Palm Desert is such a pretty town but strange. The majority of habitants are only part time dwellers. When I asked what percentage of the people in this town live here on a permanent basis, I was told about 20 per cent. The rest are seniors with the median age being about 75.
It is so strange to walk into a restaurant, look around and see a reflection of your aged face. This face can be plainly old or “glamorous.” To see an old face framed by a mane of blond hair, with enough make up that a drag queen would be proud is an amusing sight.
I remember once reading a science fiction book where the old people were put in just such a town only to be eliminated after a period of some months.
The actual town consists of enclaves of fenced and secured houses or condos. These secured places are often called clubs. These have at a minimum, a golf field. Often the clubs have tennis courts and, of course, all these gated communities have swimming pools. All the enclaves are meticulously maintained. The entries are artistically landscaped with desert cacti and plants, and sculptures; the most expensive clubs have ostentatious displays of water fountains and cascades.
The streets are very clean. The bigger roads have landscaped medians featuring a variety of cacti, from round pillow-shaped to agaves to spiky tall cacti. And of course, palm trees. The outside of the fence of the gated communities is also landscaped and maintained.
Such perfection in a town is unnerving. It is a Disneyland for seniors.
Among the many things that to me seemed odd or unusual about Palm Desert are the lawns; specifically the lawns in the golf areas. The grass is not only without weeds but is of such a vibrant green emerald color that it leads me to believe that a group of cards from Alice in Wonderland, brush and paint in hand go to every golf course to paint the blades of grass in green.
Another oddity are the bus stop benches. They must have been designed by an award winning architect since they are pieces of public art, each different from another and each designed in an unconventional form. It is easy to spot these bus stop, partly because of the unusual design, and partly because no one is waiting at these bus stops.
Are there buses in Palm Desert? Yes. In the three days that we stayed in Palm Desert, we saw a bus, once. Sort of like the elusive desert road runner.
One more thing to mention about this unreal place: for all its tennis courts, golf, spas and other places of rejuvenation and well being, no one walks. Very early in the morning, there may be the few eccentrics who go for a walk but, after 7am, they all disappear. I realize that after 11am it does get hot, but til then you ‘d think more people would be walking around. People are either shopping where it is air conditioned or eating or home. All these places are air conditioned.
I have a hunch that the entire city is under a germ and dirt free dome. It seems as real a town as Velveeta is to cheese.