Meanwhile, Andi is working at an event in nearby Death Valley, California. I feel a little guilty about having fun in the sun while he's working ... but then again, it was his idea for us to come. Andi's cousin owns a vacation home in Palm Springs about 90 minutes away from the event, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for the kids and I to stay at the house while Andi worked, then have him join us afterward. I invited Andi's mom, Janie, to come along with us this week to keep us company.
Tory, Aden, Janie and I left Minneapolis on Monday, October 24. Our direct flight was an easy one; the plane was practically empty so Aden and Tory were able to move around to stretch their legs a bit during the three hour flight. Janie's been to Palm Springs (and to the vacation property we're staying at) several times before, so it helped having her along as she knew exactly where to go.
Our accommodations are awesome for the week! It's a three-bedroom, two-bathroom California ranch-style house with a big backyard and it's own private pool. Andi's cousin, Laura, has made this place so comfortable for guests. There's plenty of lounge chairs and towels for the pool, and comfortable seating indoors and outside. Aden likes this place so much, he refers to it as his "new house." (Poor kid is sill adjusting from our real move this past April).
We made it to the house on Monday afternoon in time to swim in the pool for a bit before dinner. Laura and her family had just been in Palm Springs, so there was enough leftover food in the refrigerator to piece together a meal. After we ate, the four of us took a little stroll around the neighborhood. It feels so wonderful to have another taste of summer weather, even if only for a week.
We were all exhausted after our walk, so we called it an early night. Fortunately, Janie doesn't mind sleeping with one of the kids, so she and Tory took the master bedroom and Aden and I shared a bed in one of the other rooms.
The next morning, Aden and I woke up early (4:30am // 6:30am Minnesota time). We laid around for a bit until Grandma Janie and Tory woke up, then headed outside to swim. The weather is absolutely gorgeous here -- low 70's in the early morning, quickly warming to the high 80's by Noon. (Gorgeous for us, by the way; probably not so great for Andi who's camped out in the middle of the desert).
It's like our own private oasis in the backyard. The house is located in a gated country club community, but we've hardly seen any neighbors outside. And, the view is incredible! Palm trees and mountains as far as the eye can see. California livin,' for sure.
Eat. Sleep. Swim. Repeat.
That's essentially been our life in Palm Springs this week. On Tuesday, we stepped away from the pool briefly to hit the grocery store. The house we're staying in has a full kitchen, so it seems silly to haul the kids out to restaurants for meals. Instead, we stocked the fridge with our favorite foods and snacks, and planned to make meals at home this week. Janie likes to eat healthy, too, so mealtimes have been simple and easy.
I brought Tory's hammock from the cabin and fashioned it between two fruit trees. It's the perfect shady spot to relax in the cooler morning hours. By the way, how cool would it be to pick fresh lemons, limes and grapefruits from your own backyard? Palm Springs is coming out of their hottest months of the year, so a lot of the vegetation is beginning its re-growth and not ready for picking right now ... but soon!
More relaxing by the pool ... with Popsicle treats, of course.
On Thursday morning, Janie and I decided to take the kids to the nearby Living Desert Zoo. Janie and I could've laid by the pool all day again, but we thought the kids might like a change of scenery. Volunteers who greeted us at the beginning of the park were all so friendly and couldn't seem to get enough of Aden's cuteness. One woman suggested we check out a nature show taking place in the amphitheatre, so we grabbed a seat underneath big, spanning sun shades and learned all about animals who make the desert home.
Tory was particularly fascinated by the presentation, as she loves all things nature right now. At one point the commentator asked the audience if anyone knew what a herbivore was, and Tory reached her arm up in the air and answered the question proudly.
The zoo had a huge model train display set up near the entrance of the amphitheatre, which was easily Aden's favorite part of the whole experience. He would've stood there for hours watching the Thomas the Train car roll along the tracks.
The rest of the zoo was fairly lack-luster, unfortunately. For one, it was HOT. I didn't bring a stroller on this trip, so Aden and Tory had to walk (or rather, Janie and I carry them along the paths from exhibit to exhibit). Fortunately, we bought shuttle passes so we were able to hop on and off various golf carts as they cruised along. There weren't many animals at the zoo either, or not the ones you'd expect to see at a zoo. I suppose that's because it's a "desert" zoo and featured those types of animals (birds, warthogs, wild dogs, cheetahs and giraffes). Janie bought us tickets to ride the carousel, which the kids loved, and then we politely suggested heading back to the house to swim for the rest of the afternoon.
This year we'll be in Palm Springs for Halloween, so I brought along the kids' costumes and researched a few Halloween events in the area. I'd be fine skipping Halloween all-together as it's not my favorite holiday anyway, but Tory is old enough to realize it's coming up on the calendar. I'm not sure what trick-or-treating will be like in this neighborhood; it is a gated community, but there aren't many children around. I suggested we check out a Halloween event at the nearby community center on Saturday to cover our bases.
After much deliberation, Tory is dressing up as a witch this Halloween (very surprised she decided against being a Disney princess as Elsa, Cinderella and Jasmine were prime contendors) and Aden is going as a fisherman (he also debated being Sheriff Callie or a scary monster). I packed their costumes in my suitcase, so final decisions were locked in when we left Minnesota on Monday.
The Halloween event took place from 1pm - 6pm on Saturday, and I had no idea what to expect. Since we're not from the area, I didn't know if it'd be in an unsafe part of the community or a total bust from an event standpoint ... fortunately, it was just fine. There were bouncy houses for the kids to play in, trick-or-treat stations set up around a grassy area with games and prizes, and live music and entertainment. Tory was fascinated by the magic show and was even asked to help the magician on "stage." Aden said his favorite part was the candy (and it's true, he ate every piece by the time we left that afternoon).
One thing I didn't count on at the event was how HOT it would be. Oh my goodness, we were dripping with sweat by the end. I was worried Tory and Aden would overheat jumping around in all the bouncy houses, but they didn't seem to mind -- they had a blast! I couldn't believe some of the other people at the event wearing masks and heavy costumes. Some kids were wearing fuzzy zip-up costumes you'd wear on a cold Minnesota night out trick-or-treating! How they didn't fall over with heat exhaustion, I don't know. I suppose you'd be use to the heat if you lived here.
Back to the pool we went following the Halloween event - phew!
Two more days left in Palm Springs, and happily Andi will join us on the last day. I didn't realize it, but this trip has been exactly what I needed -- it's been quiet and relaxing and fun to spend a week with the kids and no plans. The only thing that'll make it better is having Andi here with us on Monday.