Desert Southwest, 1994

By Jack Welsch

Images © Copyright 1994, J. H. Welsch
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Yet another where I failed to keep a diary so there's not a lot of detail here. We'd made reservations at the Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, CA. When we checked in, we were given a small room with a breathtaking view of the parking lot, restricted only by the air conditioning unit. It took some serious complaining and a threat to go elsewhere before they gave me a new room. In the end, we had a huge room and a magnificent view. The Marriott Desert Springs is a phenomenal place surrounding a huge central atrium with waterfalls and boats. The boats run between a dock in the lobby and various other parts of the resort! The use of water would be considered lavish even if this were not in a desert.

We spent a lot of time just relaxing at the hotel and poking around the area. We did go into Palm Springs (which isn't exciting) and took the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (which is) up Mt. San Jacinto. The contrast between valley and mountain top is remarkable. The valley was hot and arid, the mountain top cool and covered with huge trees. Another day, we drove north to Twenty-nine Palms and the Joshua Tree National Park. (You'll also find a useful guide here.) Twenty-Nine Palms was a pit but the drive through the Park was great. I'd never really seen Joshua Trees before and here they are beyond count.

We'd decided to fly into Palm Springs, drive the rental car to Las Vegas and fly home from there. I'd heard so much about the Mojave Desert, I thought it would be a great adventure driving across it. It was certainly a long, desolate, hot and strangely beautiful trip but it was not as big a deal as I'd expected. The remarkable part was that on some long uphill slopes, there were signs warning you to turn off the A/C to avoid overheating the engine. Even with a pretty low initial inside temperature, the heat in the car became unbearable almost the minute the A/C was turned off. Crossing this thing in a wagon must have been decidedly unpleasant!

We were exhausted when we got to Vegas but ended up having a great time in a Moroccan restaurant near UNLV. The best meal we had, however, was in the Pegasus at the Alexis Park. We go to a lot of great restaurants but this one was one of the best ever. The food was wonderful and the service was very attentive without being annoying. The check was astronomical and it didn't bother me a bit; the evening was worth every penny!

One day, we drove out to Lake Mead and took a stern wheeler trip. I'd been waterskiing there years earlier with some friends. We just rented a boat and skis an went off. Wandering aimlessly, we went into a canyon, only to find ourselves at the Hoover Dam. The stern wheeler entered the same canyon but this time I knew what was coming. After the boat ride, we drove to the dam and took a tour inside. As an engineer, I found it especially interesting.

The only show we saw was Wayne Newton. He's an old-timer but a good showman.

This was a pretty simple trip but it was both relaxing and enjoyable.