Could it be a hallucination? The heat that’s affecting my brain? I had been riding for a long time. Apart from the thin line of pavement in front of me, I was surrounded by the arid desert as far as the eye could see. Cracked earth and dry mountains all around. Suddenly, as if in a dream, a small patch of greenery began to appear in the distance. Different colours in the middle of a dry beige ocean. An oasis in the heart of the desert. I had arrived in Palm Springs. A corner of paradise where the sun shines almost every day of the year, well hidden in the middle of the desert and the mountains.
With its unbeatable weather, hot springs bubbling up from the ground and breathtaking scenery, Palm Springs quickly became the destination of choice for Hollywood actors, musicians and artists looking for a quiet spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. The “Mid-Century” period contributed its influence, and still marks the city today, as if it were frozen in the 50s and 60s. A period when Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and many others hired the hottest architects of the time to build their second homes, their corner of paradise. Hotels, “hot springs”, the famous “Swim and Tennis Clubs” were the places regularly frequented by the cream of Hollywood and the most affluent. It is also the place where Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon and where President Kennedy spent several weekends, a few steps away from Marilyn’s home. In Palm Springs, even the McDonald’s still has the golden arches of yesteryear.
When I heard that a group of young chopper and vintage car enthusiasts were organizing an event on the poolside of one of the most beautiful Mid-Century style hotels, I knew right away that it was going to be magical. It was under the thousand colors of Saguaro Palm Springs that Chase Stopnik (HWY L.A., Cycle Zombies), Adri Law (outstanding photographer) and Lanakila MacNaughton (Women’s Moto Exhibit, The Dream Roll) organized the 2019 edition of the Paradise Road Show.
Upon my arrival, I still felt as if I was in a dream. Of course the fact that it was January and that I had left my frigid Quebec City to find myself in the sun had a lot to do with my “mood,” but for me, an enthusiast of all things related to a bygone era, finding myself in this place was the highlight of my trip. Already the architecture and the cheerful colors of the Saguaro were making me drool, but it was when I saw the vehicles parked outside and the people swarming around that I almost passed out. Colourful hot-rods, choppers straight out of the 60s, even the people looked like they came from that time. Just what was in front of the hotel might have satisfied me, but there was more. As I walked in to get to the courtyard, the time travel continued. At that moment, I don’t think I would have been surprised to see Steve McQueen standing at the bar.
Crossing the lobby, I came out by the pool and arrived in front of about fifty choppers, each as unique as the next. A collection of motorcycles that fit perfectly with the theme, all there, under the palm trees and parasols, by the poolside. An image impossible to reproduce anywhere but in California. Industrial quantities of Knuckle and Pan bikes. American motorcycles and western “buidlers” were featured: Jason Jesse, the Stopnik, Al Boy (@blackboard_al), Hawkee Lawshe (@vintagetechnologies) to name a few. Al Boy won the “Best of Show” trophy with his 1956 harley, a magnificent fire red Pan-Shovel. The collection of cars was also impeccable. Several hot-rods, restored classics, led sled, pickup and van, there was something for every taste. Personally, I fell in love with the 1955 Buick with Larry Watson flames that greeted us directly in front of the hotel entrance.
Although motorcycles and cars were the main focus, fans of vintage clothing also got their money’s worth. In fact, of all the motorcycle shows I’ve done, I’ve never seen so many vintage find booths. The second floor of the hotel was dedicated to it and it even extended to a large outside balcony from where you could admire the show from above. Several craftsmen of all kinds sold their work there, including Brian Blakely who could embroider whatever you wanted on your jacket using his old machine. A huge section of the outdoor parking lot was overflowing with unique pieces from the fifties, sixties and seventies. Enough to redo your entire wardrobe without having to spend a month on eBay. Naturally you could also get tattoos from the best traditional tattoo artists in the area. Travelling between the main floor, the second floor and the outside parking lot, the day seemed to fly by in what seemed to me like a couple of seconds. Everyone was relaxed and casual, a California classic. The afternoon was even crowned with a contest where participants had to eat a whole cream pie, without using their hands! People could also enjoy the swimming pools where the party was spreading out.
California, sunshine, palm trees, swimming pools, motorcycles, hot rods and friendly people, what more could you ask for? That weekend I got a taste of what was called “The American Dream,” and I had an amazing weekend. The Paradise Road Show team did an extraordinary job in putting this event together. If you need to get away from reality for a weekend and want a feast for your eyes, I suggest you put the 2021 edition on your calendar!