In the weeks rolling up to the Thanksgiving break this year, my stomach lurched from time to time with excitement and apprehension. Our vacation would definitely happen, right? We were looking for this kind of a break for so long! For our family of four, it would be the first post-pandemic vacation that involved a plane ride, a resort, a swimming pool, warm weather in November, and a good mix of tourist attractions and relaxation. Palm Springs ticked all our checkboxes.
We reached Los Angeles by flight in the afternoon and drove to our destination in slow-moving traffic while night fell. A bright moon rose over the hills surrounding the freeway as we passed a windmill farm that stretched for miles, the towering wind turbines and their blinking red lights resembling alien structures on an unknown planet.
The resort, situated in Indian Wells (famous for the tennis tournament), was decked up with holiday decorations and boasted an array of amenities like swimming pools, ping-pong and foosball tables, a spa, tennis courts, two restaurants, and a cafe. In the morning, we opened our patio door to a view of a pond around the hotel buildings, palm trees around it and beyond, a mountain range, the sky above it all turning a peachy orange from the rising sun.
“I’ve never seen so many Palm Trees in my life before,” I said as we drove to the Plam Springs Downtown area.
We passed houses with clean lines and rectangular shapes, known for their mid-century modern architecture. After lunch and date-flavored ice cream (we didn’t drink the popular Date Shake though, maybe next time!), we stopped by to admire the quirky outdoor installations of a giant Marylin Monroe statue and sculptures of huge faceless crawling babies outside the art museum in the city center.
I would have been disappointed if we didn’t visit the iconic Joshua Tree National Park. So we drove through sweeping desert vistas filled with countless Joshua trees bordered by mountains. In between this landscape were heaps of rocks caused by volcanic activity millions of years ago. They seemed to be placed there by a giant child who had finished playing with pebbles and gathered them in one place before running off to play with other ones that also got piled up. We stopped at a vista point while the sun began its descent, creating sharp silhouettes of trees and rocks. Time seemed to stand still, a moment that was a mere blink of an eye in this planet’s lifetime.
The next day an ariel cable car took us to the top of San Jacinto mountain peak, the rotating tramway offering spectacular views of the surrounding desert valley as we rode up to an environment in stark contrast to the one below. A person can enjoy a warm day in the swimming pool in the plains at the bottom of the mountains while high up on the peak, he or she would be freezing cold at a temperature that is 30-40 degrees lower! The area down below is arid while at the top lies an Alpine forest with plenty of wildlife!
The final day of our vacation was devoted to the swimming pool where we had a blast. There was also a craft and playroom for children in which an expert with a real hawk gave a talk on falconry. I squeezed in some time for a spa massage, where my talkative self was unable to resist spending most of the appointment chatting with the equally chatty masseuse as she worked on my tired child-rearing muscles. The day ended at one of the resort’s restaurants with live music playing in the background.
Of course, being a family with two young kids, everything was not pleasant all the time but this vacation felt special for a couple of reasons. Our 17-month-old son took his first airplane ride, experienced his first hotel stay, and took his first dip in a swimming pool (not that he’ll remember any of it!) Overall, the trip was a memorable getaway from our mundane and busy lives and it gave us an opportunity to spend quality time with each other.
“I don’t want to go back,” said our six-year-old daughter when it was time to leave. “Let’s come here again during the December holidays.”
Yes, this vacation was a good one.