We have been too busy since we returned on Saturday from California. But now, I have a little time, so I will try to catch you up.
First, California (from our limited vantage point) is a mess. We flew to Burbank, which looked OK, but as we drove to Palm Springs on routes 5, 60, and 10, things looked pretty awful. The roads are in bad shape. We stopped in Pomona; it looks like it is falling apart. Even Palm Springs looks like it has lost many of its upscale shops, has gained retail vacancies, and looks down at the heels.
Second, in spite of all of that, as you go south from Palm Springs in the Coachella Valley, the towns of Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Indian Wells look just fine.
Third, we had two very good meals in the desert, the first one at St. Germain and the second one at LG Steakhouse (LG = Leon Greenberg it appears). I had delicious Lake Superior whitefish at the first dinner, and salmon at the second. We also had a couple of good simple lunches, one at a small Mexican fast food restaurant called Senor Baja in Upland CA, and one at the Paris Cafe, a not fast food French fast food-looking restaurant in Palm Desert. We also had two dinners at Outback Steakhouse in Burbank. The first (we had salmon and tilapia) was excellent (we were surprised), but when we returned the night before we flew from the Burbank Airport, it proved that you cannot go home again (although for me the sour apple martinis made it all worthwhile). We had one dinner at the Renaissance Esmarelda in Indian Wells (where we stayed); it was more than adequate, and the breakfasts there were first class.
The Marriott Courtyard in Burbank is a fine place to stay if you fly into Burbank (the airport itself is a treat, a carry back to the 1950s, with the baggage collection room outdoors, and the rental cars a little hop, skip and jump away), even though you cannot walk or easily drive to first class restaurants. The Esmarelda was (as always) also a fine place to stay, although I blew it. When we checked in, we were told that because we were such loyal Marriott Rewards members, we were being given an upgraded room on the best floor. “Terrific, as long as we have a mountain view,” I said. I was told that we had a pool view, and I asked to be switched. The room we got had a mountain view, but was certainly not upgraded.
We were able to take three short hikes at three different places, which in fact were quite different from each other. First, we went to Indian Canyons, which is beautiful. There are miles and miles of trails, of course, and we could only choose one very close to the parking lot. It took us down a hill into a tropical, pine treed oasis/valley, with a stream running through it (the water was quite high due to recent, rare rains) and which required a turn around after about a mile because the steam was too quick to ford. Remember ‘Into the Wild”?
Secondly, we went to Santa Rosa (near Palm Desert; Indian Canyons is near Palm Springs), where the trail was much dryer.
Thirdly, we drove the 40 miles to Juniper Tree National Park, which we drove through (beautiful) and stopped at Hidden Valley, a one mile circular trail that goes into a secluded valley which has a wider variety of leafy plants and trees not found elsewhere in the large park.
For each of these walks, the weather, to our surprise, was beautiful. Deep blue, cloudless sky. Temperatures in the low 60s. Just wonderful.
Oh, yes, we did go for a conference and, aside from my speech (which went quite well), I only attended one session and the board meeting. That was just about right, I thought. Our dinners were with friends and clients; there were a lot of them there.
I only read one book on the trip, Romain Gary’s “The Roots of Heaven”. I started James Baker’s “Work Hard, Study, and Keep Out of Politics”, which I am continuing to read at home.
After we returned, in addition to seeing Damn Yankees (and having cousins Fred, Fran and Eileen for brunch), we attended the wonderful roast of Ari Roth at Theater J, with some of the best local actors speaking and performing, and where Hannah and the rest of the cast sang quite well. And tonight, we went to Glen Echo Park to see Little Red and the Renegades play at the Mardi Gras dance.
OK, you are now caught up.