This photo, with a massive California fan palm in the foreground and the snow-capped San Jacinto Mountains in the background, was taken in March 2010 at Palm Canyon near Palm Springs. (See the entire gallery.)
My daughter, Kate Symmonds, and I got a nice Priceline deal on a resort in Rancho Mirage and spent a few days exploring the area around Palm Springs. We were surprised at how beautiful and varied the western Mojave Desert can be, and we ended up spending a lot more time in the great outdoors and a lot less time poolside than we had expected.
Many of the pictures in the photo gallery were taken in and near Palm Canyon, which is among the Indian Canyons near Palm Springs. Admission is $8, and well worth it. Some of the others were taken at The Living Desert zoo and gardens in Palm Desert, which costs $12.50 per person, a great bargain.