The Ride Continues
Landing in Palm Springs, I am in the dichotomous Valley of Coachella. Exiting the glitz and glamour of LA, two hours east, this valley paradise is the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente, a band of the Cahuilla Indians. Quiet and calm, Palm springs is dense with sophisticated Mid-Century Modern architecture, sexy palm trees, contrasted with edges of rough sandy desert, spectacular mountain views, and crazy popular burger spots like IN-N-OUT. Streets are named for the Indians as well as every Rat Packer, band leader, and celebrity one may imagine. Many rich and famous have made Palm Springs their playground. Near Palm Springs, in the tiny enclave of Rancho Mirage, former President Obama often plays golf behind the reclusive walls of Thunderbird Estates. Gentle retirees live in gated communities on the edges of vast green golf courses, sheltered by the San Bernardino mountain range. The tony storefronts of El Paseo mimic the likes of LA’s Rodeo Drive. One moment you are awestruck by the natural beauty in which the Cahuilla thrived and then startled by celebrity wealth, the surreal sound of rattling ice and dry martinis at a pool’s edge. I had no idea where I was landing. I just wanted to see a good friend before the intense heat of the desert arrived. While the valley is flat as are many of the pieces of architecture here, this is not a place for heat sensitive folks like me to linger. The Mojave desert temperatures will climb into triple digits by June. I was lucky to visit after an unusually wet spring so the desert was just ending a beautiful blooming season and temperatures were just beginning to rise.
When I woke in the morning, I found myself in a duo tone planet of lush green and desert brown. The Hummingbirds are crazy plentiful, whizzing around working the blossoms of a multitude of spring desert blooms. Birds are loud and busy in the morning air. My friend’s new digs are on the edge of a glistening pool and hot tub surrounded by verdant succulents. Not the golf club variety, James has secured a quiet spot under a magnificent mountain that shelters from storms, and sits like a powerful god watching over his peaceful flock.
I am not sure how we squeezed this junket in but in a typical James Attack Driving Mode we traveled through the San Jacinto mountain range to Idyllwild. The variety of California vegetation here is totally opposite of Palm Springs. The tropical palms gave way to mountain pines. We could be in Colorado given the forest here. We enjoy a small dinner in a campsite like lodge. An electric guitar player serenaded the diners. Another, lovely amazing drive.
Again, as my luck would have it, James is feverishly working on his special project. To continue the development we need to connect up with a leather expert in Laguna Beach. We take the scenic route over multiple mountain ranges. The vegetation at higher altitudes is just completing bloom on the seemingly endless winding two lane hairpin curves. Beautiful vistas bombard us. Ears popping, at least five times, it takes us three and a half hours to arrive in Laguna Beach. We dined on the edge of the water under a mountain park referred to as “The Top of the World”. Dinner was a fun event with a remarkably fascinating couple on a perfect California Coast evening.
Easter Sunday, continues product development, we met the photographer, Rudi Weislein and his beautiful partner, Karnit Aricha, for brunch. I found I am connected to Karnit since she took care of my Kansas City friend, Shaul Jolles, as a child in Israel. The world is such a huge/small place!!! Completely by chance, because it’s close to where James lives, brunch occurred at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club. As it turns out Ace is the hub for one of the largest American music festivals, the world-famous, Coachella. The crowd poured in from the late night event of Lady Gaga’s first time performance of her new hit single, “The Cure”. We were surrounded by beautiful people from around the world. Multiple languages were heard. This was an Easter Sunday to remember with a huge slice of world culture in a Mid-Century Modern Hotel. While I could not have bought a ticket to Coachella, endured the heat, or managed the crowd safely, I gain energy through osmosis and this was an electric place!
On the way out of Ace Hotel and Swim Club we managed to pick up a map and exhibition catalogue for the first Palm Springs art show called Desert X, The Desert Biennial Exhibition of Art. Beginning in February of 2017 the event generated all manner of creative endeavor. I am lucky enough to have visited four of the 16 environmental installations. Two of the sites employed mirrors. These exhibits inhabit my memory like reoccurring dreams.
My new friend Gary and I topped of my more than full Palm Springs tour with a heavy dose of Mid-Century Modern houses. While Gary, James, and I had driven into endless neighborhoods, Gary and I toured 3 model homes in a new subdivision of multi-million dollar houses.
James drove me back to LA that evening to begin the last leg of my amazing trip the next morning. I was sad to leave. I have sooo much more to see & do here.
Check in soon for my Starlight Train ride to Oakland to connect to San Fransisco. More amazing California Dreamin keeps on, keepin on.
Stay Active! We can all do it. For me slow and steady keeps me going.
See you back here soon.
The Fragile Traveler
#Palm Springs #Laguna Beach #Coachella #Mid-Century Modern Houses