Palm Springs Weekend

Trip Start Sep 22, 2012
1
9
12
Trip End Oct 21, 2012


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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 1

Ted was feeling queasy after last night's combination of alcohol and nacho cheese so we didn't do anything too crazy today. Also, we had our flight later on to Palm Springs. After breakfast, we packed up our things and loaded up the car before heading out with the boys.

Sean and Mike were keen to take us to a Thai restaurant which we couldn't say no to, thanks to the USA's amazing diversity of food (in contrast to South America). We then headed to the cinema to see the Bruce Willis film "Looper" thanks to those exceptional $5 priced movie tickets.

When Sean and Mike dropped us off at the airport, we went straight to check-in where American Airlines have now decided they don't like T-shirts, so we had to change into shirts and polos. When we went to the boarding gate, we were given the awesome exit row seats which was worth the wait.

The flight however was definitely one of the weirdest ever. Mike and Sean had mentioned how old the American Airlines fleet was but seriously, what is an S80 anyway? The interior looked like it came straight from the 70's and there was no APU. More than half the passengers - and the Cabin Crew - would have been over 60 (I was sitting in front of a lady called Sweet Pea), and they encouraged everyone to keep the window shades closed to cool the aeroplane! Hmmm....where's CASA when you need them?

The flight itself was uneventful, although the Cabin Crew were good enough to give us an air sickness bag full of alcohol minis to take with us. I love how Cabin Crew around the world look after each other. The landing - whoa! When we touched down, the pilots nearly overshot the runway and something screeched really loudly, causing the whole cabin to burst out in nervous laughter. I suspect that AA need to invest in some new brake pads.

We checked into our hotel which is pretty nice and decided to go for dinner. I only ended up having fruit since I was feeling quite plain, and we went to a video bar called "Spurline" across the road that was recommended by a bloke at the table next to us. It was a lot of fun and we actually felt like the youngest people in there (which doesn't happen often in Sydney). There seemed to be a lot of audience participation as the video screens played everything from show tunes, to comedy clips, to scenes from "Mommie Dearest". I've never been to a video bar before but we really liked it.

We have three days here which should be a great time to relax before heading to Los Angeles.

Day 2

Today ended up being the most non-eventful day for me so far this holiday, mainly because I was up all night sick. As unpleasant as it was, I'm grateful that it happened here staying several nights in Palm Springs, as opposed to being on a road trip in the middle of Peru.

We tried to sleep late but couldn't really relax that well, possibly because we knew we had to check out in time to move to our new hotel. As I was feeling quite ill, Ted went back to the airport to collect the hire car, before coming back to collect me from the hotel with the bags. This hotel seemed like a deal but it ended up being a rip-off! What the hell is an "occupancy fee" and a "resort fee"?

We drove a few blocks to our next hotel, the 7 Springs. It isn't as fancy as the last one, but it's definitely cheaper. We couldn't check in yet, so we walked to a nearby diner to have some breakfast/lunch as we hadn't eaten yet. I only ordered blueberry pancakes but didn't have enough appetite to finish them.

Here in Palm Springs, they are having the "Airplane Owners and Pilots Association" convention, meaning that they had a display of various aircraft down the street. Or so I heard as unfortunately, I seemed to spend most of the day in bed! I didn't spend the whole day incapacitated though, as we went for a walk through the city during the evening.

The atmosphere was really cool. We saw the huge Marilyn Monroe statue, and walked along Palm Springs' own "Boulevard of Stars", like Hollywood has. Granted, I'd only heard of about half of them, but it was cool seeing the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bette Midler, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore immortalized in concrete. Another thing to note are all the election signs around the city for Mary Bono Mack, the widow of Sonny Bono, who also has his own statue in town.

From what we've seen so far, we love it here. In some ways, you could view it as almost a retirement haven for older gay men but in reality it's a beautiful resort town, complete with shops, galleries and resorts surrounded by mountains and desert. We've both said we could easily move here. Sure the climate is hot (it's averaging around 38 degrees Celsius here now), but it's a dry heat and only tough during the summer months.

Day 3

I was feeling a lot better today and determined to make up for yesterday, so today we decided to do all the touristy things this city has to offer. Unfortunately, most of them involved hiking, and since that sounded too hard we decided to see what else was on offer.

After breakfast, we jumped in the car and drove towards San Jacinto mountain, which is on the outskirts of the city. There is the option of taking a gondola to the top, so we thought it was a great start. We'd been advised to take a pullover with us as it gets quite cold at the top of the mountain. Ted balked at this idea, since the day was already about 30 degrees at 9 in the morning. I convinced him to take it which ended up being wise.

The ride up went to over 8,000 feet and when we arrived, it was COLD! We didn't expect there to be so much greenery and foliage up there but it was almost like being at Yosemite. There were plenty of experienced hikers, including a boy scout troop, but Ted and I walked a short distance before losing interest and heading back to the coffee shop.

Surprisingly, the altitude hit me really bad which it hadn't done in Cusco. Possibly it was because I'd been sick, but I struggled badly. After taking enough photos, we went back down the mountain to the tourist bureau to ask what they recommended.

Unfortunately, the only thing the girl there seemed to think was ideal was the dumb casino, so we took off in the direction of the Indian Canyons instead. When we arrived, we walked in realizing it was again another place for those serious hikers so I ended up taking photos of the photos of the things that you would've otherwise seen on the hike. The man there gave us a map and pointed us in the direction of the nearby town Indian Wells and suggested we go there.

Indian Wells ended up being a rich man's town nearby, which hosts the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament and has the second highest percentage of registered Republicans of any city in California. You could see that right away, judging by their version of 5th Avenue they tried to implement. We ate lunch at a diner called Cactus Jacks and drove around around admiring the beautifully manicured lawns, and palm tree lined streets. They don't even have street lights in the suburbs, as the palm trees themselves have lights attached to them.

After lunch, I felt like an iced coffee and since we'd accidentally missed our turn-off, Ted detoured through a McDonald's drive through to get one. Unfortunately I'd forgotten that iced coffee in the USA is literally coffee with ice (ugh) and not the dairy version we have back home. Just when I was wondering what to do with the drink I didn't want, I saw a homeless man at the exit with a sign asking for food and drink. I rolled down the window and gave him my drink which made him very happy. What luck for both of us!

That evening we walked around the city again enjoying the atmosphere, and also all the spritzers which the restaurants have outside for cooling down passers-by. We went for a drink at Street Bar, which is just like the movie "Cocoon", only gayer. For dinner we enjoyed meatloaf, which didn't taste quite as good as the free meatballs they were giving to a charity softball team nearby. Since everyone retires early in Palm Springs (literally), we decided to call it a night afterwards.

Day 4

In theory, we could've left Palm Springs earlier than we'd booked for as the town doesn't have an over abundance of sights, but in reality, this is a great place to kick back after our South American travels, so we aren't complaining.

We've been keeping an eye on our flights back home to Sydney from Los Angeles and, surprise surprise, the availability of seats is looking dubious already. We have decided to cancel our extra day here in the USA, when we had planned to visit Santa Barbara, and fly to Japan instead. It's definitely the long way around, but it least it will be much less stressful.

I was still feeling a bit queasy today so we took it easier and moseyed down to Lulu for lunch. Once again, we were fed way more than we could manage. I was interested in seeing the renowned Betty Ford Center, so we jumped into the car and drove out to nearby Rancho Mirage. I was expecting to see the likes of Lindsay Lohan wresting with a photographer from the National Enquirer, or an institution similar to the movie "One flew over the cuckoo's nest", but was disappointed to see something resembling a hospital with a sign only allowing authorized personnel. Grrr. I did photograph the sign though.

Monday night isn't exactly pumping here in Palm Springs so we went for a (very) quiet drink at Spurline. The place didn't fail to enlighten us, as we were entertained with videos from musicals I've never heard of, and something called "The Real Housewives of Disney". As slow and steady as Palm Springs is, It still has a certain twilight appeal to it.

"In Palm Springs, they think homelessness is caused by bad divorce lawyers" - Doonesbury creater Gary Trudeau
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