Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Desert Modernism in Palm Springs

DHS_Trip_18 (8) I suppose that our foray to the local Wal-Mart in Palm Springs shouldn’t quality as a step into Desert Modernism, a new phrase that I just found to describe all the flat, square buildings around here.  I kept saying to Mo, “This reminds me so much of my ugly, cement childhood in the suburbs of LA. Lots of flagstone, flat roofs, square facades, dull colors.  The worst of Frank Lloyd Wright on steroids, surrounded by graceful palms.  As we drove down Gene Autry Trail I kept wondering why everything looked this way, why it all looked like we had stepped back into the 50’s.  The more we drove, the more I realized that all this squareness was actually on purpose.  Even new buildings, new apartments, had that “look”.  Hmmm.  Later, hunting desperately for a dog-friendly hiking trail in Palm Springs I happened on the phrase: “Desert Modernism”.  It’s real, and Palm Springs and the surrounding towns are very proud of it.  Palm Springs has the largest concentration of mid-century modern architecture in the country. I guess that explains it.  Maybe my escape from mid-century LA basin life many years ago to the rich northwest world of Craftsman and cabins ruined me for appreciating this particular style.

DHS_Trip_18 (12) But back to Wal-Mart. All I can say is “Ugh”!! The store here is so huge I couldn’t find the exits and the bathrooms were horrendous.  It’s sometimes really easy to catch the mixed up lists of needs at a superstore, but maybe not quite worth it.  Somehow I expected better in this upscale area.  The Wal-Mart we visited in Minnesota was pretty darn nice, and almost as big.  We won’t go to this one again, that is for sure. After adding to our supplies at this scary place, we continued driving along HWY 111, the main route through the desert towns here in the Coachella Valley.  Upscale is definitely an understatement here, and the El Paseo shopping area was not exactly the place I wanted to be in my denim shorts and Keen sandals.  As we sat in traffic among the Mercedes, Jaguars, BMW’s, Mo suddenly said, “What in the world is THAT car?”.  Turns out it was a Maseratti.  I don’t think I saw one in real life before.  We were glad we had at least washed the Tracker before coming to town. The rain held off all day but the skies were threatening, and our plan for the day was to explore the area, check things out, get our bearings. 

DSCN5984 Home at Catalina RV Park and Spa looked tremendously welcoming when we finally arrived, still frustrated with no internet connections, but at least Mo had the news and I decided to try out the swimming pool.  Our park has a truly wonderful pool, large and crystal clear, with a hot spa adjacent that is probably close to 104 degrees.  The night was chilly, with wild white clouds obscuring the moon and revealing it in turn, but I thought maybe the pool would be warm enough to swim, since it appeared that steam was rising from the water.  Ahhh!!  I was enveloped by a balmy 93 degrees of pure mineral spring water that is pumped from the parks own well at 130 degrees and cooled with fresh water to a safe level.  The large swimming pool has no chemicals, and neither does the spa.  All the water is naturally changed several times a day by the influx of fresh water.  Unlike many hot springs, this water is full of minerals but has no sulphur, another great thing since there is no bad smell at all.  I floated on my back and watched the moon and stars come and go amidst the clouds and let all the frustrations of the last couple of days slip away.

DSCN5982 This morning we woke to more heavy clouds, and threatening rain.  Reading about the Street Fair at the College of the Desert was interesting, so we took off to try out the local fairs.  By the time we got there, the rain was a bit heavier, but not so much that we couldn’t walk without umbrellas.  However, many of the vendors were giving up.  It wasn’t such a bad thing since the fair turned out to be just a tacky as many flea markets, and our only purchase was some great lettuce for tonight’s salad and some dates. By the time we got back home the rain was coming down hard in Palm Springs, but once again it was dry where we are camped. 

The park here is quite nice except for the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity. We paid the fee to supposedly connect, but the only time I have been able to actually get to the internet was before 6am this morning.  After six, all came to a screeching halt.  You all know how frustrating that can be!  Instead, as darkness falls, Mo and I are sitting here at the Starbucks in Desert Hot Springs, listening to Christmas music and trying to catch up on all things internet.  I am still searching for dog friendly hikes and Christmas lights.  Tomorrow evening is a real treat, when we will meet Laurie and Odel for dinner at the Fisherman’s Market in La Quinta.  The sun will come out eventually, I am sure, eventually.  In the mean time, all I can say is that I am glad I am not camping in a tent.