The Road to FISE: 7 Reasons Palm Springs Is a Great Vacation For Us – Dr. Plastic Picker

The Road to FISE: 7 Reasons Palm Springs Is a Great Vacation For Us

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We are lucky in life. Upgraded by Hilton to the Presidential Suite due to a minor mixup. Mr. Plastic Picker tipped the nice woman who brought us extra bedding generously.

August 23, 2020

by drplasticpicker

We are settled in our first night of a short likely two night stay in Palm Springs. Like most of the world, travel plans the last six months due to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic had to be changed. It was the first time in six months we have left the confines of our Southern California county. I felt slightly embarassed about needing to leave, but mentally I felt the entire family spiralling into irritability. Pre COVID-19, we had planned on visiting my sister in Northern Virginia. Our traveling compared to our same-income cohorts in the US is very limited and we spend considerably less just hearing what my friends tell me anecdotally. We usually visit family in New York and Virginia and then stay with them a few nights and drive a few nights somewhere else. We usually take one western US domestic trip as well and maybe every other year one big international trip. But even that amount of traveling is not sustainable for the world. I’ve always bought carbon offsets the last five years, but even that – does it even make a difference?

In front of the Hilton.

But we are here now in Palm Springs, an easy 2.5 hour drive from our hom We drove our trusty Prius that gets 50 MPG. I never truly appreciated this area growing up. Being from Coastal Southern California, I wanted trees and history. I preferred Yosemite, San Francisco, and the East Coast. This is probably why I lived in Boston for 15 years. But with age comes wisdom. And I’ve come to love Palm Springs.

I like to keep track on my iPhone how much we spend on vacations. Looking back we’ve been to Palm Springs four times over the last few years since I’ve been keeping track. This is the breakdown of how much it cost us, and most of it is usually hotel.

Summer 2020: $600 Hotel thus far

March 2019: $883 ($681 Hotel)

Spring 2017: $689 ($432 Hotel)

Spring 2016: $859 ($420 Hotel)

When I think back to the times we came out here, it was usually a time of desperation. The last two times we had further flung vacations planned, and our daughter became ill. She is generally healthy and taller than me now, but she was a very premature baby and has had bouts of pneumonia and sinusitis requiring treatment and several hospitalizations. In 2017 and 2019 Spring vacations, we cancelled further flung vacation plans so I could make sure she was improving and we drove to Palm Springs instead for a short usually two night vacation. And this time it was a similar situation. We all were mentally needing to reset before Mr. Plastic Picker and I settled into the upcoming Covid-Flu season and the kids start their blended schooling (part virtual and part in person). We were originally planning Santa Barbara and then Cambria, but the wild fires and the air quality made us rethink that decision

I had finished some environmental work yesterday morning, organizing our AAP Climate Change and Health Interns and giving an award to one of the UCSD PGY3 Residents for her social media campaign on vaccines. I had blogged yesterday. I had even made great progress on my composting project (I am making secret fairy gardens). I did not pick up a bag of trash, because I’m already at 24 bags for the month (264 since I started) and I’m trying to pace myself. At about noon yesterday I finally settled at our kitchen table, and our daughter offered me the last bits of pancake she made. We have been for the last week eating down the house in preparation for going on a short vacation. She had been expecting us to go to Cambria, somewhere “cool and coastal and mountainy” as she put it. I looked at my lovely daughter and I again explained the situation that she was well aware. California is burnining with multitudes of wild fires right now, and the air quality is poor. She was anxious to get on the road to head somewhere and she had that desperate and sad look in her eyes, “I’ve been in this house for 6 months.” Which is a slight exageration because I did take her to Michaels once. “Mommy, I can’t do another staycation.”

When my ex-preemie needs something, this mommy jumps into action. She needed to leave, and we needed to leave ASAP! Four hours later and after a heated back and forth with Mr. Plastic Picker who was finishing a shift from our Home Office, we were on the road with a grumpy 15-year-old brother and hastily eaten meal of left over stale bread, hummus, and the remaining vegan sausage. Before we left, I reminded my mother-in-law to eat the last eggplant and there was leftover rice from last nights Indian Food take-out. We said good-bye to our distraught black puppy. Poor puppy, she has to stay with my mother-in-law and father-in-law in a 3000 SF house near the only part of California that actually has good air quality and it at 80 degrees. My father-in-law told my husband that the puppy has been glued to grandmother’s side since we left.

But we are here now, and I am blogging from the nice desk in the bedroom and the kids are sleeping on the pull out sleeper sofa. It’s 5AM and it’s my usual blogging hour but in a different place. We were so lucky already, as we planned on a poolside standard 2 bedroom room and were upgraded to the Hilton Presidential Suite. The original room was $280 a night and the Presidential Suite (which we were going to book but then became unavailable on is $460 a night. We have this suite for 2 nights! The kids are so happy, as are Mr. Plastic Picker and myself.

Pictures of the room we were upgraded to.

We always get a wonderful reset, but Palm Springs is so affordable for us. So let me just list 7 reasons why Palm Springs is such a great financial choice for us.

  1. It’s 2.5 hours drive, so far enough away for us to be AWAY that we feel we are someplace different. We feel like we went on a roadtrip, albeit a short one. This is also good for the environment because we drive our Prius which gest 50 MPG.
  2. Desert Environment is different than Coastal Southern California. The climate here is different. Right now in August, it’s definitely a dry heat. In the spring times that we came, we had had particularly damp months in San Diego and we felt coming out to the desert really helped heal our daughter’s chronic cough and pneumonias. Both times she was finishing her antibiotics and toward the middle-end of the course, but when we landed in Palm Springs – it seemed to dry everything up and she really turned the corner here.
  3. We Save Money On Groceries the Week Before. Eventhough it’s only a two night and three day vacation, we prepare for it like we are going on a longer trip. We saved on money the week before on groceries and averted food waste, because we ate down the house. This is one of the things I love about going on vacation. It’s this group activity where we play this game of trying to eat all the left over bits in the house. This morning my daughter made the last bits of pancake mix. I ate all the vegan flaxseed muffins at work. We finished the hummus and bread this morning. Two nights ago I made a yummy vegan dinner with the brussel sprouts I had forgotten in the back of the fridge, last bits of pinto beans and corn tortillas.
  4. We Save Money on Snacks because We Bring Our Old Food as Snacks with Us. Again it’s only a 2.5 hour drive, but I always pack a small cooler of left over snacks from home. We used to stop by Trader Joes to get snacks, but we are trying to reduce our plastic consumption. The kids have been good about decreasing their processed snack intake. So our cooler was filled with snacks which we will eat the next few days. Just half eaten cracker packages, 1/3 filled popcorn bags, random fruits and PB&Js that Mr. Plastic Picker threw together. I love eating left over food! I think it’s a mommy thing. But again it’s a great way to avert food waste, and the food taste better when we’re on the road.
  5. Palm Spring Activities Are Usually Cheap & Free: When we are here, we usually go to Joshua Tree National Park and walk around the Palm Springs downtown area. One of our college friends reminded us to go to the Hidden Valley Nature Trail in Joshua Tree. I’ll remind Mr. Plastic Picker. The Palm Springs Aerial Tram is always fun, and there is usually cooler hiking up in the mountains. Due to COVID19, everything is closed there. But we will likey also take the new Wind Turbines self guided car tour which is $40. This is relatively affordable. Our Alaskan cruise in comparison was $12000 a few years ago. That was our most expensive vacation ever, but we wanted to see the glaciers before they melted. It will be the last cruise we will ever take. Cruises are incredibly polluting and I hated the dynamic between the workers and the passengers. The income inequality was so stark, and it just made me sad.
  6. We don’t need to do laundry. Usually this type of vacation each of us just packs a suitecase, and no laundry required.
  7. Hotels are Nice, and We Get A Better Deal. In general a truly nice hotel room with fancy pool here is more affordable than LA or Santa Barbara. When we come out here, some of it is to enjoy the resort and hotel. We all lounged on the fancy King sized hotel bed and watched Cats. It was the worst movie I’ve seen in over a decade. But it was so bad, it was good. The normal stuff just in the hotel room is fun. There is a balcony the kids can sit on and enjoy, while being socially distanced from everyone. We can play board games when it hits the extreme midday heat. We have our Boggle, Scrabble, Exploding Kittens, and just deck of cards ready.
Movie was so bad, it was good. Free.

And that is it! just a fun post to share with you our family’s joy being in Palm Springs again. Our fourth trip here, and it’s at least every other year we’ll come here in a moment of need for a mental reset.

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