Every March, Beau and I pack ourselves off to Palm Springs. To my mind, the main selling point of this desert oasis is that there isn’t anything to do there. I mean, there are some things. But not many. The restaurants worth visiting can be counted on one hand. The shops are mainly full of touristy kitsch. There are two small museums.
I’m sure the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism would enthusiastically point out that there is a tram that scales the side of a mountain, there are numerous golf courses and pristine tennis courts, there are mid-century modern architectural gems scattered over the valley. And all of this is true. But somehow, none of it is very compelling.
Maybe my Seattle brain becomes addled by the rays of desert sunshine beaming down on my head. Maybe the temperatures in the mid to high eighties induce a sort of stupor I am incapable of resisting. Whatever the cause, when I arrive in Palm Springs the desire I feel in Paris or Lisbon or San Francisco to explore and seek out the latest and greatest simply evaporates.
Which is why I adore this sleepy resort town.
It is the perfect venue for what I like to call the Total Unplug. The Total Unplug involves going to bed when I’m tired and waking when well-rested rather than when an alarm on my phone tells me to. It involves early morning hikes on several of the Coachella Valley’s many gorgeous mountain trails. It involves road trips to Cabazon past the dinosaurs made famous in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure to eat at In-N-Out Burger (which, by the way, is as amazing as everyone says). Most of all, it involves lots of lounging by the pool while reading, napping and sometimes even just staring at the palm trees swaying overhead.
Our hotel has a no-cell-phones-by-the-pool-policy, which forces me to stop checking my email and social media every two seconds. Getting enough sleep allows me to recharge in a way that feels unattainable at home. Everything about Palm Springs conspires to promote a magnificent laziness in me. And this laziness allows me to reflect on the state of affairs in my Seattle life and realize that staying up until 3am obsessing over which of the hundreds of rugs I’ve pinned will be just right for our new living room (for example) might not be the best use of my time.
Palm Springs itself is a balm for the overworked, overconnected, urban soul. But should one require a more powerful mental palliative, I recommend a visit to the Saturday farmers market to pick up a basket of fragrant citrus and a stop at the Rite-Aid for a bottle of tequila. Once back at your hotel room, you can mix up a first-rate margarita that should dispel any lingering stress or desire to check your Feedly.
Luckily enough, you don’t even have to be in Palm Springs to enjoy a margarita and a moment of relaxation. Though I highly recommend the Total Unplug, even a Mini Unplug should lift your spirits. To help you on your way, I’m sharing a recipe for Grapefruit-Sage Margaritas. Now that I’m home, this drink reminds me of the bright Southern California sun and the desert lavender that was in full bloom during our trip. Despite its name, it smells to me like a heady mix of ripe grapefruit and dusky sage. When I first smelled it, I immediately knew I needed to translate it into a cocktail that would transport me back to desert hikes among the wildflowers and a Palm-Springs state of mind. I’m hoping that as I transition back into the day-to-day, mixing up a pitcher of these margaritas once in awhile will help me remember to sit down, unplug and just watch the trees swaying in the breeze.
- 4 tablespoons mild honey
- 10-15 large sage leaves, sliced, plus extra for garnish
- 1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/4 cup tequila (preferably reposado or añejo)
- About 2 tablespoons medium-coarse sea salt, for the rim
First, make the honey-sage simple syrup: Place the honey, sage and two tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. (Alternately, you can heat the honey, sage and water in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until it bubbles.) Set aside to steep for 5 minutes then strain to remove the sage. Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to assemble the margaritas, dip a q-tip in the honey-sage simple syrup and run it around the rim of your glasses (or use your finger). Place the salt on a small plate then roll the honeyed rim of your glasses in the salt. Fill the glasses with ice.
In a large shaker, combine 1/4 cup of the simple syrup, the grapefruit juice and the tequila. Fill about halfway with ice. Shake for 30 seconds then strain the margaritas into glasses. Garnish each with a sage leaf and serve immediately.
Makes 4 drinks.