Relax, you’re in Palm Springs!
If there’s one area I definitely underachieve in, it’s relaxing. My college best friend, Candace, and I are both enneagram 3’s. We’re ambitious overachievers that constantly feel the need to accomplish something. After I breastfed my daughter for a full year, we took a girls’ trip to DC and Nantucket. When my son was born, we already started planning our girls’ trip for after his first birthday when I finished breastfeeding him. We have traveled a lot, but neither of us have been to the desert (unless you count the World’s Smallest Desert in Canada). With a little research, we decided to go Palm Springs!
Candace and her husband Daniel are in the process of adopting 4 kids, which meant their finances were already committed elsewhere. After discussing it with Weston, we decided to use our travel fund to treat both me and Candace to a girls’ trip to Palm Springs! I booked our flights, rental car, and a dome in the desert for our trip. Then our schedules were crazy and I really didn’t have time to think or plan anything until the week before we left. At that point, I realized that both of us had been through a stressful year and what we needed more than anything was to relax. I even made a last-minute decision to leave my DSLR camera at home to really force myself to relax. All our vacation photos were taken on our phones!
Almost immediately upon arriving in Palm Springs, we got mani-pedis. Seriously, we stopped less than a mile from the airport haha. It may seem silly, but it really set the tone for the trip and forced us to get into the relaxation mindset. After dinner and grabbing a few groceries, we headed to our Airbnb – a dome in the actual desert!
Funny story – we knew there were windmills in California, but we didn’t really think about them. We were driving in the valley in the dark when hundreds of ominous, blinking red lights appeared around us. The silhouettes of the massive turbines made us feel as if giant robots were inching toward us. I know, probably a little dramatic, but – you weren’t there. We were in a new place and driving in the dark. We panicked for a moment until we realized it was just the windmills.
We were almost to our Airbnb when the paved road suddenly ended and we were driving on makeshift roads in the desert. The bumpy terrain made us question whether our tiny Chevy Malibu rental would make it. Fortunately, it did! We found our dome tucked away in the quiet desert and we made ourselves at home.
First priority was finding a coffee shop. We remembered passing Joshua Tree Coffee the night before and knew that’s where we needed to go. We got our lattés and a bag of coffee for Weston and headed to the spa!
We made a quick stop to get a few pictures with the Palm Springs sign.
The week before our trip, I booked us each massages at the Parker Palm Springs Yacht Club. With it being a Tuesday in the middle of December, we pretty much had the spa to ourselves. We changed into our cozy white robes and went our separate ways. Then we tried out the steam room, sauna, and hot tub before moving on to the next adventure.
On the way to the spa, we saw the huge windmill farm. Candace had found a windmill tour, so we decided to do the self-driving tour and learn more about the scary turbines. We took way too many pictures of the windmills – enough that Weston teased me about it when I got home. They were just so fascinating! There were hundreds of them and a few of them were even taller than the Statue of Liberty!
After shopping in downtown Palm Springs, we decided to do the Aerial Tramway to see the view from the top of the mountains. When I say I was not expecting to see snow on this trip, I did not even pack warm boots! I literally walked in the snow on the top of Mount San Jacinto with shoes that didn’t cover my entire foot and no socks. We ate dinner on the mountain, then made our way back to our Airbnb to drink hot chocolate and watch Harry & Meghan.
We decided to have a lazy morning at the Airbnb, which proved to be more difficult for me. I begrudgingly woke up at 6am every single morning, but it was really like 8am our time. And I wanted to FaceTime Weston and the kids at least once each day. That was usually the best time to do it.
Again, first priority was coffee. We grabbed our Starbucks and went to Joshua Tree National Park to explore.
Our first point of interest was going to be Arch Rock, but we found Heart Rock first.
Then we found Arch Rock and tons of surrounding rocks that were perfect for climbing.
Next on our list was to find the Cholla Cactus Garden, which is located where the Colorado and Mojave Deserts merge. The cholla cactus is also known as the teddy bear cactus because of its chocolate brown stems and fuzzy golden arms. They were cute, but I still don’t think teddy bear when I see them.
We drove to the southern part of the National Park and ended up getting lunch and coffee in Coachella.
My dad suggested that we visit the Salton Sea. It was a pretty far drive from where we were staying, but since we ended up in Coachella we drove the extra 15 miles to Salton Sea. This used to be a huge tourist attraction, but as the waters continue to recede, the concentration of salt and chemicals in the water is highly toxic. I walked on the sand, which felt more like damp salt, and got as close to the water as was comfortable. It was a beautiful sight, but I was also paranoid about the toxicity since I didn’t know why it was toxic until I returned home.
There were tons of palm tree farms on the way to and from Salton Sea. It really blew our minds because we never knew there were palm tree farms. We have timber farms in Alabama, but who knew other places had palm tree farms?
Once we were back in Palm Springs, we shopped until we realized the Marilyn Monroe statue was less than two blocks away. In our Google searches, we also learned that Leonardo Di Caprio’s house was also just a few blocks away. We drove by his house, but we were too chicken to get out of the car. Plus, we didn’t want to be obnoxious.
The next morning, we saw a beautiful desert sunrise and heard coyotes howling. I tried looking for them outside, but they weren’t close enough to see.
We had brunch at Grand Central and shopped a little more before heading to the airport.
We also made sure to get some ice cream before we left – it has become a vacation tradition!
What a fun trip! It was bittersweet to leave a relaxing vacation, but we also missed our families and were ready to get back to our routines!