Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Desert Hot Springs (Roadrunners and Coyotes)

Tori's friend recommended a favorite resort in Desert Hot Springs and forwarded us an amazing deal that Two Bunch Palms was offering for September. Even though we went to Burning Man earlier this month, that intense experience is the opposite of relaxation so we decided to enjoy a weekend getaway. The hot springs resort was already full Saturday night so we reserved a room for Sunday night and booked another place in Palm Springs for the first night. We drove up Saturday morning and arrived at the Marquis Villas at noon. The front desk was very helpful and allowed us to check-in right away instead of waiting until 4pm. Both elevators were out-of-order but our suite was huge. The property was right behind the Hard Rock Hotel so we walked onto the main avenue in town for tapas and sangria at Alicante before returning to relax and drink margaritas beside the pool.

After the sun set and the temperature dropped a bit, we walked over to the Rooster and the Pig for dinner. It's a classy little Vietnamese-American restaurant that serves shared dishes. It was crowded when we arrived but we managed to get a seat before the waiting area filled behind us. To start, we ordered the tasty shrimp summer rolls and a refreshing papaya salad which Tori loved. My favorite item was the lemongrass pork belly lettuce wraps. So mouth-wateringly flavorful!! We were both disappointed with the coconut lemongrass chicken curry that was surprisingly bland so I ordered the marinated cubed short ribs which made up for it. Afterwards, we walked around town enjoying the cool mist blowing from many of the local shops and stopping for butterscotch fudge. In the morning, we went for breakfast at Sherman's Delicatessen next door to our hotel. The food was very good and the portions huge. (The size of Tori's two egg scramble indicated that they must have been ostrich eggs.)

Checking out of the Marquis Villas at 10am, we made the thirty minute drive to Two Bunch Palms Resort on the north-east side of the valley in Desert Hot Springs. Originally built in 1930, this adults-only resort built around a natural hot spring was completely renovated last year. (Supposedly, this was a discrete hang-out for Hollywood celebrities and gangsters like Al Capone back in the day.) Even though our room wouldn't be ready until 4pm, we were given the ubiquitous white robes seen throughout the 77 acre resort and pointed toward the Grotto to hang out for the day. The oasis-like stone pools are supplied by the resort's hot springs, the mineral water cooled to 104 degrees in the small pool and 99 degrees in the larger pool before it flows out and down through the entire property in a small rock-lined creek. (Low in sulfur and high in lithium, the artesianal waters have been flowing from Miracle Hill for over 600 years.) Fresh towels and chilled cucumber water were available in the Grotto as we laid out on the lounge chairs and soaked in the pools.

Between the hot waters of the Grotto and the cool pool nearby, we had a relaxing time until we decided to join the Vino and Van Gogh class in the Garden House at 2:30pm. In the air-conditioned glass room, we drank wine and painted, our first assignment was to paint a flower or aquatic creature with our opposite hand. (Tori's was good, mine not so good.) After the class, it was time to get our room, a Solstice King, one of the new modern stylish rooms with a rain shower-head in the bathroom. (I want one now!!!!) Unpacking, we checked out the rest of the resort along the creek-lined trail, spotting roadrunners, walking the small labyrinth beside the Citrus Grove and laying in the hammock beside the Fish Pond. We found two large sun bins made of wood and painted white on the interior but we still have no clue what they are used for. At sunset, we hiked the short Roadrunner Trail that provided great views of the wind-turbine filled valley and two coyotes crossing the path up ahead.

Our friend also recommended a Mexican restaurant in town. We couldn't remember the name or location but we recalled that she mentioned a brightly lit marquee out front. Under the blood moon of a full lunar eclipse we drove along the main street both ways before we finally found it, South of the Border, owned by a retired bullfighter from Ecuador. An important factor in a Mexican restaurant is the quality of the chips and salsa brought to the table and theirs were top notch. After our margaritas and chimichangas, we headed back to the resort as the moon crept out of Earth's shadow. It was finally cool enough to wear our thick robes outside as we headed up to the Grotto for a nighttime soak. I loved that the mineral pools are open all night, only closing for two hours at 6am.

Before going to sleep, I found a chirping cricket hidden in our ceiling light fixture and released him outdoors. We had thought about getting up for Yoga at 9am but the bed was so comfortable that we slept until 10 instead. Breakfast was included at Essense, the resort's restaurant that has a great view of the valley. I ordered the Eggs Benedict and Tori the Egg White Omelette. She said this one was best she had ever eaten due to the perfect ratio of ingredients to the egg exterior. We had a late check-out at 4pm so we spent the rest of the day at the Grotto, reading in our lounge chairs or soaking in the pools. It felt great to relax and do absolutely nothing.

On our drive back, we stopped at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets for a little shopping since Tori's purse was falling apart and she needed a new one. After five or six stores, she still could not find one in the style and size she preferred so I went into the Fossil store to check on a new band for my wristwatch. I discovered that the store was also full of purses so I went back to get her and she found one exactly like she wanted for 75 percent off. It was a great end to our short getaway.

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