Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thanksgiving - Palm Springs

We took off this year for Thanksgiving for a week in Palm Springs. This is our third visit in the last four years and we find something new and fun to do each time. We started off our trip with Mexican food and giant Margaritas. Then we hit the pool since the weather was so warm.
This is the first vacation we have taken since both girls are pool safe without us in the water. What a game changer! Alex and I could both sun bathe on the side while watching the girls in the pool. We can't take our eyes off them but it was nice not to have to spend every minute in the water. They also made a lot of friends since it was school break and there were lot's of families at the resort. 
The next morning we headed for the park to get some roller skating in. The girls got roller skates for Christmas last year and have been enjoying them. It's fun to go to a park with bigger areas to skate. We enjoyed the sun for a while and then headed back to swim again.

The time share has grapefruit trees everywhere and you can just help yourself. We did a taste test and picked from several trees to see which was the best. The smallest one won, it was pink grapefruit and so sweet. We ate them every day and picked a bag to take home.
We made sure to plan a trip up the gondola to enjoy the views on top of the mountain. The road up to the gondola is right by this cool sign to Palm Springs.
We rode the gondola once when the girls were really little but they don't remember. It is super steep and a lot of fun. This is at the base and it goes up to the tippy top of that mountain behind it.
It may also be a little scary. If you're afraid of heights you may need to hang on, and close your eyes.
Once you get to the top it is winter. And a forest. It is at least 25 degrees cooler at the top of the mountain. It was a fun change. We knew to come prepared to hike around this year. 
The trail we took is a 1 mile loop leading you to 5 different look out points. Three of us enjoyed the hiking very much. I will let you guess which one was not so impressed.
There is a little stream that runs down the canyon and all the trees around it are lush and changing into fall colors. So strange amidst the desert surroundings.
This is the old gondola that used to take you to the top. I think I prefer the newer one. It rotates as you go up so you get a chance to see the view from every angle.
The next day was another warm and sunny one. We spent the day at the Desert Zoo. We come here each time we visit. It is comprised of only desert animals. Lily did a report on Meerkats last year so they are a favorite.
They have a really impressive train exhibit too which Gemma loved. She would have just stayed here all day.
Lily and her cat obsession. She wanted to make sure she is the ocelot size.
Gemma is more of a giant house cat.
They both wish they were the cheetah.
They always have to ride the carousel and were sister Leopard and Cheetahs.
We said hello to our friend the mountain lion. Let's hope he is the only one we ever encounter.
They have a new butterfly exhibit. You get to walk amongst the butterflies.
If you're lucky enough you can hold one.
My two favorite butterflies.
To try something new this time we took a day and drove out to explore Joshua Tree National Park. It is only about an hour away. We weren't sure how the girls would do since one person did not enjoy hiking on top of the mountain.
It was really cold out in the desert. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day as long as you were bundled up. 
Everyone had the best time. It was the highlight of the trip. The rocks were so fun to scramble around on. The girls called themselves the "Adventure Crew" and ran around trying to be adventurous to earn a badge.
We even managed to use the self timer to get a few family shots.
You  might see this one on our Christmas card.
We did a couple of hikes. One was a 2 mile loop and the other was about a mile out and back. This one was out to this natural arch. We had to climb up to stand under the arch of course. Lily loved this one because we went off trail to get back and did some real adventuring.  It was a great day!
On Thanksgiving day we woke up and made bacon and french toast before throwing a turkey in the crock pot (yes, I travel with a crock pot) then headed out for a day of hiking in Indian Canyons. You pay to get into the park and then they have a map with tons of hiking trails of varying levels. We stuck to the easy ones. They were really kid friendly.   
We started at the palm oasis hike. It was cool and lush down by the stream.
Of course crossing the stream was a highlight.
Adventure crew hikes again!

After a couple hours we popped over to another trail before heading home. 
This one was along a bubbling stream for about a mile loop. It looked like a cold fall day for sure.
We enjoyed our hiking and were ready to get back to our turkey dinner. It was our last day in Palm Springs and we had such a great time. We already can't wait to come back again. Adventure crew out!

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