After nine weeks of boondocking in the desert, we decided a little time in the city was in order. Palm Springs lured us in with the promise of restaurants, bars, RV parks with pools, and a short break from the incessant desert dust.
Our normal spot in the Palm Springs area is at Sam’s in nearby Desert Hot Springs. However, despite the amazing hot pools and low monthly rate, the park itself is nothing special and is located in a fairly isolated area. Meaning that without friends to keep us company while there, we would prefer to be closer to the city. So I called the Happy Traveler RV Park in downtown Palm Springs about two weeks before we wanted to arrive.
To no one’s surprise, it was all full up and the very nice owner said she would put us on a waiting list. We didn’t hold out much hope, but then I got the call saying someone had canceled and we could stay for the week. Woo hoo! Even better, after being there for one day we decided we wanted to stay another week, again went on the waiting list, and again got a call just two days before we were supposed to leave saying there was another cancellation and we could stay. And…because the reservations there are not site specific, we got to stay in the same spot for the full two weeks. I just love it when stuff like this works out.
This right here perfectly sums up our current approach to RV life. We used to go all-in on planning by making sure we had reservations and backup plans for the backup plans. But over the past two to three years we’ve transitioned into a much looser approach. One that (for us at least) eliminates stress and the need to constantly research and finagle spaces in busy parks. Part of the reason this approach works for us it that we’ve gotten over the fear of being stuck with nowhere to park. In other words, when all else fails we have no problem overnighting wherever there is room for our rig if need be.
I also think we’re okay with this approach because we’re in it for the long haul. With no agenda to see all the National Parks in the next year, or visit 30 states in the span of two years, we are more able to have flexibility in where we go and when we get there. Of course, time will tell how this whole “no planning” thing works out as we head into summer. Our current plan/no plan is to utilize public lands, take advantage of first come, first serve sites, and make friends with people who live in cool places and have RV parking :) That last one is only a partial joke.
Anyway, enough about that, let’s talk about Palm Springs. Our two week stay at the Happy Traveler was downright delightful. It’s a small park with very, very tight sites and lots of full-time residents who were friendly without being too friendly. In other words, everyone said hi and offered to move their cars when we arrived and left (yes, the park is that tight) but no one made us feel guilty because we didn’t want to join the park-wide pot luck or attend a bingo night.
While the sites are situated really close together, the saving grace is the wall of tall shrubbery that surrounds each site. Even though we could hear everything our neighbors said – and watched on tv – we couldn’t see them and that made all the difference. Since we both wear headphones during working hours and in the evening listen to music or watch tv, neighborly noise ended up being a non-issue.
The very best part of the Happy Traveler is the location. Only 1.5 miles from downtown Palm Springs in one direction and .3 miles from an incredible, small-batch ice creamery that had the most delicious Lemon Meringue Pie ice cream in another (we may or may not have walked there 3 times), you can’t get any more centrally located. During our two week stay, we only took the truck out a handful of times to do errands and once to visit a palm grove. Everywhere else we walked.
We walked to the post office, library and art museum. We walked around neighborhoods where all the fancy houses were behind walls, and neighborhoods full of hip mid-century modern houses.
We walked to a tiki bar, a Mexican restaurant and to meet friends for happy hour at Lulu. And one day, our friend Robin came over and we walked to the nearby Moorten Botanical Garden for a stroll in the desert jungle.
Near the end of our stay in Palm Springs, the Coronavirus exploded all around us in southern CA. We did our best to be vigilant about handwashing, but with masses of people crowding the downtown streets, it was starting to feel unsafe. Our next move was to be a week of boondocking in the desert followed by a family trip to Disney World. You can guess how that turned out. We canceled our trip, and then a day later Disney announced they were closing all of their parks worldwide.
Currently, we’re in the desert about 30 miles from the nearest town and planning to stay here until we run out of water or the black tank fills up. Stay safe everyone and don’t forget to wash your hands!