Not moderate, Stephanie, not moderate at all! Oy. Just back from an amazing – indulgent! – trip to the sunny desert beauty of Palm Springs, all expenses paid, as my Badger girlfriend Michelle’s guest. Thank you, Mich! (Yes, she is taller than me; sorry for the bad pic, it’s the only one we bothered to take – too busy!) I’ve been on some pretty amazing trips with her over the years – award trips, thanks to all the hard work she does for her company. Puerto Rico, Puerto Vallarta, Arizona, and now Palm Springs, ahhhhh, it’s more than NICE.
We both arrived at La Quinta Resort and Spa in Palm Springs by mid-afternoon this past Sunday. Immediately helped ourselves to turkey sandwiches smeared with freshly-madeguacamole and washed down with icy cold Coronas. Welcome to California, yeah baby! After a quick unpack, we were by the pool, one of 42 (!) on the La Quinta property. What a place – it’s a small city, truly. Several restaurants, all those pools, golf, shopping, fitness, hiking – you name it, they’ve got it. The landscaping is breath-taking – a riot of flowers in the desert. After spiffing up a bit we joined the group for cocktails and dinner on the lawn. Oooh, particularly yummy cocktails in fact, their signature drink called an Orange Blossom – gin, freshly squeezed OJ, splash of 7-Up. Heavenly.
Monday morning we were up and at ’em. Well, not exactly. I woke up relatively early because of the time change, had a lovely patio breakfast on my own, explored the enormous grounds and got in a nice walk, then hooked up with Michelle for…more pool. Yeah, pretty rough. Then, we busted our butts…shopping. Also rough. Back to the hacienda for more spiffing (I love these trips, I get to really put my wardrobe through its paces), then off for more cocktails and a lovely dinner, this time in Palm Desert at LG’s Prime Steakhouse. After one of the more decadent steaks I’ve ever had – a sizzling, buttery Porterhouse – plus all the naughty fixin’s, we rolled back to the resort and slept like stuffed little piggies in blankets.
Tuesday morning, where did the sun go? Yes, we experienced rain – sort of – in the desert. And wind, holy hell, the wind gusted up to 50-60 mph. Did we hunker down indoors for the day, head to the spa, or watch a movie? Oh no, we went horseback riding. Michelle’s idea! Good one, Mich, I’ll never let you forget it! I’ve done many, many, many trail rides in my day, in all sorts of weather, and this was hands down one of the most miserable experiences I have ever had. The dirt, it was beyond dirt. It blew at us constantly, and was sort of super-cemented to our beings by a combination of driving sleet and rain. I rode a jerk of a horse named Freeman, who bucked and kicked at the horse behind me for the entire ride. The wranglers helpfully pointed out that Freeman is “an asshole,” and I could feel free to “ride his ass.” (I am so over horses and all their interpersonal problems, I have zero patience for them.) Well, after two fun-filled hours of kicking horse butt, I was completely exhausted, cold, hungry, filthy, pissed off, and did I say filthy? As in, my mouth felt kinda gritty so I checked my teeth in the rear-view window of the bus that had brought us out to the Hell-Hole Corral and discovered dirt in between my teeth. Michelle and I eventually – very eventually – started to laugh. You know, that freakish, almost-hysterical kind of laugh that often pops out after a major adrenaline rush? Damn if we didn’t each look 80 years old, with suddenly-gray, very matted hair, and every crevice (not wrinkle, not us!) in our faces highlighted with desert dust. NOT my kind of exfoliation. We stumbled off the bus, into one of the resort’s lovely restaurants, and immediately ordered bowls of steaming hot bean soup (ahhh) and more ice-cold Coronas (double-ahhh).
Somewhat restored, we showered (long, long showers!), dozed, rallied for another spiff up, made our way to a quiet dinner at Azur restaurant on the resort, and had ourselves a heck of a fabulous meal. I had one of the more amazing salads I have ever had – it was serious. Arugula, perfectly ripe tomato, crispy lardons, and two tiny grilled goat cheese sandwiches, served gorgeously deconstructed but happily reassembled in my mouth, mmm. For a main course, I splurged on the seared foie gras appetizer, topped with a sweet and crispy fresh corn relish. And for dessert, we split one of the BEST chocolate souffles I’ve ever had – the real deal, not a chocolate-butter gut-bomb, but a light, lovely, eggy souffle, into which they ladled a bit of creme Anglaise. Lordy. Again, a stuffed good night’s sleep…
…And a thankfully lovely day Wednesday, as in no more wind, a return of the blessed sun, and spaaaaaa, baby. An 80-minute (!) massage followed by a 60-minute facial. Little relaxing and the requisite cucumber-water sipping in the sunny garden, then off to a serious Mexican feast at Adobe Grill for lunch. More of that killer guacamole (I could kill myself eating guacamole, I’m ser
ious), little crispy chicken taquitos, fish tacos, and more Coronas. After more pool action, and spiffing up for the last time, we were off to the Monroe Mansion for dinner. Yes, Monroe as in Marilyn (that’s her lifting weights, how cool is that?), the home was hers and Joe Dimaggio’s for three years, and it’s a lovely place. A family owns and lives in it now – and has decorated it beautifully – yet luckily rents it out for events. We dined on the lawn, had cocktails by the pool, were serenaded by truly talented Rat Pack impersonators, and basically had a blast. Yeah, life was very, very good on Wednesday, especially in comparison to Tuesday. The beauty is in the contrast, yes indeed. Boop, boop-ee doop!
And now, home to rainy, cold, dreary Minnesota. To homework projects and not a speck of food in the house and lots of demands. Sigh. But also Friday Morning Coffee with Suz! That helps, fo sho! I AM glad to be home, as always. My goal is to cook up something fun over the weekend – fun and HEALTHY that is, after my NOT moderate vaca. I do fine at home, but I get some little party bug up my ass on vaca and it’s all over. Damn me. So, yes, it is really good to be home, just ask my ass.
Subscribe for delicious and nutritious recipes, tips, and resources.