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TRAVEL

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D e s t i n at i o n k n o w n

A sweet dose of rural kitsch (and some ostriches, too)

Mouse’s Tank, in Valley of Fire, is a natural rainwater pool named after a Paiute Indian who would escape to this area after runins with the law. The eponymous tank, however, is simply the terminus of the real destination: Petroglyph Wash. You’ll be amazed to see plentiful and well-preserved petroglyphs adorning both sides of the sandy wash. This flat, half-mile hike is suitable for most anyone. Just be sure to get out there while the weather is still cool. — Alan Gegax

Running with the dogs The Dogtown Half Marathon

If you love Southern Utah’s Color Country, and you love panting and sweating, the bucolic town of Washington (outside St. George) has an event for you — and your dog. On Feb. 25, the town hosts its Dogtown Half Marathon (dogtownmarathon.com). Runners race their way from Coral Canyon Golf Course down to the banks of the Virgin River, finishing their hilly jaunt at Treasure Valley Park. For their trouble, and $45,

Companion | FEBRUARY 2012

to 40 miles an hour. Allow a whole day for the full Arabian-Nights-meets-Coachella-Valley experience. Before returning to Las Vegas, consider a short side trip to the stucco dinosaurs on the north side of I-10 at Cabazon. At six stories, the T-Rex is twice as big as the real thing. Nearby, you can satisfy your newly acquired date habit at Hadley Fruit Orchards—but you’ll have to go back to Indio next year if you’ve got a thing for Scheherazade. — Mark Sedenquist (Cheat sheet: Exit I-15 at Jean. Take NV-161 to Sandy Valley Road. At Sky Ranch, go south on Kingston Road (there’s a stretch that’s unpaved). Keep heading south on Cima Road to Kelso, then take Kelbaker Road to Route 66, turning west on Amboy Road. At Twentynine Palms continue south through Joshua Tree National Park to Indio. Take I-10 west to Cabazon. The fastest route back to Las Vegas is through Victorville on I-15.)

entrants get a pair of running shorts and a commemorative dog tag. Trading on its “Dogtown” nickname, the St. George suburb also offers a “K9 - 9K,” where speedy cynophiles can scamper with their pups. They’re expecting 850 runners this year — with a healthy contingent of canines. While your eyes enjoy St. George, treat your stomach at Mongolian BBQ (250 N. Red Cliffs Dr., (435) 656-1880). Of course, be sure to bring a doggy bag. — A.G. The Dogtown Marathon

18 | Desert

The Indio Date Festival is like “Arabian Nights” meets Coachella. With camels.

M OUSE ’ S TA N K : Al a n G e g a x ; C a m e l s c o u r t e s y o f M a r k S e d e n q u i s t ; D o g to w n M a r at h o n c o u r t e s y o f Wa s h i n g to n C ITY

Mouse’s Tank

Rev up romance with a road trip to dateland. The Indio Date Festival — a combination of hometown county fair, “I Dream of Jeannie” kitsch, and food made out of dates — is the third weekend in February. The route invites a stay at the Twentynine Palms Inn, one of the most beguilingly nostalgic road trip hotels in the West. Heading south on I-15 from Las Vegas, turn west at Jean to Goodsprings and continue to the Sky Ranch Estates at Sandy Valley. This is one town where you don’t want to run a stop sign — the main street is also a runway. Note the hangar-style garages around town. Sky Ranch residents obviously grew tired of waiting for the flying car. Skirting the edge of Clark Mountain on the east, pass through the Cima Dome volcanic field and into California. The restored Kelso train depot serves as the Visitor Center for the Mojave National Preserve. Displays in the rooms upstairs offer insight into the area, and the retro diner serves sandwiches and snacks. Stop for a soda at Roy’s on historic Route 66 in Amboy before continuing toward Twentynine Palms. While many lodging options are available along this route, consider a stay at the Twentynine Palms Inn. It’s slightly off-putting from the outside, but don’t be fooled: The inn offers elegant privacy in a uniquely nostalgic setting. This makes it a “best kept secret” among Hollywood’s elite —so keep your eyes peeled around the pool. The Indio Date Festival, now in its 66th year, is also the Riverside County Fair. This means you’ll find all the standard sheep, pigs, carnival rides and hot dogs on sticks. What’s special are princesses in harem pants, camel races, date shakes, and humans riding on ostriches at speeds up


Desert Companion - February 2012