A week or two ago we went on an unplanned visit to Palm Springs. I say unplanned but with my girlfriend planning is a necessity as she can’t bare to not have as much lined up as possible. It was unplanned because until a week earlier we had no intention of going there. A close friend called the Sunday before and told us tat she had double booked herself at one of her timeshares and we could have a free weekend in a condo if we wanted… err yes of course we do!
So a hasty googling of what there is to do and the following Friday we were on the i10 (that’s a freeway if you are familiar wit the area).
We made good time (relatively) and were checked in in time for dinner. We still hadn’t finalised our itinerary so headed to Lulu’s Bistro to eat and work out the final details. Lulus was really nice, retro styling good food and nicely located. I woudl definitely recommend this place. After eating we made a short tour in the evening heat of the nearby shops as they were closing and then headed back to the ‘hotel’ (for want of a better name) for an early night so we could head up to Joshua Tree.
Saturday morning we were up on time, drank our hastily made coffee which was under par (due to the unfamiliar machine) and on our way sans breakfast – now there is dedication. Apart from the obvious reasons for visiting Joshua tree National Park one reason was to just survive. This was because a friend of mine had been to Palm Springs many times in the height of summer and due to the heat never went to Joshua Tree. I suggested that we were thinking of going to which his response was “No don’t, you’ll die!” I tried to assure him that we would be sensible but he interrupted me again with “No, you’ll DIE!”. So we had no choice really we had to go and NOT die.
We stopped en route for more coffee and an unhealthy pastry for breakfast and drove the park. We weren’t prepared for hiking so this was going to be a drive/stopping tour. Obviously I had camera(s) at the ready and took plenty of pictures.
Cholla Cactus Garden
And we did manage to survive the trip. Having said that we found it wasn’t the heat we should have been scared of, it was the bees.
A small notice at the entrance said that the bees were very thirsty in this heat and they may land on us or the car if they thought there was moisture. We thought very little of this until we parked at the highest point on our route at Keys View to see the vast valley below and the San Andreas fault – an opportunity for some majestic Ansel Adams-esque pictures. As we pulled in to the little car park quite a few bees too a liking to our car. Again we thought little of this and I grabbed camera and tripod and headed up the few steps to the viewing point. It became clear that the bees were quite interested but still I gave it little thought; I am a friend to bees. I stat setting up my shots and then”ouch!” a sting on my arm just as I am working out why the bee in question stung me, another “ouch!” this time it is up my shorts on my thigh. as as we take notice we see that there is quite a cloud of them around us and after an attempt to ignore them further to get a few pictures it is clear we should not be standing still. and we move quickly away in a circular direction toward the car. However we find that the car is of great interest to the bees and there is quite a swarm around it and we are going to have to battle through them to get in. My girlfriend being without the burden of camera, bag and tripod decides a rapid attack is best and quickly walks up to the door opens it and get’s in, making it look very easy. I take longer in this decision and decide to deposit equipment in boot (trunk) before tackling the entry to the driving seat. stage one went well and two a little more panicky bringing several bees in with me. Car started, slammed into reverse and then forward opening the windows as we get clear blowing the bees out as we go – with no additional stings, phew! A few minutes later and we have a mild panic as phone is missing so we contemplate returning to the battle scene to retrieve it wherever it had fallen.
… luckily it had fallen in the car and we found it quickly without the return to the swarm.
Despite the bees we really enjoyed the park though we d not really explored beyond the tourist trail and landmarks. We plan a return trip later in the year with the intent to get off the road for a hike.
After an eventful morning we headed back to Palm Springs for a late lunch, we ate in a nice mexican place (Las Casuelas Terraza) where they had a live band playing various covers. We had to sit outside on the terrace but it wasn’t too bad. Food was great.
Next up was a two birds with one stone approach to explore the local mid-century architecture which I have an interest in and to visit the house where Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon and the first year of their marriage Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway. This has been in the same ownership for 20 years and the place is almost untouched by time having all the original features. Tours operate daily and it’s all Elvis-ed up. I’m not a massive fan of The King but I like him enough so it was interesting on two fronts. As we arrived early we were also able to take a quick drive around the neighborhood and I snapped this time shifting shot.
Elvis’ place is actually for sale (for around $7M) but they won’t sell it to anyone with the cash, it has to be preserved as it now is. The house was also known as ‘The House of the Future’ and it really is a perfect example of how the Sixties saw the future. I woudl love to live in a place like this.
By now we needed to cool down so back to the ‘hotel’ and the pool and a few cocktails before heading out for dinner. This was our only real evening out so I had booked a french restaurant which had good reviews; Pomme Frites. Despite its unassuming name (potato chips doesn’t sound like much) it lived up to the recommendation. Very nice authentic French/Belgian food. The Onion soup was delicious (I know it’s a cliché, but..) and the lamb was particularly good too.
Have been gluttons we decided to brave the evening heat and walk back. Palm Springs has a free bus service which services the main streets so we didn’t have a car to worry about. many of the shops were still open so we stretched the limits of our credit cards on the way.
Sunday was travelling home day and we started it very late being lazy and doing the packing. We couldn’t leave without a hearty breakfast though. The locals all seem to being Pinocchio in the Desert and after a short wait we joined them. It was nearly lunchtime so the heat was getting strong and we had to put up with an outside table which didn’t have much cooling around, so be wary of that if you visit. Brunch was excellent and you can get bottomless champagne for not very much. It was a California brand and was pretty good considering the price.
We’d planned a little more time exploring the mid century modern architecture and I’d downloaded an app for a self guided driving tour. The app was very disappointing. First, it was the largest app I had ever had to install so had done that at the hotel on Wifi after deleting some things to make space. On running it (away from Wifi) it decided there was more it needed to download and so I had to go find some more Wifi for this purpose. having done that it then just errored every time I tried to use it to the point we gave up and went and bought a paper map. Having wasted a lot of time on the app we did a short drive around the north of the city before heading back up the freeway allowing time for a short casino stop and outlet shopping on the way.
A great weekend overall and we shall certainly be returning. We actually we already have something booked in October in that area – a simply epic concert that will be the subject of another post.