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USA Road Trip Part 8 – Palm Springs

USA Road Trip Part 8 – Palm Springs
September 02
09:00 2015

 

SWEATING SOUTHERN STYLE

We left Las Vegas early on the Sunday morning, hoping to miss the holidaymakers returning to Los Angeles. That plan did not quite work out, because we found ourselves in heavy traffic for about 150km before we were able to get onto quieter roads through small desert communities.

All of Southern California is hot in September but Palm Springs definitely takes the trophy and as we got closer to it, the temperature soared to nearly 40°C. The evenings and nights ‘cool’ down to no lower than 25°C, which makes air con your constant buddy and many restaurants even have spray misters outside to keep customers cool.

PALM SPRINGS KINDA FOLKS

We spent our three nights at a small, privately owned hotel just off the main street. Palm Springs is generally a quiet and laid-back place – far from the skyscrapers and traffic chaos of other American cities – and so our hotel offered a lot of tranquillity, despite its central location. Relaxation was exactly what we needed after being on the go almost constantly the last couple of weeks, before returning to the harsh realities of office life back home. Our hotel was situated at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains and its rooms were located along the heated (who would have thought!) saline pool and tropical gardens, and the views from here were unique. We had found a new piece of paradise. Palm Springs is a very laid-back place and being chilled out was clearly a requirement for working and staying at our hotel. The staff here were slightly crazy, relaxed and authentic. Stress and forced formalities were concepts that nobody here seemed to be aware of. The business card of Karl, one of the few staff (who spoilt us with home-made cookies every afternoon), read ‘Sub-Neutron Rectifier’. “What’s that and why does it say that?”, we asked Craig, the owner. His answer: “I have no idea but Karl liked it better than ‘Assistant Manager’. Enough of a reason, we decided.

palm springs

Every night on our way back from dinner, we would spend at least an hour discussing just about every topic on earth with Craig! Craig is a true original and not your stereotypical, media-corrupted ‘Cliché-Yank’. A democrat, atheist and a fountain of knowledge – and a great animal lover, which earned him huge bonus points with Martha. Besides Craig and Karl there was also Rick, whose coming out had clearly happened a good while ago and who you could find parading around the grounds in full glory during his breakfast shifts. With his entertaining, likable ways, it was easy to enjoy Rick’s company and everybody did, particularly the older ladies. This went as far as him handing out mother’s day cards to them and one morning – we swear – he was ‘training’ one of the ladies to work at reception – just ‘cause! 😀 Rick was also known for attending work in a different costume each day during Halloween time and, according to Craig, he usually got up two hours earlier than he needed to every morning in order to apply his makeup 😀

We can honestly say that we have never formed those sorts of relationships with staff at any hotel we have ever stayed at and it just feels like going home whenever we have returned. So we had found a new hide-away, which we will definitely remember forever and our car got its well-deserved rest.

COWBOYS, PERFORMANCES AND EVEN MORE CELEBRITIES

All of the restaurants were right on our doorstep (Sherman’s Deli & Bakery is an absolute must – but stretch your stomachs in preparation!). One night we drove the half hour out to the Desert Hills Outlet in Cabazon, which is home to about 130 designer stores and the occasional hot bargain, so all of you shopping junkies will be more than happy! The staff in the Michael Kors store were particularly attentive and may have even carried us around the store to save us walking if we had asked! They were also clearly concerned for Nigel’s welfare and must have asked him about five times if he required a seat!

There was one thing Martha really wanted to do before heading home: try root beer. So one evening at Ruby’s authentic diner in Palm Springs she ordered one in a moment of bravery. However, after taking her first slightly tentative sip she didn’t look quite so happy and the verdict could be summarized in one word: “revolting”. It tasted like the “Deep Heat” muscle cream from our medicine cabinet back home. When Nigel looked away, she swiftly swapped out the glasses, because root beer looks a lot like coke. Nigel’s reaction when he sucked on his straw with relish was priceless 😀

Perhaps the highlight of our stay was the night we spent at Pioneertown about 40 minutes away in the middle of the desert. Pioneertown is a wonderful western town, made especially for the Hollywood movie industry in the 1940s, which is great for photographs with its authentic cowboy saloon, jail and hotel etc. People now actually live in some of the buildings. The place is also popular for an old style saloon called Pappy & Harriet’s, which is famous in Southern California for its unique atmosphere and great live music. Everybody gets their turn here, because the regular Monday Open Mic Nights gives amateurs the opportunity to play in front of a crowd. The results are highly entertaining, but no matter how weird and wonderful some of the performances might be, everybody supports each other here and nobody is laughed at. We had never seen so many interesting characters in such a small space as we did that night at “Pappy’s”. If you are lucky, you might even find a world famous musician, such as Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin playing a few songs. We were lucky ourselves, because as it turned out, Linda Perry (front singer of the “4 Non Blondes” in their day and now one of the world’s most successful and influential rock/pop songwriters) was in the house, filming a reality show with a group of amateur musicians. By the way, the name of the host of Open Mic Night at Pappy’s is Teddy Quinn and he was a child actor starring in shows such as Bonanza and Bewitched, as well as in movies with Doris Day & Lana Turner. Nigel was particularly blown away at meeting someone who had been in Bonanza and acted with Hoss!

palm springs

IT’S ‘SEE YOU LATER’, NOT ‘GOODBYE’

The following morning saw us get up very early in order to begin our long journey home after three unforgettable weeks. There were so many highlights and we would recommend our route to anyone who wants to see the ‘real America’ and enjoys an adventure. If you book your flights about a year in advance and are flexible with dates, then you won’t necessarily have to kill your piggy bank to get to the States. Once you are on the other side of the pond, you will be able to holiday cheaper than in Europe in a lot of ways (especially in terms of food).

We had great difficulty finding our way back into the ‘real life’ at home and our fingers were itching so much that we ended up researching flight prices for May ‘purely for information’ – a big mistake! We found one bargain after another and so only 7 months later, we returned to the ‘Land of the Free’. This time around, the trip was slightly shorter and we returned to Sedona, Las Vegas and Palm Springs, as well as exploring San Diego and Los Angeles.

We got engaged a short while ago and we will get married on a beach in San Diego before embarking on a honeymoon road trip. We will be travelling to LA, Mammoth Lakes, Lake Tahoe and back to where it all began: San Francisco.

We hope that you will follow us around again!

About Author

Martha and Nigel - BayBreezin'

Martha and Nigel - BayBreezin'

Martha and Nigel are an international couple who live in beautiful Northern Ireland. Martha is German, Nigel is 100% Norn’ Irish and they met when Martha spent a summer working in Sweden, a country they share a love for. After several trips to London, Germany and Prague together, Martha finally settled in Northern Ireland in 2010. They have since travelled large parts of Scandinavia, the US and Ireland together, as well as Portugal and Spain. Nigel has developed into a real travel expert, always finding the best deals, routes and places to stay. They got married on the Beach of Coronado Island in May 2015.

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