Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Palm Springs Attractions: Two Favorites

While in Palm Springs this past springtime, some of the activities I enjoyed were hiking in Indian Canyon and a visit to Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway.

Fan Palm Oasis in Indian Canyon

Lush refuge in the desert

The stream added a freshness to the air

Indian Canyon park

Dramatic rock formations

A drive through a narrow expanse of rock
I arrived at Indian Canyons late in the day, so I only had time for one rather short trail hike, and no visit to the gift shop (sad face), but the trail I took was amazing and my mediocre photography skills do not do it justice! The park has a gated entrance and a fee of $15, then you wind up through the hilly landscape to the various trails. The park is run and maintained by the Agua Caliente Cahuilla tribe, and features five canyon areas you can hike through.

The colors of the rocks were gorgeous!

Blue sky unbelievably beautiful!

Dramatic striated rocks and petrified palms.
I took the trail through Palm Canyon. It was gorgeous: beautiful and colorful rock formations, lots of little lizards scurrying about, interesting plants and wildflowers. But what really blew me away was the Palm Oasis. Picture it: here you are, peacefully hiking through the arid, rocky, desert environment, dust on your tongue, when you start to hear a trickle of water. Where can it be coming from? Then out of nowhere, enormous fan palm trees of pop into view, towering above you, and you see below a fast-running stream, gushing over rocks and creating many mini falls. So enchanting! I only wish I could experience all of the canyons - it's on my to-do list!

Front entrance to Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway
On another day in Palm Springs, I visited Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway, also known as The Alexander House. This attraction will appeal to both Elvis lovers and fans of Mid-Century Modern design. I am more the latter, although I also enjoy Elvis (from his early years, only!). This is a cool house designed by noted Palm Springs architects, Palmer and Krisel (although there is some debate about that by fans of the house) and built by noted Palm Springs builder, Robert Alexander, who died an early, tragic death.

Giant front doors, flanked by windows
 The house is designed out of four perfect circles and is more than 5,000 square feet, though only a small portion of that is available to view on the tour. It is still an occupied residence, but it is on the market - so if you have about $7 million lying around, it can be yours!

Awesome front entryway with pavers weaving through a water fall and to the garden gates
Some of the really cool features of this house are the entryway, in which you climb aggregate pavers that wind through a waterfall to get to the impressively huge front door.

Unique wrought iron hardware featured in the entryway
There are also cool wrought iron fixtures that are very 60s and special. The living room is really pretty: it's a sunken circle with a built-in sofa and it is open to the dining room, stepped up on a platform. It features high ceilings and a wall of windows looking out onto the backyard and swimming pool.

Unique stairway to bedrooms
The stairs to go up to the bedrooms is also very cool: it is wide at the bottom and narrows towards the top, covered in plush carpet. The master bedroom has a wall of windows facing the cul-de-sac and a romantic Barbara Cartland-esque circular canopied bed. The master bath features cool built-in vanity cabinets and a sunken tub. The kitchen has a lot of the original cabinets and appliances, and the maid's bathroom is fun and funky with pink mosaic tile, original vanity and a tiny cylindrical shower enclosure - all in the pink tile.

Cylinder of pink tile in maid's bathroom
My tour guide was a young girl with an Elvis crush, who was very knowledgeable about all the circumstances of his and Priscilla's time at the house. She was lovely and obviously enjoyed sharing the history of the house with me. I wished that more of the house was open to the tour, and also wistfully fantasized that I could have seen it when it was new.

Pool in the backyard, with view into the living room

View of the pool area with patio, cyprus trees and the San Jacinto mountains in the background.

Of course, over the years, some parts had fallen into disrepair, and previous owners made changes (I call it "remuddling" as opposed to "remodeling") that negatively affected the design. But the current owner has made an effort to maintain and reproduce the original design, as much as possible. Wouldn't it be fun to buy it and transforming it to it's previous glory, with the blink of an eye, like Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie!