Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Southern California State Of Mind

From Outdoor Resort, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, California         Our six week stay here is winding down. I am sad and really hate to leave. What a great place! What beautiful weather! Time has flown.

In addition to our visit to Joshua Tree National Park, the San Andreas fault and the Palm Springs Air Museum -- about which I've already posted, there were dozens of fun experiences I haven't recorded yet. I'll include some of them here.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we rented a golf cart to use in the resort and it was a good decision since the property is huge with 1,213 campsites, dozens of spas, pools and tennis courts, twenty-seven golf holes and two enormous clubhouses. Almost everyone here uses a golf cart for everything -- except golf as the courses are playable by walking only.

Lots of wheels around our campsite. 
Pam and Ernie rented a golf cart too -- theirs from our neighbor Bob "Tex" Summers who, while he is retired a couple of times over, seems to always have a fleet of golf carts around and occasionally rents to people he gets to know and likes.

Our neighbor, friend, golf cart supplier, actor, host, chef, tour guide and all round good guy, Bob "Tex" Summers.
Despite the finger, this is NOT Uncle Sam. 

Pam and Ernie's first golf cart. We called it "the sedan"

We've had lots of fun with Pam and Ernie's golf cart rental experience. The one in the picture above was delivered without notice on their first day in the resort. Two days later, Bob replaced it with another one that looks just like this except with chrome rims, seat belts and a better windshield. A couple of weeks after that, Bob exchanged the second cart for a third one... a snazzy silver job with over sized wheels and radio!  That one lasted but a few days because Bob sold it! The fourth golf cart has an air conditioner. I hope it's the last one they get because if there's another, I fear it will be a limousine.

Pam and Ernie "catting around" in their third golf cart.
We played some golf during our stay here, but not as much as I had hoped. The courses at ORPS are all walking courses -- one 18 holes; the other is 9 -- both par 3 courses. I try to be discreet but must take a few pictures while we play.

Wayne T's off on Hole #1 at ORPS while Ernie looks on. 

Pam after her warm up swings at ORPS. Ready to hit! 

Ernie's turn to swing while Wayne looks on at ORPS

Tahquitz Creek Legends Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus

Wayne strikes at  the Tahquitz Creek Legends course

Late afternoon shadows looking out from the patio bar at Tahquitz Creek Legends Golf Course

Pam and Ernie putting at ORPS. Campers in the background

ORPS... At the T. Pam, Wayne and Ernie. 

Pam is ready to sink another long putt at ORPS

A hot afternoon on the course.
Wayne and I resigned from play to serve as photographer and cheerleader. 
A second round of 18 at Cimmaron Country Club's Pebble Course

A beautiful scene for a toasty 85 degrees on the course this day.

The four of us spent at least one afternoon looking at motorhomes around the Coachella Valley but weren't motivated to consider trading for anything we saw. It's always fun to browse though.

My birthday rolled around, as it always does during this month. We kicked it off with breakfast at Panera where I was surprised with the official birthday tiara, cards and a sweet little gift from Pam and Ernie.

Me in my birthday tiara showing my card and gift.
My birthday celebration continued throughout the day and winded down with dinner at Shame On The Moon on Frank Sinatra Boulevard in Palm Desert. The restaurant's traditional menu was just half of the intrigue. The other half was the very obvious gay clientele. Never mind that.... I was the queen of our table... complete with tiara.

Birthday dinner at Shame On The Moon 

The four of us took a couple of pickle ball lessons here at the resort which was great fun until the afternoon temperatures reached upwards to the high 80's.

There are many casinos in the area. Pam and Ernie enjoyed a few outings but I don't recall a report of any great winnings.

A really cool afternoon at Fantasy Springs Casino

In a recent post, I mentioned that we stopped in at the Yucca Palms Ford dealer on our way to Joshua Tree National Park to see a nice bright red pickup truck. That truck was a purchase for Pam and Ernie. Congratulations!

New truck owners, Pam and Ernie 
In mid-February we attended a show by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. Frankie Valli is now 81 years old, but his falsetto voice is still remarkably good... or maybe not. There are many (in seats close to the stage) who swear his part is not "falsetto" but "false" as in that it's mostly lip-syncing these days.  Our seats were terribly far back so we wouldn't know either way. 

In other news.... Barack Obama came to Palm Springs in February to host a gathering of Southeast Asian leaders at the Sunnylands retreat in nearby Rancho Mirage which is, as the crow flies, less than four miles from our campsites here at ORPS. We heard the president stayed at Thunderbird Country Club, a community where former President Gerald R. Ford and his wife, Betty, owned a home.  Air Force One sat on the tarmac at Palm Springs Airport during the days of the visit -- posing for our photos, I think.

Air Force One. Soon to be replaced, I am told by my Wichita friend, Charlie, who knows such stuff.

Outdoor Resort Palm Springs has been a wonderful experience during our six week stay - late January and all of February. Most of the people who come here are from the western side of the USA and Canada. Everyone here has been super friendly.

Hard to believe this is desert. 

Wayne walking Lexie and Ozzie outside the resort gates on Ramon Drive in Cathedral City

Looking west past the resort entrance on Ramon Drive, Cathedral City.
Snow remains on Mount San Jacinto in the background even though the temperature here is reaching 90. 

Another lovely view as the sun sinks behind the Mount San Jacinto.
This shot was taken on Valentines Day evening

Acres and acres and acres of these windmills.
They all have red lights on top that give an eerie view to drivers coming down the mountain at night.

My best shot at the moon.
Our site is on the right. Wayne is standing beside our truck.

One of the streets at ORPS. 

Another street and walkway at ORPS 

One day, during lunch at a local favorite, Babe's Barbecue in Palm Desert, we ran into a young man from our hometown in Tennessee. We enjoyed exchanges names and places with Jacob who came to southern California to pursue a career in comedy... for good reason. He was quick and witty -- also a good waiter.

Pam and Ernie at the bar in Babes

Wayne with his microbrewery sampler at Babe's.
The fellow beside his is the bartender, not Jacob from Tennessee. 

My lunch at Babe's..... delicious smoked chicken salad, sweet potato fries and strawberry lemonade. 

Jacob and Wayne attended the same school, though under different names in far different times. 

Our dessert at Babe's  -- delicious homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Best. crust. ever. 

In early February I resumed the morning walks I abandoned last year... again. During my walks, I pass pleasantries with so many walkers, riders, runners, dog walkers and golfers. The scenery is downright beautiful and I've captured so many fine photographs. Here's an example

Ahhhh.  Beautiful walking scene of Mount Jacinto. 
Downtown Palm Springs has a Walk of Stars along Palm Canyon Boulevard. Stars that look like those in Hollywood, for a variety of folks who have lived and/or played here. For more information on whose star is in Palm Springs, check this Palm Springs Walk of Stars Link.

After hearing our friend Bob's recommendation, the four of us attended the downtown Palm Springs Street Fair on our last Thursday evening here in the Coachella Valley.  A light, early dinner upstairs at Matchbox kicked off a warm evening walk down the street which is now closed to vehicle traffic.

A look across the table toward Pam from my plate of twin mini-sliders with onion straws. 
The Palm Springs Street Fair was very well attended. So well, in fact, that walking presented a challenge. Hundreds of booths selling everything from Artwork to Zamfir pan flute music. We tasted toffee, dates and rugula while we tested hand cream and air fresheners. Lamps and henna tattoos, rugs and hats, music and vacations were available to purchase. A bit of everything was there. We bought nothing but had a good time. The most amusing display was this very large man playing a base fiddle that had been severely altered. The music was weird but not as weird as the fellow in the suit.

"When the aliens come, they will come to me...." was his chant.

We are down to the wire now but hope to return for another winter.

Goodbye yellow brick road.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bob's Pig Sticks

From Outdoor Resort, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, California        One of the most important and enjoyable aspects of life as retired full-time RV travelers is the making of RVing friends.  Here at ORPS, we've met, and like, all our immediate neighbors. John and his wife (whose name I forget and who speaks very little English) from Los Angeles on our left, Jamie, Megan and their two teenage children who come just for weekends are on our right. Behind us, Margie and Russ have been wintering here from Washington since ORPS opened thirty-five years ago. Directly across the street from us, Helen and her dog Chula, are here year 'round. Bob "Tex" and his wife, Mary Ellen, just a couple of sites up and across from us, are here all the time too. It's a nice mix of ages and RV lifestyles.

Bob wearing his Popeye t-shirt in his outdoor kitchen 

Sweet Mary Ellen
Bob and Mary Ellen invited Helen, Pam, Ernie, Wayne and me over for Bob's special barbecue pig sticks (pork ribs) this week. I made my usual big green salad and Pam baked a cake using her Mom's delicious recipe.  The four of us had finished 18 holes of golf that afternoon so we arrived just in time to rush over, still sweaty and pretty tired with our dinner contributions. We were greeted by our host and hostess, Helen and Chula and three other people who were new to us. Mike was a very nice fellow from Minnesota.  Wendy and her younger sister, Barb stopped by for a chat and stayed on for dinner.  This is the kind of people we meet here. It's nice and casual and friendly and impromptu.  I can't find enough good adjectives to describe Bob and Mary Ellen's genuine hospitality. Such nice people.

Property owners here take great pride in their outside living areas. Bob and Mary Ellen are no exception, and quite possibly have the nicest outside RV living area I've seen. It's a space more than double the size of their fifth-wheel coach, the deck covered in large tile, the space decorated with wall hangings, comfortable furniture, lush plants, twinkling lights, fireplaces, umbrellas, a wooden deck and complete kitchen.

Bob and Mary Ellen's retreat, complete with the Texas star. 

Mary Ellen, me and Helen

Pam and Ernie cozy and full of ribs

The Wayner and me... oh so rested. 
Bob's Pig Sticks were scrumptious, as were the accompanying baked beans, salad and cake. Unable to eat at the late hour, Mary Ellen packed extra ribs for Wayne to eat the next day.  After dinner, we returned to the comfortable seating area and enjoyed Mike's guitar playing and singing.

Pictures say the rest.....

Mike breaks into a song...

Bob breaks into song 

Chula breaks into song. 
This is hospitality.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tour of Palm Springs Air Museum With Friends

From Outdoor Resort Palm Springs, Cathedral City, California        Our neighbor, Bob "Tex" Summers, from whom Pam and Ernie rented their golf cart, is a docent at nearby Palm Springs Air Museum. Bob (as we call him) invited us to join him for a tour of the museum today. Always interested in military history, Wayne and I were thrilled to receive the invitation and accepted without a moment's hesitation.  We agreed to meet at the museum's entrance when the doors opened at 10 a.m.

Bob was waiting at the Palm Springs Air Museum door to greet us.

CNN Travel named Palm Springs Air Museum one of the top 14 aviation museums in the country with it's three hangars displaying aircraft from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The first stop for our visit today was the Pacific Theatre Navy Hangar where, in addition to seeing the Avenger, Corsair, Dauntless and Invader, we saw the floor to ceiling Pacific WWII map and beautiful artwork.

Bob giving a summary of the Pacific war using this giant floor to ceiling map.

The North American AT6 / SNJ Texan behind Wayne was modified to look like a Japanese 'zero' and used in the movie "Pearl Harbor".   Paintings by American artist Stan Stokes. 

The first hangar also held a traveling display of Vietnam POW bracelets and a wall of Prisoners of War photographs. The bracelet of Senator John McCain was in the display.

The traveling display of POW bracelets in the cabinet behind where Pam, Bob, Wayne and Ernie are standing.  The chronological display of POW photos are displayed on the wall before them. 

The North American AT6 / SNJ Texan trainer.... like the one modified to look like a Japanese plane.
Our next stop was on the museum's tarmac where Bob took pictures of us with the museum hangar in the background and then one with the mountains in the background.

This McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II  is a multi-service twin-engine, all-weather fighter-bomber flying concurrently for the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. This one came to Palm Springs Air Museum in 2012 and I heard it is currently for sale. Weird... Who sells, and more importantly, who buys such things?

Ernie, Pam, me and the Wayner with the Palm Springs Airport and the beautiful Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains in the background.

Ernie, Wayne and Pam examine a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter with veteran pilot autographs by the cockpit window.
The next hangar featured exhibits of the European Army WWII.  Bob introduced us to Jim Flanagan, a veteran of the war in Europe and another docent of the museum. Mr. Flanagan's stories were fascinating and colorful. He had been friends with several of the pilots of the planes in the hangar. 

Mr. Flanagan told us the story about how the Japanese feared sharks during the days of the war. When American pilots learned this they painted shark jaws and teeth on their planes. I never knew that interesting fact about the origin artwork on the Curtiss P40 Warhawk

A B-25 Mitchell Bomber

This Republic P47 Thunderbolt was given the nickname of this pilot's wife, according to Mr. Flanagan. The original artwork was a nude. A swimsuit added for the benefit of public showing.
The museum is a common destination of elementary school field trips. 

Bob took this picture of Ernie, Pam, Mr. Flanagan, me and Wayne standing alongside this B-17 Flying Fortress.

A final stop at the museum was to meet an artist named Chris Demarest. Around his workspace, rows of paintings of servicemen and women hang on the walls. For more than two years, Chris Demarest has travel around the country, painting portraits from photographs at libraries, museums and retirement homes. He started the project as a tour, but now he calls his work a "journey".  I wish I had taken time to talk more with him about his work.

Wayne, me, Pam and Ernie standing behind Chris Demarest and his latest work of art. 
Our Palm Springs Air Museum tour ended with the purchase of a new air museum shirts from the gift shop. The five of us went on to Tyler's in Palm Springs for lunch. Delicious hamburger sliders, cole slaw and french fries washed down with some kind of special raspberry tea. I'm sorry I didn't snap a picture of the cafe or the food.  All the while Bob never yeilded his role as a local ambassador, telling us about the Palm Springs street fair every Thursday evening.  The four of us plan a return to downtown Palm Springs later this week to see it for ourselves