The Desert, CA
After dumping our tanks in Malibu and safely navigating the PCH one last time, we hit the 10 and headed east towards the Coachella Valley. Most of the desert cities (e.g. Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta) are lovely towns full of lush golf courses, ample dining options, plenty of interior design showrooms, and well manicured streets--really the perfect place to spend a couple weeks. Desert Hot Springs, where we ended up docking, is not.
Due to a “minor” miscommunication, we were forced to book a last minute spot, and the only one available was a KOA with a less than desirable address. The site itself was great. Friendly staff. Clean facilities. Plenty of space to stretch our legs. Mini bikes for rent. Locked gate. Ice cream sandwiches at the check-in office. Etc. The surrounding 15 miles, on the other hand... Have you ever seen “Seven,” with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman? You know the last scene? With the box and the dirt road and the wrath? Yeah, that’s basically what Desert Hot Springs looks AND feels like.
Other than that, our stay in the desert was a great one. We knocked out a couple hikes in Joshua Tree. Two more in Indian Canyon. Finally paid a visit to Pioneer Town. Spent quality time with family. Found Sam’s new favorite shrimp tacos. Bought a new 8" Shun just cause. Finally Walbernized Boat (more details in a future post--it wasn't hard, per se). Gained a new appreciation for a dry heat. And, most importantly, I made good on a promise to my wife.
Several years before we started our adventure with a boat and a dog, I told Sam that if Garth Brooks ever went back on tour, we would catch one of his stops regardless of location or cost--thinking to myself that it would never happen and the associated brownie points were too easy to pass up. Well, I got the points, and last summer when the 2018 Stagecoach lineup came out, Sam got Garth.
If you haven’t heard of it, Stagecoach is the country music equivalent of Coachella and is held at the same venue. Think less Beyonce and more guys in jeans, boots, cowboy hats, and no shirts. There’s a giant ferris wheel. Plenty of beer and bbq to go around. Security was friendly, if not helpful. And from what we were told, it’s a pretty big deal if you get to play there.
We had tickets for all three days and technically attended each of them, but we don’t have the stamina that we used to. Friday started for us at 7pm when Cody Jinks hit the Palomino stage, and ended at 9:30pm when we called my cousin to come pick us up. Florida Georgia Line was headlining at 10:15pm, but we only know that one song of theirs and we were tired. After a hike and low-key Saturday afternoon we hit the grounds around 6:30pm, ready to make a night of it. Brothers Osborne did not disappoint and we heard Keith Urban put on a great show--we left at 9pm. On Sunday we made a conscious effort to nap for a few hours and not do anything strenuous during the heat of the day. By 8pm we were rested and raring to go--we only had to kill an hour or so, Garth went on at 9:15pm.
I’ve told various versions of this story, and in each one I’ve poked fun at country music and bemoaned the notion that I only went to Stagecoach because I “had” to. Because I “promised.” The truth of the matter is that I f*cking love Garth Brooks. When I was a kid, I had two tapes that were always in the Walkman rotation: Digital Underground’s, Sex Packets and Garth’s, Ropin’ the Wind. I don’t remember all of the words to Humpty Hump, but I can still belt out every line of “Rodeo,” “Papa Loved Mama,” and “Shameless.”
As for the show, Garth checked every box. Played every song we wanted to hear. Made the crowd feel like he was just as excited to be there as we were to have him. He crushed. The man just knows how to entertain and we had a blast.
While we’ll never stay in Desert Hot Springs again, we’ll happily return to the Coachella Valley and run back the whole two weeks.