Spending the winter in California’s “spa city”

Winter 2009 CSANews Issue 73  |  Posted date : Dec 12, 2009.Back to list

For the past 17 years, Dale and Lyn Collett have made Desert Hot Springs, California their home away from home. "My sister and brother-in-law introduced us to the park," says Dale, "and we liked it so much that we rented for the first four years, then we bought a park model."

The Colletts spend four months at Quail Valley RV Park, a 55+ community comprised of 286 properties and various amenities. Residents can enjoy the pool, hot tub, sauna, library, dog park, laundry facilities and activity centre equipped with a fitness room. Outdoor activities include shuffleboard, bocce ball and mini putt, otherwise known as 'boot hill'. "The park is not built around a golf course," says Dale, "and that's what helps to keep the cost down! There are many golf courses within a 30-minute drive of the park, and that is fine for us." Grocery stores and shopping centres are all within a short driving distance, as well. And for those who wish to walk, a general store is conveniently located just blocks from the park.

According to Dale, park residents are two-thirds American and one-third Canadian. "A great bunch," says Dale. "Good mix of people. Any bad apples sort themselves out!" Everyone is always more than happy to participate in park functions, such as potluck dinners, holiday dances, sporting events, pancake breakfasts, coffee meetings and yard sales. They even celebrate the park's birthday; 2010 will be its 25th! Lyn is the official historian for the park, and Dale takes pride in his role as the bingo chairman and the high-speed wireless Internet chairman. Dale was instrumental in forming the Quail Valley Internet Club (QVIC), a non-profit group that maintains the park's high-speed wireless Internet service. "Everyone that signed up paid 50 dollars each to become a member," Dale explains. "We had 80 people enrol, giving us a total of $4,000 to install the system. Now that the system is paid for, we just charge each user a $10 fee per month for the months they use it."

Besides the usual hustle and bustle of park life to occupy their time, Lyn and Dale enjoy excursions to Disneyland, as well as to nearby casinos and horse racing tracks. Desert Hot Springs, also known as California's "Spa City, is surrounded by natural wonders, such as Joshua Tree National Park and the San Jacinto Mountains. The city itself sits upon one of the world's finest natural hot mineral water aquifers. The weather is pleasant, as well. Desert Hot Springs boasts of having 330 days or more of sunshine per year. "The days are mostly sunny," says Dale, "but we do get real downpours at times, which turn the desert into a garden of flowers." The average temperature for the winter months is 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with evenings and mountainous areas being cooler. "We have had to turn on our furnace a few times in January," comments Dale. "Just at night, though. It can also be terribly windy at times."

The Colletts spend two-and-a-half days driving to and from their snowbird residence. Leaving from their Canadian home in Kamloops, B.C., Dale and Lyn drive straight through the middle of Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California using highways 97 and 395. "It may be a bit longer this way," says Dale, "but we avoid the higher-elevation routes, as they make Lyn feel physically unwell." Dale stresses leaving at the right time of year to avoid stormy weather. The later in the year you leave, the more unpredictable the weather. "Leave when the geese go," suggests Dale, "because they're pretty smart birds!"

Just like the geese, although a little late this year, Dale and Lyn prepare to make their yearly sojourn south. They are returning to their home away from home; to the place that has welcomed them for 17 years. "Time sure flies when you're having fun," comments Dale. "This could be our last year, as our health is not what it used to be. We will both miss the park very much; the people are so friendly."