John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

Brenda - Palm Springs Hair Stylist

Brenda & John on the Tahquitz Loop

Cycling Along Highway 111

First Tee - Palm Desert Country Club

On the Terrace at Desert Willow Golf Club Restaurant

March 17 (St. Patrick's Day)

St. Patrick's Day doesn't seem to be a huge deal in our small group, but we did see a lot of "wearin' of the green" around the town and around the pool. Brenda and I took our bikes around a great bike path through the Mesquite and Tahquitz golf courses, called the Tahquitz Loop. It's a very scenic loop and comes back along Highway 111 on a protected off-highway bike path (this is a must as the newspaper just reported that a 26 year old woman from Washington state was killed recently while cycling on another section of Highway 111). Birds chirped all along the way and one section along the golf course had fragrant bushes swarmed by hummingbirds.

The rest of the day was pool time and household chores but one thing that did happen stands out to me. As I was leaving the pool, our neighbour Byron from Calgary waved and said, "See ya later, Kurt." I corrected him that I was John and he said, "Oh yeah, Kurt's the slender one."

March 18

Sunday morning Brenda and I biked over to welcome our friends Jack & Debbie Allen and Gary & Maureen Little to Palm Springs at the soon to be infamous "Barlow House". It is a unique house that is built entirely of concrete floors and steel walls and roof, the roof being a "folded fan" style. It's a fun place with the interior decorated in a kind of a spare late 50's/early 60's art deco style.

As their booking was a bit late in the game, during spring break and the fact that the Allens brought their lovely, large Golden Retriever Chili, it was a good find. It's only down side is that it is "north of Vista Chino", which means that it gets a lot of wind. As Jack said, "Maybe my first clue should have been the surrounding wind farms (i.e. windmills)."

I was due for a haircut and, it being rather difficult to find a regular barber on the road, Brenda talked me into buying a set of clippers and offered to give it a go. Gottschalk's had a set on for $9.99, so what the hell. It turned out pretty good and I think we'll keep it up.

March 19

The heat wave had subsided by Monday and we headed for golf at PGA Southern California - Champions Course, which is in Beaumont, off I10 on the way to LA. It is amazing how a few miles and a slight change in elevation can make such a huge difference in climate, but trust me, it can! When we got out of Big Blue at the golf course it was socked in and 48F. Some of our party didn't believe the weather forecast and it meant digging in bags for wind shirts, fleeces and vests. Brenda even took an old blanket I keep in the van to wrap in and Heather went to the pro shop sales desk to buy a nice new vest.

Between cold hands, a little wind and a whole lot more sand bunkers than we are used to, our golf was way less than stellar. The match between guys and girls ended mercifully in a tie. Margaritas and pizza night back home made up for a tough day.

March 20

Tuesday was a day for the bikes so Brenda and I did the Tahquitz Loop again, this time under overcast skies. One thing I didn't mention earlier is that in our biking and walking around Palm Springs, everyone is smiling, friendly and usually has a hearty "good morning" for you.

We debated where to have lunch and succumbed to a well-timed suggestion that we return to the Blue Coyote for Mexican food and margaritas. The Littles and the Johnstons, who were walking by and recognized the back of my bald head, surprised us during lunch. Being downtown also gave us time to shop for rude birthday cards in the most outrageous card shop in the world (whose name I don't remember).

This was Lorraine's birthday (as well as that of our darling Anita Werk back home) and the Allens and Littles were hosting a BBQ in the evening. It was a bit breezy at our place but when we got to Barlow House, a full gale was underway. Gary had started the BBQ and put it on the lee side of the house; he started it with the world's largest starter brick and combined with the wind, flames shot into the evening air. Ken and I stood bravely by with water so the desert didn't fall prey to a wind-driven wildfire.

With the fine particles of dust in the air we were in for a challenge. However, in good spirits and somewhat fortified with alcohol, dinner came off without a hitch. We had a great time with lots of laughs and even squeezed in a phone call to wish Anita all the best. Apparently we weren't the only ones to find rude birthday cards as Lorraine got a nice collection of them. Friends Derek and Nancy Chung showed up in time for cake and it was nice to see them as we had just met Derek at the bon voyage party Dennis and Anita threw for us before we left.

March 21 (first day of spring)

We returned to a favourite golf course from last year on Wednesday, the Indian Canyons course on a four for the price of three coupon. The course didn't disappoint and we had a fantastic day, not the least because the guys finally won a match.

Not much else new as the guys dominated JO/JO 22 - 11 and we decided to call that round one and move to round two of best 22 out of 33.

March 22

After a morning of bike rides (John and Brenda) and walks (Kurt and Heather) we undertook another of our traditional activities, lunch on the terrace of the Desert Willows Golf Club. It is one of the prettiest places in the desert to lunch and has great food on a reasonably priced menu. It was overcast all around us but we dined in sunshine.

We returned to our condo to rest up for the evening's activities. While Brenda and I read and napped, Heather read and Kurt went for a walk. I got up from my nap to the wondrous smell of fresh rain in hot weather. Apparently I had slept through a major downpour and thunderstorm that had chased Kurt under a palm tree (is that such a good idea in a thunderstorm?).

That evening we went downtown to the Casino where Brenda won $50. While Kurt and Heather worked on recouping their losses, Brenda and I went to VillageFest. It's a street fair of food and arts and crafts where they shut down a long section of Palm Canyon Drive from 6 to 9pm. It has a lot of the same people and things you would see at the College of the Desert on the weekends. We went to Pomme Frites one more time for another great dinner and capped off the evening with a fine piece of German chocolate cake back home; at least Kurt and I did.

March 23

I found a good deal for golf at Palm Desert Country Club so we decided to give it another go. Kurt and I took turns at funky golf and ended up losing to the stellar play of our worthy competitors, 7 and 3. We were disappointed to be told during our round to speed up play by a rather rude marshal, only to find we were ahead of the desired pace of play by 15 minutes. Once finished, we had to choose between hunting him down for a stern talking to, cocktails at the course or Kurt's margaritas back home; Kurt won hands down.

As Saturday is my sister Linda's birthday, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and called her early, knowing that she would be at the opening game of the Vancouver Giants playoff. She was able to pass on good luck from me to all our friends who sit in our section during the season. The giants won 5 - 4 in overtime....YAHOO!

Brenda and Heather made a fantastic spaghetti dinner, using Marie Barone's secret Italian sauce and some leftover country style ribs. Their home cooking is outstanding. Unfortunately, their card playing was less so as JO/JO - round 2 started out with the guys leading 3 - 2.

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