California Diary | Palm Springs
Everyone I know in L.A. thought we were nuts to want to go to Palm Springs in September.
The temperature is crazy, not everything is open, and did I mention the temperature? Crazy. Or so everyone told us, anyway. I’ve wanted to see Palm Springs ever since I was 18 years old, though, reading Generation X, and dreaming of a place that would be totally different from anywhere I’d ever seen in my life – and I’ve also just lived through the worst summer in living memory, so “it’ll be really sunny” isn’t exactly going to put me off, is it?
Well, Palm Springs is definitely totally different from anywhere I’ve ever been: in fact, I think it’s the most “Other” place I’ve been – and I mean that in the nicest possible way, because I LOVED Palm Springs. The day before, at dinner, we’d talked about finding your “place”: I’m not sure Palm Springs is my place – it’s a little too isolated to feel totally comfortable – but I was fascinated by the sheer “otherness” of the desert streets: cactus gardens instead of lawn, burning hot asphalt, and that end-of-the-world feeling that makes it totally different from anywhere else. Las Vegas is also an oasis in the desert, but it’s hard to remember that when you’re walking down the strip. Palm Springs, though, may be less than two hours from L.A., but it feels a whole lot further away, and I kinda liked that about it.
We got lucky, and arrived on a relatively overcast day, which meant the temperature was “only” around 102 degrees (which is pretty close to what we’d had in L.A. that week), as opposed to the 120-or-more it can get to at this time of year. We had lunch in a cute little restaurant (Which I’m actually really annoyed not to have noted down the name of, because the food and service was awesome…), and then had a wander around town, ducking into stores whenever we could, mostly just to escape the heat.
One of the things Palm Springs is famous for is the mid-century architecture of some of the homes: it’s one of my favourite styles, being very retro, but still totally contemporary, so I was looking forward to seeing it. We stopped in one neighbourhood which contained quite a few of those homes: it was just a random suburban street, but all of the gardens were full of cacti (and absolutely no greenery, as you’d expect in a desert town), and the view of the mountains at the end of street made me stop in my tracks just to stare at it. As I walked down the street, I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in a place like that: I’ve no idea, but I’m glad I got to see it, if only for a little while.
Afterwards we drove up for a look at the arial tramway, which we didn’t actually go on this time: seriously, that thing looked even more terrifying in real life than it did in the photos I’d seen of it, but you still get a pretty good view from the tram station, so it was worth the short drive. I, meanwhile, felt like I’d won the lottery when the decision was made NOT to take the tram to the top of the mountain, because given that I’ve now freaked out on both the London Eye and Eiffel Tower, I have a feeling I wouldn’t have handled the whole ‘dangling from a mountain by a thread’ thing very well. Just a hunch…
(*P.S. That’s a playsuit I’m wearing, by the way, not a dress: for some reason, although I’d never wear a dress that short, the fact that this is technically shorts makes me willing to do it: I think pretty much anything goes in 102 degree heat, though…)
WEARING: Ancient Matalan playsuit and River Island flats; Topshop hat