13 January 2015

California {50 States of Yoga}

What an incredible first adventure I have had!  2 nights ago I flew to Palm Springs, CA to begin my tour:  50 States of Yoga.  We were met with a red convertible Camaro at the car rental counter and visions of Thelma & Louise danced through our heads!  After checking in at the Caliente Tropics Resort, we met local friends for dinner at Palm Greens Cafe.  If you're ever in the area, it is definitely worth checking out.  Their prices are reasonable and all their food is organic.  They have many vegetarian, vegan, and paleo options, but also offer poultry and meat.  I had the Grilled Pear and Brie sandwich and it was absolutely delicious.

Sunset before landing in Palm Springs.

Look at this ride!

How great is this!?!  Rain dances!
This is the receipt from Palm Greens Cafe.
I loved their spirit there and they're so friendly!

Caliente Tropics Resort

 It was dark when we landed in Palm Springs, and having never been there before, I had no idea what gorgeous scenery would greet me in the morning!  The mountains around Palm Springs are just spectacular!  They were like nothing I had seen before.  At one point we drove up to their edge so we could see what they were made of because they looked so unusual.  The mountains are very large boulders and desert shrubbery.  Just beautiful!

View outside our hotel room - gorgeous pool area and mountains!

On my morning walk, I had these amazing palm trees and mountains all around me.

My main purpose of the trip was, of course, taking a yoga class.  I chose Urban Yoga Center in Palm Springs, CA and took the 8am Eclectic Yoga class with Amy McLaren.  I couldn't have picked a better space or class on this trip.  The studio is beautiful, warm and inviting.  Amy is an experienced teacher who is kind, thorough and gentle.  If I lived in the area, I would definitely return for another class with her.

Street front of Urban Yoga Center

My friend Maggie and me before class.
{Maggie joined me for my inaugural adventure!}

I felt like seeing this Ganesha when I entered the studio space was a sign.

The studio is filled with beautiful statues...

Amy Mclaren and me after class.

After class we grabbed breakfast and coffee at Ristretto, about a block from Urban Yoga Center and recommended by Amy, our yoga teacher.  I got quiche and a hot chai latte.  The quiche was tasty and had a lot of bacon in it.  The chai latte was one of the best I've had - sweet and a little spicy.  We ate our breakfast by the pool back at Caliente Tropics, then headed out onto the open road.

Besides having bizarre interactions with our NAV system {at one point she took us out onto a random back road and left us at her final destination.... a quarry and scrap metal place}, we drove with reckless abandon... top down... wind in our hair.  First stop:  Salvation Mountain.

I'm completely enamored with people and religion, how they interact with their religion, and religious iconography.  So it's only natural that once I heard about Salvation Mountain, it became a must do destination for me.  Leonard Knight is the man behind this monument to God's Love.  You can read his bio and all about the art installation here.  It's a magical place to visit and I look forward to visiting again.

Maggie getting some stray kitty love.

Maggie at Salvation Mountain

Me at Salvation Mountain

Just beyond Salvation Mountain is Slab City.  If you've read or seen Into The Wild you may be familiar with this place.  It's an old military base that has turned into an artist/squatter haven.  The vibe felt very communal and free, but we also weren't there for too long, so I can't really say.  I can say that there was an abundance of trash strewn about the desert there and that made me a little sad.  We spent a little time talking to a local artist there; Sandi has been living in Slab City for 8 years and loves that the vibe is so open and free.  Next time I'm through this area I would like to spend a little more time... maybe even a night or two to take part in their community.

Welcome booth to Slab City.

Exiting Slab City....

From here we headed back towards Palm Springs on Route 111 which runs along the Salton Sea.  This drive is both inspiring and depressing.  The Salton Sea and surrounding vistas are unlike any place I've ever visited.  However the area has suffered greatly from the boom in the 1960s that lead to a heartbreaking bust after bust after bust.  They've experienced floods from great storms that destroyed acres of bustling tourism.  They've suffered from the dying of the Salton Sea - fish that cannot breathe, plagued birds, and the rotten smell of decay.  There are many abandoned homes, deteriorating buildings, and businesses that have been closed for decades.  But the people - they were different.  Everyone we interacted with was kind, friendly, and happy to speak with us.  It was quite beautiful, if not a little heartbreaking, to talk with the locals.

200 feet BELOW sea level

Me being Thelma..... or am I Louise!?!

The Visitor Center is beautiful.
They have a video about the history,
a nature area {great for kids}, and a gift store.

These are fish vertebrate... where you might normally see sand on a beach.

International Banana Museum.... yes, really.
He makes banana milkshakes though that are fantastic!

This is about the end of the road for us.  We headed back to Palm Springs from here to catch our flight home to San Francisco.  If I only take away one thing from this entire trip it is how friendly people are in this area.  Like INCREDIBLY friendly!  Maggie and I just couldn't get over how many people were nice, funny, quick to start conversations with us {strangers!} and genuinely interested in speaking to us.

I had such a great time on my first 50 States of Yoga trip; I don't see how it could get any better in the next 49 states!  I'll be finding out soon enough though... next week I head to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida!

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