Escape to the oasis

Palm Springs, California

After only took a day or two of L.A. traffic, we started wanting to escape it. With a weekend under our belt, we were excited to take the white Pontiac out to Palm Springs, the desert oasis best known for old Hollywood, mobsters and Frank Sinatra, who also happens to be buried here.

We left the Palomar early this morning, and after grabbing to-go cups from Coffee Bean, hit Interstate 10 for our drive east. Google Maps said the 120-mile trip would take 2-hours; or up to 4 in traffic. The Traffic Gods were looking out for us though and we beat all expectations, pulling into the valet stand at the Colony Palms Hotel in just about 90 minutes.

Listed on Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot List for 2009, it was an obvious choice for us. Unlike the surrounding resorts, the Moroccan-themed hotel — which at one point was a brothel and speakeasy — is conveniently located just off North Indian Canyon Road in downtown.

The room, ready at 10 a.m. and upgraded (bonus points), was spacious, with terracotta floors, smelly bath products and a fully stocked bar.

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But the real draw of Palm Springs is the weather — specifically, the bright desert sun, which was just starting to peak out from behind the clouds. Desperate to reverse the effects of 2-weeks in the Russian winter, we grabbed two poolside chaises in a prime location and lounged away.

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The temperature quickly dropped as the afternoon sun disappeared behind the mountains so we decided to hit up Palm Canyon Drive, the area’s main shopping drag. For me, this was a mid-century modern mecca, with more Eames, Knoll and Kartell furniture than I’d thought even existed. There was even a cool “lawn chair” — a piece of public art — to rest on.

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Luckily, no purchases were made. We did pass a bustling restaurant called Las Casuelas, which Charlotte smartly suggested we make a reservation for later. Preemptively wanting to burn off those calories and strangely wanting to relive the burn of Runyon Canyon back in L.A., we drove a few minutes outside of town to Tahquitz Canyon. The $16 entry was kind of absurd but apparently it supports the local Indians (or their casino or something).

We hiked about an hour to a waterfall, with views of the surrounding Coachella Valley, lots of windmills and the lush oasis of Palm Springs off in the distance.

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Back at La Casuelas, we ordered up a freshly made serving of guac with chips and sipped our gigantic margs. By the time the carnitas and enchiladas showed up, we were about ready to wave the white flag. But why not indulge?

Tomorrow we wouldn’t be budging from those poolside chaises.

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