I recently got to spend a week with my aunt and uncle in California. They live in one of the cities near Palm Springs, so I did a bit of research on the area beforehand. I knew they were in a desert area, but didn’t know it was the Coachella Valley region. I knew about the region only because of the music festivals that happen there…more specifically the big colourful bags and flower crowns that have been so popular at the festivals! So anyway, my aunt scared me well enough by continually reminding me about how hot it would be in early June. I have to say, though, that when I first stepped off the plane (to the tarmac) in Palm Springs, I was enveloped by a warm, DRY breeze that was so different from east coast humidity. This was at night; the daytime heat was something else!
I mostly went simply to get to know them better and learn more about my family and background; she is my father’s sister. My father’s side is Irish, so she told me many stories about our ancestors and about my father’s and her growing up years. I learned that we are distant cousins of the early 20th century Irish revolutionary, Michael Collins. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them, and also hearing my uncle’s stories about his growing up years in Hawaii where his Japanese ancestors had moved. They also told me stories about their interracial marriage, which was unjustly frowned-upon back in the 60s, but they have thrived for fifty-five years now. Here is a photo of my aunt and me cruising around in her BMW convertible!! It was boiling hot that day, but we had fun (and I used copious amounts of sunscreen and wore long clothing and a hat).
One day we went to Joshua Tree National Park! I had never seen Joshua trees before, so this was a treat. It was also my first day out of the neighbourhood, and I could finally get to see all the desert landscape. As soon as we drove out of the immediate neighbourhood, I was in awe of the scenery. Piles of sand spilling to the roadway, desert scrub sprawling across flat land, tall palm trees, and mountains surrounding the valley. All my senses went into high alert as I took this all in. And the light…the quality of sunlight was different to me; the only way I could figure out how to describe it was that it made everything seem more vivid. The blue of the sky, the browns and greens of the land, the purples of the mountains. And then the Joshua trees themselves – I’d never seen trees in those shapes before. I’ll post photos, but they don’t do it justice.
Another day we went up the Aerial Tramway to Mount San Jacinto. WOW!!! This tram travelled via cable, past five cable towers that made the tram sway, for about two or so miles. The floor of the tram rotates so that everyone on board can get to see everything. And you basically are swaying your way over the Chino Canyon, another sight of which I was in awe. At the top station, we could look out over much of the valley.
One evening after dinner in a restaurant, we went for a walk on Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, which my aunt said is like the Rodeo Drive of Beverly Hills. I’m not a retail shopper (which you’d know from reading all my thrifting posts!), but WOW again, I actually did see some retail items that I loved for their colour, glitter, and sparkle!! I wish I had taken photos of some of the gorgeously beaded bags I saw.
All in all, it was a much-needed and welcomed trip for me because I had not travelled by myself in many years. It was great to have something fun to do after all the aftermath of our daughter’s accident, and it was super fun to hang out with relatives. The cactii, the palm trees, and the mountains surrounding their home weren’t too difficult to enjoy, either, hahaha! (and the 33 degrees Celsius pool water!).