Thursday, September 25, 2008

Notes From the road. . . part II

I've been out in Palm Springs with Keter and Patricia for the past week, soaking up warm desert sun rays and thinking progressively slower thoughts - but we leave tomorrow for home and I wanted to blog some highlights before returning. For one thing, as soon as I get back to Cincinnati, I have to drive up to Detroit for a promotional event and then to another one up in Ann Arbor. So I have very little breathing space. Better to blog now and not worry about it for a few more days. That's the plan in any case.
We spent the first day here just winding down and getting used to not being on email or the phone. We had some vague plans of getting massages - which never actually happened - and of taking some hikes - which did happen. The days all run together for me right now, but I know we did get to the Living Desert which is right here in Palm Desert. That is a combination botanical garden and zoo. Much fun! We saw some great hawks; watched a couple bobcats playing with each other; etcetera. 

On Sunday, Patricia and I took the car into San Diego to visit my half brother Michael. This was the first time I've seen him since meeting him when he first visited a few years ago. It was good. We met his wife, Cris who seems interesting and intelligent. We enjoyed their house which reminded me of the place we stayed on the slopes above the Loga Magori (?) in Switzerland. It has a great view of the valley and all the way out to the ocean. After lunch with them, we drove on to visit with Patricia's sister Margaret and her family near Mission Viejo. That went well too. It was a good day for making family connections. (I'm not sure if our brief visit to Camp Pendleton had any impact on that.)

Keter talked us into visiting "Shields Date Farm" and trying the date ice cream (thank you, Keter). It was terrific! Not too sweet but very rich and delicious. We have a pint in the freezer at the time share to finish off after dinner tonight. 

I think it was Tuesday that we had planned to take the tram up to the San Jacinto State Park and sniff the butterscotch pines. Unfortunately, we discovered that the tram is down for 
annual maintenance this week, which is a good thing for all those tourists who will be using it for the next year, but not so great for us. So we figured out where the tram would have deposited us and then drove as close as could to that - a beautiful drive up into the San Bernadino Mountains - and then hiked from there for a couple miles up the mountain. On our way, sniffing the amazing butterscotch pines (you have to smell them to believe it!) we encountered a rattle snake under a rock beside the trail and had to work our way around it. The views were amazing. (I will add some photos as soon as I can get them loaded onto the computer. That cord is not with me.)

Yesterday we took the day off. Read out books and dozed pretty much all day. This morning Keter and I headed out to the Joshua Tree State Forest, while Patty stayed behind to work on a paper for her yoga teacher training. Once again, an amazing drive. We went past the air farms at the head of the valley. Over 4,000 wind turbines are located there. Patricia and I like to think of them a huge dharma wheels sending prayers for peace and compassion out to the world. 

Our first hike of the day was the Hidden Valley train. Only a 1 mile loop through great boulders, with several different kinds of lizards, pinion pine, desert oak and - of course - Joshua trees, which feel very good. No particular adventure there. Just a nice walk with great views. 

The second hike - considerably more exciting - was up the Ryan Mountain trail which took us past what we later learned was a mature  Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake. I had just passed it when I heard a short rattle and froze. Keter saw it and urged me to hurry and move past it, then we turned around and she showed 
me where it was hanging out under a low bush. On the way back we carefully worked our way around it without anyone getting hurt. However, I was beginning to wonder what the deal was with two rattlers showing up on our trails. That is still weighing on my mind a bit.

In all, it's been a great time here - thank you, Keter - and a much needed rest. Even though I'm going back to a very busy weekend, I do so pretty refreshed and ready to dive back into it all. I'm even thinking about getting to work on some of my other writing projects. . . .

namaste from the road.