We were going down in elevation from Joshua Tree National Park therefore it was getting warmer. We planned to take a 2-3 day pit stop in Palm Springs at the KOA there.
Day 1: Pool fun!
The campground had a pool and 3 hot tubs all which were fed from underground hot springs. After we arrived we saw their event calendar and it looked pretty dreamy on the weekends. They offered rock wall climbing, movie “night” (which for once is early enough that our girls could actually participate) with a make your own pizza party, an afternoon ice cream social at the pool, paint while you wine get together in the evening, painting rocks craft, group hike for kids, mini train rides for the kids and exercise classes for adults. Pretty fun, right? Plus, the weather was in the mid 70’s which sealed the deal for us. We extended our stay to 5 days to include the weekend.
We spent the first day entirely in the pool. The girls had so much fun swimming with the other kids who were also staying at the campground. Our little one even started being okay with floating (with floaties) by herself. She saw another girl a little older than her fussing when her Mom tried to let go of her for a moment. She was fixated on this for a couple minutes and then said, “Mama, you can let me go now. I’ll float to you.” And she did! Maybe she realized how silly it looked to be glued to Mama while wearing floaties. Who knows, but now she floats around on her own.
The main pool is kept at at 90*. And as it turns out, this is the perfect temperature! Usually I am ready to get out long before my oldest is because I’m absolutely fridged! However, in this pool I didn’t get cold! The hot tubs are kept at 104*, 101* and 98*. Hot tubs are not my favorite to be in for long but it was nice to pop in and out of the 98* tub.
In taking part in swimming here, we noticed that my bathing suit had taken a turn for the worst. Unfortunately, I was wearing a bathing suit that I love when I went in a KOA hot tub at a previous campground that had their chlorine levels way too high. After just one 10 minute soak it not only bleached my bathing suit but made it so that the outer liner of the bathing suit was stretched out and baggy. I was disappointed that this happened but didn’t realize how bad it was until this campground stay. The liner was sagging so long on my buns it was hitting my leg! Haha. Super attractive. Justin kindly urged me to go into Palm Springs the following day and find a new suit.
That evening the girls spent playing on the playground and watching a magnificent sunset with me. This felt like a luxury vacation!
Day 2: Group hike, Bathing suit hunt
Justin started off the morning with a 7am yoga class. Justin said it wasn’t strenuous but it felt good to stretch. After a good morning of school under our belts I took part in a pool aerobics class with the instructor and one other woman. It was fun and got my heart pumping a little. All the exercise classes are really more for older adults who are snowbirds. The instructor was so sweet and the classes were fun. Early afternoon we headed off to meet up with the rest of the kids and parents for a group hike.
All the kiddos painted rocks and then while they dried we were led on a nice one mile hike to a look-out where KOA keeps an American Flag. There were a lot of kids on the hike and young ones at that so the pace was perfect! Our oldest gravitated toward the oldest girl (she usually does) who was such a sweetheart. Unfortunately there were many falls and cactus pokes during the hike but fortunately for our girls, they came out of the hike unscathed. It was nice that the kids had hiking buddies and we had other full time family adults to chat with.
Later that day I took Dimes and drove 30 minutes to downtown Palm Springs in search of a bathing suit. Downtown was super cute with lots of little shops and restaurants. I pictured downtown to be really ritzy and stuffy but it wasn’t like that at all. Some shops were selling absurd things of course, but overall it had more of a relaxed beachy feeling. I think all the palm trees helped with this. 🙂
I went to 3 different bathing suit shops and tried on probably 40 different bathing suits until I found a good one. Lucky for me all the stores had their old model bathing suits on sale to make room for their new shipments. It was nice to have a break by myself and to have the time to make a thought-out shopping purchase. I find that if I have the girls with me I often make bad decisions on purchasing items because I just want to be done with it.
While I was gone, the girls and Justin were in the pool the entire time! They were a wizzly bunch that’s for sure.
When I got home the girls got our okay to lock themselves in Dimes while they were making a surprise. 15 minutes later they came out of Dimes singing Happy Birthday to me (my birthday is in November and it was now January) and presented me with a snack plate. Those two sweet girls had rummaged through the snack basket and found all my favorite snacks, broken them into pieces and created a snack mix. It was so very thoughtful and surprisingly very tasty! They even stuck to our rule of not eating from the snack bin without permission. They didn’t take one nibble while making their concoction. Now that’s will power!
Day 3: Palm Springs Zoo
Since there weren’t any activities at the campground we were interested in taking part in this day we decided this was the day to explore. There were lots of neat places around to check out so for today we chose the zoo.
The zoo was much bigger than I had expected. It was divided into African animals and North American animals. Something that was really interesting and that we didn’t take full advantage of is that this zoo not only had animals but also was filled with impressive gardens everywhere. Each garden was centered around a certain region in the world. I found it impressive that they were able to accommodate so many different plants from different climates. Most of the plants within these gardens were foreign to me and so unique!
One of our first stops in the zoo was to the camels. This zoo gave camel rides to children and adults, $6 for each ticket. The girls were a little apprehensive at first but after they went on the ride, they loved it. It was a really amazing feeling to be up on that camel.
They seemed much bigger to me when we were riding. Justin went on twice with each of the girls and I went on once with our youngest. It felt as if a thick 2-4″ pad was on the camel’s back/hump then a blanket and on top of that a metal railing of sorts so the riders could hold on. The camel we rode on was a boy named Lego who I believe was 14 years old. Thanks Lego!
Something about camels we learned that I hadn’t previously known was that dromedaries (or one hump camels) were used for their meat, wool and milk. Camels can produce up to 1.3 gallons (!!) of milk per day. That is if they are given enough water. Pretty crazy, right?! That’s a lot of milk!
We visited the giraffes as well. I have seen giraffes in zoos before but somehow this zoo had their enclosure set up in a way that made us as the viewers feel like we were viewing them in the wild. When we looked off into their field it looked like a wild savanna. All the palm trees were perfectly trimmed as are the Acacia Trees are in their native habitat from grazing giraffe. They are such strange looking and beautiful animals.
The girls got to go play with some goats over in the petting zoo. They had two 4 month old twins that were super sweet and one very odd old lady goat who walked around with her tongue hanging out as she walked. This apparently was a mating thing to take in the pheromones of a mate. Ironically, they were all fixed.
We saw some amazingly large ground birds as well as flight birds. We visited some tortoises, one of which the girls tried their hardest to kiss through the glass.
There was also a badger at the zoo. I don’t think I’ve seen one of these before. It was such a plump little thing. Like a giant furry step stool with such short little stubby legs they disappear in the fluff. The sign said they were shaped for a life of digging.
The girls acted like squirrels for a bit and picked up little nuts they found from a tree. When they spotted them on the ground it was as if they were squirrels in the winter who just came across some much needed food for their den. They both booked it out of the stroller and started collecting nuts in a frenzy. They then stored them in the stroller of course which probably means we’ll forget about them and they’ll be scattered in the back of Dimes soon. 😛
The zoo also had a pretty impressive model train section. There were trains riding on tracks all over the place through different towns. There were life-like steel bridges, real trees throughout the towns (bonsai of course) and rivers running through this massive model train village. There was even a hot air balloon traveling above our heads. It was really neat! You could tell someone had a lot of fun building that.
We also came across a carousel on our zoo adventure. Our oldest rode a hummingbird and our youngest a howling wolf. The girls had fun wizzing around for a couple minutes waving at Daddy as we passed.
On the way home we stocked up on Trader Joe’s supplies as they have been few are far between. Nuts, cereal and sauces are our go-to TJ’s supplies. We were happy to have a fresh supply of gorp to munch on.
Day 5: Mini-golf, pool and train rides
It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and temperatures in the mid 70’s. We chose to stay at the campground for the day and take advantage of some of the activities they provided.
The girls and I spent the morning playing mini-golf. It was so much fun! It made us laugh so hard at some of the fly balls we created on the tricky last hole which was up a huge hill. Those balls just did NOT want to get into that hole!
We again spent the afternoon in the pool. Our oldest would be in there all day every day if we let her. At the end, we were so wizzeled I wondered if our skin would ever plump back up again!
In the late afternoon they had a mini train that did loops around the campground. It was pretty cute. A staff member drove a golf cart which towed little half barrel cars that we rode in. There was another staff member who blew a wooden train whistle at the stops and bells as we drove simulating the sounds of a train. On top of that they had Disney music playing. It was pretty funny and cute.
Day 6: Rain!
We had been warned that this day was going to be rainy but boy was it! It was a steady rain throughout the day and with it came a cold breeze. It was a stark difference from the day before.
Schooling went great on that morning with our 5 year old learning long division and starting her first report. While doing schooling we had seen the mini train go by our campsite a couple times but since it was raining it wasn’t very appealing. Wasn’t very appealing until our oldest saw other kids riding. Then she was all for it! So, off we all went on a soggy mini train ride. Brr!
The girls had a lot of fun hunkering down in Wobbles and playing with one another. They played figurines, store, play dough and with magnetic putty. We hadn’t been cooped up for a while and it was actually a nice change. Justin got some blog post pictures attached to what I had written and I got some mending and decorating done. Almost finished sewing our little one a new rump for her overalls.
By afternoon we thought we had better take advantage one last time of the pool and the afternoon ice cream they sold. We all shivered our way through the cold rain to eat ice cream. It helped that we knew we were going to next jump into a warm pool. I tell you though, that 90* pool did not quite cut the chill the day had. Our little one and I huddled next to the heated jet while we gave my oldest a little bit of time to play around in the pool. We then all hopped into the hot tub where Justin was waiting for us.
We learned that the hot tub designated for families with children (the one marked 98* tub) was not always the coolest of the three tubs. I had the girls in the coolest tub rather than the designated kid friendly tub and got scolded for it by a grumpy staff member. However, since I’m not a rule follower when they are total pish posh, I decided not to cook my children and let them stay for a bit in the coolest hot tub anyway. As you can imagine, people weren’t necessarily clamoring to go in the water during a rain storm. 😛
That evening my oldest and I did a painting activity the campground provided. It was fun to do together! I do wish I had brought my own paint with us though while traveling so I could have led the class. The super sweet lady leading the group spent probably 7 minutes “teaching” me how to use a paintbrush. It was nice of her to care so much. It took so much effort to just smile and nod. I felt like my brain was going to explode. Our oldest had fun though so it was a success!
2 Comments on “Palm Springs, CA”
Sarah, Justin and family…. We are SO excited! Craig gave us an i-pad…and now we’ve been reading ALL of your WONDERFUL BLOG !!!! You are both fantastic writers, and the photos are just delightful!! Craig sent us the book for “Dummies”…. but learning how to use this thing is a slow process!! And Doug won’t even touch it!! MISS YOU…LOVE YOU… and I don’t know if you’ll get this…
Oh my goodness Sue!! I’m so excited to hear from you!! How exciting that you are using an iPad! Woo! It has a learning curve for sure. 🙂 Yes, we have been so lucky to have had this opportunity to travel as a family on this adventure. The United States is a big place…so much to see! I miss and love you Sue!