We recently discovered that one of the family’s paintings is none other than a Sam Hyde Harris, a well-known desert painter born in 1889 and active until his death in 1977. The painting in our possession depicts a cluster of tall palm trees completely covered from top to bottom with layers of old yellow frowns. They stand in a terrain made of white sand dotted with scattered bushes, set against a mountain chain. There was never a doubt that this picture resembled our desert, but the question was: Where was it painted, exactly? This scenery looks a little bit wilder than Palm Springs, than the hiking trails, than anything we have seen here so far. Well, the answer came when we ventured without knowing to the Thousand Palm Oasis Preserve
, a 880 acres of protected areas tucked into the northern edge of the Indio Hills, with sweeping views of the Little San Bernardino Mountains and the southern edge of Joshua Tree National Park.
There is no entrance charge and the visitor center is situated on the right of a circular area from which different paths and trails begin. I picked the trail called “Moon Country” and right from the start, it was Indiana Jones’ material: This sandy and rocky trail boasts oversized towering palm trees are 50 feet high. There are so many of them that cover the sky and make it hard to see, even in the middle of the day. Some ponds along the way are inhabited by different bugs, frogs, and giant spiders. I spotted a couple of huge lizards resembling iguanas!
Scared of making other wild encounters, I decided to exit the trail right when it opened up to a meadow. I walked back to the visitor center from the other side and this is the moment when I had a major epiphany: From this perspective, I was able to see clearly the palm woodland oasis captured by Sam Hyde Harris! This was a great (accidental) discovery and all of the sudden, even if not completed, my mission took another meaning. It definitely confirmed the concept that it’s good to take detours sometimes in life!