When from a meandering desert road you catch sight of always-sunny Palm Springs, a prestigious Californian resort town and the world's golf capital, it seems as though you're looking at a mirage.
Who would have thought that a little town, with a population of 45,000 people, would attract an astounding 3.5 million visitors per year? People come to lounge under the palm trees or to see the Walk of Stars, paved with over 300 acclaimed names, among which the most eye-catching is surely the name of a long-time Palm Springs resident, who is celebrated not only in the streets but also in souvenirs--the legendary Frank Sinatra.
Don't be surprised if you run into Tiger Woods in one of the town's restaurants. The Coachella desert valley boasts over 100 golf courses, and you can admire the Santa Rosa Mountains stretching around the valley, during a game of tennis at one of the numerous tennis courts.
But that's not all this cosmopolitan resort has to offer. Palm Springs is home to the oldest wind farm in the States, which provides energy to around 300,000 homes. The San Gorgonio Wind Park features over 3000 wind turbines, with the oldest models dating back to 1980. The secret lies in their location. Heat rises from the desert, creating low pressure, and clashes with the cold air from the Pacific Ocean. Wind, with speeds of up to 80 miles per hour (approximately 129 km/h), is just 5 miles per hour (8 km/h) short of a first category hurricane, as it blasts over the San Gorgonio mountain pass. Strong wind speeds during the summer months produce the most electric energy throughout the year. Operating at a capacity of 615 MW, the 3000 wind turbines generate around 893 GWh. Together with the Tehachapi Pass and Altamont Pass regions, San Gorgonio accounts for almost 95% of wind-generated electric energy for all of California, and about 11% of the world's wind energy.
If you're a wind energy enthusiast, you can go on a two-hour educational trip, where you will find out more about the regional geology, the turbine development and planning, the difference between the old and modern wind turbines, the energy conversion and also about what happens when there's no wind. The additional wildlife spotting, and a picturesque view of the vegetation unique to the terrain, is guaranteed to make your experience unforgettable. Start your journey with a local bus, powered by natural gas, and you will enter and exit the world of nature with a clean conscience and without a carbon footprint.
The SunLine Transit Agency is one of the first American agencies to swap their entire fleet of diesel-fueled buses with natural gas buses, and there are more than 40 of them driving across the Coachella Valley. But if public transport isn't your cup of tea, then a Honda NSX will be a good choice of ride.