Despite the immense beauty of the Seattle area, the winters can at times feel endless. Gray days from October through June are only occasionally punctuated by the bluest skies you’ve ever seen, lasting just long enough to entice the purchase of new sun glasses in hopeful optimism - but those blue skies are quickly covered back over by a heavy blanket of gray.
This winter has seemed a little longer than most. New Year’s Eve, a day filled with the promise of optimistic new beginnings for the coming year, was marked for my family by the diagnosis of juvenile diabetes for my just-turned 16 year old daughter. We spent the first week of 2013 in the hospital getting her stabilized and learning about the disease. Although thankfully it is a very manageable condition, it means a whole new way of living that involves testing her blood around the clock, counting carbohydrates in meals, and insulin shots several times a day. It’s a helpless feeling watching your child adjust to life-changing news like that.
We needed a break from the gray Seattle skies and there’s nothing better to clear the head and renew the spirit than a change of perspective, which is one of the reasons I love traveling so much. Traveling makes your world expand, shrinking problems that had previously seemed so overwhelming. My daughter and I needed this change of perspective along with a healthy dose of vitamin D directly from the source - a last-minute weekend getaway to sunny southern California was in order. We booked our flights and made plans for Los Angeles; shopping, sightseeing and walking on the beach. Buh-bye gray skies.
Our plans quickly changed a couple of days prior to our trip when we saw the weather report – it was supposed to rain! We weren’t going to let that news stop us on our quest for sunshine, our plans were quickly revised to include a road trip the desert climate of Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is located about an hour and 45 minutes from Los Angeles, depending on traffic of course, and is the perfect Seattle weekend getaway. It is at the north end of a string of cities that comprise the desert area, and is filled with incredible shopping, restaurants, spas, golf, and beautiful scenery - all in a climate that feels like summer to this native Northwesterner. Once in the desert I had my sites set on the Palm Springs tram ride up the mountainside to take in the breathtaking views and enjoy some nature, but this trip was about my daughter. Her body was still not feeling as strong as it should and my typically sharp, energetic girl seemed lethargic and indecisive. I quickly threw away any agenda, which is quite a change of pace for this directed mom, but as it turns out that exactly what we both needed. Instead of having any plans, we wandered. A lot. We shopped, we ate outside on the patio at fun restaurants soaking in the warm rays, we sang at the top of our lungs to our favorite songs as we drove on our road trip to the sun. One thing that we did keep on the agenda was a trip to a spa in Desert Hot Springs to enjoy warm mineral pools and massages – it was heavenly!
On the last day of our trip Los Angeles was sunny again, so we headed out from the desert to the airport a little early for a drive along the coast and dinner on the beach. We ate at The Ivy near the Santa Monica Pier and reflected on our weekend getaway. We were both recharged and refreshed, and my daughter had gained a new kind of strength. While she was in the hospital she told me that she wasn’t strong enough, that she wasn’t the strong one in the family. This trip was empowering to her; she learned she could still do the things that she wanted to do - and that she was strong enough.
Shout out to the Palm Springs Visitors' center; they were so friendly, and made sure we had all the information that we needed for our stay. We look forward to future visits. Here's their information so you can plan your sunny getaway:
Palm Springs Visitors Center
2901 North Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262