Four Days in Palm Desert, CA

golf cart parking only sign

It’s Golf Cart Country!

If you are house sitting Palm Desert, it’s likely you’ll be living on a golf course. At least, that was the case for us. We had stayed at this house previously way back at the start of our house-sitting career, and we enjoyed seeing the homeowners and their dog once again. All three of them are fun, interesting, and lively!palm desert golf course

It’s a peaceful feeling to sit on a back patio looking out over palm trees, gently rolling hills and green grass. I can’t speak for Jim, but I have no interest in golf, I just like the scenery.

palm desert golf course

The To Do List

Our stay was only four-days long, and we had quite a list of things to accomplish. Jim’s computer still wasn’t fixed, and we had to mess around with that. After three weeks we finally got it all sorted out. He also took the Camry in to recheck our muffler as it hangs so low we are continually worried that something is wrong. The mechanic said our car is fine, it’s just how they made that model. 

We also bit the bullet and bought snow chains since we knew we wouldn’t escape the snow at our next stay up in the mountains of Oregon. Jim put them on and drove up and down the street testing them out. They make for a bumpy ride on asphalt. We wondered if we might get lucky, avoid big snow storms, and leave the chains in the trunk all winter. Hey, it could happen. 

large dog looking out over a golf course

Our Canine Pal

In our first post about this fellow, we shared quite a bit, but it was so long ago we’ll add more here. At this point, he was five-years old and still as active as ever. He loved his walks and loved being out on the patio watching all the activity on the golf course. Of course, he did need to be attached to his leash as dogs aren’t allowed to run amok. 

He loved chasing golf balls (he had a collection inside). Any ball that came in his space was a goner – any golfer who tried to retrieve a ball, maybe a brand-new Titleist, ha, good luck with that.  Take a drop, and move on. They’ve not yet made a ball worth arguing over with this fellow.

goldendoodle lying at man's feet

It seemed clear to me that he remembered Jim. I watched him follow Jim everywhere, he even sat at Jim’s feet under the table. 

goldendoodle standing on a couch

Something We Forgot

When we wrote up this post, we suddenly realized we hadn’t documented our other stay with our large Goldendoodle friend in his summer digs in Denver. These homeowners are snowbirds and travel between Colorado and California. They contacted us when we were in Colorado, and it just so happened that our schedule allowed a three-day stay with this fellow.

goldendoodle lying on a couch

His home in Denver was in the building you see below. It was a new experience for us, taking a huge dog down the halls and in the elevator for walks. Jim had a couple of wild and wet adventures during those walks.

highrise in Denver

Visiting the Marriott

Yeah, we decided to see how the other half lived and did a walking tour at the local Marriott in Palm Desert. Correction – it’s not your typical, local Marriott: it’s a massive resort. Once you check in you never need to leave! You can get anything you could imagine right there from food to furs, massages to motorcycles. Amazing place.

resort lake in Palm Desert

Our favorite part was watching the flamingos! The sun presented problems for my photos, but here they are enjoying the afternoon. They had quite a big pool, but at the same time, we both felt a bit sorry for them. What do they do when it’s 110 degrees!

flamingos in water

Inside the main lobby of the hotel, we found a river! People could get in a boat inside the hotel and sail away into the massive ‘river’ outside.

river inside a hotel

A short video of the flamingos!


The only other visit we did was east of us quite a bit – actually up against the western mountain edge of the valley. As we drove towards the mountains, we noticed snow covering the tops.

It was a beautiful sight, but we were just as happy to be down in the valley with warm temperatures and flat roads.

road and snow-covered mountains in the distance

Welcome to Sunnylands!

Most anyone living in Southern California knows of this place built by the Annenbergs: a steady stream of national and world political leaders have gone there for those big-brain, big-name conferences, and maybe a round of golf on their private course. Good for them offering their little place for those get togethers. OK, it’s not little. Sunnylands is the family winter quarters – Philly does get cold you know.

The family has a colorful history: tax evasion charges in one generation, Ambassador to the Court of Saint James the next. You may know them best as publishers of TV Guide. They sold millions of those and with every copy bought someone dropped a dime into the family coffers. Lots of those dimes ended up here in the desert building this incredible estate. Philanthropy was their main line for years, and a family foundation now runs this place with some help from later generations. 

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

After spending time inside the building reading all about the high-society events and prominent individuals who frequent the place, it was time to visit the gardens.

One of the first things you see out back is this massive reflecting pool. I loved it instantly.

reflecting pool at Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

Now For the Gardens

The photo below is looking back at the main building from the west with that huge lawn between.

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

Surrounding the compound are over nine acres of gardens which are different from most botanical gardens. Here, the 70 different species of drought-tolerant plants are not labeled and are placed for the visual and peaceful impact they make on the human eye. They are all arranged in single specimen beds layered to create visual interest through color and texture.

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

The other thing that struck me instantly was these green barked trees; I love them! They have very soft bark and tiny soft ‘leaves.’

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

We walked almost the entire garden snapping photos and getting quite the visual experience. We did not have the place to ourselves, though. It was quite the bustling hub of activity.

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

This whole property has a distinct design traceable to the modernist movement. This much is for sure: it’s peaceful, very pleasant to the eye, with lots of open space. You can easily imagine world leaders walking these paths, looking at these plants, enjoying the symmetry, the order, maybe trying to resolve some troubling issue of the day. It would be a good place for that.  

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

When we first arrived in the garden, it was enjoyable to see all the beautiful and exotic plants. However, after walking for 30 minutes or so, one cactus plant started looking just like the next, which they did.

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

We completed the rounds and departed. It’s a cool place, and if you have a bunch of money to burn you could always tour the main house, I guess. 

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

Wedding Bells From Long Ago

She looked at me; I looked at her – then we drove to Vegas and got married. Of course, that took a dozen years to happen. The point is we’re not very sentimental, about anything – unless there’s a puppy or pony involved. But we have to say this: our hosts, no spring chickens themselves (no offense) had gone off to celebrate his parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Neither of us even knew that was a thing. Good for them by Jove. That’s a rare thing indeed and all respect.

We did a little figuring – if we wanted to have one of those Jim would be a Methuselah like 131 years old. Ah, no thanks. We’re not putting that on the bucket list. Alligator wrestling is more likely, and Jim hates reptiles.

Sunnylands garden in Rancho Mirage

So long to our furry four-legged friend, we’ll see you again some time, maybe in the desert, perhaps in your other home in Denver, who knows. So long to the sun and warmth as well since we’re headed up into the mountains of Oregon! Time to get out the mufflers and mittens.

goldendoodle lying on a couch

What’s Next – A journey

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