Helaine and Steffie are sitting on our little patio here at the hotel in Palm Springs. Of course, if you would ask them, they’re on the lanai.
Palm Springs is beautiful. We have certainly had less than optimal Palm Springs weather. It has rained, a little, each day. But, as soon as the rain ends, the sky clears.
Last night was a perfect example. We had been indoors during the evening. We had obviously missed a shower or two. The roads were wet. Yet when we looked up, the sky was full of stars with no clouds in sight!
I know what happened overnight in Connecticut. Snow! Where I live, there’s around 6″ of snow. Her, today, we’ll hit the mid 60°s, with the temperature getting into the 80s over the weekend (alas, we’ll be gone).
We got here on Tuesday and checked into the Hyatt. We had made a conscious choice before we got here to stay downtown, on the main drag. The reviews for this hotel were actually quite lackluster with people complaining that the hotel looked tired and shabby. We have not found that to be the case.
It is a suite hotel, and though this is not the ‘classic’ suite you might see in the movies, Stef now has here own ‘room’. The suite is significantly larger than our room in Century City.
Before we left Helaine had found a deal to get the room plus free breakfast every morning – even room service. Helaine’s diligence has saved us a lot of money, because she spent a lot of timing shopping and comparing before we left home. We changed our hotel and car arrangements more than once as new, better deals became available.
Speaking of cars, we had originally reserved a full size car. As I became more attuned to our baggage needs, I started to think an SUV might be a better idea. I believe the rental description called for a Chevy Blazer or similar. We ended up with a Chevy Trail Blazer.
I am used to driving a Ford Explorer. This Trail Blazer is significantly larger. That makes it tougher to park and get around in traffic. I’m sure this is the kind of thing that gets easier with time.
Tuesday, when we got in, Helaine and Steffie headed to the shops in Palm Springs as I headed to the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. Palm Springs is surrounded by tall, steep mountains and the tram is the only easy way to the top of one of them.
To get there, you drive out of town, past the wind turbines, and into the mouth of a canyon. As you drive further, the road steeply pushes upward. I believe the mile or two of canyon road climbed over 1,000 feet in elevation from the valley floor. I have attached all the tech specs for this tramway. Only click if you’re really geeky.
The tram climbs up the mountain in a little over 10 minutes. The car rotates slowly as it rises, which is good for most, but was bad for me. Every time I got to where I wanted to take a picture, I moved… or was moved. There are some open, tilt out windows, but most of the vantage is through glass or something like it.
As air rises, it cools. It was in the low 70ºs at ground level. It was in the upper 30ºs on the mountaintop, and the clouds often drifted over the observatory. There was a reasonably large snowpack (measured in feet) surrounding the paths and patios to the vantage points.
The interior of California unfolds below you. The horizon is wide and very far away. The sky itself is so blue that I took a picture of it!
The visibility to the valley is somewhat reduced. I noticed that from the mountain and I have noticed it from ground level as well. The culprit – blowing dust.
Sometimes the dust is in discrete little storms, so you can see them from a distance. Other times, often when looking down from the mountain, the dust is less defined but obvious in the lack of sharp focus at a distance.
There is one very strange thing I saw at the base of the tramway. The parking lots are named after local animals in much the same way you might park in a Disneyworld lot named “Goofy” or “Pluto.”
Let’s just say the local animal names are less cutesy than Disney’s!
I met up with Helaine and Steffie and, in showery rain, we headed out to dinner. We stopped at Kaiser Grille, a nice looking restaurant on Palm Canyon Drive. Even with the rain, we sat outside on a covered, open air, patio.
Dinner was very tasty. I had pasta with shrimp and scallops. It came quickly and was piping hot. The service was attentive.
It was still early, so while Stef chatted on the computer, Helaine and I headed to one of the Indian casinos here. A few years ago, there were restrictions on these casinos that made blackjack and other games different from the same games in Las Vegas or Connecticut.
That’s changed for the most part, though I understand craps is played with cards instead of dice. Very strange. I have a bad reaction to people, or businesses, that follow the letter, though not the spirit, of the law. That seems to be the case with diceless craps.
I ended up going to two casinos while here, playing poker at both. This was not my finest moment as a poker player.
Of the two, the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage was more to my liking. It is small as casinos go. The poker room didn’t have many more than a dozen tables. The dealers and other players were friendly. There was more drink service (I don’t drink alcohol, but do drink coffee, water and soda) than I’ve ever seen in a poker room. That’s no small thing!
The other casino, Morongo, was larger and adjacent to a huge outlet mall where Steffie and Helaine spent an afternoon. I just didn’t like it as much. I was also amazed to see the age limit there was 18.
I was playing poker with 18 year olds – and I didn’t like that. It is only my opinion, but 18 seems much too young. You’ll notice I didn’t get up and refuse to play. But, it is part of the reason I won’t go back.
There is one more thing of interest we did here in Palm Springs. We went house shopping.
OK – maybe that’s a little drastic of a description. We went and ‘window shopped’ a development in Rancho Mirage. The thought is, maybe when we retire, this would be a nice place to go.
The homes, on small parcels of land, but often with amazing views of the mountains were more expensive than similarly sized homes in Connecticut. We did find one design, with an immense open space encompassing a gourmet kitchen, family room and breakfast area to be very appealing. There was even s small swimming pool out back.
This is a very attractive lifestyle in a beautiful place. Desert living isn’t for everyone. It is astoundingly hot here in the summer… and the summer is very long. Temperatures of 115° for days on end is not uncommon. Yes, the humidity is very low, but it is still hot like an oven.
On the other hand, the only snow you see is looking at the mountain peaks while drive dry roads in the sun and warmth.