NOTE: This is Part 2. To start at Part 1, click here.
With two models (Rob and Jonny) and a location (the Santiago Resort) lined up, and a big ugly (but comfortable) Mercury from Avis, I was all set. Bright and early on a Sunday morning, I drove to Santa Monica to pick up Jonny. It was a little chilly in LA but we were hoping it’d be warmer in Palm Springs.
From Santa Monica we headed down Wilshire to the place where Rob was staying, on the eastern edge of Beverly Hills. We found it easily and there was Rob, ready to go. I introduced Jonny and Rob and they shook hands and said hello. This is always kind of a nerve-wracking moment for me, when I’ve set up an excursion or road trip with people who have never met before. I trust my instincts to choose people I’ll get along with, and who’ll get along with each other, and I seem to be good at it—it almost always works out well. As we got in the car and headed down La Cienega to get on the 10 going east for the long drive to Palm Springs, the energy felt good. I was confident that I could set the tone and put everyone at ease and the three of us would have a good time together. That’s important. If the models aren’t having fun, and the photographer’s not having fun, the pictures aren’t gonna be fun either!
This was an adventure for me, too, because I’d never driven from LA to the desert, and I was looking forward to it. The first hour and a half of the drive was boring in terms of the scenery, but interesting because we were all getting to know each other. We got hungry about the time we got to Baldwin Park, so we took an off-ramp at random and wound up near an IHOP, which sounded good to us.
Breakfast was delicious and the 3 of us were already laughing and having fun together. Jonny’s kind of quiet but holds his own in a conversation, and Rob is Mr. Personality, full of energy and always ready to take center stage, but still sensitive to those around him. I was already liking both of them a lot.
From Baldwin Park we got back on the freeway and before long the city was starting to turn into desert, and the mountains got closer and closer. It was a beautiful morning and there wasn’t much traffic, and I was enjoying the adventure.
Even though we’d left over 3 hours earlier, it seemed like we got to Palm Springs quickly. Before I knew it, we were pulling into the Palm Springs Visitor Center to use the bathrooms and check my iPhone GPS for the location of the Santiago Resort. And to take pictures, of course.
From there it was about 10 minutes to the Santiago Resort, which we found easily, thanks to Rob’s navigation. Seriously, he did a great job keeping me from turning the wrong way into one-way streets, etc.
We pulled the big grey boat into a parking space at the Santiago Resort and invaded. And I do mean invaded. The first thing Rob did was take a flying leap at one of the hammocks strung between palm trees–and broke it! This is typical of Rob’s take-a-flying-leap-at-it approach to life, and despite the damage, one of the things I like about him. After apologizing to the manager, we got settled into our rooms.
And beautiful rooms they were. From the moment I arrived at the Santiago, I was impressed with it. The staff were friendly and helpful and the rooms were beautiful! (I’m not just saying that because each room was graced by a framed Simonson, either.) Everything was new and spotless, yet warm and comfortable. And the setting was just as beautiful as I’d hoped.
After we settled in a bit, it was time to go out for lunch—and to explore Palm Springs a bit. We wound up at a place called Bongo Johnny’s, and the food was great (great food seemed to be one of the themes of this trip). Across the street, we found a store called Gaymart (we went in) and another called Bear Wear (we didn’t). Then we went back to the resort. It was time to get those boys naked and get to work!
UPDATE: NOW THERE’S A ROB AND JONNY E-BOOK!
I’ve created an e-book covering the entire Palm Springs experience with Rob and Jonny. It’s called Palm Springs Road Trip, and you can purchase it for instant download (or on CD) in my E-Books Store now.