Under the Stars to the Stars…

The drive from Las Vegas to L.A. is pretty boring and definitely too long, especially if you just lost your ass in Sin City. To break it up, I highly recommend a stop at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. Right off the main drive into town, it’s got a fantastic, open air aerie lobby, complete with Sweetie the blue and gold macaw parrot, who gives you a good squawk greeting as you enter. 

After checking into our newly renovated 8th floor room it was so relaxing to sit in the balcony that look out over the huge lagoon and fountains in the main square below, along with some pools, awesome grounds, golf, shopping and popular restaurants on site. Friendly staff are attuned to any guest’s needs throughout the resort too. But be warned, it’s a popular spot, attracting a lot of conventions and families, so book early. Don’t miss visiting the flamingos outside in front of the resort. A bench is nearby if you prefer a rest while admiring the flock. Tropical birds are located throughout the aerie lobby as well.

After a not so great dining experience at Smokin’ Burgers in Palm Springs, it was nice to return to the Marriott and have a hot tub all to ourselves under the night time desert stars.  Next day, after checking out, we dined at the Marriott’s Rockwood Grill where we ordered the Angus Hamburger and Wild Mushroom Pizza. Yum. Our waitress Martha was terrific in giving us fine, fun service at reasonable prices for good lunch time fare.

I’m not big on nature hikes, but the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway beckoned and we couldn’t resist pulling in on the way out of town and were we ever glad we did.  It’s such a cool ride that numerous films and TV shows have used it for a scene setting, including an old Columbo episode, but nothing does it justice until you experience it for yourself.

It’s the world’s largest rotating aerial tramway car and its two and half mile journey up the sides of the Chino Canyon is just spectacular and a whole lot of fun, provided you’re not scared of heights, as you get a very slight bump ever quarter mile or so when the wheels roll over the connecting tower’s cable.  

Upon debarking you can’t help but head toward the 54 miles of hiking trails in Mt. San Jacinto State Park located within 14,000 acres of pristine wilderness, one of the last in California. After the pounding dry heat of the desert it was marvelous to sit on a bench and realize the dream of a young electrical engineer named  Francis Crocker who in 1935, looked up at the snow-capped peak and thought it would be lovely to go up there where it’s nice and cool. Especially without having to walk the trails, I met a few crazy, sweat soaked hikers who had just climbed it. Good on ya, but not for me, taking the tram and enjoying the sights and sounds was more up my alley. Returning to the tram for the descent down, it was equally cool in the evening twilight to the see the shimmering lights of Palm Springs in the desert below.   Then seeing the Johnson Falls in the lower station was a pleasant treat.

I don’t like golf, shopping or wildly expensive restaurants, three things that Palm Springs is known for.  But put a tennis racquet in my hand, a nice cocktail or glass of wine by the hot tub in Palm Desert and a ride up the Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs, and hey, I’m back in a flash!