Heading into Palm Springs by air or land it is shocking to see encrusted sand and baked dirt turn immediately into green grass, manicured lawns, golf courses, and fountains fit for a Versace mansion. There is no gradual transition; it is instant. No border through which the passerby can acclimatize. Brown to green; it’s side by side.
Driving in from the desert we passed from the unusual isolationist characters who inhabit the twilight zone and into a world of luxury and decadence.
I will admit to having a preconceived idea of what to expect and it wasn’t one I embraced. I imagined a town of unbridled hedonism where the streets were constantly filled by those seeking a party. In my mind it was noisy, crass, and pretentious. I was wrong.
Palm Springs won me over upon arrival. Granted, it is a little like making nice with elective plastic surgery but if a boob job or a set of collagen lips made me feel as good as Palm Springs in the summer swelter, I’d be OK with that.
Everywhere you look there are reminders of the past. Mid-century modern is a term bandied about Palm Springs with such rapidity that you soon learn to come to the party and scrutinize those buildings that are not quite as mid-century modern as others…and you may just find you’re doing it like a snooty wine snob.
All the Hollywood elite came here and at one time it was their playground. The main street has its own Walk of Fame where golden stars announce the name and occupation of many well-known artists; mostly from an era fading slowly into history.
After journeying through the life of Gram Parsons as I slept in the room next to where he passed on, putting pedal to the metal in an attempt to escape the Borax of Trona, chatting with the sole resident of Ballarat, eaten in the dark by Box Beetles, finding Baby Jane in Amargosa, Leonard Knight at Salvation Mountain, the most gorgeous lake of life constricting blue, and a ranch of Bottle Trees on Route 66, it was a pleasure to enter Palm Springs.
The 110 degree heat did not seem as hot here. Maybe the knowledge that a pool awaited us only feet from the entrance of our bedroom door had something to do with it.
We ate well under the mist of cooling water jets, we swam till the moon was high in the sky, and we wandered the town in no particular hurry. To end up here after the incredible road trip we had just completed was perfect.
All we had left to do was just relax. It felt good.