Our business in Palm Springs was conveniently concluded by noon, which left us a good (and hot) chunk of the day to explore Palm Springs. As I noted earlier, there’s not a lot happening in the summer, but the heat of summer presents a terrific opportunity to ride up to Mt San Jacinto on the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
Down in the valley it was about 108 degrees, but the Tramway hauls you up to 8,500 feet in about 10 minutes where the air is cool and the pine trees are tall. Best of all, the tram cars have been updated in the past few years, and now the floor rotates as you go up. Think about that for a second: you’re floating up diagonally as steeply as 42 degrees over craggy rocks and impossible canyons, swaying as the tram car passes over towers, and slowly rotating all at the same time. It’s an amazing sensation.
It’s also a disconcerting sensation at first, so I quickly put the camera down and focused on just acclimating to the ride. There’s a lot to see and the 10 minutes passes quickly.
With the windows open at two opposite points of the round cars, everyone gets a chance to feel the air changing from a blow-drier to a cool air conditioned breeze. It’s a bit of work for some folks (like me) to equalize their ears all the way up and down, but well worth it for the spectacular view.
Atop the mountain, there’s a large station with a movie, restaurant, gift shop, etc., but we took a hike along the 1.5 mile Desert View Trail to explore and get more views of Palm Springs far below. It was impossible not to be seduced by the sweet smelling mountain air, the songs of the birds, the towering trees, and the clear little stream that flows with chilly water. The views were predictably amazing, showing Palm Springs as if it were just a big map at our feet. We easily spotted the Palm Springs airport, the huge wind farms, golf courses, and all the major roads.
Brett and I spent a couple of hours atop the mountain and left only at sunset. When the sun dipped behind the mountains to the west, we started feeling a bit cold. Not a problem, because 10 minutes after boarding the tram car we were once again in the oven of the valley.
Next stop was dinner, and we decided it would best be found by walking five blocks of downtown. This gave us the opportunity to explore at a slow pace. The big find of the day is pictured at left. Like Hollywood, Palm Springs has a walk of famous residents, along Palm Canyon Drive. Here I am with Adam West’s star. You may know him as Batman from the campy old TV series, which I grew up watching. Somehow this particular star struck me when all of the others didn’t, so we captured the classic tourist shot. I hardly ever do stuff like this.
Next stop on the roadtrip: Phoenix area. We’ve packed up and are heading out again …