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annetti Jan 29th, 2012 08:13 PM

Palm Desert Home Exchange - One Week - Jan 2012
Palm Desert marks our 25th home exchange, about 2 hours east of our Southern California home, however the change in location is dramatic, from a beach community to a desert resort. We now viewed brown hills dotted with sage brush, relatively little smog, clear warm skies, tall King palms and desert cacti , sand and gravel gardens instead of green lawns. (Though there were still plenty of the latter!) I used to find the desert landscape dull and drab, but no more, it is lovely, especially in midwinter without a hot sun. Especially pretty when the desert is blooming, if you look closely, there are small flowers, more so as the months progress to spring. Our home exchangers had a particularly pretty purple (almost magenta) pear cactus on their front lawn.

annetti Jan 29th, 2012 08:17 PM

Our drive east was relatively easy, no traffic snarls, until just outside Palm Springs, we hit a severe sandstorm, later reported by the press to be one of the worst in 40 yrs. Our visibility was severely limited for about 10 minutes,we were hardly able to see the car ahead of us, but as quick as it appeared it was gone, and at least for us no serious results. We later saw evidence of fallen trees and ruined cars. However, by the time we arrived at our home exchangers' home the air was clear and balmy and our home exchangers were unaware that there had been a major storm, though they were sure to hear about it on the Evening News.

annetti Jan 29th, 2012 08:29 PM

Usually, I do a day by day report, but we had no computer access on this trip, instead I'll give a few restaurant reviews, some tourist sights and some general impressions.

Native Foods: A Vegan restaurant in Palm Springs, listed by one of travel books as a small chainlet. Under $25 for two veggie burgers with sweet potato fries. ( You may want to stop reading my restaurant reviews now, since we tend to be vegetarian who occasionally eat some fish.) The food was a bit better than okay, but not real health oriented with sugar sprinkled on the fries. However, it is probably the best known vegan restaurant in the Palm Springs area. The ambiance is basic coffee shop and not very attractive, though the service is pleasant. In fact, I can say that about all the food places we visited, everyone is extremely cordial.

annetti Jan 29th, 2012 08:43 PM

Our favorite (or at least mine) was Palm Greeens Cafe where we ate several times. Informal atmosphere, but pleasant. Native Food above had felt dingy to me. Palm Green's emphasis is on organic not vegan, so if you are a meat eater, there is chicken and fish, too. Very popular and always filled with people even late in the day. Again around $25 or so for two for lunch. The restaurant is in a small strip mall in Palm Springs.

annetti Jan 29th, 2012 08:52 PM

The third place we frequented was Luscious Lorraines, a small lunch counter attached to Harvest Health Foods. Address is 73910 Hwy 111 in Palm Desert, again in a not-so-small strip mall. Hardly any atmosphere to speak of, definitely sandwich style place, but also popular with the locals. Had several large Asian-styled tofu salad there. I'm guessing, but around $20 for the two of us. Very good for the price.

Other than those three place above , our breakfasts were in-house or supplied by Bristol Farms (a local market) or Trader Joe's.

annetti Jan 29th, 2012 09:04 PM

Tourist Sights:

My favorite was the Living Desert in Palm Desert. Certainly the highlight of our trip. Winter hrs are until 5, but I believe in summer they are only open until 1pm. Check first. From their brochure: "it is a nature preserve protecting 1,80 acres of undisturbed Sonoran desert." There are various self-guided walks, but there are docent led walks and other events scheduled throughout the day. Who knew there were so many cacti and desert plants to gawk at. There's even a small zoo. We saw the odd looking Hornbill and a Meerkat (standing on its hind legs) along with other unusual animals. The docents were wonderful, so many seniors volunteering and knowledgeable. There's a small make-do cafe and gift shop.

annetti Jan 29th, 2012 09:26 PM

Also, loved the small but nicely designed Palm Springs Desert Museum. There is a temporary photography exhibit called The Pools of Palm Springs. Lots of mid-century homes with of course the omnipresent pool.

The Hollywood influence is very apparent in PS. In one photo there is Mr and Mrs. Alan Lad dressed in 50s casuals; Mrs. Ladd is in a shirt waist and AL is in long pants and shirt; they are sitting and reading the newspaper lounging by their pool. It really takes you back to another era when people dressed up to sit by the pool. No bathing suits for them. Among other photos are the recognizable photos of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, poolside.

Of course, in Palm Springs, one never really forgets Hollywood with street names like Frank Sinatra Drive, Bob Hope Dr or Dinah Shore Dr.

Palm Canyon Boulevard has a star studded sidewalk just like Hollywood,with many unfamiliar names. And like Hollywood Blvd in LA, there are lots of tourist shops with t-shirts, cheap momentos and postcards. Lots of sidewalk cafes and chain type restaurants. However, no matter how cheesy it is, you always have the lovely views of the brown mountains in the distance and the tall lovely palm trees. I was very happy strolling down the boulevard and watching all the other tourists enjoying themselves. We were happy to be there, too.

annetti Jan 29th, 2012 09:32 PM

A bit off the beaten track, tourist-wise was the Moorten Botanical Garden at 1701 South Palm Canyon. Started by the father of the present owner, an avid cacti collector and a former Keystone Cop who came to Palm Spring for his health. The day we visited, the local photography club was there. Understandably since I have never seen so many unusual cacti in one place. The most memorable were the horizontal cacti lying like snakes or the snow white cacti that seemed appeared to be enveloped in a shroud. I think it was $4 admission. There's a small gift shop. The surrounding neighborhood is interesting, too with some lovely mid century architecture.

annetti Jan 29th, 2012 09:44 PM

We also strolled Paseo Drive in Palm Desert, touted as the Rodeo Drive of the Desert. It is about a mile long with the usual high end and not so high end shops. Stores such as Saks, Banana Republic, Restoration Hardware and some art galleries line the streets interspersed with Starbucks. However, the street is immaculately maintained with lots of flowers and no graffiti. Every building looks brand new.There were a few people shopping, the "ladies (or men) who shop" were not very visible. Mostly tourists enjoying the warm weather with few shopping bags in sight. One store owner said business was pretty dismal, but much improved since 2008. I got bored pretty easily and we did not stay long.

qwovadis Jan 30th, 2012 03:49 AM

nice report Living Desert nice for me also loved the Tram up into the mountainsin Palm Springs great report.Hope you
managed to avoid all the meth trailer factories around the Salton Sea one ugly foamy little place.

qwovadis Jan 30th, 2012 03:50 AM

Indian Canyonshike was nuce when there last very pretty.

annetti Jan 30th, 2012 10:21 AM

Thank you, qwovadis. It has been ages since we've been around Salton Sea. I was wondering if it had improved at all. Guess not. Also, liked Indian Canyon for hiking, though did not do it this time round.

All and all, Palm Desert proved a wonderful respite from LA; we had forgotten what a beautiful place the desert can be in the wintertime. What a deal, a dramatic change in scenery from a Calif beach town to the desert in 2 hours and all on a half tank of gasoline. Loved it!

Bob_Bogard Jan 30th, 2012 12:35 PM

Hi Annetti -

Thanks for the mention of the museum , but you called it by our former name (Palm Springs Desert Museum) instead of our actual name (Palm Springs Art Museum). Also, the name of the photo exhibition you mentioned is "Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography 1945-1982." The musuem is open for free every Thursday from 4-8 p.m. and the second Sunday of every month. Could you possibly correct that in your entry? Thanks so much.

Bob Bogard
Director of Marketing Communications
Palm Springs Art Museum
[email protected]

annetti Jan 30th, 2012 12:41 PM

Bob: I can't edit my entries, but I think you have done an excellent job of setting the record straight. BTW, you have a wonderful group of docents working there.

I was a bit flummoxed by the middle aged "couple" sitting on a bench in the entryway. Like others, I thought they were alive, but realized a couple hours later they were still in their original seats. Really enjoyed the museum.

annetti Jan 31st, 2012 06:47 PM

Probably should conclude this thread by saying, that all went well at both homes. Our home was clean. Trash emptied, soiled sheets and towels left in a laundry basket as agreed on our washing machine, a very nice thank you note and a bouquet of yellow roses.

I like to think they were equally pleased with the care we took of their home and they had interesting things to do while in our area.

We, too left them a thank you note, a bottle of Calif Olive oil (our home exchanger likes to cook).

Home exchange for those pondering their first exchange, gives you room to spread out, a place to cook even if it's frozen meals -- it's wonderful not to be in a cramped hotel room. Also, there's no rush to run out and see every tourist sight in 24 hours when there's no hotel bill hanging over your head.

All in all a wonderful visit. Palm Desert will be on my list of places to revisit, hopefully via a home exchange.

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