A Winter Escape To Arizona & California
I don't know about you, but I hate cold weather and even though Austin is known for it's moderate winters, it still gets too cold for me. More importantly the rain and cold and occasional snow flakes makes it impossible for me to swing the golf club with all those layers of clothes - I look and feel like the Michelin Man.
And besides being cold, I get depressed, crabby, and cranky!
So to keep my wife from divorcing me, right after Christmas we plan a vacation to someplace with warmer weather. Shortly after unwrapping the Christmas presents (which seemed like it took two days with piles of presents for 5 kids) with our family we set off on a bright warm sunny day with 70 degree weather for a month long escape. The motorhome and Jeep were loaded with bikes, golf clubs, shorts and sandals, hiking sticks, tennis racquets, and of course three cases of beer and three bottles of Advil and lots of spare golf balls.
On this 25 day vacation we planned to drive more than 2800 miles, play golf on 14 different courses, stay in 3 different golf resorts, spend a week with friends in Palm Springs, visit relatives in Los Angles and a high school buddy in Tucson, hike, take a hot air balloon trip, ride ATVs in the desert, dip a toe in the Pacific Ocean, and take a Jeep off-road tour. But the first challenge was
getting out of Texas - of the 1370 miles from Austin to Los Angeles, it's 580 miles just to escape Texas.
Rather than give you all the details which would be a novel as long as War & Peace, I'll just hit the highlights of our trip.
Texas & Arizona
I had carefully planned the trip so we wouldn't have to drive much more than 250 to 300 miles a day on the way to Tucson, but it started snowing short of our first destination (Ozona) and we were forced to spend the night in Junction and wake up the next morning with snow on the camper. Not a good way to start our escape from the cold weather! So we got off on a bad start but here are the highlights and low lights from the first week:
- on a snowy cold Sunday night, it's not a good time to look for a restaurant in Junction - all but one was closed and it wasn't that great
- golf at the Ozona Country Club and Butterfield Trail (see the picture below of what we could have played) in El Paso was cancelled thanks to 32 degrees and light snow on the ground
- the scenery between Ozona and El Paso hadn't changed much - it's still flat and boring until you get to the string of mountains around Van Horn which had snow capped peaks
- we had a great time in Tucson with good friends, 75 degree sunny weather, and excellent golf at Tucson National, The Gallery, and Gold Canyon - spectacular courses and you can find our reviews of them on our Tucson Golf Course Reviews Page - the downer was the girls whipped us in a golf game called bingo-bango-bongo and we ended up doing the dishes for two days
- we left Tucson to stay a couple nights at We-Ko-Pa Resort outside of Scottsdale where we enjoyed some good food, a comfy bed, a superb golf course - read our review of Cholla Golf Course - and a few hours on the craps and blackjack table without loosing too much money
Head West Young Man
We set off on another bright sunny 75 degree day for Palm Springs to meet up with some Dallas friends who rented a place in Palm Springs for a month to escape the cold weather. The day we arrived it was beautiful and after finding a place to park the motorhome we walked a couple blocks downtown for drinks, dinner, and music - which quickly became our routine from the next 5 days. In addition to the eating, drinking, and lots of dominos, we:
- played 18 holes of golf at Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Course and 36 holes on Westin's Pete Dye and Gary Player Golf Courses which were following by a long soak in the hot tub and lots of Advil - here is a link to our reviews of these and other Palm Springs Golf Courses
- were sad when the rain came, which is extremely unusual for Palm Springs, and we had to cancel a hot air balloon ride, ridding ATVs in the desert, and an off road Jeep tour - but it did dust the mountains with snow making for some beautiful scenery
- did get in a grueling 4 mile hike uphill hike in the San Jacinto Mountains (where they had a great view of me the hot tub, drinking beer, and relaxing - I did capture with a good picture of them on a knob on the mountain); a stroll through Palm Springs famous Thursday night street fair which is alive with art, crafts, and music; and a bike ride in the rain past lots of celebrities homes
- ate at several good restaurants ranging from Mexican to Italian to Thai plus a British Pub, had lots of drinks, and enjoyed a variety of live music, but lost to the wives at dominos which meant we were back at the dishwasher
California & Back Toward Home
We hated to leave Palm Springs but it was good seeing some relatives in Los Angeles for a couple days and then it was time to start heading back toward the Lone Star State.
- the first stop was back in Palm Springs to spend the night in the motor home in a casino's parking lot - saved some money by not having to pay for a campsite but lost it all on the slots, blackjack table, cold beer, and food
next stop was Quartzsite Arizona which is barely 18 miles east of the Colorado River and the California border and it must the RV boondocking capital of the world - it's amazing, the desert is filled with RVs of all shape and sizes camping in the middle of nowhere and they come to Quartzsite for rocks, gems, mineral specimens, fossils, gem and RV shows, and what seemed like at least 15 different flea markets selling everything you can imagine - we couldn't find anything in the flea markets, didn't scour the dessert for gems but did find a couple fun bars and enjoyed the karaoke and cold beer
- after Quartzsite we stayed in a huge RV park in the middle of Scottsdale were we played two spectacular golf courses - Talking Stick and Sun Ridge Canyon which you'll find on our Scottsdale Golf Course Reviews Page - and hung out at a packed country western bar with a good band and lots of folks two-stepping, which felt like we were back in Texas
- then it was back to Tucson to for a golf stay and play at The Ritz Carlton at Dove Mountain and Casino Del Sol, both of which fantastic and the courses - Dove Mountain's Wild Burro and Tortolita and Casino Del Sol's Sewailo (about as close to a perfect 10 as you can get) - were outstanding: here is a link to our reviews of the resorts and to golf course reviews
- after those two experiences and with sun burned faces, empty bottles of Advil, quite a few less golf balls, but lots of sand from the bunkers we started the long boring journey home with a night in the El Paso Walmart and two nights in Ozona - read our article of exploring Ozona - where the highlight was the biggest and best chicken fried steak I've every had
And when we got home the weather was beautiful and in the low 70s! A successful escape from the cold weather.