Monday, January 28, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Watch that first step!!! It's a beaut!!

Part of the crew on "Top of the World"

Apres ski at the outdoor "Roo Bar"

The view from our outdoor lunch table on the "last day". Good pick Waldo!!

We’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging in order to go skiing in Switzerland on the “annual guys’ trip”. During the break, I was again reprimanded by my young Toronto friend. He is one very unforgiving, but apparently regular, reader of the blog! We’re back D!

The destination for this year’s trip was St. Moritz, with the accent on the ..ritz. In my experience, St. Moritz is the top end of the scale in ski locales. I have never before seen chauffeur driven Rolls Royce limos dropping skiers off at the base of the lifts! We walked! Again, Mike, our fearless leader, planned a perfect trip; lots of sun; good ski conditions; and more laughs than could be counted. Sadly, Mike’s father passed away early in the trip, necessitating his immediate return home. Mike was sorely missed. A new twist this year was a 5 km. sled trip, rocketing down a mountain, at night, from one picturesque Swiss town to another, starting with some liquid courage and, followed with a laugh filled dinner, at which 3 of our number dined without their pants!!! It’s a very long story. I may be a mid-level skier but, I easily passed many of our number to arrive at our destination first. Could it be my weight???? Jimmy Mc. gets top marks for planning this adventure.

I returned to Palm Springs on a 14 hour flight from Zurich to LA, missing my connection, then spending the following day at LAX waiting for the weather to allow flights into Palm Springs. Never happened!! We ended up bussing to Palm Springs at the end of day II. Fun!!

The Palm Springs residents are all saying that this is the coldest winter they remember. In addition there has been a reasonable amount of rain since Christmas. It NEVER rains here!! Oh yeah??? It’s got to get better soon. We’re waiting…………….

Monday, January 14, 2008

We finally broke down!!!

I'm hoping that our lessons show us which end of the club to hang on to!!!

The purpose of this blog was, and remains, to be a lighthearted reporting of our journeys, highlighting the “screw ups” and genuine “discoveries” of the trip. However, every once in while we genuinely experience something bigger than a fun vacation.

I may be the only person on earth who thinks that Sam Peckinpah’s movie “Straw Dogs” is the quintessential “good triumphing over evil” movie but, I challenge anyone to argue that “Shake Hands With the Devil” is not the definitive ”evil triumphing over good” movie. This Canadian production, shown at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, is so NOT “Hotel Rwanda”. In fact the entire production, which was filmed in Rwanda with many African actors, depicting Romeo Dallaire’s book of the same name, is visually beautiful while at the same time, being factually abhorrent. It captured the book perfectly, with one exception. The book clearly highlights that Kofi Annan, then the “go-to” guy for Africa at the United Nations, was rewarded for presiding over the genocide of over 800,000 Rwandans and doing nothing, with the position of Secretary General of the UN!! The movie glossed over this salient fact. The UN however, is shown to be nothing but a sham institution. This movie is one of the most powerful we have ever seen. Reviewers at the festival are reporting “Oscar buzz”. See this movie!!!!!

It was particularly interesting to hear the producer of the movie answering questions of an American audience, after the movie clearly pummeled the USA for its “hands off” approach to this huge international disaster. France was also assailed for attempting to prop up Hutu forces in Rwanda, in support of French interests. Romeo Dallaire’s descent into suicidal depression is so easy to understand!! One suspects that corporate support, to widely distribute this movie in the US, will be “slim to none”.

On a lighter note, we have finally succumbed to the “golf fever” in the air in Palm Springs and, both purchased sets of golf clubs. With lessons planned and golf courses everywhere, we will likely have many rounds under our belts before returning to Canada. I guess it was inevitable!!

I loved the “Earth Wind & Fire” concert on Saturday night. Brenda preferred B.B. King. To me, EW&F is the ultimate rock show band. Lots of energy, great musicianship (is that a word?) and a songbook of wonderful hits. The “boomer” audience was singing along with each song and, on their feet for most of the concert. What does Brenda know????

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lots to do

Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Spring's main drag and, not a car in sight

This guy was GOOD. We had to buy one of his CD's

Every Thursday evening, the main street of Palm Springs is closed off for a street fair with vendors, musicians and food stalls lining block after block of the street. In Rancho Mirage, the grounds of the College of the Desert are filled with vendors every Saturday and Sunday for the “COD Street Fair”. “Art Under the Umbrellas” occurs every few Saturdays in La Quinta and, on the first Thursday evening of every month, El Paseo Blvd. hosts its famous “Art Walk”. Throw in a few PGA golf tournaments, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, regular concerts featuring major acts, balloon fests, wonderful shopping, great restaurants and, all the outdoor hiking and exploring opportunities. If you’re bored in Palm Springs ……… YOU”RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!

Yesterday, one of our neighbours came knocking on our door offering us free tickets to a film showing at the film festival. We couldn’t use them because we have tickets to another film (“Shake Hands with the Devil” – based on Romeo Dallaire’s book outlining his experiences in Rwanda) and, an evening concert. Our day is full!!!! We’re going to have to make some time someday to get out in the sun and get a tan!!

People frequently ask us “How come you like Palm Springs if you don’t golf?”. The answer seems to us to be obvious ………….Duh???? I have been planning to do some flying at the local flying club and, have not yet managed to find the time. Golf ….. schmolf!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Missed us!!!!!

It's snowing in the mountains but, we're out in shorts and "T" shirts

B.B.'s getting old but, he still rocks

Californians are extremely “weather aware” as a result of the magnitude of the natural disasters experienced by the state on a regular basis. If it isn’t wind-whipped fires, torrential rains and mudslides or earthquakes, it’s 11 feet of new snow!!! That’s what Lake Tahoe received over the weekend. I’ll bet the skiing is great. Too bad one can’t get there!! Even the interstate highway was closed.

All around us were severe weather events on the weekend however, we only received a small amount of rain (just overnight ……. they don’t allow rain to ruin the daytime in Palm Springs) and, a bit of breeze. This place really is an oasis ………even from weather. However, when looking out at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains, the snow line is decidedly moving “downhill”. Winter is getting close but, given that the mountains reach an altitude of 10,000 feet, it is a long way from ever getting us.

Seeing B.B. King on the week-end, reminded us that everyone gets old. Neither of us thinks that ol’ B.B. will be touring much longer. He can still play as well as ever but, at 82 years old, remains seated throughout his concert and, takes lots of time out between songs. Maybe he should hang up old “Lucille”. Hopefully, when we see Earth Wind & Fire next weekend, they will have retained more of their original energy! What the heck ……. we have ;-)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Oh ............ what the hell.............

The balloons keep going and going.................

Off they go!

But, you have to fill em up first!

It was my sincere intention to abandon blogging for a while; at least until we hit the road for home in the spring. However, I was shocked at the number of people who commented positively on the blog upon our return home for Christmas. Somebody actually reads this stuff!!!!! And ……… no one is forcing anyone to tune in so, what the hell ……… we may as well keep this thing going.

The drive home for Christmas was a fun trip except for the last 200 feet, where we careened down our snowy driveway on California summer tires and, ended up smack in the middle of our neighbours’ front lawn. They were quite good about it!!! The car immediately got parked until spring.

Christmas in Brockville is always a fun time with friends and family ever-present. Jonathan and Meghann were able to visit for a week and re-charge. Our best Christmas gift!

Flying back to Palm Springs started out by being snowed into our infamous driveway the day before our scheduled flight back. Even 4-wheel drive would not save the day because the snow was so deep the car bottomed out!!! Enter our extremely reliable snow plough contractor to the rescue. He plowed a path out and, we spent the night in a Brockville motel (not a highlight of the holidays!) so as not to get snowed back in. The trip to Palm Springs included the usual delayed flights, missed connections and, lost luggage. Customer service at United Airlines is as bad as ever but ………. here we are.

While we were at home, Palm Springs received its first real rain in 2 years and, there is more forecast for this weekend. Rain is a huge event around here and, much celebrated. Also……. it surely beats snow!!!

As “the season” reaches its peak in the desert, there are an increasing number of “attractions” in the area. Helen Hunt opened the Palm Springs Film Festival (founded by the late Palm Springs Mayor – Sonny Bono) yesterday with the inaugural screening of her new movie / directorial debut. There is a hot-air balloon festival this weekend; a pro-am (celebrities) golf tournament is about to begin and, we scored tickets to see B.B. King in concert on Saturday night. The only problem is that it is difficult to be in all places at once.