Desert Living, Two Days At A Time
Back at home with a very happy puppy now. Diego hadn’t been boarded in about a year, and I guess he was none too happy being left behind this weekend.
Even without Diego being there though, Palm Springs rocked. Great food, great people, great tan lines. No disasters. Had plenty of pool time to think about thirty years of visits to the area, with mostly pretty fond memories. Finished the second Sookie Stackhouse book, and even had the opportunity to see Adam West’s star on Palm Canyon Drive after my morning latte this morning. Yes, my life is full.
While life was good at the resort where Spinner’s convention was being held, have to admit things didn’t look great for the town. I know that business there is cyclical, and very linked to tourism, but I’ve never seen so many empty storefronts there before. Not just the little retailers and restaurants but the empty auto lots that used to support some pretty high-end markets. This is supposed to be the high season – many smaller retailers routinely close there for the summer. Early spring should be bustling though, but you couldn’t tell it from the night life. Foot traffic on Friday evening was almost non-existent, and parking might have been the easiest I’ve ever had it there.
Escondido’s been depressed for so long that maybe I’m becoming used to the closures as the new status quo, but seeing how far Palm Springs has fallen since my last visit 4-5 years ago was shocking to say the least. Almost as shocking as California’s new official unemployment rate of 12.6%. Hopefully California won’t be a trendsetter for the rest of you in these areas, but be warned.
It’s official now. I’m 41 years old. The little roadtrip went well, despite some bad weather.
Long Beach was a blast and started out with a late breakfast at at Chuck’s Coffee Shop, across the street from the swim complex. Great food and great service with an overflow crowd of swimmers and others there for the meet. The name of the place didn’t hurt matters either – it was a nice way to start off my birthday.
I saw the prelims from Day 3 of the four day Pac 10 Men’s Swimming Championships. Many pictures were taken and many ‘Go Bears’ were yelled. I put some of the pics up at the Vista gallery; I was happy with the results but still have some work to do on getting comfortable with the timing and autofocus on the new Canon. I read this morning that Cal ended up coming in second place. Oh well, still had a great time, better luck next year.
Pongo and I were in Palm Springs Saturday and Sunday. Rain on Saturday, but Sunday was beautiful and I got some pool time in before heading out to meet the parents for a great lunch on the way back to San Diego.
Had a good time in Palm Springs (good people, food, drinks, etc.), but the Pongo-friendly motel I’ve stayed at this visit, and my last few visits as well, definitely seems to be in decline. Time to start looking around for a new place where he can watch his puppy pornAnimal Planet while I enjoy the desert community.
I’m still going through the pics from Saturday and Sunday and will probably not finish until tomorrow.
The cell phone’s
been turned off battery died. The last work documents have been uploaded over their slow-as-molasses dial-up connection. The professional week is over.
Roadtrip plans have been bouncing around a bit, but the current goal is to cheer for Cal at the Pac-10 Swimming Championships tomorrow then head out to Palm Springs with Pongo and chill for a few days. I’ve been using the new camera a lot and getting much more comfortable with it, so expect lots of pics from both legs of the mini-vacation.
I’d love to be posting something political about the court’s decision to force Jose Padilla to be either charged or released, or maybe some insightful but slightly paranoid rant about the coincidence of a new bin Laden threat being announced on the same day as that ruling.
But really, while truth, justice and the ‘merican way are all muy high on my list, the only thing I’m really caring about right now is getting out of town for a three-day SoCal birthday roadtrip. Me, Pongo and the iPod’s roadtrip playlist blaring through Nissantruck’s stereo. Getting the left arm all tan and letting Pongo pretend he’s flying as we celebrate my 41st. If you’re interested in joining us and will be in the Palm Springs area this weekend, have your girl call our girl. Attorney-client privilege will be extended to all birthday related
Staying at home?
We were planning to go out to the desert and decompress a bit this weekend. Me and Pongo – no phone, no internet, some sun and fresh air. Unfortunately, because the cubedwellers got the after-hours pager rotation schedule out late, I tried to make reservations late, and now Riverside County Fair attendees seem to have taken all the rooms in Palm Springs.
Maybe we’ll go up the coast instead. Or maybe we’ll just save money until my birthday in March and go then. Getting older again (41 this time). Maybe someone will hang out poolside with me for a couple of days and make me feel young again. That would be a good birthday gift.
But in a day of wierd news seemingly designed to increase anxiety levels, things like Crazy Korean Kids with Big Bombs and the theft of what little privacy I have left after nearly four years blogging, there was goodness. A possible vaccine for prostate cancer. Well, that and a pint of Macademia Brittle. Life is good.
Little Road Trip
Pongo and I spent the last two days touring some of my old stomping grounds out around Palm Springs. I needed to get away from things and focus on some of my issues, and Pongo’s tail was wagging for a roadtrip, even to a desert that makes his african birthplace’s weather look downright temperate. Many old memories came bubbling to the surface for me.
I’ve been visiting Palm Springs off and on since I was 16 (1980 for those of you who didn’t read my bio page). That was the first summer that I worked for a Girl Scout summer camp (Camp Joe Scherman) in the nearby San Jacinto mountains. I visited the desert oasis a lot during those five summers, and every few years or so since then.
One of the things I enjoy about the city is that it doesn’t change much and always seems familiar. Sure, the restaurants come and go, and nearby Palm Desert’s suburban sprawl seems to continue without limits, but downtown Palm Springs doesn’t change that much. The biggest change I’ve noticed over the years is the addition of the Agua Caliente tribe’s casino into the downtown, but from the perspective of the occasional tourist it didn’t change the town much at all.
We drove up there yesterday after lunch with my parents and stayed at Motel 6, our nationwide chain of choice due to their non-discriminatory policies toward African-American dogs (and other dogs as well). I am one of those travelers who travels with his dog. I can’t bear to board him, and despite his attitude, he’s cute enough to be a great conversation starter. It can be rough traveling with him, and over the years several major chains have earned my perpetual disgust for either being unwilling to let him in or charging outrageous fees to do so. On the last trip we made without making motel reservations we had to visit six representatives of the “hospitality” industry in one particular town before we could get anyone to offer to rent us a room, and even then the surcharge was highway robbery. Word seems to have gotten out about Motel 6’s four-legged friendly policies though; there were at least four other dogs and one cat at the same motel last night.
After getting settled and turning on Animal Planet for the little one’s enjoyment (puppy porn), I went down to the pool for a few very short laps and a little reading in the sun. I had brought Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries with me. I’ve read the book before, but don’t think I’ve looked at it since I started blogging. Great book. Admittedly he had the advantage of editing his diary entries ten years after the original writing to create the book, but still a great model for anyone writing one of these things to aspire to.
Later in the evening I made it over to the casino and made redress for any wrongs my ancestors may have committed against the Agua Caliente by donating ten dollars in quarters to their video poker machine. Had some fun times watching the crowd too, but even that was a little sparse on a Tuesday night in the (justifiably so) off-season.
Around 3:00 a.m. a desert thunderstorm rolled through town, washing down the dust, shaking a few windows, and waking little Pongo just in time for him to come over and cuddle during of my anxiety moments. Pongo’s healing powers are amazing. I used to think they required licks for full potency, but in his old age it appears his mere presence is enough for a curative effect.
After more sleep, a good walk, some breakfast and some more pool time, it was time to load up the truck and head out. Rhetorical question: wouldn’t it be better business to put the cute and flirty desk clerk on duty at check-ins, not check-outs? Maybe they figure that once you’re at the desk you’ve been hooked for this visit; cute and flirty is just to help with repeat traffic. Not certain I agree with the philosophy. Cute and flirty at check-in might have gotten a second night out of me.
Originally we headed out to the reservation to see the Agua Caliente Indian Canyons, but they were closed today, and besides, from their sign, they would have tried to discriminate against my little diversity dog. Tsk, tsk…A Native American tribe should know better. Guess it was a sign that it was time to go home, so we followed the signs.