The goal for yesterday was to take a tour of the Oasis Date Gardens followed by a tour of the International banana museum. We had looked up the date farm on line and it said they offered tours at 1030 so we left the RV around 0930 to make sure we arrived before the start of the first tour of the day.
When we arrived we found out they no longer offer tours, something to do with their insurance carrier. They did offer to show us a movie about date farming and showed us to the sample table. We took them up on the offer for the movie. It was shown in a side room on an old Sony TV with a VHS tape! All in all the movie was interesting and we did learn quite a bit about dates and their history. We estimate the movie was produced some time in the early 80’s. At that time 95% of the dates produced in the US were grown right here in this area. I am assuming this is probably still true. We learned about a date festival that occurs each year in February. It is the Riverside County Fair and Date Festival. We will definitely be attending this if we are in Palm Springs in February some year. The highlight is the camel and ostrich races! We had a coupon for a free date shake which was excellent. It was very think and sweet and was more like a “date blizzard” than a shake. The movie and date sampling did not take us long, one can only sample so many dates, so we were on our way to the International banana museum by 1030. The brochure and the online site had said it was open at 10:30 Friday through Monday. We arrived to find the sign on the door saying they did not open until Noon. I guess our lesson for this day is not to trust the online websites for information about tours and times.
It was 11am and our two tours had not quite panned out, so we decided to find the trail head for the Painted Canyon hike. This is one of the areas that is dog friendly. Gizmo was not with us because we were supposed to be doing tours. We did some quick online reading before arriving at the painted canyon and decided we should do the ladder loop since we would not be able to do this with Gizmo. The final drive to the trailhead is reached by driving about 4 miles on the well packed gravel road called Painted Canyon Road. The road ends at a big parking lot at the beginning of the hike. Thankfully we had enough stuff with us to do a 5-mile hike, some water in the cooler and my trusty Sherpani backpack. I had a spare pair of black trail runners in the car which went nicely with my black skirt. Again, we had planned on touring for the day so I was not really dressed for a hike. The skirt actually was pretty good to hike in since it in an Eddie Bauer adventure skort and is designed for active wear. I was glad that it had built in “shorts” as I would be climbing a lot of ladders.
The trail started off in a pretty wide canyon and in about 1/4 mile we took a left and climbed up into the start of the slot canyon. This was our first hike through a slot canyon and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The ladders were mostly old metal ones but they were plenty secure for me. The online information about the hike said it was 4.5-5 miles with 450 feet of elevation gain. We did not have a map so we are not sure exactly what route we did but we ended up hiking 5 miles and over 1300 feet of elevation. You can see the GPS route from our hike under the link “our hikes” at the top of our blog page. I think there are many different routes you can take here, some that do not involve ladders. We saw quite a few people hiking with dogs and found one family hiking with 3 shih tzu. I’m pretty sure they were not taking the ladder loop as some of the ladders had over 15 rungs. The views from the top of the canyon were extensive and extended to nearby mountain ranges and the Salton Sea.
The hike back to the car was through a wide section of the canyon. We enjoyed looking at the rocks on the walk out. It is pretty obvious that volcanic activity has occurred in this area when you look at the rock walls. We were pretty tired at the end of the hike. It was only 5 miles but the majority of the hike was in soft sand (almost beach sand) so in addition to the elevation and distance this gives you a little extra work out.
You showed the true RV spirit..when the original plan doesnt work out..improvise. It looks like it worked out well. So many times, something was closed, and we then stumbled unto something unplanned that was wonderful. Such a great way to see our country.