Shamrock Tour® - Palm Springs, California

Text: Robert Smith • Photography: Robert Smith, Cheryl Smith, Alston Mabry, Kurt Falkenholt

I have a theory that most males are fascinated by either wheels or spheres. The latter group spends much of their recreational time chasing a ball or watching someone else do the same. The "true" wheel guys share a passion for transportation, and they couldn't care less about RBIs, touchdowns, dunks or golf. It's well known that Palm Springs and its satellite resorts are set up for those birdie chasers, but what's a wheel guy going to do there? Hit the road, of course!

Spit on the desert, they say, and something will grow. In the case of Palm Springs, the spit is the Coachella branch of the All-American Canal, bringing Colorado River water 159 miles from Imperial Dam near Yuma, Arizona. Though made famous in the 1930s as a Hollywood "colony," Palm Springs couldn't accommodate much growth until this steady flow of fresh water arrived in 1949. Now it hydrates and cleanses 300,000 people, keeps the golf courses exceedingly green, irrigates the palm plantations, and tops up the pool at my hotel, the Wyndham Palm Springs on Tarquitz Canyon Drive.

It's Sunday, and Cheryl and I have just ridden in from Phoenix, Arizona on a 2006 Electra Glide Classic from EagleRider Rentals. We find the Wyndham easily and settle into our delightful suite. It's been a long, dry day, and we're both ready for a beer. The Wyndham is close to downtown, so we set off on foot. The Blue Guitar supposedly presents some of the best jazz in town, but as we start climbing the stairs to its patio, we hear, "Sorry, we're just closing." At 6:30pm? A jazz bar??

Okay, so there's The Ale House right across the street, but just as we're taking a seat at the bar, a guy turns us around with another "Sorry!" I'm thinking, this is America - the land of 24-hour, drive-through everything? Had we wandered into a teetotaler's parallel universe? Fortunately, the Wyndham's Oasis pool bar is very much open, and we finally get to wet our road-parched throats.

Day 1: On the Anza Trail
Over breakfast the next morning, I sit programming my test Garmin Quest 2 GPS unit. I'm a GPS newbie, and therefore the best possible "Street Pilot test pilot." It doesn't take me long to understand the basics, but programming my route for the day takes me 10 minutes or so.

The GPS plugs into the Glide's accessory outlet, and I soon become familiar with the commanding tone of the recorded voice. "Turn right!" she demands as we approach the turnoff for Hwy 74 in Palm Desert. Her stentorian tones reminded me of a former British prime minister, so I named her "Maggie," after Mrs. Thatcher. Garmin's announcer has the same irrefutable manner, with no space in this version's digitized vocabulary for molly-coddling terms like 'please'.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2006 back issue.