Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday - fantastic desert skies

Today was better.  Thanks Cindy P for your reminder to  be calm and persistent when dealing with the health insurance company.  Dave, as always, is steady and resourceful and we think he finally got the process started.  At one point he had representatives of MVP and Blue Cross on the phone at the same time!  We'll see if they do what they promised.     After his phone ear returned to its normal color we decompressed with a cup of coffee at the kitchen table.   The wind has picked up considerably and it would have been hard to get the liquid to our mouths what with the white caps and all...

Before lunch we all took a quick walk in the desert and when we got back,   Paul and Polly stopped by for a bit of doggie play.   He and I talked about our winter plans, places to visit, places to stay,  while Dave took a phone call from our nephew, Mike Bank.  He had some very big news to share with us -  he is being made a "full bird" Colonel in January!

When Paul and Polly headed home we set out to return our ill fated Palm tree and find a more suitable (aka cheap, small  and not a piece of junk) replacement for some Beluga Christmas bling.   Stay tuned.
Jesse called while we were out and we enjoyed a nice long visit with him.  He just finished his last studio and is feeling good.

It was an odd weather day.  In one direction was a huge cloud bank, in another direction, brilliant sunshine. The mountain tops were cloaked in clouds, the wind was whipping, but it was nice and warm.  We could see it was raining up high, and the sky looked very threatening.

this cloud sat right in a hollow on San Jacinto for the longest time, slowly changing shape and size as we watched

the light was odd all day today

Once our mission was completed we made one quick stop at Von's (the grocery story) to pick up a pork roast for Sunday's crockpot Hacked Pork dinner.  The wind was really howling and the sky looked like it was on fire.  Before I got back in the car, I took this picture from the parking lot.

It felt like a whopper storm was coming.  The wind was roaring, sand blowing, sky either almost black, or on fire.  I took a few pictures on the way back to Beluga.

Nope, no  big storm....just  lots of wind and dramatic skies.    Just as well.

As we pulled into our spot next to Beluga we saw Polly racing toward us followed by Nina, Pia and Paul carrying a bottle of champagne!   What a nice treat....They had planned to move "the Beast"out into the desert near Borrego Springs yesterday, but the high winds kept them right here.  Pia flies home tomorrow so Paul brought some bubbly to celebrate her last evening.    It was nice of them to share her and their family toast.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday at Joshua Tree

Grrrr.  Whatever happened to customer service?  I hope the process of putting together this blog will lower my blood pressure.  Health Insurance companies that give you a different story each time you call them,,  - enough said - now a federal jury summons to report today, received today, and only automated phone responses available....grrr.

Deep breath.  Think about the lovely day we had at Joshua Tree National Park, ahhh.

rainbow over the mountains this morning

We packed our peanut butter sandwiches (they don't need a cooler...), the dogs, plenty of water and we were off about 10:30.  I'd wanted to get an earlier start, but one of those phone calls delayed us.

The first really nice thing that happened on our trip was that we got into the park completely free with our golden age (ahem...) pass.  What a great little card that is.

a large, healthy Joshua tree.
they aren't actually trees, but are in the agave or yucca family and can grow to be 50 feet tall
This park makes you feel like you are driving through a Dr. Seuss book.  The fantastical shapes that the yuccas and rocks take leave you expecting the Lorax or Horton to run across the road in front of you or jump out from behind a boulder.


the coachella valley from Keys viewpoint.
the ridge in the middle of the flat valley is the San Andreas Fault.
the cloud bank  hanging over the San Jacinto mountains in the background is bringing rain to the higher elevations

green desert cities in the distance

After a while, we began to change elevation and left the Joshua Tree forests behind.  The ground became flatter and more sandy with different vegetation -  Mesquite bushes, different varieties of cholla and other  assorted prickley things.
a large cholla  (ch oy a) shining in the sun
these cactus look beautiful but are lethal, its barbs are almost  impossible to remove once they grab on 

we drove through a patch of these tall ocotillo (oco tee o).
right now they look like dry sticks, but after a rain they fill with tiny green leaves and in the spring the tips sport  bottle brush looking scarlet flowers

what do you know,   I spy one tiny red flower blooming on this otherwise dead looking ocotillo!

No evening color to the west tonight.   Mt. San Jacinto has been under a thick, dark layer of clouds all day and we saw shafts of rain pouring down in many spots.  One of the beautiful things about the desert here, however,  is that the sunsets reflect in almost every direction and all I had to do was turn around to the east, to the south to see these two beautiful scenes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday - This thing is a piece of junk

We had a nice chat with Lisa on Facetime today.  It was great to see her face when we finally connected.  We'd been playing phone tag for days!

After lunch we  made time to trim sweet Lewis' face. He's such a good boy, so patient with us.
 Almost didn't though,  Dave spent quite a bit time on the phone with Blue Cross/Blue Shield (the health care provider we had before the one we have now...) trying to find out why they haven't paid a bill for one of my Dr.'s appointments LAST FALL!!!   Its so frustrating dealing with these things.  Nothing got resolved, he has to start all over again tomorrow.

Then he put together our new Southern California Christmas Tree....

lots of instructions and wires and zip ties....

"this thing is a piece of junk" so says he...
So he took it all apart, wrapped it up and put it back in the car for a return tomorrow.  Ah well, we tried.
It would have been great, it twinkled and everything, but it really was a piece of junk.
Next,  Plan B.

We went out with Nina, Paul and Pia for Nina's birthday tonight.  Wonderful Mexican food and knockout margaritas.  Dave had two, he worked hard today.....

Judi, I'm sorry I didn't give you the name (El Mirasol) before we went so you could put in your order.   There were the normal mexican/american dishes, but we all had some of the house specialties.  I had Polo Mole and Dave ordered Shrimp Pipian.    Ooooh, so good.

the sky never colored tonight, but the clouds were very interesting over Mt. San Jacinto

Pia will head back to her home in the UK tomorrow and Nina and Paul et al will move "the Beast" to the desert near Borrego Springs.   We'll miss our new friends, but I'm sure we'll see them again this winter.  We exchanged phone numbers and Dave and Paul made some tentative plans to play golf together in Anza Borrego.   Nina said something about maybe making some authentic Danish glogg (I'm not spelling it correctly and I don't know how to put a strike mark through the "o", so pardon me, Nina) for the Christmas holidays.   They will be in San Diego (at a different rv resort) for a month or so while we're there, so we look forward to trying something new.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday - a little shopping

the "festive" wreath from yesterday's post

Dave and Paul played 9 holes this morning on a very small residential golf course nearby.  Very narrow fairways running between homes, not a great course, but it was good to get out and swing those clubs anyway.

What is better than a little outdoor exercise with a friend and good conversation over a great cup of coffee afterward (thanks Erin).

After walking the dogs in the desert and then lunch, we set off to do a bit of Christmas shopping.  On the way we took a slight detour up Tramway road to see if we could find the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  I talked with Tom Bell for a bit, ( he was coaching me on the best way to make bbq ribs without smoking them.  His are A number 1 good, so I think I'll try them)  while Dave was trying to find the road.  He has such a great sense of direction and found it without my help!   Imagine that....

Civilization stopped immediately upon turning up Tramway road and we drove the winding, rocky road up to the Tram's departure point.  I knew the tram ride wouldn't  be for me before we took the drive, but one look at those cables heading straight up the mountain and I was very, very sure.  Views of the valley were spectacular though.  I tried to photograph the panorama, but the pictures didn't capture the sight at all.  Here is a really lame one, but its the best of the bunch....   Another thing for Jesse to help me with - panoramic shots.

the coachella valley, wind farm end to the left and Palm Springs area on the right

Really interesting cloud formations overhead today.  I think a "storm" is coming in a few days.  Storm meaning wind and wind change only.

The mountains we drove through had really interesting patterns of white on the darker boulders scattered everywhere.

We came back down and continued our quest.  Got most of what we went looking for - one present and our new "Christmas" tree.  We won't put it up til after the weekend though, its supposed to get very very windy and this tree will be outside Beluga.

Nina and her sister Pia drove to Joshua Tree National Park this morning (an all day trip), so Paul and Polly came over for a glass of wine at sunset.  We had planned on going out for Mexican tonight, but have postponed it until tomorrow night - its Nina's birthday!

The interesting cloud formations stayed with us all day and they made tonight's sunset really interesting.  The color was everywhere, north, south, east and west.  It was hard to know where to look!

Oh, and by the way, Fred, Jeanie and Judi - what did you think of the DWTS finale?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday - best laid plans

Ho Hum, another beautiful sunny warm day.

I hustled around this morning, eating breakfast, feeding dogs, washing my hair and putting on makeup.  I sort of thought we may drive over to Joshua Tree National Park and it would definitely be an all day trip so I wanted to be ready early.

Our coffee conversation outside put those plans off til later this week.    It was way too nice to rush around, especially with another week and a half here, so we decided to just hang and soak and read.  (perhaps clip Lewis' face if we had time).

First I had to return the movies we'd rented this weekend and then a quick stop at the grocery store.  Well...another quick stop at the beauty supply store for  a few supplies for Mr. David's barber shop/beauty salon/dog grooming shop.  And, another stop at the dollar store to look for some cheap Christmas decorations.   I had a silver and gold tinsel wreath in my hand when a nice little Mexican woman touched my arm and tut tutted....."very boring and plain" she said.  She pointed at a gold wreath with red and green balls scattered all around - "much more festive" she told me, so the festive wreath is hanging in Beluga as we speak.   Can't argue with festive!

Dave vacuumed while I was gone, then Paul and Polly dropped by to invite Dave to golf tomorrow morning and both of us to a Mexican restaurant tomorow evening.     After Paul left, Dave talked on the phone to Tom Bergman and then Steve Voll while I chatted with JoAnn and it was almost 3:00 before we headed to the hot pools.  Don't cry for us...   We jiggled, and gabbed and otherwise passed a few hours before showering and heading back to Beluga for cocktail time.

Sunset tonight was beautiful and the moon was huge and full overhead later, the same one looking down at you.     Life is good.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday, Ahhh....

Its Sunday night and lots of people have pulled up stakes and left the park, Ahhhh.
 Our neighbors on both sides are gone so we're back to enjoying our nice quiet corner.  Lewis can breathe easily again.

Our Thanksgiving turkey is finally finished.  We've eaten turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, veggies, etc., for two nights, turkey bacon club sandwiches, turkey/ranch veggies with pasta, grilled southwest turkey sandwiches, and finally, Judi's quiche with turkey and veggies.  Don't feel sorry for us, we've loved all the incarnations and its been a great challenge to come up with a different turkey preparation every day!

Today we went to the Fantasy Springs Casino for a native American PowWow.  Its been going on all weekend so we were glad to finally get there.    I have to say it certainly didn't have the same emotional impact,  the spine tingling, goose bump producing gathering we stumbled into when we were in Washington, but this time my camera worked, so I guess it was a trade off.  I even managed to take a video of some of the dances and drum/singing competitions, but you'll have to wait til Christmas when Jesse can help me upload it to the blog.  I wasn't even sure if my camera had a video option, but I was thrilled when we got home and actually saw the dancing and heard the drums!

this outfit was made from soft deerskin with incredible beading

beautiful headdress waiting its turn (checkout the surly guy in the background...)

another headdress sitting on a chair before the competition

beautiful children caught up in the pageantry of the day

not everyone was covered with feathers and bells and beads...

an older man with an Apache headdress

getting a little help from mom

beads for sale 

one of the drummers, in the "zone" before getting started
We both enjoyed our afternoon at the PowWow and were very grateful to be included in the celebration.  It seemed more of a competition for prizes than the deeply emotional vibration we felt in Issaquah, but we were happy to be there nonetheless.

the beginning of our Christmas decorations!

good night, sleep tight friends