Tag Archives: Palm Springs


{Travel} Palm Desert and Anza-Borrego State Park, California

A native of the east coast, my impression of the desert has always been as follows:

  • You are always crawling through it on your knees.
  • Saying “agua”.
  • Then you see an oasis. But you collapse before you get there.

Since I’ve lived in California, though, the desert has become a restorative place for me. Nowhere is the sky bigger, the vista larger, the hues more serene. The desert has a majestic quiet about it, coupled with a resolute sense of determination. The desert lives on through the harshest conditions, and surprises us with its resilience.

I’ve been in the desert a couple of times in the past few months. In February, my parents, my brother’s family and mine spent a week in the Palm Desert area.

While we were there, my parents celebrated their 45th anniversary.

I posted this cute picture of them on Facebook and got a bunch of comments from relatives in Taiwan. Embarrassingly illiterate, I had to rely on Google Translate:


Sprinkle loving, very layout laudable, you would like to spend their days on the earth in hand carnival.


You enjoy duck paddling in the warm, we became the earthworms in the refrigerator

I’m a little worried about what I wrote in response, but Google Translate would never lead me astray, right?

We did spend a good amount of time floating around in a pool:

…but we also found time to enjoy the vistas at the top of Mt Jacinto, via the aerial tramway:

The girls had a great time playing with their baby cousin:

It was a fantastic, relaxing vacation and I left restored.

Until a week later.

Back in the full swing of life and work and acquisitions and activities, I was tired again. It was time for a weekend getaway, this time a camping trip to the Anza-Borrego State Park.

This was our first time camping in the desert, and we were excited. Not the least of which because we had finally invested in a tent that actually fit 4 people — not the 4 person tent we had before which entailed my husband sleeping diagonally across the legs of the children.

This was the view from our campsite:

I love those two palms. At night, they look like a frizzy-haired couple watching the moon together.

This was the first time that the kids were able to do some pretty serious hikes. I’d say there were only 3 wpm (whines per minute) as opposed to the 45 or so that we’re used to. And they made it to the top! Of what I don’t know, but it was definitely the top of the trail.


One of my favorite new plants we encountered is called the ocotillo:

I just love its vibrant red flowers and its weeping yet sturdy form.

We also did a 3-mile hike to an oasis — this involved a bit of climbing, and it did get pretty hot along the way, so maybe it wasn’t so far off from the desert I had in mind originally. But eventually, we did get to the oasis. Sound advice for the desert: bring lots of water. You’ll need it before you get to the oasis.

On the hike back, we ran into a rattlesnake. I was too chicken to get close enough to take a picture, but then we ran into this guy later on:

We also came upon a group of people with binoculars who had spotted some big horn sheep in the distance. I’d like to think that I saw them too — I just couldn’t tell which part of the brown they were.

But what I did see was the utter vastness of the desert. The open expanse of big sky and mountain ranges as far as the eye can see…I love this feeling of being diminished, of feeling that I’m but a small part of something so much bigger. For an anxious person like me, it takes the pressure off. It’s a nice reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around me.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
— Mary Oliver


My Many Travels

We have a lot to catch up on. By “a lot” I mean approximately the ten pounds I’ve put on in the past week. The other day I took off my jeans and I literally had welts along the waistline and the thighs because they were so tight.

It started out early next week (and by early, I mean 4 AM, which is when I got up to catch my flight) when I made the trek from San Diego to Hartford, CT. There is no direct flight between the two points, so much of that day was spent stuffing airport food and snacks into my mouth in between and after flights. Our corporate partner put us up at the Saybrook Point Inn in Old Saybrook, CT, which was surprisingly nice. Old Saybrook is a cute little New England town, where as far as I could tell people never left. The Inn was lovely — the photos that you see in the Photo Gallery link on their website is actually very representative of the facilities. The rooms were huge, and best of all, the bathrooms were spacious and incredibly well-lit (and as someone who is prone to such strange afflictions as the occasional zit on the eyelid, I can attest that the lighting was adequate for the alchemy required to cosmetically remedy my maladies). The photo above was the view taken from my room. I should have had a really good nights’ sleep but there was this nautical mirror in the room which gave it a sort of shipwrecked/haunted feeling, which resulted in paranormal paranoia and thus insomnia on my part in what should otherwise have been an incredibly romantic environment. In short, the inn is great for couples, not so good for the paranoid.

I took this picture at the restaurant at the hotel, Terra Mar. The food was surprisingly good; I had pretty low expectations of a small-town operation, but then again, I do come from a town with not much to brag about in terms of restaurants. I started off with the Maine Lobster Bisque, which was delightful, and followed up with the Stonington CT Seared Sea Scallops, which were a bit overdone but otherwise good. Breakfast was hearty and satisfied me well into lunchtime (which was fortunate since the salad we ordered in, from a local lunch place, was basically rabbit food with no dressing).

That evening, we proceeded on to New York, where we stayed at the Westin Times Square, whose rooms are not nearly as nice as depicted on their website. I suppose they look roughly like the photos, but the pics have clearly been photoshopped to appear a lot more upscale than they actually are. The common terminology amongst the group when describing the restroom was “prison bathroom”. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but compared to the Old Saybrook Inn it was tired and certainly a few steps down.

We headed over to Valbella in the Meat-Packing District for dinner, where an acquaintance arranged for us to get a room in a private wine cellar. There was a vault-like door, which, once closed, made the room completely silent, and I felt like we were a bunch of teenagers at prom in a restaurant at which we were much too young to patronize. The waiter there confirmed my sentiments. I don’t recall too much detail on the gastronomic joys of the dinner (being surrounded by hundreds of bottles of wine might have had something to do with that), but I did discover that 1) the President / COO of our partner company loves beets as much as I do, and 2) I pretty much could not fit another bite into my body due to clothing constraints. The food was good, but I’m not sure it was commensurate with the price, and all that was blunted by the haughty attitude of the waiter on staff.

The next day, after a sleepless night and waking at 3 AM PST for a day of meetings, we went around town and met with other business people. Without going into too much more detail, let me just recommend Quality Florist if you ever need a florist in New York (they do a great job, and really care about their customers), and Schweitzer Linen if you’re in the market for luxurious sheets. There was then a trip to the airport, and then 7 hours spent at JFK while our flight was perpetually delayed and I was ready to slit my wrists with a plastic knife. I swear the plane we took back was made of Legos and had half the space of any normal plane.

I was home then for a day, and then headed out on a spa getaway weekend with a friend of mine from business school. We went to Palm Springs and stayed at the Westin Mission Hills , which was a nice-enough-looking resort but could have been better on service. We were first booked into a room with a King bed, which was annoying since 1) we had specifically requested a room with two double beds, and 2) as two working moms looking for a break, we were really looking forward to hogging up an entire bed and sleeping spread out into a star shape. We were eventually moved into such a room, only to discover that we had a room with a leaky sink. The resort was pretty dead — probably reflective of the economy. The restaurant at the resort was ok — nothing that blew me away.

We ate one evening at Thai Smile, which, despite the alarming lack of Thai people, was actually pretty good. We also watched the latest Bond flick, Quantum of Solace, which eliminated any doubts I might have had that being a secret agent is a very family-unfriendly job. After a week back at work, I’m ready for another vacation. Sadly, there are none on the horizon. Ah well, there’s always wine.