The Desert Dawg Blawg

All things California desert: Travel, politics, environment, adventure, offbeat experiences, local hotspots, insider's tips, people and commentary about life in Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley and the California desert region.

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A day trip around this man made bathtub is a trip through a unique version of the American dream.
by Morgan Craft




Anybody who spends time in the desert knows about the Salton Sea. Many have even made the drive to stare from its eerily beautiful shoreline. To really know the thing, however, a complete circumnavigation is the way to go about it. And it’s a great day trip, with a truly offbeat set of sights and experiences to be had along the way. (Read on...Click here!)

California's Solar Land Rush Intensifies

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 12:54 PM 0 comments

The Race is on to Land Solar Projects across Eastern Riverside and San Bernardino Counties

by Morgan Craft

   Interior Secretary Ken Salalzar’s recent visit to the Coachella Valley put national focus on the proposed mass development of solar energy in eastern Riverside and San Bernardino counties. “We have set aside 1,000 square miles of public lands in 24 Solar Energy Study Areas that the Department and BLM are evaluating for solar energy development across the West,” Salazar said. “If developed, these tracts could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.”

(Click image to enlarge)

   To highlight the point, the Interior Department has opened a California Renewable Energy Coordination Office (RECO), right in Palm Springs. “These offices in California, along with our renewable permitting teams in six other western states, will help to swiftly complete application reviews on the most ready-to-go and environmentally appropriate solar, wind, and geothermal projects on U.S. public lands,” says Salazar. The streamlined review and approval process would take one year, instead of the usual three to four years.
   The Green Technology Institute calls the Southern California desert the “Saudi Arabia of green power,” and advocates all who believe in green energy to participate in “California’s green gold rush” taking place right here, right now. Riding the wave of the State Bill 107 mandate that requires 33% of our state’s electricity to be produced using renewable sources by 2020, utilities and solar power developers are wanting to know where they can build, and how soon. There’s a huge motivator: projects that are able to break ground by December 1, 2010, qualify for a portion of $15 billion in Recovery Act money that has been earmarked for alternative energy development. (Click to read full story)

A Different Kind of Rooftop Solar Shingle

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 8:52 AM 0 comments
A Different Kind of Rooftop Solar Shingle

A company out of Grass Valley, California – Sun Energy Engineering Co. – has developed a low-profile solar shingle, or Sun Energy Shingle, to be used instead of roofing shingles or over existing shingles. It’s available in custom colors, too, depending on what kind of look you’re trying to get on the rooftop.


The Palm Springs Dining Scene Springs to Life

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 12:30 PM 0 comments

Desert Dining

The Palm Springs dining scene springs to life


The New Morgan's at La Quinta Resort

Dining in the desert is usually a crapshoot--menus are as dusty as the landscape, never wavering or changing. But with a recent spate of renovations, plus new chefs using seasonal, local and organic ingredients, things are starting to look up.
With its mod style and young, friendly staff, Cheeky's is the locals' new breakfast favorite. The menu changes daily at the whim of the chef, so you might find dishes like maple-sausage hash with sweet potatoes, parsnips and a perfectly poached egg ($9), and buttermilk pancakes studded with fresh corn and blueberries ($9). Get the "bacon flight" to taste all of the house-seasoned strips (cinnamon, jalapeƱo, maple and herbs). 622 N. Palm Canyon Dr., 760-327-7595 or cheekysps.com
For a swank lunch, sit poolside at the Riviera Resort's Circa 59. New executive chef Bradley Manchester tosses pappardelle with roasted beets and their greens ($13); brown-butter vinaigrette adds surprising richness to shaved Brussels sprout and fennel salad ($9); and the short-rib panini with pickled onions ($14) is hearty enough for two. 1600 N. Indian Canyon Dr.; 760-327-8311 or psriviera.com 
Even if you're not staying at the sprawling La Quinta Resort, the just-opened Morgan's (pictured) is a reason to visit. The room has rustic desert elegance, with seasonal dishes to match, like creamy roasted fennel soup with apple and bacon ($8), steaks with grilled, plump porcini mushrooms ($32), and roasted Santa Barbara49499 Eisenhower Dr., La Quinta; 760-564-4111 or laquintaresort.com spiny lobster with herb butter ($36).
The Ace Hotel's Amigo Room could just as easily be in Los Feliz as in Palm Springs. In addition to fresh-fruit cocktails and craft beers, the menu in the bar (and at Kings Highway, the former Denny's across the hall) features addictive truffle popcorn ($5), vegetable potpie with a flaky crust ($8), and locally raised rib-eye steak with herb relish ($29). 701 E. Palm Canyon Dr.; 760-325-9900 or acehotel.com

Senator Feinstein Introduces Legislation to Balance Conservation, Recreation and Renewable Energy Development in the Mojave Desert - Measure would designate new desert conservation lands; streamline and improve permitting process for large-scale wind and solar development on suitable desert lands; and enhance recreational opportunities.

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the author of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act, today introduced a comprehensive bill to designate new lands in the Mojave Desert for conservation, enhance recreational opportunities, and streamline and improve the federal permitting process to advance large-scale wind and solar development on suitable lands. The carefully crafted legislation, titled the California Desert Protection Act of 2010, is the product of discussions with key stakeholders in Southern California. (Click on image to enlarge)

(Click here to read full article)

Do You Know Where Your Trash Goes, Coachella Valley?

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 11:49 AM 2 comments

Whither our trash, Desert Dwellers?


The average US citizen produces around 4.4 pounds of trash each day. From April through June of this year, the cities of the Coachella Valley sent 112,734,000 pounds of waste into landfills. And that’s not counting recycling. Very few people know where all that waste actually ends up. (Click to read on...)

Saved From Certain Death, Now They're Models

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 6:53 AM 1 comments
Photographer Frank Bruynbroek captures amazingly regal portraits of four-legged beauties. But you may not see these at the kennel club – all of Bruynbroek’s subjects are rescued from shelters where they would certainly have been euthanized.



“Being a dog photographer is not a profession I chose -- it chose me. Out of the devastation and grief after the loss of my dog Rosalie came a vision to help more than one dog at a time, and I made myself a promise to use my talents to contribute to the welfare of animals. In order to give them a voice I began working on a book of portraits of rescued dogs. The overwhelming feedback of my first exhibit in Los Angeles gave me a new pair of eyes and showed me that it needed to be my main focus. Now it's all I do, and I have a gallery of portraits of rescued dogs located in beautiful Idyllwild.”


“With my art I am trying to create awareness about the unbearable killing in this country of 6 million unwanted pets every year. By buying pets we keep perpetuating the problem. We all need to spay, neuter, and adopt pets. We have to be the change we want to see.”



The desert region is home to a number of humane, no-kill shelters and spay/neuter facilities that need your help. Give a little extra cash or volunteer at these worthy organizations:

The Humane Society of the Desert, Orphan Pet Oasis
17825 North Indian Avenue
North Palm Springs, CA 92258
(760) 329-0203 - Fax (760) 329-7944
Indio Animal Control
45-355 Van Buren Street
Indio, CA 92201
(760) 559-1511
Animal Samaritans, SPCA
72307 Ramon Road
Thousand Palms, CA 92276
(760) 343-3477
Morongo Basin Humane Society
4646 Sun View Road
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
(760)366-3786
The Pet Rescue Center
80-126 Highway 111, Suite 2
Indio, CA 92201
(760) 775-6691

Frank Bruynbroek’s Photography can be seen at 54-425 North Circle Drive in Idyllwild. His rescue dog calendars can be ordered from www.fbsite.com.

Imagine this: Once a week, a box of fresh, organic and locally grown produce and herbs arrives here in the desert, with your name on it. All year long. Sound like a fantasy? The dream has come true with the Inland Empire CSA.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm or farms and a community of supporters that provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Consumers help to cover a farm's yearly operating budget by pledging (purchasing) a portion of the season's harvest. CSA members make a commitment to support the farms throughout the season, and assume the costs, risks and bounty of growing food along with the farmer or grower. The pledge helps to pay for seeds, fertilizer, water, equipment, maintenance, and labor. In return, the farms provide a healthy supply of seasonal fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs throughout the growing season. Becoming a member creates a responsible relationship between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown and those who grow it. 
(Click to Read on...)

Cadiz Valley desert water-storage plan renewed | PE.com

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 12:36 PM 0 comments

November Real Estate Numbers Show Little Change

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 9:11 AM 0 comments
Desert Area Home Prices Up Slightly in November, But Sales Drop

Trends at a Glance

   According to the Desert Real Estate Report, the median price for single-family, re-sale homes rose 14.5% from October. Year-over-year, the median price was down 3.8%. This is the lowest year-over-year decline since December 2007. The average price for homes was up 6.7% year-over-year. This is also the first time that has happened since December 2007. It points to increased activity in the move-up market, $500 to $1MM, and the upper end market of $1MM plus. (Click to read on..)

The Grooviest Hotel Bars in the Desert, Baby

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 6:06 PM 0 comments


From Sleek Motifs to Designer Aperitifs, the Desert’s Resort Lounge Scene Has Never Been More Spirited
By Morgan Craft


   Palm Springs hotels are distinctly not like Vegas, and we like it that way. The Coachella Valley resorts are more laid back and quietly sophisticated, but they still cater to the hipster LA crowd. Those of us who live here make it a habit to go to only the grooviest hotel bars in town, so here’s the best bets whether you’re a local or coming in for the weekend.
   Our Desert communities have been home to many legendary hotel bar haunts, and even through real estate turnovers and renovations they retained their spirit and allure. At the famous Racquet Club, four barstools still have “Reserved” plaques for Clark Gable, Charles Farrell, William Powell and Spencer Tracy. Numerous celebrities were known to have cooled off with a libation or several at the La Quinta Resort. And the recently reopened Colony Palms Hotel was once a private speakeasy and brothel owned by Purple Gang mobster Al Wertheimer. (Click to read on...)
by Morgan Craft
  For five years, I’ve been scouring the San Jacinto Mountains behind my Palm Springs home with high-powered binoculars hoping to catch a glimpse of our famous cliff-dwelling neighbors, the endangered Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. This week, the Department of Fish and Game, which monitors the dwindling herd, brought them to me.
   The chop-chop of a helicopter here usually means the search is on for a lost hiker on the notorious Skyline trail. This one, however, was clearly ferrying a four-legged passenger. A short hike into Tacheva Canyon revealed a well-coordinated capture operation of sheep brought down from the towering cliffs above by the chopper, which are loaded into a pickup and brought to the examination site.
   Six adult bighorn sheep were captured from the helicopter, using a net-gun, and then fitted with radio-collars. They were then examined by a veterinarian, health tested, collared and released at the site, or flown back to their place of capture. The capture was part of an on-going, long-term research project and was conducted by the California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and nonprofit Bighorn Institute, whose biologists have been monitoring the bighorn sheep in the San Jacinto Mountains since 1992. (Click to read on...)
by Morgan Craft
In a 2007 survey by the California Department of Water Resources, eighty percent of respondents in Southern California believed that their water comes from area wells, despite the fact that the region imports more water than any other place in the world.

The Coachella Valley averages only three inches of rainfall each year, yet we boast more golf courses per square mile that anyplace else in the country. Retail centers, home developments and hotels boast lakes and rivers, and green grass grows wherever you cast an eye. Water supports a $500 million agriculture industry in the valley, with over 60,000 acres under cultivation. Despite the economic downturn, the valley is projected to increase to six hundred thousand residents by 2020, or 75,000 additional households, and water access and usage is going to be an increasingly difficult issue. (Click to read on...)

Inhabitat reports that as the world moves to cleaner energy, demand for Lithium has been steadily increasing. The element has widespread application in batteries and is widely used in consumer products and electric cars. Since the demand for Lithium is likely to only go up in the future, as the number of electric cars and gadgets steadily increases, there is a scare about insufficient sources, which may not even last very long into the future. Moreover, the conventional process of sourcing lithium is very water intensive, and that of course isn’t a good thing. The situation though, may be quite different with the new process developed by Simbol Mining.

Simbol intends to source lithium from water extracted for geothermal energy. The water is mostly discarded, but a lot of sources may have lithium rich water, and Simbol intends to use the same to produce the element. The company has planned a pilot project for California’s lithium-rich underground Salton Sea. It is already used for geothermal energy, and nearly a ton of lithium could be extracted from the water every month.
Heat from the water greatly helps the process, making it less water intensive. If all goes well, Simbol has big plans that include supplying nearly a quarter of the world’s demand of Lithium Carbonate within the decade.

Big Geothermal Plan for the Salton Sea

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 2:57 PM 0 comments

   The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has signed a lease for exploring geothermal potential on 2950 acres in Imperial County near the Salton Sea as part of meeting its state-mandated deadline to produce 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
   It is offering to lease the land for 5 years of exploration and study at $295,000 annually - representing $100 per acre per year - while it determines the feasibility of geothermal production there.
   The Salton Sea lies directly above the southern end of the San Andreas Fault, and super-heated steam lies just below its surface. Already, six existing geothermal plants there produce enough electricity for 220,000 homes. (Click to read on...)

California Grabbing Money To Pay Its Bills

Posted by Morgan Miles Craft On 10:08 AM 0 comments
by Morgan Craft



California’s cash crisis is being mitigated by borrowing $19.7 billion from state emergency funds, those for fighting fires, oil spills, and disaster recovery, according to State Controller John Chiang, the state’s top accountant. The state’s November cash deficit was $23 billion, up from $11.9 billion in July, forcing the funds grab.

For too long, Chiang said, the Governor and Assembly have been playing politics merely to create short-term solutions in passing a budget that doesn’t look at the future.

Let’s hope we don’t experience a natural disaster. But facing another potential financial tsunami remains a distinct possibility. “The state is at the bottom, facing incredible difficulties,” he said. Chiang, who oversees the handling of over $100 billion in funds, was in the valley recently to discuss the state’s budget situation with local civic leaders, and I attended the meeting. (Click to read on...)