California roadtrip 2018: Palm Springs

Hi babes! Now that I've settled back into my normal routine, I can't wait to put together a couple of blog posts describing the 3 week roadtrip through California that defined our September 2018. Today I'll talk a bit about the experiences that had the most profound impact on me, the images that will become part of my mental slideshow whenever I need a pick-me-up. Hey, it's healthier than alcohol! A lot more expensive though. But you know that cheesy-but-true Pinterest quote about travel being the only thing you can spend money on that will actually make you richer.

So to sum up our trip, we started out with 5 nights in Palm Springs, before driving up to Las Vegas. The first two nights my guy and me were on our own before our friends arrived, and we spent those days at the Riviera Palm Springs resort. I had gotten a good deal on the hotel wanting to treat ourselves to some luxury after a long trip from Belgium to the desert, but after booking I had read plenty of mixed reviews about the place being run down. 

We arrived with some tired trepidation after hours stuck in traffic (about the last thing you need after a long haul flight), but with a pink sunset in the rear view mirror, Mount San Jacinto ahead and the desert dry heat's embrace all around us, something clicked and all of my doubts just drifted away. I was right to trust our pick because we were told that we had received an upgrade and ended up with the most ginormous, beautiful hotel room ever! A spacious bedroom, a living room, a bathroom with a separate shower and bath, even a breakfast nook and our own little foyer. Insane. Oh, and a balcony boasting a stunning view of Mt San Jacinto! Yes, we were stoked.

This is what a jetlag-laced sunrise looks like from our balcony in Palm Springs. Not half bad, right?

We had decided to keep our first two days in California low key to get over that jetlag and get used to the heat. Most of our time was spent enjoying our hotel's pool, which we were lucky enough to have all to ourselves since summer is actually low season in the desert. Go figure, only crazy Belgians visit Palm Springs when the average daily high is 40°C+. It felt truly luxurious to have two pools, a hot tub and a cocktail bar to our disposal, and nobody we had to share it with.

Of course, we also ventured outside to grab breakfast, visit some of the adorable shops Palm Springs has to offer, and take pictures during golden hour in the desert. Afterwards, we had the best sushi I ever had at Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey restaurant - a huge recommendation on my part. I had a shrimp-coconut sushi roll and it was absolutely divine.

The next morning it was time to check out of our beautiful hotel room and check into our equally gorgeous Airbnb! Also, time to welcome our friends to our midcentury-modern desert paradise. Our pool with backyard and friendly hummingbirds was something out of a dream. It felt like Palm Springs was tailor-made for us, with the radio always playing songs we loved, all the food tasting good, the weather not allowing for anything else but relaxing - and that pool, man. Pools are meant to be enjoyed in the desert.

We dropped a bunch of stuff from our itinerary because we wanted to get the most out of our pool-time, but one thing I had on my bucketlist was galaxy gazing in Joshua Tree park. We could easily combine a nighttime visit to the park with dinner at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown. Very touristy but still incredibly fun, and great food and atmosphere!

But really, nothing compares to the millions of stars in the sky we were able to see in Joshua Tree Park. I could have happily sat there for hours gazing up, finding solace in the infinite depth of space. I also had so much fun experimenting with long exposure to see how I could get the best shots of the starry sky - a once in a lifetime experience that I hope to replicate sooner rather than later! I've already decided that when we return to California, I'm booking a room as soon to Joshua Tree Park as possible so I can make the most of those night skies without having to camp outside. 

BTW, you can simply drive into the park at night without having to pay the regular park fee - good to know!

The next morning it was already time to pack up our bags and set off for Vegas - but not before dropping by Robo Lights, which we randomly stumbled upon last year during our afternoon in Palm Springs. Just one of the many examples of passion/art projects to be found in the desert in California.

We decided to drop by Joshua Tree Park's visitor center on our way to Vegas to buy some souvenirs, and I had the best BLT ever at Joshua Tree Saloon.

As we made our way towards the Mojave desert, the scenery started to change. Even hotter, even less plant life and no real towns to speak of - just grouped mailboxes on the side of the road to testify to the fact that people actually lived somewhere nearby. Pretty mesmerizing to a group of Belgians.

I hope you enjoyed this little photodiary of the first leg of our California trip - more to come soon, I promise!

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