I Love the Desert
Back in 1976 my wife and I came to Palm Springs because a local artist invited us out so that we could start a band. I remember pulling into Palm Springs and being struck by how barren the surrounding mountains looked. No trees on the hills and foothills nearby, just scrub brush and desert grasses. And yet in this starkness was a calm beauty. The town, which is only 480 feet above sea level, is dominated by Mt. San Jacinto. It is quite impressive, as the steep escarpment of San Jacinto's north face climbs over 10,000 feet from the valley floor in just 7 miles, making Mt San Jacinto one of the largest gains in elevation over such a small horizontal distance in the the “Lower 48”. It is fair to say that the very large mountain blocks the wind and weather that piles up against the Western side of the mountain – helping to create that famous desert's environment..
There is so much more that makes the magic of the area. Along the North face of that valley (Cochella Valley, it is called) runs the infamous San Andres fault. But on the positive side, because of the fault there are springs and oasis that dot the hillsides of that side of the Valley, as ground water is pushed up by the fault.
This leads to my “adventure”today. A few miles North of Palm Springs is a funky town called Desert Hot Springs, and as the name might imply, there are hot mineral waters that rise up from that fault. The town is dotted with motels and spas the tout the naturally hot pools that draw tourism.
Today I went to the Desert Hot Springs Spa, one of the older and largest of these Spas. While a room at the hotel runs around $150.00 a night, for an amazing $7.00 one can enter the hotel complex and enjoy the facilities all day. It is a great deal: You have use of the showers and dressing rooms,which have lockers and although a little funky and old, it is maintained and clean. You have a selection of several swimming pools, which are “normal” temperature, to the varying hot tubs of graduating heat. There is a bar and a restaurant and snack machines and even a gift shop if you forgot to bring your swim gear.
Today was a day of relaxation for me. I've been suffering muscle aches and thought a nice day of lounging in the hot mineral waters might do me some good...and after all for $7.00, and only a few miles out of my way, it was a no-brainier to give Desert Hot Springs a try for that relaxation I desired.
Desert Hot Springs is not, however, protected by Mt San Jacinto, and the winds were blowing at gale force. Being the desert, the winds were not cold, so except for a few seconds of initial cold when one stepped out of the pool, one quickly dried off and it became windy but comfortable as I sunned myself on one of the lounge chairs. I was a loner today and it would have been nice to have a friend along, but on the other hand , I could snooze in the wind and sun and then take another occasional dip in those warm, relaxing mineral waters totally undisturbed.
I lingered for several hours, rotating from sunning myself to lounging in the hot mineral waters. Finally it was about time to leave, and as if on cue, the palm trees above me, which had been whipped by the high winds all day, began to shower dried-up palm fronds on me as if to hasten my exit.
Still, what a wonderful setting, the surrounding foothills to the North and the beautiful and rugged San Jacinto mountain range, in its snow-capped beauty, to the South.
Yes I love the Desert. To me there's a magic there. Of course one can enjoy the great restaurants, bars, the live music and shopping of Palm Springs and Palm Desert. But, if one is willing to stretch their imagination just a tiny bit, so much more awaits person who is willing to take the road less traveled.