July 29, 2014

Photo Essay: Palm Springs Country Club, Abandoned (Circa 2009)

I remember this day, and this place, well. I don't know why I haven't written about it til now.

I've got Palm Springs on my mind. I miss the desert. I miss traveling. I miss the danger and the openness and not caring how how it got.

On this day in July 2009, it was reaching peak summer heat in the low desert. I swear it was 125ยบ out. I hadn't been that hot since Morocco.

I'd acclimated to the desert pretty well over the past three weeks that I'd been there, managing to entertain myself on a daily basis and work freelance, even finding the perfect thing to do for the 4th of July – a Palm Springs baseball game and fireworks. In fact, I found myself more and more frequently in Palm Springs rather than Joshua Tree where I was staying, despite the fact that it was 10 to 15 degrees hotter down there in the Coachella Valley.

When I opened up my rental car door, on one of those rare days when I actually used the A/C, the afternoon air burned my skin upon contact, like it feels when you stick your face into an open oven door to check on something you're broiling at very high heat. I was certain I was going to be cooked out there, but I'd been looking for some solitude in Palm Springs, and I thought I'd find it at the abandoned country club.

Palm Springs has plenty of abandoned gas stations and warehouses and other roadside relics, but this was something I could really explore on my own for a while.

If I didn't get caught.

If I could stand the heat.

I remember sailing kind of quickly through the property, eyeing the trucks that were parked next door, attuned to the sound of workers nearby. I was wearing a dress and carrying a tiny camera to look innocent enough, but I was an inexperienced urban explorer, and worried about getting into trouble.

I was an inexperienced urbex photographer, too, and although I got a couple of lovely shots, many of them are purely to document the area and aren't exactly artful. Maybe that's why I didn't post them at the time.

If I'd had longer there, I could've done better.

But, five years later, it's an interesting flashback for me artistically....and emotionally.

Since the gate was locked, I think I got in through the broken fence.

The photo of the golf score card was the only one I'd published previously (on my photo blog).

It was amazing to find any signage or ephemera not pillaged by scavengers.

There were these memorial plaques at the foot of some of the palm trees.

Public records indicate that Rudy Santoyo died alone in Palm Springs in 1997 at age 74, with no family. But he had his golfing buddies.

The architecture of the club was typical Mid-Century Palm Springs.

There were no cars...

...but clearly the "No Trespassing" signs had been ignored...

...and not only just by me.

Anyone know what this place looks like now? I found some photos online circa 2011 when it was still abandoned (and weirdly grassy) but haven't been able to figure out an update over the last three years...

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