It’s been a hectic summer for the Herlache/Chebuske clan with travel, new jobs, moving, a surgery and the usual festivities. Trying to coordinate five different schedules took a bit of time and it wasn’t until the second weekend in August that we were finally able to come together to celebrate my belated 29th birthday!
I love presents (who doesn’t?!), but even more than presents I love traveling to new locales. Though I’ve driven through it a few times in past two decades, the only time I’ve ever spent in Palm Springs was a weekend in early elementary school. My girl scout troop was rewarded with an overnight trip to Palm Springs for our cookie selling efforts. I recall the trip being a success, but beyond the pool and the swanky jungle gym gear at a nearby park, my memories of the desert town are pretty hazy. Luckily my dad is a huge fan of California’s Gold host, Huell Howser, and when we saw a rerun of a trip he took to San Jacinto earlier this summer the idea blossomed of making a return trip to the popular vacation destination.
We met my family at the foot of the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway early on Saturday morning. We travelled from 2,643 feet up to Mountain Station, which sits at an elevation 8,516 feet. From there we trekked across San Jacinto State Park completing an almost 9 mile hike before making our way back to the station for lunch at Peaks Restaurant.
The trail was challenging at times, but with plenty of flat stretches along the way. An awesome feature of San Jacinto State Park is the fact that the weather atop the mountain is generally close to 30° cooler than the weather at the base of the mountain. With the average temperature in Palm Springs that weekend coming in a 102° the mountain-top weather was absolute perfection!
After our hike, lunch (and getting in plenty of family photos) we made our way back down the mountain and a little further south to the city of La Quinta. We found a great 2 bedroom condo available on AirBnB at a complex with 9 different pools and a hammock garden. We got in a quick swim and were actually able to catch some of the Dodger game (Dodger fans without Time Warner know our pain) before heading out to dinner.
We had an amazing meal at Cork and Fork for dinner. Cork and Fork’s food philosophy is “Mix and Match. Share and Enjoy”. We shared a variety of small plates ranging from grilled cheese with braised short ribs to seared scallops to blistered shishito peppers. Cork and Fork has a great wine list and some local rotating drafts. Plus they offer happy hour prices on select starters and their beer, white and red wines of the night. I have the hardest time picking between menu items and always want to try what everyone else has ordered- the small sharable plates proved to be the perfect dining approach. Too bad there aren’t more restaurants like Cork and Fork out there!
After dinner we indulged in homemade ice cream at Infusions. Every scoop is handmade in KitchenAid mixers with liquid nitrogen. Steam spills out over the counter as employees mix up orders. Between the five of us we split strawberry cheesecake, mint chip and the most delicious- chocolate espresso with fresh ground espresso beans on top. To top all the ice cream off I was also presented with my favorite cake- our family’s classic carrot cake. It was a decadent, food-filled evening that we absolutely deserved after our active day!
The next morning brought hours of a rotation between the pool and the air-conditioned condo. Because it’s so hot in Palm Springs summer is actually the off-season! Because of this we had the pools mostly to ourselves. The mountain backdrops weren’t too shabby either. It was a wonderful way to spend the early part of the day.
Post relaxation time we all headed back west, relived to leave the 109° temperature for something a little more bearable– whoohoo 90s! On the way home Dave and I made one last pit stop for dinner at the original In-N-Out burger in Baldwin Park. In-N-Out University was closed and we weren’t able to buy a t-shirt, but we indulged in some always delicious burgers and fries. The perfect California ending to a California-filled weekend!