Would you believe, I’ve lived in San Diego since 1986, and not once have I ever gone to Palm Springs? My only excuse is that I never realized how close to San Diego, Palm Springs really is. It’s about 135 miles from San Diego, which according to Google Maps, is a little more than a two hour drive. I never really looked at the maps to see how close it was to San Diego and just always figured I’d end up seeing it sometime, well that sometime has finally come. My reason for going was because my favorite ABBA tribute band, Arrival, from Sweden was going to be performing at the “Evening Under The Stars” charity event for the AIDS Assistance Program and this event is the closest they’ve come to San Diego since last year’s appearance at the San Diego County Fair. (Click here to read my blog entry for their appearance at the San Diego County Fair). I was invited to attend as a guest of the band.
After leaving Jorge Cruise’s Belly Fat Cure Live Event, I headed directly up the highway to Palm Springs. As I opted to use Priceline for the hotel I booked, I ended up with a room in nearby Indio, so on my way up I decided to take the route to Palm Springs that went through Temecula’s Wine County as the most direct route to Indio. This route was more like a blast to the past of America’s past as much of it was simple two lane highways that cruised through the hills and desert and through the small town of Anza where the highway was the main road through town.
As my relatively short drive out took me on some roads that echoed of America’s past before America’s Interstate Highway system was installed, I encountered some really amazing scenery as the final stretch of the highway before reaching the Palm Desert area involved some really windy roads to drop from our peak elevation down to the desert valley and some wildly curvy roads that switched back down the side of the mountains into the valley before delivering me into some really amazing urban desert scenery.
My directions indicated once I hit the main road known as Highway 111, I would proceed East into Indio, for several miles, and Highway 111 was just an absolutely beautiful stretch of road with double rows of palm trees lining both sides of the street. The names of the towns changed from Palm Desert, to Indian Wells, to La Quinta, and finally to Indio. It seems Indio is more the ghetto looking part of the Palm Springs Valley of communities as there weren’t nearly as many palm trees lining the streets at this end of Highway 111.
I found my hotel and checked in then decided it would be quicker to take the Interstate down to Palm Springs as opposed to backtracking down Highway 111, and to my surprise, the surrounding areas around the Interstate were pretty barren. I was reminded of a scene from Disney/Pixar’s Animated film “Cars” that mentioned many of the towns along highways like Route 66 died when the Interstates came in because the Interstates completely bypassed the towns and no one ventured off the big Interstates to see the small towns. Not so in the Palm Springs Valley, it’s like the Interstate was put in and all the folks in the towns raised their noses to the Interstate and chose instead to continue developing around the beloved Highway 111 as just about everything is accessible off of it. Along the Interstate you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, never quite knowing you’re just a couple short miles parallel to some really beautiful streets bustling with life but also lots of stop lights. So in a way Palm Springs feels like a page from America’s past giving it a touch of Route 66 even though it’s Highway 111 instead.
Following the concert, I elected to take good ol’ Highway 111 back to the hotel, and then when I headed for home, I again went down Highway 111 back into Palm Springs before I opted to take a more “modern” Interstate highway route back to San Diego. I will definitely have to make my way back to Palm Springs soon and check out more of the town. It was gorgeous out there.