Next stop after LA was Palm Springs. I've got to say that I wasn't particularly looking forward to this stop. I didn't know much about it other than rich people go there to play golf and it's hot because it's in the desert... I was pleasantly surprised though! Dan had consulted Klaus (our guide book, we called him Klaus, I'm not telling you why, it's a long story that you had to be there for...) and come up with a lovely little side trip for our stay, but more about that later. First things first, we rolled into town alongside what looked to be every owner of a Harley Davidson in the South West USA. I instantly got excited remembering all the fun I'd had staying with my biker friends in Indiana a few years back (Kathy & Jim, that's you!), and spent the short ride to the hotel staring at all the lovely shiny bikes. We'd inadvertently arrived in Palm Springs in time for Bike Weekend - Awesome!
The chaps on reception at the Best Western did not share my excitement though and managed to put Dan and I on red alert in the few minutes it took to check in. Apparently, one of them had had a knife pulled on him the year before by one of the bikers and Palm Springs had a record number of arrests due to drunk and disorderly behaviour...
To escape the crowds, Dan suggested we take Klaus' side trip which was a ride up the San Jacinto Mountains on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. I'd definitely recommend this trip if you get a chance to try it out. It's around $25 per person to ride the tramway, which might seem expensive but trust me, it's worth it. The tram cars rotate so everyone gets a 360 degree view as they ascend and descend the mountain. On the way up the mountain there is audio information giving facts about the view and on the way down you can experience some fantastic music performed by the one and only Ottmar Liebert!
At the top of the Tramway there are several hikes and two options for food. Dan and I decided to skip the hikes and grab dinner at the "Peaks" restaurant. We had a bit of a wait for our table which we spent on the viewing platform looking out over Palm Springs. Klaus had previously informed Dan that Palm Springs sits in a "checkerboard pattern" due to alternating square miles of land being owned by the Agua Caliente tribe, and this could clearly be seen from our vantage point. We could also see an impressive wind farm, which is used to power Palm Springs and the surrounding area.
Dinner at "Peaks" was lovely. Our waiter was a dead ringer for Gok Wan, and very friendly. We got a spectacular view of the sun setting over the mountains and saw Palm Springs light up as it got dark. My only tip if you find yourself eating here is that the wedge salad should be more accurately named "half-a-lettuce-and-3-pigs-worth-of-bacon salad". Don't order it thinking it'll make a nice side dish, it's huge!
After dinner we travelled back down the mountain and went back to the hotel. We fully expected to be awake all night due to raucous revellers but we didn't hear a peep out of anyone, thus proving that you shouldn't judge a man by his mode of transport (stupid reception guys).