By Cheryl Ryan
Can you feel it? Travel is within our reach. I’m daydreaming about some fantastical travel excursions in our future. But because of my latest (and hopefully last) Coronavirus breakdown, my husband proposed a trip now. All of our travel this past year has been driving to join in limited family gatherings. But this past week we took a road trip and it was our first time in a hotel since 2019. We headed to Palm Springs to stay a few nights and golf – trying out my latest hobby – then on to Joshua Tree National Park for some hiking before our final stop in San Diego to visit our kids.
Palm Springs is about a seven-hour drive from our home and as soon as we set out I instantly felt better. We were assured that the hotel was taking ample precautions and golf has already proven to be a safe outdoor activity. The drive went great. We even brought our own food this time so that we weren’t limited by some of the less than appetizing offerings along the freeway.
The first evening we arrived and made a reservation at the outdoor hotel restaurant. Dare I say, it was the best meal that I’ve had in a year. Then we golfed and hiked for the next 3 days. Palm Springs boasts 124 irrigated golf courses, many of which are set within exclusive golf communities of homes and country clubs. The surrounding jagged mountains form an impressive desert backdrop of diverse hiking trails. The first day brought a freak storm of blustery steel blue skies which only emphasized the mountains yet, being the desert, we still golfed nine holes. From then on it was a perfect 68 to 75 degrees for the rest of our stay. We hiked one day and golfed an 18 hole course the next.
Joshua Tree National Park
On the final day, we got up early and headed to Joshua Tree National Park which is about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs. As we climbed 3,104 feet to the park, passing hapless desert towns, I realized that I hadn’t done any research and had no idea what to expect. But as soon as I saw my first Joshua tree I knew what it was. They are very unusual looking trees for the desert. And as we got closer to the park the geography just got more stunning. The golden rock formations set against Joshua tree forests and other beautiful high desert vegetation were captivating. At some high lookout points, the expansive arid plains looked like an African Savanna. It honestly exceeded our expectations.
Unfortunately, we only allowed ourselves limited hiking time if we were to make it to San Diego in time, which means that we need to go again. Next time we’ll bring camping chairs and start later in the day so that we can set up at an elevated vantage point for sunset. I can only imagine how remarkable that must be. And it seems there are some other quirky points of interest to visit as well.
Then we drove the 2.5 hours to San Diego (which deserves a post all its own) to get our grown children, dog and beach fix. It was exactly what I needed. I feel restored and couldn’t be more excited about a future that includes regular travel.
Where is the first place that you want to go when everything opens up?