Hiking the Indian Canyons,near Palm Springs.

The desert, an arid, dry, rocky land that expands across the horizon as far as the eye can see stretches across the Southern part of California surrounding the city of Palm Springs where the rather unknown Indians Canyons  are formed which we only discovered due to the jeep tours for our family out to the more famous Joshua Tree National Park costing over $500.

The Indian Canyons would only cost us the taxi ride out and another $20 in entrance fees,this time there would be no jeep and the exploring would have to be done on foot. The Cahuilla, native Americans roamed the canyons for hundreds of years on the southwest edge of the Coachella Valley. It was perfect for them, hunting was made easy when the prey would come down for a drink by the streams flowing from the San Jacinto mountains. Oasis were formed with pockets of green fan palm trees, where native Americans made their homes. Food and water was in abundance.


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In 1876 the Federal government divided the valley into a checkerboard. The Southern Pacific railway received odd numbered sections, while the even numbered sections were given to the Agua Caliente as their reservation. But boundaries were not established until 1940`s and by then much of the native american land had been built on.

What is amazing about the canyons are the contrasts in landscape from the rocky arid dry land with rocky cliffs and various cactai growing, to the canyon floor where there is a lush green oasis with fan palm trees and stream flowing along with thorny plants, here by the water you see a variety of birds flying around, a nice spot for the avid bird watcher.

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The rocky cliffs are home to the big horn sheep and if you arrive early you can see the tracks that the animals have left when they have come down for a drink overnight. Hawks and other birds of prey soared overhead as we made the climb up the highest section of the hike.

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There are various hiking trails for the public to enjoy, the more well known trails are the Murray Canyon,Andreas Canyon and the 15 mile Palm Canyons trail. We hlked along the Palm Canyon trail for about 2 miles, then switched to another trail that led up through the rocky cliffs offering you a chance to be exposed to both environments. The hike also led to the highest point of the cliff with splendid views of the Oasis floor down below and overlooking the city of Palm Springs. The track up through the cliffs loops back to the start of the trail where we witnessed three beautiful hummingbirds having a feed.

If its too costly for you to take a day tour to Joshua Tree National Park then the Indian Canyons make a fine alternative but don’t forget to bring your hiking shoes as jeeps don’t take  you around this park.

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Have you been to the Indian canyons near Palm Springs? We would love to hear what you thought of them.




Photos: Zooming up Mount Jacinto National Park in Palm Springs cable car

Palm Springs, the home to the Rat Pack in the 50’s and 60’s when they left Hollywood to party hard in the desert. Once the rat pack left, the retirees swarmed in to take over the golf courses, until the mid 90’s when a new generation fell in love with the laid back little city. Palm springs is definitely an oasis of the desert with its boutique hotels, steel and glass bungalows and piano bars serving the perfect martini.

Palm Springs lies in the middle of the Coachella Valley, surrounded by desert and land owned by the Cahullia native americans which allows people to gamble the day/night away in the casinos, but there is so much more to this city of 46,000 people than to just bathe in the sun by the pool and gamble.

We were here to explore the outdoor attractions that Palm springs has to offer. One of the must things to do is to zoom up the mountain to the Mount San Jacinto National Park, where you travel in the revolving aerial tramway. The largest of its kind transporting up to 80 people at a time, transporting them from the valley station at an elevation of 2,643 feet passing through 5 unique life zones to the mountain station at 8,516 feet. The 2 and a half mile trip takes only 10 minutes, rotating twice to give everyone the opportunity of seeing the entire valley.

They say its like taking a trip from Mexico to Alaska in just minutes,with it being 30-40 degrees Farenheit cooler you can see why. It had been a warm day down below, but now with it being rather cold, snow lay on the ground for people to play amongst the pine forest. Making snowmen, sliding on their toboggans and people doing some cross country skiing or snow shoeing.

It was a fun day up top to be had by everyone. My son had never experienced so much snow on the ground, as it melts straight away in Osaka, had one of the best days of his life.

Hours of operation.

Tram cars depart at least every half hour. The first tram-car up Monday through Friday is 10 am. First tram-car up Saturday, Sunday and holidays is 8am. Last tram-car up is 8pm and last tram down is 9.45 pm. Be prepared to wait, we were there in high season and we waited for three hours to ride our tram


The base of Mount San Jacinto, no snow


Hitomi at the base

imageMe at the base

imageHere comes the cable car



Moving up the mountain


The snow, one of the few places you can surf, swim and ski all within 2 hours, it’s California.



Nearly at the top


Arrived, look at the snow

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imageRei with new friends



Cherry Blossom Viewing in Osaka.

Spring is here, the blue sky, the warm weather and in Japan where I currently am, the pretty pink cherry blossoms have bloomed. Once you see the pictures you will understand why it is our favourite season. There is something special when you see the blossoms for the first time. There is a sense of warmth that fills your body.

Luckily you can see the blossoms anywhere in Japan. They start blooming in the Southern part of Kyushu sweeping across the country throughout April. People tune into the nightly news to listen for the best time to view the blossoms in their local area.

Originally only aristocracy and feudal lords would participate in the cherry blossom viewing parties otherwise known in Japanese as Hanami.  The common people started to take part after the 8th Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimue  planted trees along the Sumido River in Tokyo.

Families, friends, company employees all have parties under the cherry blossom trees. In the popular places, people arrive in the early hours of the morning to save a spot for everyone to enjoy the party and enjoy they do.  This is the time when they let down their hair, drink and become merry, sometimes drink  to oblivion.

Food is usually brought from home and shared amongst the party guests or meat, vegetables, okonomiyaki or yaki soba are grilled on hot plates similar to a BBQ. Portable karaoke machines are sometimes brought so everyone can sing the latest songs or enka traditional Japanese music popular amongst older people.

We are currently in Osaka and will tell you the best places to view them.

Osaka Mint Bureau

This is the most famous place in Osaka for viewing cherry blossoms. The mint has the largest variety of trees with 100 varieties amongst the 300 trees that are for viewing. The blossoms bloom slightly later here because of the late-blooming yae-zakura trees.

This years viewing period is scheduled from April 11th-April 17th. Opening 10am to 9pm. Weekends from 9am.

To see the cherry blossoms it is a ten minute walk from Temmabashi station.  Free admission.

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Osaka Castle Park

This would be the most common place for people to view the cherry blossoms. Over 4000 trees have been planted in the park. The castle makes a perfect backdrop to the blossoms, making it a great place for photography. They light up Nishinomaru garden.

Free entry except for Nishinomaru Garden.

Nishinomaru garden open from 9.00 to 20.00

200 yen day time.

500 yen light up

illumination from March 29th to April 17th




Expo Park

Expo Park was home to the 1970 World Expo since then it has been turned into a large park with over 5000 trees line the paths and its lawned areas. This used to be near where we lived so we would often visited this great park which also has a traditional Japanese garden, ethnology museum and home to a professional soccer team.

To enter the park costs 250 yen whether it is cherry blossom season or not.

take the monorail and get off at Banpaku Kinen Koen station.

There is also a light up in the evenings from March 29th to April 13th

illumination from 18.00 -21.00

The park is open from 9.30-17.00



Kema Sakuranomiya Park

This is the most picturesque place to view cherry blossoms as the blossoms stretch for several kilometers along the Okawa river. 5000 trees line the promenade making for a beautiful walk or they can be seen from boats that cruise the river. Osaka Castle can also be seen from here.

To view the blossoms take the JR loop line to Sakuranomiya station.  Illuminated till 22.00 during blooming periods.

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Each year the dates change. These dates are for 2014.


Have you seen the cherry blossoms in Japan?. We would love to hear what you thought of them.