Last Saturday was quite a day for the household and this little of oasis called Palm Springs. First the household got a new means of transportation, then we nearly got blown down to Baja by the Wicked Witch of Windstorms. We are all fine and the city will recover.
The started like any other weekend with my impulse to but something. In this case, it was bicycles. We had been talking about getting these for quite sometime, ever since our move across the country from Maryland to California. Large parts of this megalopolis know as the Coachella Valley are flat and you need nothing more than one gear to bike around town. It has been several years since I have had to buy a bicycle and suffered from sticker shock when walking into a local cycle shop and discovering that one speed "Townies" would cost upwards of $400. For that price, I should also get a handsome go-go boy to ride on the back of the bike with his muscled arms cinched around my waste as we cruise through the gayborhood.
After some internet research, a trip to Riverside ensued in which we test drove bikes out of garage of a private home. This man has a wonderful website about things to look for when buying a used bike and he also sells new and used bikes. We would up buying two new bikes from him for a reasonable price and loaded them into the Subaru. This is when my mother, as part of the Mothers Weather Network, called to warn us about the dust and wind warning covering Palm Springs. As we were leaving right then, we felt sure that we would beat the winds.
Driving on the I-10, heading past Morongo, we looked past the twirling giants that guard the entrance to our Shangri-la, and saw the beginnings of dust rising up over the valley, not quite a haboob, but close. Dramatic music began to play off the iPod and a sense of dread permeated the car.
We made it around the base of Mt. San Jacinto with little difficulty and just minor dust flurries briefly obscuring our vision. Downtown Palm Springs was a different story. As we approached we had a blinding gust blow up around us and the entrance to the tram. The next problem was the traffic jam at the beginning of downtown that extended into the Uptown Design District. We turned off to get around it and had flying pieces of artwork from the art festival to deal with. Those poor artists lost tents, artwork, and much more from the damage that was immediately visible. As we passed undeveloped blocks of Indian land on our way home, these gusts, which topped 65 miles per hour, would obliterate views of the block and I would have to almost come to a complete stop for fear of running into a car or pedestrian in front of me.
Upon returning home, we watched as our swimming pool and hot tub, both began to look like we pumped water from the Louisiana bayous to fill them. Ficus leaves, palm bark, dust and sand covered everything. We were lucky though, our carport did not collapse, nor did anything fall on our car nor our house. Others in the community did not share our luck.
The cleanup around the house, thanks to the gardeners and pool people, is mostly complete. According to locals, while this was the worst they had seen n a few years, windstorms like this happen about twice a year. We can deal with this. We just have to remember to lay low, not go out, and look for flying witches and Cairn terriers in baskets.