We arrived in gloriously warm Palm Springs about two weeks ago and settled in very quickly to our beautiful site at the Outdoor Resort Palm Springs. Our outdoor living space here is really awesome with lots of shade and privacy. Love, Love, Love sitting outside on the patio in the mornings with a steaming cup of java and listening to all the birds. The hummingbirds seem to love our flowering hedge so I got out my feeders and set them up so Sucia could bird watch too.
My cousin June and her hubby Matt were arriving on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and staying at our nearby timeshare condo. So excited to be spending Thanksgiving with them and took my duties as official tour guide very seriously!!! The weather forecast for Thanksgiving day indicated that yes, we would be dining Alfresco – YAY!!! As a matter of fact, it seems the entire week was going to be toasty – 90 degrees of toasty.
There is so much to see and do in Palm Springs plus the dining scene here is outstanding. Everything from super casual to fine dining and every ethic option you could ask for. I do a lot of research on restaurants because I LOVE to eat and as much as I LOVE to cook, I really enjoy a great meal that someone else fixes and no dishes!!
After getting June and Matt checked into the condo on Sunday, we all headed to the Purple Palm Restaurant in Palm Springs for a late lunch. This place is the real meal deal, so totally quintessential Palm Springs. The restaurant is located in the Colony Palms Hotel which is known as one of Palm Springs’ iconic and luxurious downtown hotels. Just one block off of the city’s main design district and built in the 1930s, this 57-room resort retains many charming features of its original Spanish colonial architecture, from arched entryways and covered ceilings to original ceramic floor tiles.
We were seated outside in an intimate sanctuary with lush greenery with the pool as a backdrop behind us. What a great introduction to Palm Springs…the Purple Palm menu is casual, approachable and the Bloody Marys are buzz worthy!! In addition to a great meal, we experienced warm personalized service. This was a great place for us to have a long, lingering lunch and catch up as it had been years since we were all together.
Monday was going to be toasty so it seemed like the perfect day to head up The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This crazy ride is the world’s largest rotating tram car, traveling over two-and-one-half miles along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon and transports riders to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. During our approximately ten-minute journey, the tram car rotated slowly, offering picturesque and spectacular vistas of the valley floor below. We departed the tram at elevation 8,516 feet and at least 25 degrees cooler than the valley floor.
After a casual lunch at The Peaks Restaurant we enjoyed the observation decks, the natural history museum and an easy hike through the long valley and back, stopping at the five scenic notches that gave different but spectacular views out over the valley below.
The tram was the dream of a young electrical engineer, Francis Crocker, that began in 1935 while he was on a trip to Banning, California, with newspaper publisher Carl Barkow. Mopping his brow in the heat of the day, Crocker gazed at the still snow-capped peak of Mount San Jacinto 10,834 feet elevation and longed to “go up there where it’s nice and cool”. At that moment, “Crocker’s Folly,” as it was soon dubbed by one newspaper woman, was born – a tramway up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. The tramway project stalled several times over the years but because of sheer determination by Crocker was finished in 1963. No small feat to build, the first tower is the only one that can be reached by road. The helicopters flew some 23,000 missions during the 26 months of construction, hauling men and materials needed to erect the four other towers and the 35,000 sq. ft. Mountain Station.
The winter months change the whole dynamic at the top and hiking gives way to snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snow camping. There was no threat of snow when we were there but I can certainly imagine the transition of dry, pine forests to winter wonderland.
The next day our exploring took us on a drive across the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway. This beautiful drive from Palm Springs to Banning shows a different side of southern California. Palm trees give way to pines and firs as the byway climbs into the San Bernardino National Forest.
Idyllwild was the perfect lunch stop and we had another great meal at the Mile High Café. This family owned restaurant is a gem, offering an eclectic menu with a decidedly Korean influence. The Whiskey Bacon Jam was to die for!!! While definitely cooler than the Coachella Valley, sitting at over 5,000 ft elevation it was still a great day to enjoy the outdoor, dog friendly patio.
Besides the great lunch, a stroll through Idyllwild and all the jaw dropping views along the way, I think the big highlight of the day was the short hike around Lake Fulmor. The fall colors were just spectacular, making the area a photographers nirvana. All of our cameras got a work out and I can only imagine how many MB of digital storage were used.
The final experience of the day was on the drive back to Palm Springs with a detour of Hwy 10 through the windmill farms and a date shake at the funky Windmill Market. Dates are actually grown in the Coachella Valley and there are several places you can buy the local varietals. Date shakes are pretty dang good but I still prefer my dates wrapped in proscuttio…wink, wink!!
The thanksgiving shopping was all done and the menu planned so we were able to spend the day before the big feast in Old Town Palm Springs wandering the shops, people watching, sipping coffee and doing a driving tour to see some amazing homes built in the era of mid-century architecture. We saw Marilyn Monroes house, the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway – can you say funky, the Kaufmann Desert House, Ann Miller’s House and the Liberace House. Driving the area where these houses are located is a feast to the eyes for those mid-century modern architecture lovers. Only wish we had been able to get inside some of those beauties.
Thanksgiving day was warm so we relaxed and enjoyed our outdoor living room at the RV Resort. I was a cooking crazy-woman and with some help turned out a pretty amazing Thanksgiving feast. I was so into the cooking that I completely forgot to take any pictures – lame – but it was a delicious feast, even the store bought pie, a “real” pecan pie from Claim Jumpers. Thanksfully, Matt took a few nice pictures 🙂
The menu below was written by my very creative cousin June…
Monsuier Byer’s Cardboard-Cellared, Aged Vino:
A. Rafanelli, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley Zinfandel, 2014
Macchia Old Vine Zinfandel ‘Mischevious’ 2016 With Notes of Berries and Soft Vanilla
In The Beginning…
Tender Kale-Radicchio-Shaved Brussels Sprout, Sea Salt-Sprinkled Salad With Dried Cranberries & Garlic-Vinagarette
In The Middle….
Apple Wood, Tragar-Smoked, Spatchcocked Turkey with Citrus-Herb Butter
Southern Fried Corn with Crunchy Smoked Bacon Crumbles
Gruyered Gratin de Sweet Potato, Yam & Red Potatoes With Herb Cream Sauce
Slow-Simmered Turkey Giblet Gravy With Simon & Garfunkle Deconstructed Herb Garni of Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.
Rosemary-Balsamic-Maple Glazed, Roasted & Caramelized Carrots drizzled with Herb de Provence Olive Oil
In The End….
Claim Jumper’s Signature Southern Pecan Pie, With Extra Flaky Crust & Real (Not Fake) Pecans
Idyllwyld Ethiopian Organic, Tangy City-Roasted Coffee With Hints of Blueberry
Truly, the best part of the day was being together with my BCF’s from Kentucky, playing games, sipping wine and being silly. If you have never played the board game Redneck Life, be prepared to laugh until almost you pee your pants! I won because I actually accumulated enough money to have all my missing teeth fixed!!! So very thankfully they made the trip to Palm Springs to be with us.
Our week together was a busy whirlwind and our last night we went on a strange adventure to see Robo Lights. This fantastical, four acre winter-wonderland-meets-sci-fi art installation that lights up the upscale Movie Colony East neighborhood is the life-long work of is Kenny Irwin Jr. He is quoted as saying “The display features a life time’s worth of monumental and variety complex art that spanning nearly thirty five years from the time I was very little where I made my first large outdoor found art robot at the age of nine. Of course, I have been creating art in one form or another since I was practically born”.
This is one of the most amazingly, bizarre places I have ever been. Outrageous wonderland flies out of whacky artist’s mind into 3-D manifestation like that gory creature out of Kane’s chest in Alien. Only this one’s done in full trashion with exploded microwaves, hot pink foam , lawn chair fences, telephone christmas wreaths and so much more.
Watch out reindeer, these kinetic mannequins and bunnies are taking alien black Santa for the sleigh ride of the century! I wondered if the parents who brought children evaluated their child’s sensitivities and future propensity toward weirdness first! The level of detail in these mind-blowing recycled sculptures really must be seen to be believed.
The only possible downside to all of this creepy brilliance is that it’s all SO MUCH. It’s hard to get your head around everything, and it’s honestly a little overwhelming. But hey, it is a lifetime of artistry, right!!!
It was an unanimous decision to celebrate our fabulous week together over lunch again at the Purple Palm..it has been decided that this is our place. All good things must come to an end and somehow our week together just flew by. Seems I scored very high marks as a Palm Springs Tour Guide, A Plus Plus!!!!