Desert Chill

When a spokesperson from Wyndham Vacation Rentals reached out last month to see if our family might be interested in staying in one of their homes this summer, to help shed a little light on the company's newest addition (a Palm Springs branch that works on behalf of local individual homeowners to maintain and manage their vacation properties and rent them out) I was so grateful I could have cried. As I've written about at various points here before scoring any hotel these days even when we're willing to toss good money at that appears even remotely invested in helping accommodate a family this size, is never easy. A fact I've just come to accept as one of the unfortunate consequences of traveling as a party of six.

Needless to say, it was a quick yes. By all means, YES. We would gladly inhabit one of those spacious rental homes and do our very best to have a damn good time while at it. Though Palm Springs in general, usually makes it easy

We arrived Thursday afternoon along with my mom, my sister and her two kids because Mike had to work and I didn't want to be there alone with boys if I didn't have to. Plus, the house we were in, deemed "Desert Chill" was quite roomy. A big, loungy single story mid-century daydream complete with a bold orange door, sparse cacti / gravel landscaping out front, nestled right in the heart of downtown. Holding true to it's brochure bragging bits touting a short bike ride away from coffee, groceries, bars and just about anything else a proper downtown comes to promise. Not that we had much of an excuse to want to wander away from this sleek weekend wonderland. With a stocked fridge, blasting AC, music, good drinks and company, the idea of leaving for anything other than swim diapers (which, dammit I always somehow manage to forget!) seemed slightly absurd.

The boys were delighted to have their cousins there with them for a night. They kept each other busy splashing, snacking, drawing and running around the yard with new pool toys, spilling back inside throughout the day for brief respite when the weather hit 107 degrees, to snag another Popsicle or refill a line of plastic water cups. After they finally wore their day as thin as they could possibly could, we gave them baths, handed out popcorn and put on a movie. In which no one actually lasted through. Thanks to the unmatched effects of a long day spent poolside, under a blazing July sun.

In the morning, after breakfast though they were back at it. Already armed after clearing their plates of grandma's eggs with sunscreen, swim goggles, suits and all.

The People at Vacation Palm Springs were incredible from start to end. Customer service showing up in the kind of idealized visions we always imagine it should but more times than not, just doesn't. So that a quick phone call with basic questions about spa functions warrants a prompt in-home visit to help assist you in turning up the temps, or checking in on your overall satisfaction, to inform you of the option for temporary baby gates set up upon requests should you need or want it. Or, to offer up a tour of all of the surrounding nearby homes should you really decide to host your husband's upcoming 40th birthday party at one of them like you mention you might, then start to fully envision once you scour their site late that night and fall in love with all the mid-century beauties their real estate seems built of. 

During my whole stay the on hand staff proved nothing short of amazing. Catering to the customer in a way that let me know early on to my relief what a breeze it would be writing an honest, preferably complementary review here like I was hoping. Though the fact is, more and more renting houses over hotels is what we're seeking during these kinds of getaways. It just makes better sense the more we do so. Even when it means spending a little more to have the luxury of your own temporary home space to settle in and relax in the way you can't when your walls are shared. Most especially now with three boys, one baby (AND Jack) to bunk with.  

Not only is it nice to have a yard and the extra space but it also allows for a lot more improvisation when you need it most. Take, for example the first night when I woke to Hayes screaming because he could see me from the corner where he slept and couldn't make sense of why he wasn't over there in bed with me. Not that he would ever consider laying down and falling back asleep under such circumstances but nonetheless, an issue I took far too long to successfully solve while stuck there in the midst of my dull morning thoughts, the threat of sunrise coming through our windows and a whole sleeping house in danger of waking to the sounds of a screaming baby. When it finally occurred to me that the walk-in closets were small rooms in themselves. Where I pulled the mobile crib into and he fell fast asleep almost instantly in the familiar comfort of his own dark separate space. One that would serve as his designated "room" for the remainder of the weekend. Tucked there in the big master closet with the door cracked, giving me a second chance at the ever alluring possibility of actually "sleeping in." Which those of you with young kids know is just code for "after sunrise." 

Friday afternoon brought with it new friends and the big rolling rainstorms the news had warned us of all week. Black skies and thunder overheard as my friend Kate and her girls arrived to keep us company through the day. The scent of that storm being quite possibly my favorite part of my summer so far. When the lightening stopped they were all back in the pool. Kate testing out a new recipe for fresh black berry cocktails in the kitchen, Harry Belafonte on the speaker, us sitting out in the hot tub under the dank air of a summer rain. Proving the kind of highlight I would have never dared count on when noting hints of it lingering on my phone's forecast days before. 

A scene I know I will replay too many times down the line, when seeking a similar fate on the eve of another year's desert daycation, only to be let down when it doesn't pan out the exact same way. As the nature of these weird summer rainstorms is one that's rare to be repeated. 

Eventually we found decent reason to leave the house. To drop by and visit the Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium down the street. A place I've always been meaning to swing by on my trips to Palm Springs but for some reason had still yet to visit. After seeing the cactus tunnel and chasing a newly mobile baby around we headed over for burgers between the rain clouds at Tyler's, per Kate's suggestion, and treat. 

The rest of the day saw long naps, lot of dining room doodles and Jenga towers built with careful concentration all over concrete floors. On a rare break from the backyard the kids ventured out front to romp around swelling gutters, pulling leaves and finding small mud soaked sticks to chase each other with as I walked Hayes down the street to let him stomp his own naked feet in and around what thin puddles he could find. 

We ate way too much cheese and drank too many of those fresh berry cocktails, and at the end of the day, counted our blessings in the face of so much needed rain.  When Mike finally arrived it wasn't until the tail end of our weekend but enough to make it worth the long sketchy drive he made after working six days in a row, with his only day off spent there in the desert with us. When all of our big plans for grilled salmon and roasted vegetables for dinner fell by the wayside and we snacked lazily on baguettes stuffed with salami and olives instead. 

In the end, it proved another spectacular weekend for the books. Marked in our memory as the trip in which Leon finally learned to swim, the baby to splash, the clouds and the cousins came to stay and we all sat like drunk and happy ducks in a big warm pool with those sweet smelling desert raindrops settled like a wet blanket overhead.

Many thanks to both Wyndham Vacation Rentals and Vacation Palm Springs for granting us this opportunity. We look forward to checking out other properties down the line. More specifically, before some point in mid October in honor of Mike's birthday celebration, because I can't really think of a better place to ring in 40 than something like this
But as Mike like's to say, "we'll see..."

Until then, we'll be sure and keep the new swimming skills sharp and all of those pretty weekend house possiblites in mind.

Stay Cool Palm Springs.
We promise we'll be back soon.