Thursday, March 27, 2008

Drive By Conversation

I had a drive by conversation today. (These are unplanned conversations with people you don't know and probably won't see again.) I was at Archiver's and was printing pictures after taking a scrapebook class. The conversation began when a late 60-ish woman (Bonnie) asked if I was using a memory card to print the photos. The pictures I was printing were from Joshua Tree which led the conversation to her being from Arizona but looking to move to the UP. She grew up in the Chicago area and has lived in New York (didn't like it), Virginia (was okay), and California (loved it). She and her husband have become disenchanted with Arizona and want out. Bonnie and her sister are going to open a stamp/scrapbooking store in the UP. She was such a fun person and I hope I remember to drive up to Quinnesec to see this store!

Drive by conversations are refreshing, fun, and educational. A person connects with you for a short snapshot of time, you learn something about them but there is no commitment for an indepth relationship. No demands, expectations, no obligations. But you remember the person and the conversation and that it you enjoyed the time with that person.

Sun Aged Skin

I noticed today that my neck and upper chest skin is getting "crepey" and have some brown age spots. All due to aging and sun exposure. I'm not too upset about this because it represents time spent outside on hot sunny days and well earned tans. I do believe memories from sunny summer days are typically happy memories for me.

Sunshine+warm weather+a tan = happy

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Delayed in Paradise

We were supposed to depart Palm Springs last Friday morning and get into Green Bay at 7:00 p.m. While Patrick was in the lobby getting coffee that morning he overheard a conversation discussing three hour flight delays in Chicago. Come to find out, our flight was canceled! Unbeknownst to us Chicago was in the midst of a snow storm --- snow was such a vague notion to us in the 80 degree, palm tree, florally deluged climate of Southern California. A call to the travel agent confirmed the canceled flight and notified us that we wouldn't be leaving paradise until Saturday evening. That meant TWO MORE DAYS IN PALM SPRINGS!

Patrick pouted for half the day because he was ready to return to New London and spend some time with his friends over the weekend. And let's face it, the kid had spent five days with his mother and sister which was proably enough for him. He had been a good sport and agreeable about whatever we wanted to do. So, Ann and I left him at the hotel (he sat by the pool and ordered a pizza) to go to Tiffany's and the art museum.

Ann and I thoroughly enjoyed our delay in Palm Springs. Tiffany's is in a beautiful outdoor mall that boasts sculptures and flower gardens. I felt a bit intimidated walking into Tiffany's but the staff made us feel so comfortable, and we laughed a lot.

We stopped for a soda at an outdoor restaurant in the mall, and Ann introduced me to endamame (pronounced attamommy) which is steamed pea pods topped with sesame seeds. This was so tasty and the perfect snack for us. After sitting there for about 15 minutes a sprinkler-like system located on the overhang of the restaurant turned on. It seemed like a soft spray of water but didn't really get anything wet. I'm not sure what the spray was but it cooled down the area and was refreshing.

Next it was on to Saks. Ann had never been to a Sak's before. We just browsed the clothes which were out of our price range. When we stopped at the Chanel purse department a delightful sales associate stopped by to ask how many of each we wanted. He had a great personality and told us about living in Palm Springs; he had moved there from New England and loved being in California. After looking at a $1600 Chanel necklace, Ann and I moved on.

There is an art museum downtown and Ann had originally wanted to stop there but we had run out of time. This delay afforded her the opportunity to finally see it. We didn't view the entire museum but what we saw was impressive. Both of us love contemporary art and that is what we saw. The staff was also chatty and informative. Apparantly some people think it is acceptable to touch the artwork and these two staff members regaled us with some of their horror stories about such happenings. (It is amazing that people think actually touching the painting is an okay thing!)

After the museum we headed back to the hotel and then to dinner. Since we were going to pull an all nighter the next evening no one was in a hurry to go to bed so we stayed up til midnight or so and didn't get up until mid morning on Saturday.

After packing up all our belongings and loading them into the Ugly-mobile (PT Cruiser) we went for lunch at an outdoor cafe. The hotel was agreeable to our using the pool after checkout so after eating we went back and spent the afternoon working on suntans.....or in Ann's case, brightening her burn. I swear the girl was a glowing beacon of red! We sat, chatted, read, and splashed in the water until about 4:30 when it was time to get dressed and head to the airport.

We left Palm Springs to fly to LA at 8:00 p.m. Departed LA at 11:00p.m. and arrived in Chicago at 4:55 a.m. We finally arrived in Green Bay about 7:30 a.m. Easter morning. I have to admit that the night wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I'm sure watching "Alvin and the Chipmunks" made the flight whiz by!

This trip meant so much for me. To spend that time with my children is something I won't forget. Who knows when I will have them together again for a vacation. So this was a special
time for us.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Thursday in Joshua Tree

We took our second trip to Joshua Tree on Thursday. We drove straight to Keys Point from which the San Andreas Fault can be seen. The road to this lookout spot is lined with large Joshua Trees. Patrick commented that the scenery looked like something out of a Dr. Suess book and that was an apt description.

Then it was on to the Cactus Garden which is an area in the park covered by cholla cacti (pronounced choya). These cacti are also known as "jumping cholla" because the stems easily detach when brushed against and easily (and painfully) attach to the person who brushed against the plant. Both Ann and I actively interacted with these cacti and can attest to the hardiness of the needles! One stem attached to my tennis shoe, worked into the seam of the shoe and into my sock. In order to get rid of the needle I had to remove my shoe and sock, turn the sock inside out to remove the needle! Ann encountered a stem that attached itself to her toes that were housed in her walking boot. She was NOT happy!

The wildflowers bloom in the Colorado Desert portion of the park and seeing them was different from the picture in my head. I expected to see the desert floor carpeted with them when they were actually scattered about the desert. Most were yellow and delicate although purple flowers could be found.

The rock formations in the park are striking. When first entering at the west entrance there are hills of rocks piled about. Apparantly these were soil/vegetation covered hills but the rock hills are what's left after the soil eroded. The rocks became huge as we drove east through the park. In fact, in an example of understatement, one turnoff indicated "Jumbo Rocks."

There are campsites throughout the park and the appearance of these sites is so alien to those of us from Wisconsin. We are used to campsites being surrounded by trees, shrubs, usually near some body of water. The Joshua Tree campsites are in the open near boulders with a few scruffy, dry bushes. No privacy in these campsites! I bet the stars are breathtaking at night.

We all decided souveniers we all wanted were cacti. Morongo Valley had a store that advertised "Dig Your Own Cactus" and we stopped there on our way back to Palm Springs. This was so much fun! There were cacti dish gardens, small individual cactus, and large cacti to purchase. We all picked out small dish gardens and several of the small cacti. They were placed in a box and was one of our carry ons for the flight home. These were some of the more original, meaningful souveniers we've ever gotten!