Where Dreams Go to Dry Out

Disney’s desert expansion brings magical thinking to the Coachella Valley.

When I first entertained the idea of leaving Wisconsin in 2020 and buying a home in Palm Springs, I was notified by my realtor that any neighborhoods north of Vista Chino Drive were no-go zones for putting down roots. “Too windy,” he said. The hot flats of the Coachella Valley sit at a low point just east of two major mountain ranges—the San Jacinto and the San Bernardino. The further north you go toward the 10 Freeway, the more likely it is that your patio furniture will end up in the pool. I didn’t heed his advice at first, but after a few failed searches and plenty of sand in my shoes, I found a condo in the South Palm Springs neighborhood known as Canyon Corridor. Experiencing the wrath of haboobs has been scary enough here in my pocket of relative quietude, where houses nestled against the rocky outcrop benefit from some measure of wind protection. Of course, few neighborhoods were spared on August 21, 2023, when Hurricane Hilary flooded the arroyos and the normally dry Whitewater River.

It was on a particularly windy northern plot of land that the historic Palm…

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