The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

by Bob Sparrow

Chuck inspects a propeller blade

It was windy, very windy, but that was to be expected, we were in the middle of a ‘wind farm’.  Yes, after years of driving by all those windmills on our way to Palm Desert, we finally stopped to take the tour and learn exactly what was going on with all these giant propellers.  Perhaps you wondered as well, well wonder no more.  Also, in case you’re hungry after your tour of the wind farm, I’ll give you three good recommendations for restaurants that we tried for the first time and found to be quite good.

First, why are these windmills where they are?  The Gorgonio Pass, which not only has a lot of wind going through it, but also a waterway, a railroad, an Interstate freeway and the San Andreas Fault, sits between the  two largest mountains in Southern California, Mt. San Gorgonio and Mt. San Jacinto, both stretching over 11,000 feet.  Those mountains create weather patterns that help make California one of the top three windiest states in the US, trailing only Texas and Iowa.

Notice the ‘bus’ behind the propeller

The first windmill was put in place there in 1982 and there are now over 1,200 windmills of various sizes, some are taller than the Empire State building and some have propeller blades over 200 feet in length!  To put their size in perspective, if you’re driving on the freeway, at the top the windmills you’ll see a ‘little box’ behind the propeller blades, that ‘little box’ is the size of a bus!  This wind farm supplies a year of electricity for 250,000 homes.  These things are huge, and the ones that are out in the ocean, are MUCH bigger!

As we were wending our way around and through several of the windmills in a six-passenger golf cart, our guide pointed to a large building in the distance and told us that that building held the largest pot farm in North America.  So, I guess when the wind is blowing just right, Palm Springs gets a little high!

Walt & Patty enjoying the evening

The three restaurants I’d recommend, two for food and one for entertainment are, for food, Waldo’s Ristorante & Bar; where’s Waldo’s?  The corner of Country Club and Cook; it has great Italian food in a comfortable setting, indoor-outdoor seating and a cute bar – call many days in advance, it’s packed!  The second restaurant is La Brasserie Bistro & Bar, a French restaurant in La Quinta, with a diverse menu and excellent French Onion Soup.  For great entertainment, we were turned on to this next place by Patty & Walt Schwartz, who live in the area and know how to have a good time as well as where to find one.  We met them at the Paseo Hotel, off El Paseo across from Tommy Bahama’s, the restaurant in the hotel is called the Larkspur Grill, and the food is good, but the music on Thursday nights is awesome, provided by ‘Fun With Dick & Jane’ – a great band that plays all the great hits from the 70s & 80s. You could go just for the ‘people watching’,  – it is truly a show!!

Linda’s sister, Starlet and her husband Donnie, drove out from Arizona to join us for three nights, and our son, Jeff came out and played a round of golf with us.  So it was another great week an hour and a half away from home, but in a whole different world.



‘The Tape’ Chapter 4 – Oh, Where the Trap Door Leads!

For those who have joined us recently, you can find previous chapters of ‘The Tape’ in our ‘Archives’ as follows: Chap 1 (Jan 6), Chap 2 (Jan 20), Chap 3 (May 5).

by Bob Sparrow

trap door

The Trap Door

The Chief took the first few steps down into the cellar and turned back to looked at me with an expression that said,   ‘Are you coming?’  I was still frozen in place across the room and reluctantly inched my way toward the opening in the floor and wondered why I was doing this, what was I going to find down there and what if the Chief was really an axe murderer? One thing I didn’t wonder about was whether anyone would ever find my body if in fact he was. No frickin’ way. Let me end the suspense, the Chief didn’t own an axe, heck he didn’t even own a tomahawk.


Stone walls & archway

The stairs down were longer than I expected so when we finally reached the stone floor at the bottom we were down about 20 feet. Chief’s kerosene lantern cast an uneven light against the cool, dank surroundings. I was not prepared for what I saw before me – the floor, walls and archways, were all lined with brick and stone; someone had put a lot of work into creating this place, whatever it was. As the chief held the lantern in his outstretched arm, we moved toward the main archway. At first I couldn’t make out what I was looking at and then as we got closer, I was stunned. Prison cells had been carved out on both sides of this cave; rusty cell doors hung open in rows as far as the lantern would allow us to see. A chill came over me as I realized I was in a real live dungeon.

(Don: “I’m getting a little claustrophobic, how about we all go up and get some fresh air?”)

The Chief was in deep thought as he looked around this underground prison. He walked over to a nearby cell and squeaked open the rusted door and stood motionless as he stared inside. I kept my distance, as I was pretty sure I didn’t want to see whatever was inside that cell. I asked, “So what is this? What the heck went on down here?”

(Don: “And why are we still down here?”)


dungeon cell

The Chief remained silent as the light from the lantern made eerie shadows play on his face.  He looked down the long row of cells lost in thought. He finally turned to me and said, “Let’s go back up.”

(Don: “Whew! How can I thank you?”)

I followed the Chief up the stairs, out of the house and to the top of a near-by ridge next to the house; from there the entire Coachella Valley lay before us. The sun had just slipped behind Mt. San Jacinto as the Chief sat down on a boulder and watched the evening shadows stretch across the valley floor.

overlooking coachella

Coachella Valley

I sat down a few feet away and asked, “That was pretty spooky; so what was that place?”


To Be Continued . . .


Update: ‘Murder on the Road to Hana’  For those regulars who read/subscribe to our blog, I wanted to provide an up-date on a earlier story published on March 3rd.  Nothing earth-shattering, but the Maui police have reclassified the case  of missing Carley Scott from a ‘missing person’ to a ‘homicide’.  Additionally they have found something in the waters just off the Hana coast that they believe can help them solve this mystery.  Ex-boyfriend, Steven Capobianco remains a ‘person of interest’.

Another Walk in the Park: JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL – Part II

by Bob Sparrow

Joshua-Tree treeSaturday morning:

Anyone that tells you they slept like a baby in a sleeping bag in a tent on a windy night in a public campground is lying, or the baby was colicky.  The night passed slowly, but I knew I’d feel better in the morning after a cup of coffee and a nice warm shower.  I settled for a cup of coffee, there were no showers.

We’ve got three key destinations planned for the day, so we set out early for the first one, The Hall of Horrors.  ‘The Hall’ is a natural tunnel through a large rock formation, that is not easily found, but once found, is spectacular.

Here is a video of our trip through the Hall of Horrors as found on YouTube – it is really cool.  (click on or copy and paste into your URL)

Our next hike was the loop to the Lost Horse Mine. To quote the parks literature on the mine, “the story of the Lost Horse Mine if filled with cowboy gunLost horse mine fights, cattle rustlers, horse thieves, the lure of gold and some sticky-fingered miners”. Surprisingly there were a lot of gold mine in the Mojave Desert, over 300, but most were very unproductive, the Lost Horse Mine was an exception.  Over 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000 ounces of silver (worth about $5 million today) were mined between 1894 and 1931.  We had perfect weather for this 6+ mile hike and found the history of the mine and the area around it fascinating.

Our final destination for the day was Keys View – thank goodness it was drivable as we were low on water, but had plenty of wine; so we drove there before sundown, snapped the neck off a bottle of Pinot Noir and enjoyed the view.  There was an interesting picture on a plaque at Keys View showing what the view would look like if it were smoggy – I guess Southern Californians are used to seeing things that way, so they didn’t want to disappoint anyone who made the drive up there and found that the air wasn’t something you could sink your teeth into.  keys view

Our view on this day was crystal clear. To the south we could see the Salton Sea, and beyond was a mountain at the US-Mexico boarder.  In front of us some 5,000 feet below was a very visible San Andreas Fault, running the length of the Coachella Valley, from Palms Springs to Indio.  In the distance you could see Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio, both over 10,000 feet and snow-capped at this time of year.  Finally, we could see the bottom of our wine glasses, which meant it was time to head back to camp for a hot shower and dinner.  Oh yeah, just dinner.

Dr. Chuck Wagon had prepared a delightful repast featuring cooked-over-the-fire chicken and his ‘special potatoes’ . . . and some more wine.

Hiking affords one a lot of time to just walk and wonder, not bothered with interruptions or to-do lists. Hiking in the desert is particularly inspiring as one sees this abundance of flora and fauna and wonder why and how they manage to not just survive, but thrive in this environment.  Josh sunset

To me the desert is amazing; it is so desolate, yet filled with so many wonders.  No one made the Indians, miners and ranchers stay in the desert, but many remained and managed to carve out a living in this seemingly god-forsaken place.  The reality is that it’s not god-forsaken, there are an amazing number of things living in the desert.

We sit around the campfire as the sky turns incredibly black and the star shine literary like diamonds.  We can hear some critters in the distance and the popping of the logs on the campfire.  It was a good day . . . no, it was a great day! 

  • Camping fee: $10 a night
  • Entrance to the park: $15
  • Sharing stories around the campfire with Trail Boss, Greeter, Sparky and Chuck Wagon: Priceless

Campfire at Lake Cumberland