Here are more clues as to where we are. A giveaway clue is at the end.
The picture below is of a Joshua Tree. The Joshua tree is to this high desert ecosystem what the saguaro cactus is to the deserts of Arizona. Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Western Screech Owls and other birds make their homes in the trees. Desert Woodrats and Antelope Ground Squirrels live nearby.
We stayed in the desert until sunset, and it was stunning.
In the valley between mountain ranges the wind always blows, sometimes hard enough that it affects your driving. They take advantage of this source of energy with these windmills, hundreds, if not thousands, of them, producing energy for the region.
Here is some information about the windmills, which produce enough energy to power the whole city of Palm Springs according to this site.
And the Joshua Tree National Park is another natural wonder that is worth travelling out here to see. The Park actually includes parts of two different deserts and the transition zone between them. Below 3,000 feet the Colorado Desert occupies the eastern half of the park. There are no Joshua trees in this part of the park. Higher, with elevations up to over 5,000 feet, to the west, is the Mojave Desert. Huge boulders and rock formations (of different kinds in the Colorado and Mojave sections) make for wonderful vistas driving and hiking in the park.
We were able to experience two rare events in Palm Springs. The desert city only gets about 3 inches of rain a year, and last night it rained. We were indoors at the time, and not even aware of it, but it washes the dust away and everything looks clean and new this morning.
The other rare event occured around 4 in the morning a couple of days ago. A 4.0 earthquake, mild by California standards, rocked Big Bear to our north. We felt it, but fell back asleep so it wasn't really that big a deal.
There is so much beauty and diversity in our country, and this area showcases some of the best. From this valley, palm lined canyons and snow capped mountains are all around. What a place.