John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Neighbours stealing our grapefruit (note brand new BBQ in foreground)

660 Vallarta from the pool (pillaged grapefruit tree in front)

March 2

We have all but settled in at 660 Vallarta. A quick shopping trip to Von's gave us meals for a couple of days and we had a BBQ chicken dinner for our first meal last night. Brenda has rearranged our bedroom so that the twin beds are pushed together to make a king-size and it made for a very comfortable sleep. We have converted the third bedroom to our walk in closet...having 6 months worth of clothes and crap takes up a lot of space.

Because it's our first full day in town and golf is a primary objective, we decided to go to Tommy Jacob's Bel Air Greens, a 9-hole executive course and practice facility to play our first golf since last October. Being a short course, it also helps Heather work on her flu recuperation. It was a pleasant afternoon and we were pleased to see we at least remembered which end of the club to hold on to.

It's still a little chilly for Palm Springs (65F) so the women stayed in the condo while Kurt and I made our first 30-step trip to the pool and spa. We reintroduced ourselves to some of the Sunrise Alejo regulars. The spa definitely helps relieve the rediscovered muscle aches our golf generated.

Our dinner was cooking on the BBQ when we smelled telltale propane odours. Because the BBQ was old and rickety, we were worried that an explosion was imminent. It turned out that it was just running out of fuel and we barely made to through cooking (more about this later). After dinner, we pulled out our game board and had a game of Jack On/Jack Off. Friends we've played this with will know how much fun and addictive it is (and I hate board games!). After our first night at it, the boys lead 2-0. The intense competition wore us out so it was early to bed.


Our first Saturday in Palm Springs means one thing to the College of the Dessert and their Street Fair. For anyone who hasn't been yet, it's a must-do. Over several acres, there are rows and rows of vendors selling everything and anything you can imagine: regional produce, imported clothing, hats of all shapes and sizes, handicrafts, used golf balls and clubs, mortgages and gewgaws of all shapes and sizes. It runs every Saturday and Sunday from 7:00am to 2:00 pm. We all bought new broad-brimmed hats, Kurt got enough (he hopes) used golf balls to last the week and we got some of the best tasting strawberries you can find.

We stopped at the River, a shopping complex on Highway 111 and had a great al fresco lunch alongside their man-made river. Our next stop was Trader Joe's, another must-do. Here is where you buy "Two Buck Chuck" wine...reasonable tasting wine for $1.99 a bottle, so what the hell, we bought 2 cases! Along with our first bottle of Tequila and Margarita mix we were set.

Back home, we squeezed in some more spa time while Brenda and Heather began their month-long Spite and Malice (another addictive card game). I don't know the game at all but from observation, it involves slapping cards down on a pile during long periods of silence, punctuated by periodic cries of "You bitch!" It does have a certain appeal.

Back to the BBQ fuel story...the BBQ is so old it has the old style tank and, therefore, cannot be refilled. The new style tank requires a different regulator hose. To make a long and boring short, it would be cheaper to buy a new complete BBQ. We found a great buy at Wal-Mart for $98 including assembly and the tank. However, we wouldn't be able to pick it up until Sunday...oh well, we'd wait.

March 4

After our trips to the Street Fair and Trader Joe's, we are finally in full Palm Springs mode. We took a walk to our local Von's store (Safeway) for the Sunday papers and did a preview of the Ross's Dress for Less (like Winners for Canucks). A preview rather than buying spree was in order, as Senior's Day (10% off) doesn't happen until Tuesday.

After Brenda completed her workout and showered (she cleans up REAL good!), we went to Wal-Mart to pick up our BBQ. We got the tank filled and loaded it up. When we got home, we found the "free assembly" was less than stellar. Kurt and I pulled the instructions out and virtually re-built the whole thing on the hot concrete of our driveway (so much for the shower). Two things come to mind:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Free is worth every penny.

March 5

Today was our first golf safari. For the last few years, we have found golf in the Palm Springs area proper is getting very expensive for us seniors on a fixed income (remember Ross's?). What others have let us know is that if you drive towards Hemet/Beaumont/Moreno Valley you can golf for between $25 and $50 including power cart. Our mission today took us to Quail Ranch in Hemet, a bit of a goat track but a good start to our golf for $25 each.

The weather was hot and windy and, after being suitably humbled, we couldn't wait to get home and dive into one of Kurt's increasingly fantastic Margarita's. I told him I'd gladly drink all his failed experiments but they've just gotten better. On the way home we picked up hamburger makings so that we could christen our new BBQ. After dinner, we brought out the game board for a couple more rounds of Jack On/Jack Off (I'd abbreviate it to JO/JO but there's something adolescently satisfying to saying the whole name). I'm sad to report that the insurmountable 5-1 lead the men had built up was shattered as the women won 3 straight to pull within 1!

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