Post #76: Palm Desert pause

February 11, 2021

Light clouds rolled in overnight and dimmed the usual spectacular star show. But the night was quiet and we slept peacefully.

Initially, the rising sun lit up only the peak of Mt. Whitney
Just a few minutes later, Alabama Hills were aglow while Mt. Whitney was in a shadow
And after just a few more, the orange glow of sunrise was replaced with full daylight

Dawn was cold but not too windy. We watched the sun come from behind us and light just the tops of the snow-covered peaks, then slowly crawl across the valley floor, chasing away the shadows until we had the warm sun on our backs.

It was quite a morning spectacle but perhaps slightly less incredible than the similar sight we experienced last year at Alabama Hills when we enjoyed a similar sunrise view under a full moon that had not quite set behind Mt. Whitney.

Susan captured this view in March 2020
Susan climbed down into the gulch by our campsite for a short morning trek
A bit of a climb back up and out of the gulch
View from the gulch
Charles was more interested in breakfast until it warmed

Susan went off exploring the nearby gulch and climbed over a few more boulders while I enjoyed breakfast.

The boulders above our campsite provided a perch to set our small tripod and experiment with time-lapse video while we packed up the truck before heading out. 

Breaking camp is almost as quick as this video suggests.

Our destination for the day was an inexpensive hotel room in Palm Springs where we could shower and get ready for our desert explorations. We checked in by one o’clock and immediately donned swimsuits and headed for the swimming pool. The sun was high and it was a warm and wonderful 80 degrees—quite a difference from two nights ago when we camped in the snow. 

After a swim and some sunbathing, I had the beginnings of a sunburn so we headed up to the room to shower and relax on the balcony overlooking the pool.

The pool was heated to a perfect temperature and we finally defrosted from several days of high altitude and snowy adventures.
Dinner al fresco at The River

Refreshed, we drove past the golf course communities of lovely Rancho Mirage to go to The River, a small outdoor mall with a few restaurants and shops. Susan’s parents used to live in Rancho Mirage and had taken us to dinner there in years past.

A “river” flowed through The River, creating a pleasant, if fake, oasis in the desert. The Palm Springs area always seems a bit fake that way to me, with acre upon acre of lush green golf course grass contrasted against the stark nearby desert. Without a huge source of (seemingly wasted) water, Palm Springs would not exist. Fake or not, we’ve come to really like the area for its winter warmth, mountain backdrop, enjoyable downtown, and nearby desert to explore.

After a happy hour dinner (with leftovers for the next day), we wandered the fake river a couple of times for exercise and headed back to the hotel for clean sheets.

We sat on our balcony and enjoyed a warm breeze and the swaying palms before bed

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