To Hell and back! :)

Up at an elevation of 6700 feet, the days are warm, but not hot, and the nights are quite cool, sometimes even close to freezing.  The surrounding valleys have been downright steamy, with highs of at least 100 every day.  Why, with such lovely weather right here, would we venture down into the blast furnace?  (All my former co-workers know the answer–ice cream!)  I just couldn’t stop thinking about the avocado ice cream we had last weekend, so when we wanted to make a Costco and Trader Joes run, I suggested that we go to the ones in Palm Springs, and make another stop at Lappert’s Ice Cream.

We also wanted to check out the world famous attraction, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which whisks you up 6,000 feet in altitude, up the side of the San Jacinto mountains.  At the top is Mount San Jacinto State Park, with miles and miles of hiking, and fantastic views of the Coachella Valley.  At $24 a person round trip, the tram is pricey, but it’s a unique and exhilarating experience to move from “Mexico” (95 degrees) to “Alaska” (60 degrees) in just 10 minutes!

The Valley Station, looking up, up, up!

Starting up with the lush valley below us.

Passing the other car on its way back down.

One of the 5 towers holding up the wires we’re traveling on. See that yellow square? That’s a landing pad for helicopters–the only way to get maintenance crews to the towers!

Almost to the top!

There are hiking trails to remote campsites and to the highest peaks in the park.  After a week of hard work, we opted for a more sedate experience, and took the 1.5 mile Desert Overlook trail.

Looking down into Palm Springs.

We enjoyed being surrounded by birds in flight and the sounds of nature!

Acres and acres of wilderness, and 54 miles of hiking trails behind me!

The man behind the counter at Lappert’s Ice Cream was impressed that we made the long journey to his store.  We learned that the ice cream is a very high butterfat content, which is why it’s so yummy!  I had Avocado and Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramel, and JJ had Pistachio and Macadamia Coconut.  Lappert’s really needs to open a location in Big Bear!

Then it was time to get to work!  We went to Trader Joes, which was the most empty one I’ve ever been in.  (Our Denver Trader Joes experience was a bit like getting onto a Japanese subway!)  Next we headed to Costco, where I needed to get my own membership, after years of just handing a shopping list to my dad.  I had heard that this particular store was really big, and the stories were true.  I just stood there, dumbfounded, after we walked in the front door, and contemplated the disgusting nature of American excess.  We tried to focus on the few things that we needed, but it was impossible to find anything in the sea of consumables.  We staggered out an hour later, but with only the items we had on our list. (HA!  Take that, Costco!) Thankfully, our new membership also gave us access the discounted gasoline station.  We paid $3.79–much, much better than the average of $4.19 that we see in Big Bear Lake.

We both realized that we were dehydrated when we got back into the car to start the drive home.  I had a gallon of water with us, and we each drank a whole Nalgene full on the way home.  Concerned about the car overheating as we got into the foothills, we left off the A/C and just sweltered.  It was so sweet to see our mountain range rising up in front of us, beckoning us with green trees and cooler temperatures.

Home sweet home!

I haven’t been writing much about work, because it’s…challenging.  The workload is incredibly high, with an emphasis on bathroom cleaning.  Many days, we are in each of our two bathrooms 7 or 8 times to check paper, and several times each day for cleaning.  It’s so disheartening to leave the restroom in perfect shipshape, and then return a few hours later to a disaster.  I’m particularly stymied about what leads campers to, um, expel bodily fluids on the floor of the bathroom, or in the shower.  On my good days, I laugh about us being the newest members of the Sisyphean club, and on my bad days it can make me want to cry.

This past week, we figured out a few things that make our days flow more smoothly.  We’re getting our work done in a little less time, leaving more space for free time in the afternoons.  I switched from feeling overwhelmed by my workload to feeling like I was the one calling the shots, and that feels much better.  I also enjoy planning our next weekend adventure, and dreaming about where we can explore over the winter.

The other hard part is that we’re really starting to miss friends and family back home.  If you have a moment this week, send us an email or give us a call or text.  We miss you!



4 thoughts on “To Hell and back! :)

  1. Miss you, too, Miss Rayn! It is hard to be homesick, but your adventure, and all that you are experiencing, is worth a pile of gold! Rage on, girlfriend!

  2. We also miss you. I channeled you the other day when I printed the pull list and it came out double spaced! – and then again yesterday one page came out with 1/2 page double spaced – freaky…???
    Your jeep adventure looks like the one Mike & I did years ago when we were in Palm Springs. If Lapperts ice cream was there then, I’m sorry we missed it. So good to see your great smile in your photos – looks like you really are enjoying where you are (in spite of all the toilet cleaning!) Glad you are getting to explore in your free time – it looks amazing! Hugs to you & JJ. Take care and keep posting. Sally

    • Sally, I definitely miss having lots of coworkers! For most of the day it’s just me and JJ riding around in the golf cart and he’s the only one that I have to harass. I have to go kind of easy on him because he has to put up with me the whole darn day!

      I will keep eating ice cream and posting about our excellent adventures!

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