We spent June in Palm Springs. If you know the California desert at that time of year, that turned out to be not such a hot idea. Take two. It was a very hot idea. The day it hit 114 made us wonder what had possessed us to do it.
It had seemed brilliant back in April. Coming up in L.A. was cool, often overcast June. It’s called “June Gloom” in these parts. Renting a place for a month in the desert, where it is reliably warmer but just 100 or so miles away, seemed like a smart move. Besides, the rates in the desert then are their lowest of the year.
It was a two-bedroom, two-bath condo at a small, almost-new complex called Villorrio. It was just a couple blocks from the center of Palm Springs. There was a 55-foot swimming pool steps from the front door and a rooftop patio with great views of the mountains. We invited friends, who came in waves from Seattle and San Francisco, flying right into the Palm Springs airport a five-minute drive away.
At first it was fine. Then the thermometer gradually began creeping up. The pool, big as it was, turned tepid. The air conditioning had a hard time keeping ahead of the heat. That rooftop patio became too hot to use, even at night.
Naturally, we turned for succor to the many of Palm Springs’ happy hours.
Now, “happy hour” in June in Palm Springs, which in some notorious cases begins at 11 in the morning and ends until last call, involves full-blown martinis for as little as $3. Maybe you don’t get top-shelf gin (Seagram’s seems to be the plonk of choice), but it’s decent. It’s like getting an engraved invitation to AA. Such serendipity is best approached carefully and with the understanding that the gates of hell are never far away.
Nonetheless, all involved threw themselves with enthusiasm into the effort, with mixed and still-uncertain results that may await the return of liver tests. The winners in our combined estimation included the happy hours held at Tropicale, Lulu, Kaiser Grill, The Falls and Frida’s. Wang’s in the Desert was thronged and cheap but, shall we say, a bit too…fevered. And when the fascination of a bustling happy hour waned, we went to quieter places like Citron at the Viceroy hotel. We never did get to some of the more corporate happy hours at Roy’s and Fleming’s. They were too far away in Rancho Mirage, and we had so many choices in our own back yard.
The gates of hell were beginning to clank open when we decided to leave Palm Springs a few days before the end of our rental. A high of 115 was predicted. Two hours later we were home in the Hollywood Hills, cool again at last, with no happy hours nearby.