19, 2011

Manhattan in the Desert -Part II, Palm Springs, CA


Well, as promised, we went back to Manhattan in the Desert to try their breakfast. If you recall (if you do not recall, then read here) we loved their lunch and it was a great experience. Here’s our breakfast review in a nutshell: go there for lunch.

Yeah – disappointing…….the food (we had a “farmer’s” breakfast – eggs, bacon, potatoes, bagels with cream cheese) and it was just okay. Perhaps their Challah French Toast or other breakfasts would be better, but our “not so great” experience went beyond the food – the service was poor, waiters running around like they need just a couple more staff hired – filing coffee as they held dirty dishes – stuff like that. Also our meal was not served complete (had to wait for the bagels) and it took a while to find a waiter to bring Suzanne some salsa for her eggs. Which brings us to the third reason we weren’t too impressed: pet peeve – we were charge $1.75 for about three tablespoons of salsa. How is this request different than asking for ketchup, mustard or mayo on the side? If there is a charge, then tell us when we request it. Considering each meal was just shy of $10, the condiments should have been included.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hiking the Canyon Ridge Trail in the Whitewater Preserve, Palm Springs, CA

Whitewater River basin

The hiking club was back at it again. This time we hiked the Canyon Ridge Trail in the Whitewater Preserve. This is a loop trail that offers inspiring views looking down on the Whitewater River basin as well as views of Mount San Jacinto, various San Gorgonio mountains and the surrounding hills. This was a nice time to take this hike because the temperatures were cool and there was snow on the tops of the distant mountain. Seeing the snow provided an interesting contrast to the desert terrain for which we were hiking. Another great time to take this hike would be in March and April when the plants are blooming and mountains are their most green.

You can start this hike in two different places; at the ranger station or a half mile before at the bridge that crosses the Whitewater River. If you start at the ranger station, the trail winds through the flat river basin for a quarter of a mile before starting up steep switchbacks. This would give you time to warm up. Starting at the bridge, you begin the hike with many steep switchbacks until you reach the actual canyon ridge which is about a half of mile. The group went for it and started at the bridge. 

Trail on top of the ridge
Once on the ridge the trail levels off and provides great vistas of the terrain. We often stopped and scanned the hills across the canyon for Bighorn sheep (we were told that’s where they like to hang out) but despite our tries we had no luck. In two miles or so the trails comes to a “T”; going right continues the ridge loop and heading left (west) takes you to Saddle Mountain. The group decided to hike toward Saddle Mount for two mile then headed back to this “T”. This segment offered views of other smaller canyons and of Mt San Jacinto. It is a nice addition if you want to add a little more hiking to your day. From the “T”, we headed down into Whitewater Canyon via some steep switchbacks (around one mile). At the bottom, the trail intersects with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Go left and you can continue on the PCT or right for half of a mile through the actual river basin to the Ranger Station. 

You do have to cross small channels of the river so make sure it’s passable before starting this hike. From the Ranger Station we walked a half mile on the road back to our cars that were parked near the bridge.

The Wildlands Conservancy purchased this land to protect natural wildlife corridors between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains by restoring the land back to its natural state. This includes retiring grazing cattle which has helped restore Whitewater River quality, removal of a housing subdivision deep in the canyon and eliminating non-native plants. This canyon and surrounding area supports bighorn sheep, deer, bear and more.

The once privately owned trout farm has been transformed into the Ranger Station and visitor facility featuring picnic areas near the trout ponds (with actual fish) and information about the surrounding area and hiking. Enjoy!! 

Directions:
From the Cochella Valley take I-10 west. Go past the exit for Hwy 62 and take the next exit which is Whitewater. At the stop sign turn right and then take a left on Whitewater Canyon Rd. Continue on this road for 4-5 miles until you reach the concrete bridge going over the river. You can park along the road here or continue a half mile and park in the Ranger Station parking lot.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We're Selling Our Park Membership - interested????


Here are the facts:
Home Park: Neskowin Creek RV Park on the beautiful Oregon Coast.  Can stay for free “in” two weeks, “out” one week, “in” two weeks and so on, all year long……..

Sale includes RPI Preferred – check out the website: www.rpipreferred.com for all the wonderful parks all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This is really the reason why we have the membership – pay only $10/night in each park – way less than daily rates at non-membership parks.

Sale also includes Enjoy America membership – check out their website: www.resortparks.com. These are independent parks that give you a 50% discount if you’re an RPI member.

Why are we selling? We purchased the membership in 2008 and have used it tremendously  - probably 100 nights a year each year we've traveled and some more in-between when staying "home" in Oregon – we’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth, for sure. However, we are at the point where we are staying in one place more and starting our foray into workamping, so it’s not right for us at this time. 

Cost to you:
  • One-time cost: $500 – this is what we’re selling this for
  • One-time cost: approx. $280 – this you will pay to Neskowin Creek for an ownership transfer fee. By the way, you can sell the membership again if you choose.
  • Annual cost: $325 dues to Neskowin Creek, which are frozen. Dues are due 1/1 of each year. Even if you do not use the park, you need to be a member of this park to access RPI Preferred Resorts. Your Enjoy America membership is included in these dues.
  • Annual cost: $159 for the RPI Preferred membership, due 2/1 each year. If you do not travel one year, you can “freeze” this and “unfreeze” when you want.

Please email (RVingandtravels@gmail.com) with questions ~ thanks & Happy, Safe Travels!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Manhattan in the Desert, Palm Springs, CA

Have you ever walked into a room or someplace and felt like you were "home?" Well for Suzanne, this restaurant was it. Growing up on the east coast, Suzanne remembers going to the bakery and getting one small cookie after her mother would purchase desserts for a special dinner. And NY style delis.......the best have those HUGE sandwiches overflowing with the “insides.” One word, friends, YUM!

The menu was tremendous with all the eats one expects from an east coast deli – it was, in fact, overwhelming.  We started with Matzo Ball soup – it was basic, perhaps even a bit bland. But that was okay…… because we were still a bit high on the entire experience.  Suzanne ordered turkey on rye and Brad pastrami on rye. Note in the picture the size of the sandwich compared to Brad’s hand.  Oh yeah!  Here’s what the lunch conversation sounded like:


Yes, that’s right – nothing! We were eating and loving every minute of it.  The after-lunch conversation was basically discussing when we’d come back – and – if in fact this really replicates a NY deli, if we ordered bagels & cream cheese – would the “right” amount of cream cheese be placed on the bagel (i.e. not a little bit, less than 1/8” high, but a decent, cream-cheese-loving amount, at least ¼” high)? We will find out.

After paying our bill, we each purchased a small dessert – Brad a cinnamon rugula and Suzanne small sprinkled sugar cookie , just like the ones she ordered as a little girl. Sigh……


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hiking Big Morongo Canyon, near Desert Hot Springs, CA


 The Sands RV & Golf Resort has a hiking club that hikes a different trail twice every week. The featured hike that we joined was Big Morongo Canyon. This canyon extends from the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in the Little San Bernardino Mountains traveling south along the eastern border of Joshua Tree National Park to the Cochella Valley. This canyon was used by the early nomadic Native American as a route with water, vegetation, game and easy grade that connected the low desert to the high desert. 

The hiking group
Our hiking group decided to do this hike from north to south, which made it mostly downhill. So we carpooled everyone to the top and left a car at the bottom in order to retrieve the cars when we all reached the end.

This is an easy hike with a well-established trail.  The total distance was 5 miles with a 1000 elevation drop and took the group two-half hours to complete. This included stopping a few times to grab a bite and to let everyone catch up. 


 The terrain of the canyon is not typical of most desert hikes in this area because there is water most the year which is enough to support a small palm oasis, larger desert trees and assorted wildlife including a herd of big horn sheep and lots of birds. This made the scenery more interesting and we were constantly on the lookout for that herd of big horns, but unfortunately they did not give us a photo op that day.

Red-tailed Hawk sharing the valley
Trees near Oasis

To get there from Desert Hot Springs, take Hwy 62 (Twentynine Palms Highway) northeast about 10 miles to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve which is one-half miles southeast of the town of Big Morongo Valley. 
Same hawk in flight

A side-note ~~ The Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is interesting if you don’t want to do this canyon hike. The preserve has several boardwalk type trails that take you through various habitats including marsh and stream areas. This is a great place to do desert bird watching.


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