Fall Camping at Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, CA.

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Let’s try something new in this post. How about I start with a nice scenic shot of the beautiful campsite we stayed at for 8 nights before jumping into the details. Ahhhhhh….. Lake Cahuilla. I don’t know how to pronounce you but I surely adore you.

OK, on I go with the rest of the story…

Since Mila came home from the hospital almost 2 months ago, we reached a milestone in our lives. The milestone of going at least a couple of years without adding another member to our ever growing family. At least that’s the plan for now. With Marlene being pregnant and needing regular visits to the doc, we were figuratively chained to our home base. The only camping trips we have gone on in the last year have been short weekend ones. 3 nights in Lake Casitas, 2 nights in Port Hueneme, 1 night in Lake Piru and 2 nights in Malibu pretty much sums up the nights we’ve spent in Mali Mish since the start of the pregnancy.

Now that we are all working from home and Ava is, for the moment, not attending day care, we are finally ready to head out for an extended ‘faux-time’ excursion. Three-months, we thought, ought to be a good length of time to hit the road this winter. Well, on second thought, let’s get a shake down trip under our belt with all of us under one sheet of aluminum before we head out. Just to make sure we are still going to enjoy this as we did a year ago.

What we decided to do is a one week trip to someplace fairly local and fairly familiar. Not anywhere we’ve gone before so it can be a nice new experience but a place that we can quickly get back home in an emergency. At this time of year, Palm Desert is a nice choice because it is still warm enough during the day to hop in a body of water to cool down and it is comfortable at night to not need any sort of heating or cooling to stay comfortable. Being only around 300 miles away, we could hop in the van and shoot back if anything were to happen. So I researched some places and decided on Lake Cahuilla County Park in La Quinta, CA.

yoda in airstream

Of course Yoda has to also come along for the ride. So that makes 5 of us in the Airstream. 25 foot trailer, 5 of us, that’s 5 feet of space for each of us. Plenty of room! Right? On the first day, we drove to our friend Nicole’s parents house in Rancho Cucamonga. It is just about half way between our house and La Quinta. They graciously allowed us to camp at the curb and even threw us a big orange cord to keep the juices flowing.

coolant issues

Towing the Mish with the van was a breeze as usual except for the first leg of our trip. The coolant light kept coming on. There was no effect on the engine temperature but it still concerns me. It’s been happening even as I drive the van around town so that surely will need some attention before any further ambitious runs eastward. This time though, a little pour of pre-mixed coolant will have to do as a band-aid to get us through this week.

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Marlene usually sits in the middle row captain’s chair next to Ava while I drive chauffeur-style up there by my lonesome. This time, it was not to be. Mila needed a place to dock her spaceship so my backseat driver was upgraded to my passenger seat driver. This is something that we will have to work out as well on longer trips because having an infant and a toddler taking turns fussing about behind us while we are driving is going to be trouble. The second row is laid out with a ton of leg room which means we can not reach them with our seat belts on.

stroller

Inside the Mish, sleeping arrangements are also going to have to be re-examined. In the past, Ava sleeps in her tent bed, which is designed for kids upwards of 6 or 7 years old. She likes the fact that it is hers and it is enclosed in a way that kids like cardboard boxes. That still works but Mila on the other hand, still sleeps in a bassinet.  We don’t have enough room to put the entire bassinet inside the trailer and she needs some form of protection on our bed so we don’t crush her in the middle of the night.

co-sleeper

A little trip to Target and 40 bucks later, we have a handy dandy Co-Sleeper that tucks nicely in the the corner of our bed with a little built-in LED night light to help with the late night feedings. We are just about set.

The first night with all of us in Rancho Cucamonga was great. Right back in the swing of things. We were reminded of how comfortable we are on the road waking up inside the Airstream. A little coffee and some hot tea later, we packed up and were ready to head out to Lake Cahuilla.

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Lake Cahuilla County Park is a municipal recreational area in Riverside County. It is a water reservoir for drinking so no swimming is allowed. It is a man-made lake for just that purpose so some of its features are kind of interesting.

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Like these steps carved along the side of the lake.

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This fenced-off structure for some type of maintenance purpose.

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And some wooden steps that let you walk down to the edge of the water. The water you can’t swim in…

Lake Cahuilla is designed as a recreational area so there are some nice activities for locals and visitors. First of all, they stock the lake with lots of fish so people can come and drop a little line for an afternoon of casting and reeling. If you are into that kinda thing. None of us are fishermen so we look around for more things to do.

Around the corner from the campground, there is a big swimming pool and a playground for kids. Needless to say, Ava was excited to hear about that.

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“Yay! Lets go swimming!”

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“Ummm, Nicole? Why is there no one in there?”

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“What is there a fence around the playground?”

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“Oh snap! This place ain’t open anymore!!”

Sorry Ava, we didn’t know before we left that apparently every public pool closes at the beginning of October in Palm Springs. Even though it is still in the low 90s during the day, it is still apparently too cold for the locals who are use to 110 degree summer weather. We know this because we saw them buying sweaters at the store.

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Well, at least the scenery is still beautiful.

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Since Marlene and I are both working from home, and home is wherever we park the Mish, we had to pack up a little work with us on these trips. That means until we find another pool to dip our feet in, Ava is resorting to playing with her toys inside the tent I set up next to Mali Mish while I get some bills paid.

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The first few nights there at the campground, we just had water and electricity. We had to use the public showers and be careful with our gray water consumption so we didn’t fill it up too quickly. After the second night, we decided that we wanted to stay a couple more nights. Unfortunately our site is booked for the 2 following nights after our original checkout date. We had to option to move 10 spaces down to a full hookup site for only $3 more a night.

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“Ummm, dad? Full hookups? Only three bucks more? What are you waiting for?”

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Having little choice but to move in order to stay the 2 extra nights, we packed up and shuttled down to the site a few yards down the road.

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The new site is actually much closer to the water with great views right outside of our window. We had to make sure to keep an eye on Ava so she didn’t walk too close to the edge. With sewer hookup and the ability to take private showers, it was well worth it.

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Didn’t take long to settle back in and get cozy again in our chairs.

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Here is Mila reaping the benefits of a warm bath inside the Mish.

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Did I mention the scenery is beautiful?

Lake Cahuilla is kind of a hidden gem in the greater Palm Springs area with all of its hotels, resorts, spas and golf courses. The entire time we were there, the campground never got filled up even half capacity. Maybe it’s because we visited toward the end of the summer season and the playgrounds and pools have already closed. But you bet that we will be coming back here again. As of 2009, hookup sites without sewer run a mere $22 a night. $3 more gets you one of the few full sites with your own dump connection. That is a bargain when it comes to camping in California where State Parks charge as much as $30 a night for primitive dry camping.

Before you start feeling bad for us with the pool not being open, here is a little preview of what we DID get to do:

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Stay tuned for more posts from Mila’s maiden excursion in Mali Mish! There are lots more to come!

over and out,
dan

8 Responses to Fall Camping at Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta, CA.

  1. Kim Robinson November 2, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    Looks like you guys had a blast! Good for you getting out with the little babe too!! Look forward to reading more about your family trips! All the best..
    The Robinson’s
    PS Your girls are ADORABLE!

  2. Lani November 2, 2009 at 2:29 pm #

    Great entry! Looks like a beautiful place. So glad to see that traveling in an Airstream with a baby is possible! Safe travels!

  3. marlene November 3, 2009 at 10:04 pm #

    Thanks everyone :)

  4. Kristiano November 15, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    Hi Marlene and Dan!

    I used to camp at Lake Cahuilla (pronounced Kah-wee-uh) when I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout. Back then there were no homes for miles (in the early 90s)!

    Great to see you’re back on the road and on the blog! I look forward to reading more!

  5. Armageddon Man May 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    Dan,

    Thanks so much for your blog and pictures of Lake Cahuilla. My wife and I just made plans to stay there this weekend because we decided to go camping this Memorial weekend at the last minute, but every campground was full except Lake Cahuilla! When we secured our reservations we had no idea that the campground was this beautiful. Now we are very excited for our impromptu trip. Thanks again for your post!

    By the way, we live only about an hour from Lake Cahuilla and had no idea it even existed!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Man In The Maze » Blog Archive » Lake Cahuilla County Recreation Area - January 6, 2010

    [...] and Marlene, our friends at Mali Mish, blogged about a nice park near the Palm Springs area.  We’ve avoided that area in the past because of the [...]

  3. Ava & Mila » Blog Archive » Mila: 77 weeks old… - April 2, 2011

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