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Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree, CA

20170126_144754Louise Speaks:  On a recent trip to California we once again went by the turn off to the Joshua Tree National Park.  We knew this was in Patricia’s book, “1000 Places To See Before You Die” but we had never stopped.  We were on our way to take a cruise and decided this was the time we would visit the National Park.  So on the way back from our cruise, we took the turn off and visited the park.  The Joshua Tree National Park is actually listed under Death Valley in Patricia’s book, but for us it is much closer to see it from the Arizona / California side than to go up to Nevada.

100_2500The park is right off the I-10 Fwy outside of Palm Springs, CA.   Declared a U.S. National Park  in 1994,  it had previously been a National Monument  since 1936.  It is named for the Joshua trees  native to the park.  It covers a land area of 790,636 acres, an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island.   A large part of the park, some 429,690 acres , is a designated wilderness area.  Straddling two counties,  the park includes parts of two deserts,  whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation: the higher Mojave Desert  and lower Colorado Desert.

Joshua trees dominate the open spaces of the park, but in among the rock outcroppings are other forms of vegetation.  The higher and cooler Mojave Desert  is the special habitat of  the Joshua tree for which the park is named.  It occurs in patterns from dense forests to distantly spaced specimens.  In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California’s deserts.  Below 3,000 feet, 100_2506the Colorado Desert  encompasses the eastern part of the park and features habitats of bushes and cactus.  There are areas of such cactus density they appear as natural gardens.  The lower Coachella Valley is on the southeastern side of the Park with sandy soil desert dunes.  The only palm native to California, the California Fan Palm, occurs naturally in five oases  in the park, rare areas where water occurs naturally year round and all forms of wildlife are visible.



101_0138The rock formations  of Joshua Tree National Park were formed more than 100 million years ago from the cooling of magma beneath the surface  with roughly rectangular joints.  Ground water  then filtered through the joints to erode  away the corners and edges to create rounded stones, and flash foods  washed away covering ground to create piles of boulders.  Like rock formations in the Arches in Utah, names were given to many of these rock formations.  Skull Rock is a prime example.

We drove completely through the National Park.  We entered through the west in Yucca Valley and came out to the east at Chiracco Summit.  We stopped many times to take photos and to see the gardens and rock formations.  When driving through, take time to see the different formations and enjoy the beauty of these unusual trees.  These trees are only seen here in the National Park and in the Deserts of Israel.  Joshua trees are seen through many of the area deserts, but going through the national park just makes you realize how many of these trees there actually are.


At the beginning of this post, I mentioned we were on our way to the dock to go on a short cruise.  We left early so as not to miss the boat so we do have some extra time today, Jan. 21, 2017.  We decided to visit a resort that is in Patricia’s book and was not to far off the Fwy, so we made a detour to visit the resort.  This a resort is in the Yucca Valley .  The resort is actually listed under the Death Valley Post but it is much closer to see from the highway between Arizona and California than from Death Valley.  The Two Bunch Palm Resort is a private resort.  We had to pull strings just to get through the gates.  The resort is in Desert Hot Springs, CA and is  just outside of Palm Springs.


100_9929We had to explain to the guard at the gate why we were there and all about Patricia’s book.  He connected us to the main lobby and we told our story again.  We were told we could go and speak to the gals in the lobby.  When we asked if we could tour some of the grounds or the facilities  we were told no, they have a privacy law with their guests.  This resort is very inclusive to the rich and famous although it is very affordable.  The gal at the desk however, did tell us about the history of the resort and how it was used as a hideout for villains like Al Capone.  There is a story behind how it got it’s name Two Bunch Palm, and there are two bunches of palm trees at the entrance, but I forgot the story.   I asked if this history was written up somewhere and she said no, it was just information she had accumulated over the years…I’m going to have to start taking notes when I go to these places.  I have looked over the internet to try to find some of these things she told us about and I can’t find a thing.  So if you stop by, you will have to find this young lady and get the story yourself.

As stated in the Death Valley Post, I did enjoy spending a day viewing the sites.  Equally as impressive was the Joshua Tree National Park.  I wold highly recommend visiting both these spots should you ever have the chance.  As for Two Bunch Resort, I would not rate this high on my list.  The grounds were very plain, and although I appreciate the privacy clause, they could have showed us some of the grounds to give us a better impression of the resort.




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Sites in La Jolla, La Jolla, CA

Louise Speaks:  We have been to La Jolla before, in fact a few years ago.  But in trying to complete Patricia’s book “1000 Places To See Before I Die”  we have had to go back and find some of these sites.  I had mentioned these sites in the previous La Jolla post, but this trip we actually went to them.  Today is a rainy day, but nothing like rain and weather along the beach.  Remember La Jolla is like the Riviera of California.  In fact the name La Jolla means “the Jewel” and the Jewel it is.  You can just smell the amount of money in this town,

100_9896Our first stop was the Torrey Pine Golf Course.  We had just watched a golf tournament here100_9913 with Tiger Woods and we knew that this was one of our stops so it was pretty cool to have watched it on TV and here we were.  Although it was raining there were still people golfing…I guess it’s ok to golf as long as it’s not lightening.  The golf course was very green and getting greener with the rain.  They were setting up for the PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open  which apparently is a pretty good size tournament.  Bleachers were going up.  TV booths were being set up and it was quite impressive.  Torrey Pine Golf Course sits on the coastal cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which is a site in itself.  This is the course where in 2008, under brutal conditions, the injured Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate during sudden death where they played 90 grueling holes of exciting golf.  The course is a North and South course, where you are able to challenge yourself, as well as enjoy the beauty of the area. The golf course is the site of the 2008 U.S. Open Championships, and the this event will be back in action on-site in 2021.  The name Torrey Pine was named after the Torrey Pine, a rare tree that grows in the wild along this local stretch of coastline in San Diego County.

100_9914100_9912Right behind the golf course, on the same grounds is The Lodge of Torrey Pines.  As we approached the lodge, the vallet pakers were very helpful with giving us information about the Lodge.  The first place they directed us was their rain forest garden, a place that you can just walk through and meditate.  They then pointed out the beautiful stained glass doors at the entry.  The down side was that the stain glass is suppose to be incredible in the sun.  We were not able to enjoy that view as it was raining.  We then went into the lobby where  we were still able to see how beautiful the stain glass truly was with the light from the chandelier above.  The 100_9907Lodge at Torrey Pines is the img_1142premier luxury hotel in the San Diego area.  The Lodge has received the AAA 5 Diamond Rating for consecutive years running and continues to be the hot spot for relaxation and rejuvenation.   The expansive public rooms with fireplaces, large mantelpieces, overstuffed couches, comfortable leather chairs and amazing views of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean beyond.  The resort offers luxurious accommodations with premium services and amenities.  With 170 guest rooms and 8 suites, you will have no trouble finding a room that works for your particular needs.  For a romantic getaway, the hotel is perfect.  With a full service spa, you and your loved one can experience pure romance.  The Lodge also0 has a heated pool with relaxing poolside cabanas, whirlpool, croquet lawn, and a large terrace with chaise lounges for basking in the Southern California sun.  What got our attention was the view…there is not another one like it.

100_9921Our next stop was the Diva Surf School.  It started out as the first all-girls surf school back in 1996!  They have always strived to empower people to learn to surf in a fun and encouraging environment, while teaching the ways of the awe-inspiring ocean.  The girls are  proud, appreciative, and humbled to see Surf Diva grow the way it has.  The school now offers international, co-ed, corporate, team-building, surf, SUP, kids, veterans, and adaptive programs for people of all ages and all abilities.  Although the lessons actually happen in the ocean, the building that we went by was actually their boutique.   The Surf Diva boutique is  filled with your favorite fashion finds so it brings the shop great joy to see all the beach-lovers shopping for those California styles.  The girls motto is that as long at they  maintain that original thrill of sharing the stoke with each lesson they teach and with every board, bikini and bar of wax that they sell, then they have done their job.  Since it was raining we didn’t have the opportunity to go down to the beach and see lessons, but I’ve seen surfing before, so I’m good.

100_9919Continuing our tour of La Jolla, we drove by the La Jolla Playhouse.  The La Jolla Playhouse has garnered more than 300 local and national awards for its productions, including a Pulitzer Prize for Drama and 35 Tony Awards for its Broadway transfers, as well as the 1993 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.  The mission of the La Jolla Playhouse is to advance theatre as an art form and as a vital social, moral and political platform by providing unfettered creative opportunities for the leading artists of today and tomorrow.  With their youthful spirit and eclectic, artist-driven approach they plan to  continue to cultivate a local and national following with an insatiable appetite for audacious and diverse work.  In the future, they hope that the  La Jolla Playhouse will be considered singularly indispensable to the worldwide theatre landscape as they become a permanent safe harbor for the unsafe and surprising actors of tomorrow. They hope the day will come when it will be essential to enter the La Jolla Playhouse village in order to get a glimpse of what is about to happen in American theatre.  We drove around the grounds and there are several theaters forming this village.  In looking at the posters there were many famous and well known productions being played at the same time.  The variety was very impressive.  Since it was raining, we didn’t walk around, but it was very impressive to just drive through the village and see the different theaters.

thOur last stop in La Jolla was George’s At The Cove.  We had a hard time finding this place becausebar the sign outside just say’s George’s…but based on the phone numbers and address the two are the same.  What’s unique about George’s is that they have an indoor formal restaurant and an Ocean Terrace with views to die for.  According to the manager, they say they approach every day as a special occasion – one that begins with a bounty of locally grown and harvested products and ends with inventive preparations that surprise and delight their guests.  Andre stated that one of the best things about being in San Diego is that you can be outside year-round.  It’s a part of a lifestyle.   Andre told me that  when you want to eat outdoors, there’s no better place than the Ocean Terrace, acclaimed as the region’s best rooftop dining.   They have tables  overlooking the Pacific Ocean  or you can grab a seat at their elevated bar for a perfectly relaxed Southern California lunch or dinner with a million dollar view.

I have always loved La Jolla.  I used to come here when I lived in California, and La Jolla has the best beaches around.  The shopping and places to eat and just the quaint places to walk around and window shop.  The things we saw today were definetely tourist attractions, but it’s the town and the beach that is the real attraction.  That being said, La Jolla gets an A rating and a definite California stop.

Am…Page 615


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The Raj: Fairfield, IA: Day 8: June 22,2016

100_9576Louise Speaks:  Our only reason for going to Fairfield IA and see this attraction is because it is a main attraction to see in Patricia’s book “1000 Places To See Before You Die.”   Thelma has had her own reasons for not coming to the SE portion of Iowa, but Patricia seems to feel like this was a sight to see.

100_9578The Raj sets among 100 acres of rolling Iowa meadows and is one of the few places outside of India where you can experience a complete Ayurvedic cleansing called panchakarma.  This is more than a therapeutic massage.  It is a multi day process that clears the body of toxins and restores it’s balance using treatments like abbyanga, the application of warm herbalized oil by two massage therapists working as one.  According to The Raj, many people suffering from fibromyalgia and depression seem to experience dramatic improvement after a stay at the Raj.

slideshow_theraj2The Raj is here in Iowa because Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru who introduced Transcendenrtal Meditation to the Beatles and to America in the 1960’s, came to the small town of Fairfield in 1974.  It is now reincarnated as the Maharishi University of Management where those earning degrees counteract the stress of academia by practicing daily meditation.  The Maharishi has since moved to Holland, but you can feel his presence in the Maharishi Vedic City where there are 150 homes, an observatory, an organic dairy and garden, and the Raj which opened in 1993.

For the size of this enormous spa sitting on 100 acres, only 18 male and female guests can stay at the spa and the days are extremely structured.  Organic vegetarian meals are served, 2 to 3 hours of treatments are scheduled,  yoga sessions are required and lectures are given after dinner.  The last treatment of the day is optional and is a basti, or an enema which is just one more weapon in the war on toxins.  The Raj claims it can reduce the bodies toxins and PCBs by 50% in just one 6 night stay.

the raj_ayurveda_health_spa_treatm.The cleansing process begins before you arrive.  You are asked to avoid Cheetos, cold water, chocolate and a list of other enjoyable things.  Once at the Raj you are current mind and body are assessed and you are given a list of recommended treatments.  The treatments vary but can be as strenuous as relaxing in an herbal steam chamber while an attendant pours coconut oil on your head to keep you cool, which is considered a health treatment here.  For beauty, your skin is nourished with mud collected from regions in India, then rinsed with organic milk from a local dairy where the cows listen to ancient Vedic melodies.

100_9577The cost to stay here begins at $2,043 per person for a 4 night stay.  It does include your meals and MOST treatments.  The grounds and the front of the spa look very inviting.  The driveway up to the spa makes you feel like you are driving into another world, and I guess in a way you are.  This place however, did not impress me at all, but I’m guessing Patricia actually did come here and she must have enjoyed it enough to give it a listing in her book all by itself.  I on the other hand am giving it a D rating.  This is just not my idea of a spa.

AM…Page 518

To end our day we drove to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa where we spent the night.  We only drove 196 miles today but we did make 11 stops.  I’m no longer keeping track of what we are NOT seeing…I’m just putting those back in a folder for another trip.  11 Stops, that’s a lot for one day.  We are now in our 6th state and our trip total is 2,248 miles.