Portland winters can be tough. Bone chilling drizzle and endless gray skies. When ennui settles in my soul its time for SUNSHINE! Nature’s Vitamin D. Southern California is a sure bet and is only a 2 hour plane flight direct on Alaska Air.
Palm Springs has become a repeat destination. With a disclaimer: A sprawling automobile centric lifestyle spans from Palm Springs south to LaQuinta. The main roads are lined with ugly big box stores fronted by expanses of asphalt. Ritzy resorts with high-end golf courses are in over abundance and consume an obscene amount of water in an arid desert climate. Wealth is frequently flaunted like a badge of honor.
Yet, I’ve developed a fondness for Palm Springs proper and many of the surrounding amenities. I enjoy the distinctly California mid-century modern architecture with a Hollywood legend vibe. It was a renown playground for the stars in the 1950s and 60s. Old Palm Springs is a fun place to window shop, browse galleries and eat California style.
The air is dry and winter nights can be delightfully chilly with star studded skies. The high-desert sunlight and drop-dead gorgeous mountain views are stellar. Great hiking opportunities include the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
I just returned from a six night mini vacation to Palm Springs with my friend Sue. She bought a hip home in a Mobile Home Park developed in 1958. Common areas are painted turquoise and the streets have names like Mars and Jupiter. A hiking trail to Bob Hope’s old home runs right above her back yard. What’s not to like about that?
While in Palm Springs we participated in some Modernism Week events including a 2½ hour open double decker bus architectural tour guided by the flamboyant Charles Phoenix Tons of fun and a great opportunity to soak up sun.
One of my favorite sites is a home smack dab in the middle of The Movie Colony neighborhood. Artist Kenny Irwin, Jr. has turned the yard of his father’s home into an alien inspired sculpture gardens. Tickled my fancy.
A fun thing to do while in the area is take a Big Wheel Bike Tour downhill along the San Andreas Fault. The tour company takes you to the top of the mountain where you mount your bike for the 20 mile downhill roller coaster ride.
The Mojave and Colorado deserts come together in Joshua Tree National Park which is only an hour drive from Palm Springs. You can drive the park road, stopping for hikes along the way. Pack a picnic and take plenty of water, as there are few amenities in the park. It’s fun to sit and watch rock climbers while soaking up some rays.
It can be fun to stay in the community of Joshua Tree for a couple of nights, spending days exploring the park. Spin and Margie’s is a great 1950s gussied up motel. The rooms have been remodeled, some with little kitchenettes. Their desert garden has a BBQ grill and fire pit for guest’s enjoyment. Camping is another great options. Make sure to blanket up as the high desert nights can be cold!
Mini Vacays can do the trick when time is in limited supplies. Next month we head out on a road trip to Washington State. I look forward to catching up with you then. Thanks for joining me on my adventures.
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