Day 11 | Palm Springs

We decided to ditch the complimentary breakfast and try something different.  Being Saturday there was a lot of demand for breakfast places but we got into the Spires Diner.  It was great service and really good value.  For example Rosie had steak, eggs, toast and hash browns for $7.99! McKay was impressed that this burger was an equal to his current favourite.

Palm Springs is a couple of hours inland by car, usually. There is some major road works and a couple of other disasters today so it took a lot longer. A feature of the whole valley is the wind turbines. It seems a good use for the rocky desert around this area.

On arrival we headed towards the tramway car park. On the road up there are warnings about the steep grade and to turn your air conditioning off so your car wouldn't overheat - we risked it and kept ours on.  There were people hiking beside the steep road - seemed a popular activity - looked crazy if you ask us.  From the parking areas a bus took us up to the Tramway which climbs from the desert floor almost 2000 m up the Mount San Jacinto. At the base it was warm (maybe 22 dec C) and at the top it felt freezing (probably 10), particularly when the wind came off the snowy areas. Really strange.

The trip up was in a tram-cable car that has a rotating floor while you all stand through the 15 minute trip. It gives everyone an alternating view of the increasingly alpine wilderness of the mountain and the town below. They fit about 80 people in each of the two trams which run approximately every 10 minutes when it's busy - which it was today.  One of the five towers has a tiny tray on the top that you can land a helicopter on (apparently). It didn’t look big enough to stand on. Hopefully that’s not our rescue plan. Angus always gets a kick out of these difficult constructions.

At the top there’s a National Park Centre, shop and restaurant as well as some amazing views back into the San Bernardino Forest and down into Palm Springs. We got drinks and enjoyed the scenery.  There was another viewing area that was accessed by metal stairs which was even more impressive.

On the trip down our tram was packed with a very roudy bunch of people and each time it went over the towers and swayed they would all holler which made it a fun ride down.  We drove into Palm Springs city which is the city the Sonny Bono (of Sonny and Cher fame for those over 40) was mayor of. It was a bit fashionable in the restaurants, a bit arty in the shops and a bit trashy in the bars but it was interesting to walk through at dusk when we were looking for dinner. They have stars in their pavements for its famous residents.

The dinner place we chose had a great view of the street and it was interesting how busy the street was. There was even a horse-drawn carriage doing the rounds and it seemed that every group of people had a dog.  There was a small dog at our restaurant sitting in a chair at the table.  Cute but odd.

On the trip home it was really windy - even our car gave us a wind warning.  The traffic was good for most of the trip and then complete standstill about 30 minutes from the motel.  We ventured off the highway and put the GPS through its paces - which we think saved us about an hour in traffic.  We did see the fireworks at Disney in Anaheim from the freeway which was an added bonus.

Highlights

Angus | The Rotating Tram cars
Rosie and McKay | Swinging of the tram as they went over the towers
O’Regan | The Hawaiian Pizza (when the tomato wasn’t chilli)