Goodbye, Summer

Alas, yesterday was my birthday, and the first day of fall, which usually coincide. I’ve been drinking pumpkin spice lattes all September but now it’s official–summer has gone. I’ll pause to let you wipe away a tear.

We recently took Mosey to the dog beach for a few glamour shots to submit to an Italian greyhound-themed 2014 calendar (I think it will be sold as a fundraiser) and thought I’d share some favorites here. Of course, this won’t be our last trip to Dog Beach this year, as the weather will probably stay pretty good for a while (although it is getting chillier) but celebrating our time at the beach seemed like a fitting way to send off my favorite season.

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Goodbye, Summer! We’ll see you next year.

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Palm Springs (!!!) Part One: The Saguaro

Check one more place off of my dream destination list: Palm Springs.

Once known as the playground of movie stars, then later for being a place where old people went to Never Be Cold Again, the desert oasis has now become a cliché travel destination for hipsters and/or bloggers (such as myself, I suppose).

After a long day of work, we hopped in the car and headed out. Dropped off the pupster with my parents and were pleasantly surprised at how close PS is to my parents home in Temecula (just a couple of hours). We arrived somewhere around 7:00 and the evening was still young! We checked in to our hotel: The Saguaro.

The Saguaro is best known for it’s BRIGHT colors! The rainbow of spectrum filled me with endless energy. I definitely feed off of bright and vibrant colors and just being in our hot pink and tangerine room made me happy and bouncy. Don’t fear, dudes: not every room is as filled with hot pink as this one was.

The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Saguaro Palm Springs

In the desert, the summer is the slow season, so the hotel was pretty empty. Therefore, we got upgraded not only to a 1st floor room, but to a walk-out! That is, we could step out the sliding glass door from our room right to the lawn and pool area. Swanky! We were close enough to the pool for it to be super convenient, but directly outside our door was a bocce court, which was much quieter.

The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Saguaro Palm Springs

The mountains rising behind the roof of the hotel seemed unreal. Like a hollywood backdrop, or like I could reach out and touch them. During the day, they were stark and imposing, and as dusk fell, they faded away, as if they weren’t there at all.

Included with the room was use of their cute baby blue bikes! If it had been a different time of year, I would have rode that bike all over Palm Springs. However, we took the bikes .8 miles to breakfast and it was already TOO HOT for that kind of activity. We rode back after our meal and never touched them again! Perhaps if I come back in the springtime….

The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Saguaro Palm Springs

Here are a few gratuitous shots of the lobby. If I hadn’t already been smitten with the hotel the moment I clicked “book,” well the lobby would have sealed the deal. A ping pong table right inside the front door? How fun!

The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Saguaro Palm Springs

When planning this trip I really wanted to stay at The Ace Hotel, because that’s where all the “cool kids” seem to hang out, if you take a straw poll among famous bloggers. The Ace’s decor and vibe are totally different. Due to budget, we went with this hotel as our #2 choice. Well, we did spend a little bit of time over at The Ace snooping around. We had breakfast and wandered a bit (I’ll share photos Wednesday). Of course I would love a chance to stay at The Ace in the future, especially to make a well informed comparison. However, now that all is said and done, I am TOTALLY happy we stayed at the Saguaro! The grounds and amenities were so, so, so nice and the staff was really awesome. The bright rainbow of colors was totally my jam and the upbeat vibe was so great to be surrounded with during our little mid-week getaway. I would be very happy to return to The Saguaro again any time!

Need a recommendation for where to stay? Check out my Your Turn section.

Salvation Mountain

This week I had a day (plus a half day) off, so Angela and I sneaked away to the desert for a quick trip to see one of America’s best examples of large-scale folk art– Salvation Mountain.

Salvation Mountain, Outside Niland, CA

Salvation Mountain, Outside Niland, CA

Salvation Mountain, Outside Niland, CA

Salvation Mountain, Outside Niland, CA

Seeing Salvation Mountain in person was very moving. I spent a lot of time thinking about the man who built it and his devotion to spreading The Gospel. For twenty years he labored out in the heat (it was 104° when we were there) first building, then maintaining and expanding this “mountain,” every inch packed with the message “God is Love” and important Bible verses. I compared this to other religious monuments I’ve seen… The Vatican, cathedrals like Notre Dame, Chartres, and Sacré Coeur in particular came to mind, as well as the Ali Ben Yousef Madrassa in Marrakech. Here in America we have not kept up the tradition of great religious monuments (for a variety of reasons–too many to discuss here), so seeing something like this that totally doesn’t fit in with the old tradition was very powerful… Even more so considering its ephemeral nature. Without diligent upkeep, the sun, heat, and desert winds can and will reduce this shrine to only a memory that lives on through photos and stories shared by those who made the trip to visit.

Salvation Mountain, Outside Niland, CA

Salvation Mountain, Outside Niland, CA

Angela and I were greeted by two men representing a group that exists to continue the work of Leonard Knight now that he is in a home due to age and health. I overheard them reminiscing about the time when Leonard still lived at the mountain–it was said that he greeted each visitor personally and made a connection with them, sharing his story and often sending them home with a trinket to remember the experience. It is only fitting that a shrine-like dome built under the mountain was filled with trinkets from visitors (instant photos, ID cards, candles, etc) to commemorate their trip out to the desert.

Slab City, Outside Niland, CA

Slab City, Outside Niland, CA

Slab City, Outside Niland, CA

Adjacent to Salvation Mountain is Slab City, where a collection of hippies, nomads, and other unique individuals live. Some make this area their home full-time, others visit seasonally, and yet others are simply passing through. During the summer the population dwindles as not everyone can endure 100°+ days. This community is featured prominently in the book and film Into The Wild. I liked looking around, but we didn’t linger because I didn’t like the idea of violating anyone’s privacy.

After Slab City, we headed north a little more until we reached the Salton Sea. The area we found appeared as if at one time it had been a boating ramp with camping stations around it, but now the buildings have collapsed, the ramp is a memory, and the water stagnant. Instead of sand, we walked on the strangest ground made up of crushed fish bones. The Border Control officer we encountered was puzzled as to why we were visiting there. I was a little, too. It was kind of creepy! We took a lot of photos then headed to our hotel and dinner.

Salton Sea, CA

Salton Sea, CA

Salton Sea, CA

California desert trip

California desert trip

California desert trip

The next morning we headed back since I had to be at work after lunch. The trip overall was very brief but unlike one I have ever taken before! The desert is such a haunting, isolated place.

Most photos by me, with a select few by Angela.