“Set me alight. We’ll punch a hole right through the night. Ev­ery­day the dream­ers die See what’s on the other side” – U2, THE JOSHUA TREE

DINE and Destinations - - SARA SAYS: WHERE TO DINE NOW - By Adam Wax­man

IT’S AN­OTHER PLANET. Gi­ant blobs of gran­ite stacked like Tetrus played on a ge­o­log­i­cal time scale; a val­ley of cholla cacti that look like a dis­placed coral reef; and Joshua Trees—every­where—spread­ing up­wards like frac­tals. Awe-in­spir­ing. This is the undis­cov­ered coun­try of in­fi­nite ex­plo­ration and Zen con­tem­pla­tion; a vast play­ground for hik­ers, cy­clists and campers. For those with an ac­tive spirit, it’s a spir­i­tual land. Climb­ing over a boul­der and through a path cleaved be­tween the rocks, I reach a trail­head. Where does this go? I ask a passerby. “No clue.” He smiles. “That’s the fun part.” As the sun sets over Joshua Tree

Na­tional Park like rip­ples of Fruit Roll Ups spread across the sky, I chase it over the moun­tains to­ward Palm Springs.

Desert Haven

An oa­sis of arts, palm tree-lined boule­vards named af­ter en­ter­tain­ment icons of yes­ter­year, like Frank Si­na­tra and Bob Hope, lead to the mu­sic fes­ti­val be­he­moths of to­day, Coachella and Desert Trip. Clas­sic mid-century modern ar­chi­tec­ture main­tains a post-war sub­ur­ban Amer­i­can am­bi­ence, but one that is jux­ta­posed with emerg­ing artists whose art in­stal­la­tions of Desert X have turned the val­ley floor into a free and open-air gallery of the avant-garde. Mi­rage, by Doug Aitken, rep­re­sents a “land-art re­flec­tion of dreams and as­pi­ra­tions” in the form of a ranch house over­look­ing the val­ley. Ev­ery square inch of sur­face is cov­ered in mir­ror. Driv­ing to­ward it, I see a blind­ing light, while at other an­gles, in­vis­i­bil­ity. It’s in my sight and then it’s unattain­able, and there it is again. Ac­cord­ing to the artist, “It both ab­sorbs and re­flects the land­scape around in such ways that the ex­te­rior will seem­ingly dis­ap­pear just as the in­te­rior draws the viewer into a never-end­ing kalei­do­scope of light and re­flec­tion.”

At the newly minted bou­tique ho­tel, Ar­rive, we feel like we’re part of a com­mu­nity. We check in at the bar and re­ceive keys and cock­tails. So hip, ev­ery­thing here is text-based. We don’t call a front desk for din­ing rec­om­men­da­tions or dry-clean­ing; we send a text to the bar. Pool­side is the new hang­out. It’s ur­ban and framed by the tow­er­ing San Jac­into moun­tain range. The menu at the ho­tel’s Reser­voir res­tau­rant rep­re­sents flavour-for­ward So-cal cui­sine with fresh crisp in­gre­di­ents like the oblig­a­tory made-to-or­der guac, and tacos of charred pur­ple and green cau­li­flower or tem­pura shrimp with tamarind sweet chili and mi­cro-cilantro. There’s no bet­ter desert dessert than ice cream. At the ad­ja­cent ar­ti­sanal

Ice Cream & Shop(pe), I am se­duced by lus­cious scoops of pink gin­ger ice cream and sweet corn ice cream served in salted pret­zel cones.

Palm Springs is the “date cap­i­tal” of North Amer­ica. Only here can one find true blondes and brunettes. There are ac­tu­ally be­tween 10 and 15 va­ri­eties of dates sold at Shields Date Gar­den, in­clud­ing rich, soft and plump ma­jouls. Ever won­der about the Ro­mance and Sex Life of a Date but were afraid to ask? Shields has been play­ing this film on re­peat for more than 60 years. I watch it while sip­ping a sweet and del­ish’ Date Shake. Me­an­der­ing through the bib­li­cal botan­i­cal gar­dens out back, I sup­pose I could be for­given for think­ing this is an­cient Greece. Stat­ues of apos­tles and prophets, hand­made in Bri­tish Columbia, are set through­out the gar­den giv­ing a gen­uine feel of an­tiq­uity.

The gar­den at Sun­ny­lands is con­sid­ered a heal­ing space in which to me­an­der through drought tol­er­ant na­tive and adapted plant species that

of­fer quiet shade and nat­u­ral elements for con­tem­pla­tion, yoga and tai chi. There is still­ness, like a can­vas, in which the moun­tains ap­pear in the back­ground, while in the fore­ground, re­flect­ing pools and wind­ing paths trans­port us to seren­ity. Long known as the “Camp David of the West,” Pres­i­dents from Eisen­hower to Obama have used this gar­den and golf course for diplo­matic sum­mits and a Pres­i­den­tial retreat.

Cal­i­for­nia Dream­ing

There are 130 golf cour­ses in Palm Springs. The al­lure of warm weather, pris­tine views and unique ter­rain at­tracts golf en­thu­si­asts from Win­nipeg to the White House. Now there is an added fea­ture to many cour­ses ap­peal­ing to a younger de­mo­graphic: Foot Golf. Al­ready an or­ga­nized sport in 37 coun­tries around the world, Palm Spring is its mecca in North Amer­ica. Armed with a re­fresh­ing Even Par IPA by lo­cal La Quinta Brew­ing Co., with cit­ric notes of pineap­ple and pas­sion fruit, I punt an of­fi­cial-sized soc­cer ball onto the gor­geous Desert Winds golf course. It’s sur­pris­ingly fun, but I im­me­di­ately get the sense that this is like when skiers had to learn to share the slopes with snow board­ers. Won’t peo­ple get mad? I ask. “Of course.” Replies Amer­i­can Foot­golf Founder, Roberto Balestrini, with a laugh. “But we’ve got big­ger balls!”

In time for cock­tails we head to new lo­cal hot spot, Truss and Twine. Desert in­gre­di­ents in­spire the menu, and cock­tails are di­vided into eras like the Golden Age, Pro­hi­bi­tion and Dark Ages. I or­der a Game Changer of gin, lime, cu­cum­ber, onion brine and cel­ery bit­ters. Quench­ing and ver­sa­tile, it pairs with a range of bar bites from spot prawn dogs with uni mayo, to ha­banero and date beef jerky; lo­cal goat cheese with bougainvil­lea dust, hon­ey­comb and cac­tus con­fit; along with a range of char­cu­terie, lo­cal olives and oys­ters.

The Palm Springs of to­day is so full of youth­ful en­ergy and pos­si­bil­i­ties. Cana­di­ans are every­where dis­cov­er­ing the mu­sic, the arts and the es­cape. Over drinks at the bar I’m asked, “Why does the Canada Goose mi­grate to Palm Springs in win­ter?” I shoot back, “To be closer to Cana­di­ans!” We know a good thing when we see it.

Joshua Tree Na­tional Park

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