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February 1, 2019

My great-grandparents, my grandparents and my mother all lived in Summerland, a small beach community just to the south of Santa Barbara. The town was founded by Spiritualists, whose word for heaven was “Summerland.”

My mom told me about attending seances as a child with her grandmother, who by all reports was a very Christian woman. In Summerland, that’s just how they rolled in the 1930s.

I’m rolling again, on the road with Gladis. I headed for the desert last Sunday. I had never spent much time in the California desert, and didn’t really see why one would. I have never been one of those people who rave on about the subtle colors and sky.

But I’m all about new experiences lately, so Palm Springs it was. I spent the first night, Sunday, at the Elks in Indio, given that the lodge in Palm Springs was both closed and janky, and that they charge you $15 to park in their lot that has no hookups. The Indio Elks are much more accommodating, with hookups and camp hosts and the holy grail of RV parks – level sites!

On Monday, I left Indio and drove over to Desert Hot Springs at lunch to the Catalina Spa RV park. Desert Hot Springs is about 15 miles from Palm Springs, set back in a little notch between the mountains. The park was remote – Desert Hot Springs is a small town, and it is about 3 miles outside of town. I was a little worried that it would be a busted-down freakshow, but the online reviews were encouraging, so I went.

It is down a long, dead-end desert road, plains of bleached shrubberies on one side, towering snow-capped mountains in the distance. Fields of solar panels and giant windmills stretch across the landscape. Scenic in its own deserty way.

Guess what Desert Hot Springs is known for? Oh, come on, think. It begins with Desert and ends with, yes, that’s it! Hot Springs!

The exceptionally friendly and helpful park ambassador, Jack, who helped me back into my site told me all about the hot springs. Water at 160 degrees comes down from the mountains and is cooled to 94 degrees by the time it reaches Catalina Spas two swimming pools and somewhat hotter mineral baths.

The park has about 150 spots and is crawling with snowbirds – refugees from the frozen north – Canada, North Dakota, Minnesota. They come for a month at a time and spend their time relaxing, playing pickleball and card games, and bobbing in the pool on pool noodles, chatting.

Catalina spa

Photo from Catalina Spa Resort website

When I walked into the pool area, the first thing I heard was a bearded and grizzled guy telling two friends “We smoked so much hash back then. We didn’t smoke to get high. We smoked to get NORMAL.”

Man, they don’t make old people like they used to.

I embraced the spirit of it. I bobbed in the pool and chatted with Canadians for hours (I seem to attract Canadians), watching the color-changing lights glow underwater from blue to green to fuchsia.

I sat in the mineral baths. I walked the walking path. I went to the wine blind tasting where people were incredibly opinionated. I even played “Guess that 60s TV Show” team trivia and got high-fives from my team for coming up with the clue “Underwear Train Station” for “Petticoat Junction” and securing our win (we got candy bars! Woo hoo!)

A girl could get used to this life of pure relaxation and fun. I’d at least like to take a swing at it for a month. You might say I found my Summerland.

  1. February 2, 2019 05:25

    You bring the fun. 🙂 Thank you firnusing the word janky. I’ll be adding that to my regular vocabulary.

  2. February 2, 2019 06:45

    I want to be one of those snowbirds so badly right now.

    • February 2, 2019 07:04

      Yes, it is a good time to be one.

  3. February 2, 2019 09:20

    If Ellen Burstyn were younger, she would play you in the movie version of these posts.

  4. February 2, 2019 19:42

    Lol guess you do attract canadians cause I’m one of them

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