Off the beaten trail - an oasis

Spring is finally here and we're getting to take some interesting road trips. While cruising around Palm Springs and Palm Desert a couple weeks ago we saw a thick patch of green vegetation out in the middle of the barren desert. It looked very much out of place so we drove about 10 miles east of Palm Springs to check out the green oasis.

The uniquely beautiful Thousand Palms Oasis is surrounded by shifting sand dunes that are home for the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, which is believed to be found nowhere else in the world. Now I've got your attention! The Coachella Valley Preserve was formed to protect the lizards and other animals and plants that live in the sand dunes. The Thousand Palms Oasis is a wonderful adventure land for both kids and adults. It's called a Thousand Palms but there's actually over 1,500 native California fan palms growing there. It was exciting to follow the winding trails through the tightly clustered old palm trees.

I wondered how the large grove of very old palm trees lived in this desert with so little rain. I asked a park ranger about that and she said, "These are the only types of palms in the world that keep the dead fronds (leaves) on for their whole lives. Some of the trees last up to 250 years old. A nearby San Andreas earthquake fault caused some crushed rocks, clay and underground dams to bring water to the surface and that feeds the trees." Geology 1-A.

"The Romance and Sex Life of the Date": Yes, it seems like all the tourists wanted to see this free movie that was produced in Palm Desert by Shields Date Gardens. My sister Bonnie and I learned all about these sweet, soft, creamy Medjoal dates. We learned that the date is the oldest known tree crop and each male palm produces enough pollen for 49 female trees, and the dates are pollinated by hand. Well, there's the romance in the movie, where's the sex life part?

Ice Mountain: Well, those are a couple of unusual tourist attractions that we visited while on a recent road trip down to the warm southern California desert. There was another interesting thing we saw on our drive home near Crawley Lake along Highway 395. It looked like a tall, sculptured white mountain (or a tower or pillar) when we drove past it, but I don't know what it looks like now as it continues to "melt down" during the warmth of day. Somebody went to a lot of trouble to create the magical ice art.

Used to be: Many years ago, the owners of the motel next to Maddy's restaurant in Minden would stack a bunch of lawn chairs on top of each other when the temperature was freezing. Then they would put a sprinkler on top and turn the water on low. As the water froze it became an icy fantasyland. That's something we all could do next winter and make some unique art on our front lawns. Sounds like fun to me.

Garden corner: The first crops up in our garden were green onions and delicious asparagus on Easter Sunday. Guess what's next.

-- Linda Monohan can be reached at 782-5802.


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