Tuesday, February 5, 2013

FLORA, FAUNA AND FOLLIES…

As the warm weather returns we are drawn to some of the attractions of the area…

The town of Palm Springs was and still is the playground of the mid twentieth century Hollywood celebrities.  It oozes of the post-war glory days of high desert Xanadu.  Many of the streets are named after stars of that era. Looking dated architecturally, seems a good thing… people looking dated… not so much… (I don’t think I have ever seen to many tucked, lifted, peeled and Botoxed humans, and frankly, the wide eyed surprised look on septuagenarians is kind of creepy.) Surrounding Palm Springs is a sprawl of gated communities surrounding golf courses and country clubs, and further out are the working class areas that house all of the service workers who tend to the elite.  It is an interesting town to visit, and there is more to do than uncomfortable people watching.

Cacti
The Moorten Botanical Gardens is a family owned and operated establishment dedicated to cacti and desert vegetation including some rare and unusual species. This is obviously a labor of love that seems to be barely surviving on the $4 per person entrance fees charged and the few specimens for sale. Many of the signs are faded and not all of the plants are identified, but this is one of those “small on the edge spots” that is well worth the stop.

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The Living Desert is a slick zoo and botanical garden dedicated to desert flora and fauna. (Thus the clever name LOL.)  The cactus gardens are beautifully manicured and the animal displays fairly spacious (for a zoo.)  We see a plethora of exotic cats, zebras, giraffes, birds of prey, reptiles, rodents and more.  The park backs up to the trails of Eisenhower peak and after seeing everything at the zoo, we do a short hike in the desert.

We attend a matinee show of The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies with special guest star Lou Christie (of "Lightening Strikes" fame) at the historic Plaza Theatre.  The show is a celebration of the spirit of early Palm Springs, in music, dance and comedy of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  The entertainers do not have to stretch to fill their roles… for these talented folks are from those era’s. The youngest artists are in their 50’s and the oldest pushing 80.  We purchased our tickets on-line the day of the show and are excited to score a couple of front row seats… note when ordering tickets and front row seats are available don’t be feel too lucky… the front row is expected to become part of the show… and Chris is the first victim.  He holds his own with the MC Riff Markowitz.  After the intermission I’m the target… and also hold my own… in fact after the show one of the patrons comes up to us and tells us that she thinks that Chris and I were the funniest part of the show… (She must not get out much LOL) Don’t worry, we are not stage struck and have no intention to pursue a late life career in show business.


After the show we catch an early dinner down the street from the theatre at Zin American Bistro.  We start with a couple of glasses of 2008 Gérard Bertrand, Cremant de Limoux, Brut, and the Tatar Trio: ahi tartar, steak tartar and sun-dried tomato tartar with crostini, then cups of their exceptionally outstanding Wild Mushroom Truffle Soup.  For entrees: Organic Salmon: lightly smoked with warm three bean bacon salad and Prince Edward Island Mussels: with pommes frites and. white wine, sauce.  A bottle of 2008 Villa Creek, Mas de Maha, Tempranillo, Grenache, Mourvèdra, Carignan, blend accompanies these perfectly.  After a pallet cleansing sorbet we enjoy a 10-year Tawney Port and espressos.  Everything was prepared perfectly and service was exceptional. All in all an extraordinary end to a fun day…
Zin American Bistro on Urbanspoon



WWII Nose Art

We stop by the Palm Springs Air Museum.  They have an outstanding collection of war birds including a B-17 Bomber that we are able to climb aboard.  These planes look so much bigger and substantial in the movies.  This is a flying shell with scant protection from the elements and a relatively small payload.   One of the docents was a ball turret gunner who completed 33 missions in the European theatre of WWII. (Impressive, since the life expectancy for a B-17 crew member was 14 missions.)  He shares his personal experiences over the skies of Germany.  We are impressed with the courage of these young men. Most of the planes here are in excellent shape, although it seems that the nose art has been sanitized a bit. There is also an exhibit honoring Bob Hope and his work with the USO.  Compared to the Air Museum we visited in Tillamook, this one is obviously better financed and much more comprehensive.

We have a couple of rainy days and we head to the local Cineplex and catch Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.  This is a mindless popcorn flick and fairly entertaining.

One foraging day is spent at the College of the Desert StreetFair and The Palm Springs Open Air Market where we pick up local produce. Another great source of fresh veggies and fruits is the Indio L&G Desert Store nearby.

Joshua Trees
Joshua Tree National Park is just over the hill. (A two-hour drive.) We spend a day exploring the park.  The scenery is a stunning mix of boulders, cacti and the exotic Joshua Trees (which we learn are really part of the lily family and not a tree or a grass like the palm trees.)

There are five Indian Casinos in the area and we visit two: Agua Caliente in Rancho Mirage and Fantasy Springs in Indio.  Both are clean and fun.  Since Fantasy Springs is a short drive from our park, we head over to watch the Super Bowl– well… Chris watched the game and I won and gave back on the slots. We enjoy a wonderful dinner at The Bistro after the game. (This takes the sting out of the 49er’s loss.)  The menu is exciting wine list extensive and the prices quite reasonable.  We start with Lobster and Scallop Rockefeller, which is simply out of this world. A Caesar Salad is shared and we both choose the Double Cut Colorado Lamb Chops smothered with a Khadrawi Date Curry Sauce accompanied with grill-roasted yams and haricot verts (BTW that’s French for green beans.) We also enjoy a bottle of Concannon Reserve Syrah.  The portions are more than generous… so generous in fact, that we each can only finish one of the three chops on our plates.  So we enjoy re-runs for a couple of days.
The Bistro on Urbanspoon

Media Center with
Monitor, Mac Mini
and 6TB HD

In between adventures Chris makes some long time planned improvements to Dimples.  He makes and mounts a shelf for our “media center”, remodels the bedroom night stands to allow access from the top and blocks off the gaps under the bathroom sink that stuff seems to bounce into while traveling.

Well that pretty much wraps up our time here and it’s been awhile since we visited the Pacific Ocean… Chula Vista south of San Diego seems like it will fit the bill…






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