Training (of a sort) in Joshua Tree, Laguna Beach, Palm Springs

Late December brought some serious downtime for me. Slightly inconvenient, since my Boston Marathon training was just getting going. But not to worry. No, I was not packing any worry on my trip to Southern California. Situations like that call for, and I counsel this frequently, Going with the Flow. Sometimes the best cross training is the exploratory walking, rock-climbing, cruiser bike-riding, ocean-plunging and hot-tubbing that a vacation brings. Not always. But this time, fo sho.

This trip came together quickly. To be specific, about 10 minutes after I googled “camper van rental Palm Springs” and discovered BlissRV. They had a few suggested itineraries on the site and the vans (sprinters) were SWEET. David was right in sync with me and loved the plan. A couple of quick emails with the Bliss guys–Conrad and Derek–and one hella credit card swipe, and we had a dream vacation in the bag.

Itinerary: SEA>PSP, pick up Sprinter and get orientation from adorable Bliss Team, drive to Joshua Tree with intermediate stop at Whole Foods to pick up our Christmas meal provisions, glamp in JT for two days. Head west and camp on Cali state beaches for two nights, head back to Palm Springs via the gorgeous Ortega Highway and Lake Elsinore, return the van (sniff!) and hang in Palm Springs for three days: sit by the pool (only Seattleites would do this as it was not even 65 degrees), bike around old town, check out mid-century homes, art museum, some dang fine restaurants.

Highlights:

1A. Mind-blowing rock formations you can scramble all over. We bouldered around Rattlesnake Canyon–no trail, just roam. A sublime way to spend Christmas Day.

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1B. Our van, Principessa

Sprinter van at campsite in JT. Queen bed, shower, toilet, 2-burner stove, dinette, fridge, microwave. Bizarre that you can call this camping.
Sprinter van at campsite in JT. Queen bed, shower, toilet, 2-burner stove, dinette, fridge, microwave. Bizarre that you can call this camping.

 

2. Short Steep Ryan Mountain Hike. This was legit cross-training, uppity-up as Rachel Scheiner would say.

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3. Camp site ON the beach. Did a couple of runs here–one barefoot, one in my Goretex trail running shoes, which was helpful as I did have to ford a creek.

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4. Palm Springs’ many offerings: the Workshop Kitchen, vintage & design shops galore, an art museum that could hold its own in a big city, and drop ins to two hipster-plexes: Ace Hotel and Arrive, which just let us hang by their pools.

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Handsome gentleman, courtyard at Workshop Kitchen – James Beard award winner for restaurant design

 

Hummingbird at breakfast at Farm
Hummingbird at breakfast at Farm

 

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Jackpot for the Vinn diagram of puzzlers and art appreciators. Can you solve this? We did. Eventually.

 

Yes, a guy in a flannel shirt hawking flower broaches. This is how they do in Palm Springs.
Yes, a stone-faced guy hawking flower broaches. This is how they do in Palm Springs.

 

Bocce under palms, Ping My Pong tables, and Y'all Come pools and hot-tubs. I predict the Arrive chain will go far.
Bocce under the palms, Ping-My-Pong tables, and Y’all Come pool and hot-tub. I predict the Arrive hotel chain will go far. (founded by a Seattle guy apparently)

To cover off on the training side of things–I did three runs during this trip, as well as hike, boulder, low-intensity bike, walk and sleep profoundly deeply. So I maintained running fitness and pulled out serious recovery gains.

If you’re a runner or someone trying to stay on top of training of any kind, I think it’s worthwhile to figure out how you can keep your toes in that–a time, or two. But I also think don’t sweat it. Dive deep into whatever the time and environment offer. Tell yourself (and this is important), “This is EXACTLY what I need.”

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