Do you want to know what the highlight of my latest short gateway was? A stop at a huge supermarket in Little Saigon.
Doesn’t sound as exciting as a trip to Palm Springs should be, right? However, when everything that can possibly go wrong, goes wrong, there is no other option than to smile while loading your car with fresh fish and coconut cookies from a store located 90 miles from your original plans.
It all started with plans to visit San Diego. I was eager to explore flower fields, seaside bluffs and rare pines. We were going a Monday and Tuesday since my husband works on the weekends.
While packing the car Monday morning, I felt thin droplets all over me. A quick check of the weather report revealed a forecast of rain and gray skies from Malibu to San Diego. Are you kidding me? Rain is a term used in jokes in Southern California. We are not used to get it. We decide to get going anyway.
On the move, we started to debate if what we were doing made any sense.
“Where else can we go?” asked my husband.
“Wait, let me check something on my cell phone,” I replied.
My hunch was correct. Palm Springs and the other desert cities had sunny skies.
“Ok, change of plans. Let’s go to Palm Springs. Take the 91 instead of the 405,” I said with an ear to ear grin.
The panorama started to change as we moved farther from Los Angeles. Sun rays started to make an appearance above the mountains.
Everything was as expected until we took Route 111, a highway which takes you directly to downtown Palm Springs. The car in front of us made an abrupt stop and started to move in an erratic way. All of a sudden, our car was punished by a strong wind gust. A cloud of dust decreased visibility. The gusts continued to confuse and shake vehicles. As scared as I was, I knew this was common in that road. I had experienced it before.
We made it to the visitor’s center but things were still not looking encouraging. It was very difficult to get out of the car with the wind canceling your efforts of opening doors.
More bad news followed.
“Hiking and all outdoor activities are very dangerous with these high winds,” said a lady in the Cahuilla Tribe desk, “The botanical garden had to be closed yesterday because cactus’ prickles were flying all around.”
Seeing the deceptive look in my eyes, the lady said, “Don’t worry, there are casinos, spas and stores downtown.” Great. She mentioned the things I have no desire of experience while on a trip.
“Do you think there are high winds in the other desert cities?” I asked. “Yes, the alert is for the entire area and will be in place till tomorrow evening.” Now, that was shocking.
I sat defeated in a bench in front of the visitor’s center. “Let’s decide what we can do during lunch,” my husband said while hugging me.
While waiting for my enchilada plate at Las Casuelas, I called Joshua Tree National Park Visitor’s Center to check conditions. I explained the situation and the ranger said, “It is beautiful in here. Get out of there and come here baby.”
My relief didn’t last long. Route 111, the only route known by our smart phone, was closed. Using the map acquired at the visitor’s center, we tried another route. It was closed too. At that point, my husband was exhausted since he worked all night. We decided to rest under the shadow of a tree (totally true).
When we saw the dust cloud getting smaller, we tried to hike on the Indian Canyons. After awhile, the crackling and hoofing of the wind started to get me in a nervous mood. The lady in the visitor’s center was right. The hike was too risky under those conditions.
Then, we tried to go home. The road was closed. We rented a hotel room.
Next day, we tried to escape to Desert Hot Springs. The road was closed.
Ok, let’s visit the Air Museum. Dust was covering the area.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to go home. Route 111 was open this time. The gusts hit the car with less force this time. The arms of the wind turbines were moving quickly.
“Let’s stop at the Cabazon Dinosaurs and at least go back home with proof of our visit to the cheesiest road attraction in California.” I said.
It was still early morning when we approached the Anaheim areas thru Route 91. That is when my husband suggested a visit to Little Saigon.
“Do you remember the store we visited some time ago? Let at least get stuffed with the cheapest sushi in town.” Oh, I remembered the store well. I guided him on a whim.
So, that is how we ended on a shopping spree thru one of Little Saigon’s megastores. We got a bag of shrimp, seafood, tropical fruit drinks, a box of tempura batter, coconut cookies and way more things. For lunch, we got sushi and Vietnamese style coffee. For dinner, we bought two huge fish.
Whoaaa, what a long recount of events. As you may expect my mood was volatile as things were unfolding. At least, I can say I visited Palm Spring for a second time. Any new experiences? Taking out all the gray and black grains of dust from all corporal cavities. Yes, it was blowing that hard.
Have any of your trips been ruined by weather?