Tuesday, July 31, 2012

But It’s a Dry 110°!!

Coachella Valley
It has been said that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out into the noonday sun. If you include the Celtic regions of the British Isles among the latter, my beautiful niece, Jennifer and I qualify in that category. I won’t include Molly in the former because she just got dragged along for the insane ride.

The title of this piece is not totally tongue-in-cheek. There is a major difference between dry desert heat and even the moderately humid climate of Vancouver. The weekend before leaving I had spent three days working at a music festival in mid 20°C (in the 70°s F) and I was baking and sweating out water faster than I could put it back in. I didn’t really have this problem in Palm Desert where the high temperatures ranged from 105 to 110°F (40 to 45°C). No doubt, I felt the heat but not where I was extremely uncomfortable. Of course, I didn’t have the help of a swimming pool and raspberry mojitos at the festival.

Palm Springs and even more so Palm Springs in the middle of summer has never been on my list of travel destination musts but I was pleasantly surprised by my experience. When Jen invited me to join her, I originally tried to come up with all kinds of excuses why not to go but it quickly dawned on me that there was nothing holding me in town and I would get to spend some quality time with a very special person. And of course, I was finally going to meet Molly.

I am sure you could easily guess, July is not part of the high season in Palm Springs. That would during the fall, winter and early spring months where the temperatures are a bit cooler but a great escape from the dreariness of climes. To say that summer is the low season would be an understatement. In car crazy Southern California, six lane main streets have virtually no traffic and street parking is available everywhere.

I love the bleakness of the desert probably because it is so different than the temperate rain forest with which I had grown up. I don’t love it enough to live there but a week works for me.

Although you could just book a hotel room most regular visitors to PS will rent out a condominium or townhouse usually on one of the many golf courses. We did this and for the most part our complex was deserted and we enjoyed having two pools within twenty metres of our patio. The only real downside was the lawn area behind was home to several fire ant colonies. I seemed to come out of  that relatively unscathed; unfortunately Jen didn’t fare so well.

I enjoyed our little sortie to downtown Palm Springs for the Thursday night Village Festival where the main street is closed to traffic and local artisans and food vendors hock their wares. Molly of course, stole the show. She was a hit with Canada maple leaf t-shirt. The stores along the main drag are an eclectic assortment of funky boutiques, restaurants and bars. And where else can you find a 26 foot statue of Marilyn Monroe portraying her memorable subway grate scene from “The Seven Year Itch” .

One of the disadvantages of visiting the Coachella Valley in the summer is that not everything is running at full speed. The Sunday Street Fair at the College of the Desert is only open from 7 AM to noon because it just gets too darn hot. Also only a fraction of vendors are at the market compared to the high season. The short hours ring true for The Living Desert, the zoo on the outskirts of town. As far as zoos go it was one of the better ones I’ve been to and if you go on a week day during the spring and fall you can visit the animal hospital and watch each of the residents get their annual physicals and other treatments through glass viewing windows in the treatment rooms. Of course the most important thing to remember during the day is don’t walk barefoot and don’t touch anything metal. This would be one of several reasons that a lot of people there use doggie strollers and/or doggie booties.

The good thing about going in the summer is that there is no traffic and you can just walk into any restaurant without a reservation when you need to book a week in advance during the fall. Jen, I’m sorry I lied but I didn’t really book the whole of Tommy Bahama’s just for you. Hey, get over it! It’s not the first time a guy lied to you and won’t be the last! Hee hee!

Besides a lot of golf, there are many things to do in PS. Shopping is probably the number one sport there with shops geared to all budgets. There is huge array of excellent restaurants everywhere and several casinos on the edge of town if you so desire. However the best thing about Palm Springs is it is a great place to do absolutely nothing.

If you were to ask me what the best thing about my trip the answer is obvious. I was able to make up for a small part of thirty lost years with a beautiful young lady swapping stories and secrets until the wee hours of the morning. I do have to add meeting and falling in love with the divine Miss Molly comes in a close second.

Would I return to Palm Springs? I would most certainly with the right travel buddy and I would love to visit the area in the high season although I may be barred from going there at certain times in the fall. ;-)

Thank you and enjoy the rest of your day here in the Magic Kingdom. Oh crap, wrong theme park! ;-)

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