I had booked the trip online, researching a good hotel and nearby restaurants with tripadvisor.com. We stayed at the 7 Springs Inn, and had a big suite with full kitchen. We ended up eating more than half our meals at home, which was kind of fun (and saved a lot of money).
I had rented a car, and we took a few day trips.
First was to the Salton Sea. This is the largest lake in California, and is a couple of hundred feet below sea level. When we got there, it was cool, windy and overcast, and it seemed about the dreariest place imaginable. We didn't spend much time there, but on the way back stopped for a date shake at one of the date farms in the area.
Lorna at the Salton Sea
Our next day trip was to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This was an area of badlands and desert, not unlike some of the country around Drumheller here in Alberta. We stopped for a while in the town of Borrego Springs, then continued twenty miles or so into the mountains on winding roads, much to Lorna's discomfort.
Badlands in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Our best day trip was to Joshua Tree National Park. We had been there last year, but this time we entered from the south at Cottonwood Spring, and drove through areas we hadn't seen before. There is such a variety of landscapes, plants and geological features. We didn't see much wildlife, just a few birds and lizards. It's a fascinating place that would be best experienced by camping and hiking for a few weeks. A drive-through of six or eight hours doesn't do it justice.
Cholla Cactus Garden
Rocks with quartz intrusion
In addition to all that running around, we did some geocaching in Palm Springs (found about 40, I think), visited an art fair, did part of a self-guided tour of modern architecture (dull), and visited a few restaurants (my favourite being a late lunch on the patio at the Blue Coyote, a Mexican place).
Oddest experience: hot on the trail of a geocache, we encountered a group of about a dozen people on Segways right in front of where the cache was supposed to be. It was some kind of tour of celebrity homes, and the guide was giving a long-winded talk about the history of some house (I think Liz Taylor had lived there). They didn't seem in a hurry to move on, so we did.
Getting back to Calgary was a bit of a shock. There was a heavy fog, deep snow on the ground, and temperatures well below freezing. It made the Salton Sea seem like Maui in comparison!