From Jennifer Heyns on May 11, 2009 in Locations
Photo credit: travelmuse
Palm trees, luxurious hotels, movie stars, and an unparalleled 354 days of sunshine annually are just a few of the features that have made Palm Springs, California a world-renowned destination. A destination that just happens to have been my home for the last six months. They say I’m too young to be a “snowbird,” and maybe that’s true (although these sore remodeling joints sure didn’t miss Oregon’s winter rains), but Palm Springs has a heck of a lot to offer a new-to-the-desert remodeling and renewable energy enthusiast.
Sadly, as all trips go, my time here in greater Coachella Valley must end. Home, an Oregon summer (and spring rains), and the roar of rivers and mountain streams calls me once again. And, as any Internet writer knows, the only way to say goodbye to anything is with a bold-faced numerical list. So here, and in no particular order, are 10 things that I shall miss about southern California’s sunniest corner:
- Sunshine. So obvious I had to get it out of the way first. It was actually a little unsettling, this being the first winter I’ve ever “skipped.” Still the climate is near perfect and rain, when it actually comes, is a blessing unlike any other.
- Solar panels. With over 350 days of sunshine I can only hope that someday this town will be made of solar panels. In the meantime, however, and thanks to California’s ongoing commitment to solar energy, I have thoroughly enjoyed the many glimpses of solar panels adorning homes, businesses, and commercial spaces. Keep up the good work Palm Springs solar contractors!
- Architecture. Many of those solar panels sat atop some very unique architecture (at least for a Midwest and northwestern man). Mid-century modern architecture rules the day here in Palm Springs. Even on the most basic Spanish or French style, stucco-sided, tile-roofed home, the interiors and facades are decked out in modern fashion.
- Culture. Being a world renowned destination, Palm Springs brings in people of all types and from all countries. Also home to a large Latino and LGBT community, Palm Springs has a brand of diversity all its own—something I am proud to have played my small, intermediate part in. Photo credit: Omar Omar
- Flora. My stay in Palm Springs is my longest stint in a desert climate so far, and I must say it has been fascinating. The plant life is incredibly unique, including all the desert landscaping I’ve seen, from agave to aloe vera to Joshua trees to yucca, not to mention the many varieties of palm tree that grace city avenues and the canyons nestled into Mount San Jacinto, at whose base lies the city proper.
- Fauna. It may not seem like it, but the desert is home to a wide array of creatures. Unfortunately many are nocturnal and very good at staying out of sight. Nonetheless I greatly enjoyed seeing or just looking for—and sometimes avoiding—coyotes, rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, mockingbirds, owls, hawks, bighorn sheep, and all kinds of lizards.
- High Desert-Off the Grid. The high desert is a beautiful place all its own, where massive rock formations abound and Joshua trees thrive. I had the incredible experience of touring some off the grid properties up there away from Palm Springs a bit, seeing simple, green living firsthand. One home was powered by a single 200-watt solar panel and a small battery bank. Other sights were so fascinating they cannot be relayed by words alone.
- Joshua Tree. I just can’t mention life in the Coachella Valley without bringing up Joshua Tree National Park. This place really is a blessing; to walk among groves of trees that are well over a thousand years old, not to mention world-renowned rock climbing. One night at sunset, as I looked over one of the valleys in the massive park, it felt as if a brontosaurus or T-rex might walk out from among the distant rocks at any time ... truly spellbinding.
- Night Life. I’m not much of a night person, although I don’t know what I’d do without a local pub to patronize, but Palm Springs is rightly recognized for its bustling night life. Now I’m not just talking about spring break destinations, the quality of food and service here is excellent. Imagine a highway truck stop, only its 10 times bigger and full of fine dining and clever cocktails. Photo credit: respres
- Wind power. We always think of the desert as sunny, but the Palm Springs area is also home to some very constant winds which come through the San Gorgonio pass, channeled by the high peaks on either side. That has made this area a huge reservoir of wind energy, which is why you’ll see literally thousands of wind turbines as you drive west from Los Angeles on Interstate 10. I could even see a few from my backyard.