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Palm Springs perfect place for cactus lovers

I recently returned from spending a week in Palm Springs, Calif., with my wife and two boys. Generally, I am not the type to run away from Duluth's cold winters. However, this winter I couldn't wait.

I recently returned from spending a week in Palm Springs, Calif., with my wife and two boys. Generally, I am not the type to run away from Duluth's cold winters. However, this winter I couldn't wait.
Palm Springs has our beautiful summers in its winter. It was 74 degrees and sunny the entire week we were there. Oh sure, it cools down to the mid 40s at night, but quickly warms up during the day.
While we were there, we did all of the tourist things, like shopping at a flea market, taking a celebrity home tour, enjoying an amusement park, and many other things. You know, trying to do things to keep all ages happy.
For me, it was the plants. I was awe-struck by all the flowers, palm trees, cactus, green grass, citrus trees and shrubs.
We had lunch at one of the many large hotels in the area, and it had tens of thousands of annuals blooming everywhere. I especially enjoyed the geraniums -- they looked like small shrubs with huge clusters of red blooms. In addition, the hotel had a lake that you could travel on in a small boat. I could have spent the whole day floating around that lake.
Palm Springs is, of course, named for the palms, and I saw why. There are thousands and thousands of palm trees everywhere. In Palm Springs, your landscape isn't complete until you have a palm tree or two planted in it. Many of the palm trees in the area are native California fan palms; however, there are date palms, coconut palms, pigmy palms and several others native to other parts of the world.
We actually watched a landscaping company planting the trees. It was amazing how these 40-feet-tall trees could be planted using a crane and digging a small hole. Apparently, palm trees have a small fibrous root system that allows them to be easily transplanted. But they constantly need water, so everyone has an irrigation system to provide plenty.
Palm Springs is located in the Mojave Desert, so naturally there are cactus plants everywhere. Thousands of cacti, including the largest of them all, the Saguaro cactus, dot the landscape. We visited a botanical garden located just outside of Palm Springs called the Living Desert. It contains one of the largest collections of cacti in the world, and they were all labeled. Additionally, the garden also contained many of the native plants you would find living in the desert. It was a very interesting place to see.
The Living Desert is also a zoological garden containing many animals that call the desert home, including big horn sheep, mountain lions, snakes, birds and many lizards. During our visit, the staff was providing a seminar on lizards and snakes, which my two boys enjoyed. They even got to pet a lizard or two.
Palm Springs is also known for its tremendous golf courses. The area has more than 100 courses and more being built each year. It was amazing to see these large, perfectly maintained golf courses sitting right next to desert land. While we were visiting the area, Bob Hope's yearly charity golf tournament was going on. I guess lots of stars were in town. Didn't see any though.
Breakfast in Palm Springs generally involves getting up, going outside, picking a grapefruit and eating it. OK, maybe not that easy, but there were many different kinds of citrus trees growing all over the area, including grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange and tangerine. I am now thinking about getting an indoor orange tree for my own little slice of Palm Springs.
Of all the places I visited in Palm Springs, I would say the one I enjoyed the most was called Indian Canyons. It is located on reservation land and operated by the Agua Caliente Band of the Cahuilla Indians. The canyons contain breathtaking views of the San Jacinto Mountains, native palms growing along rushing streams and wildflowers in bloom on the desert floor.
While visiting, we took a guided tour of the canyons and learned about the Cahuilla way of life. They were a peace-loving people who lived off the land in this area for thousands of years and used many native plants for medicine, food, dyes, basket weaving and hunting tools. We saw rock art, housepits, trails and food preparation areas that still exist from many generations ago. It was a very interesting place, and I would enjoy returning to visit again.
With so many things to do and so little time, I guess it means I will be returning to Palm Springs. I can hardly wait.

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