Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bristol Farms, sunflowers, golf...

A few photos of this wonderful food store.

I can never resist buying sunflowers...

Belair Greens...a great executive golf course close to us.


This is a very neat old hotel that's across from us. Lots of the film people in the festival stayed here and it seemed the big place for the parties. A funky kind of a place but not cheap...basic rooms start at $300 during the week & $400 on weekends and up to $3000 a night for a two bedroom suite during the week and $4000 on weekends. Supposed to be good for lunch and brunch. We'll have to wander over there one day to eat.


My knight in shining armour...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We've had some weather....!

We certainly have had some weather lately...2/3 the annual rainfall came down in 2 days and wind gusts that you wouldn't believe! I thought there was a tornado coming and was worried about Jim who was out at the time. The roof of a local Travelodge blew off and a big rig overturned, trees down, flooding, power out. We weren't really affected by any of it other than the rain which fell mostly at night and the wind gusts were a bit worrying at times.

Back to clear blue skies and lying by the pool today...

Desert Shores

Desert Shores seems to be a bit more upscale of a community in the area but quite a mix of mainly manufactured homes. There were white pelicans at the Salton Beach too but more of them here.

Jim wanted me to buy him this house since "the sea if always calling" (from Juno and the Paycock)

Looks like the perfect place for a lost weekend...

And then you have a church handy to confess your sins...

Salton Beach and Marina

Jim testing the water

Lunch was pork rinds and beer however we could have ordered from the "Deli" which is open 364 days a year from 8am - 7pm and had really cheap things like biscuits and gravy for a buck and a half.

"Walters" is a pub as far as I could determine.

My computer is fixed...hopefully

So, get ready for lots of photos. I'll begin with the Salton Sea photos. Now I get it
with my cousin, John, taking all these ugly photos of wires, clear cuts, translink line being built to the airport etc. Some things cry out to be documented the way they are even if they are ugly. I've already blogged about this strange piece of America so will let the photos tell the tale for the most part.

Salton City

Chamber of Commerce in Salton City

Lots of cheap land in the heart of the city.

These next ones are all of the $149,000 house (4 beds, 2 baths, double garage) with zero down. Note the large yard, grass, and sprinkler systems all ready to go.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A letter from Charlie

We heard the sad news yesterday that Susan and Alan's beloved cat, Charlie, had died. When they were visiting us last year in Palm Springs, the neighbour who was looking after Charlie sent regular emails "from Charlie" recounting his antics when they were away. We all enjoyed these letters very much.

Dear Susan and Alan,

It must have been quite a shock to find me in that field but I want you to know that I didn't suffer.

I'm in a very nice place now and have a large fluffy cloud to sleep on with a sunbeam always shining on me. You know how much I loved lying on your laps in the sunshine after our work in the looking for birds and you looking for weeds. I must admit I never could quite understand your fascination with weeds when birds are so much more interesting!

By the way, some of the birds I caught live in my neighbourhood here and we've become good friends. They aren't as bird brained as people think and we have some very interesting chats! Susan, you would enjoy Tweety as he is very well read in the classics and often went to Haworth to visit the Bronte Parsonage. And Alan, he even knows quite a bit about science. He was explaining the physics of flight to me the other day and it was quite fascinating but I did nod you know I was wont to do.

I do miss you both very much and all the fun we had together. What luck to have had such special owners who appreciated my sense of humour! Please try not to be too sad and remember all our good times.



Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rain all night in Lotus Land

It rained quite hard all last night so I think we got more than our 1/10 - 1/4 inch of rain predicted. Just about the first morning we didn't wake up to sunshine and couldn't see the mountains for clouds. Seems to be clearing up now and hopefully we'll get our golf game this afternoon.

I've been noticing here when the temp is predicted to be say 65 F, the "feels like" temp is always about 5 degrees more. Except today with all this moisture around the temp is 59 F and the "feels like" is 49 F! No wonder we always feel cold on the wet coast.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A different world down here...

In the paper today they had a comparison of the views of presidential candidates on things. On gun control, Clinton came in rather vague with "Law abiding citizens should be able to have guns but more (the "more" isn't specified) should be done to keep them out of the hands of criminals:". Obama weighs in with the most extreme gun control measures...limiting the purchase of one hand gun a month. Status quo for all the Republicans.

The other day in the paper there was a big whine about the cooler and wetter weather than normal at the moment. They are horrified at having .68 inches of rain so far this month and another 1/10 to 1/4 of rain predicted for this weekend. We haven't seen any rain yet although the mountains seem to have received quite a bit as there are green things sprouting where there is usually just rock or snow. I'll have to take a photo today...may not last long.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Day at the Seaside

We went to the Salton Sea area the other day. It's about an hour from here. It was created by an ecological disaster in 1906 when the region flooded. This was partly caused by the diversion of the Colorado River. Jim's doing research on this as Huxley wrote a novel called "After Many a Summer" which deals with this era. It will be the focus of his paper he's presenting at the Huxley conference this summer in Passedena.

From the beginning large concentrations of waterfowl, pelicans, and other birds were sighted in the area. It is now home to millions of fish mainly tilapia and croakers.

The increasing salinity and problems with algae have caused various bird and fish die offs. In August 1998 7.6 million tilapia and croakers die from oxygen being depleted due to algae. Last year when we were here a million or so tilapia died off and of course created quite a stench in the area for months (not the PS area but the Salton Sea area) Yet scientific studies show the Sea may have the most productive fishery in the world.

There is currently a 7.1 billion dollar plan to restore the sea over the next 50 years; however, current budget problems have put this on hold. It appears if something isn't done to stop the salinity there will be continued die offs and the sea will eventually dry up and cause massive dust problems.

It was really like being at the seaside with a soft salt breeze blowing and no noxious smells the day we were there. Property is very cheap and they are selling new homes (4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, granite countertops, all appliances included, double garage) with sea and mountain views for $149,000 (0% down). We went through one and I don't see how they can build them for this amount of money.

As you can imagine the community of Salton Sea and another adjacent community called Desert Shores attracts a real mix of people. I have lots of photos and will post them if I ever get my computer fixed.

One of the first people we met was a volunteer at a makeshift Chamber of Commerce in Salton City. She was a New Yorker and worked with the firefighters at Ground Zero for 38 days and then decided to pack up her kids and move to the middle of nowhere and where there were no tall buildings. This is where she ended up.

We saw loads of beautiful white pelicans and other sea birds...quite amazing really. The water was cold but it warms up later in the year and it is safe for swimming and water skiing etc. You need to shower off afterward because of the smell. A rather fascinating place. Apparently the mazazine called "American Road" which specializes in searching out unusual places for people to visit in the US is featuring the Salton Sea area in its Feb. edition.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bob Hope Classic Golf Tournament

This was fun today as we had never been to a golf tournament. We saw the leaders tee off and also followed Mike Weir for a few holes. There was quite a Canadian contingent following him even though he wasn't doing that fact, he double bogeyed one hole we watched. He went into the water, then missed a 6 ft putt.

We got a few freebies. Jim won a water bottle for sinking a putt on a carpet and I got lipsyl and breath mints for missing! There was this fabulous photo in the Desert Sun today of about a dozen longhorn sheep that came down to graze on the golf course yesterday

Of course, no photos because cell phones and cameras are not allowed. There won't be any photos for a while as I've taken my MacBook into a dealer here and they have since shipped it to Apple Depot so will be out of commission for a week. Let's hope they can fix it this time. At least at Apple Depot they have all the parts available so I don't have to do this dance in Canada of waiting for parts. Frustrating to have problems with a new computer (they already replaced the motherboard in Canada) but c'est la vie, I guess. It also puts my iPod out of commission as I forgot my other charger (just too much of a rush getting ready, Xmas, and a renter coming's a wonder we remembered as much as we did...) I can charge it with my computer but not Jim's of course.

Bristol Farms Food Store

We just discovered this the other day. I had read about it but we have been very happy with Trader Joe's for great selection of reasonable gourmet food. Trader Joe's searches the world for good deals and buys in bulk and puts their name on it. Tremendous value.

Bristol Farms also searches the world for amazing stuff but it's more the money is no object game. We'd be broke if we shopped here too often...good thing it's in Palm Desert and not 5 minutes away like Trader Joe's! Susan and are going to love this store!

Just to give an example, they have 350 cheeses mostly artisian cheeses from smaller markets from all over the world. They were tasting something from France called "Delice de Bourgogne" which could be called "Died and Gone to Heaven". Of course we bought some of that. Then a fabulous New York Artisian cheddar...Extra Sharp Washed Aged Curd Cheese from a company called Yancey's Fancy. crumbles when you cut it and is like something I've never tasted in the cheddar realm before.

The booze is something else...specialty everything and loads of very special scotch, tequila, vodka. Same for the wine. And then the bakery, the fish, the meat, the deli and on it goes.

Worth a visit on my own without Jim along to cramp my style...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Up early to catch the sunrise...

Last year people kept saying how great the mountains looked with the reflected sunrise but somehow I never really felt like venturing from my warm bed. Took these from our condo complex this (early!!!) morning.

Lazy days...pricing gin is the most energetic thing we've done

This one is for Fern...

Now, Fern, where are you and your slingshot? Fern is a crack shot and make Canada Geese very unwelcome in her home on the Gorge. They actually closed the driving range while these Canada Geese took their rest. They had flown off by the time we finished our golf game...must have left quite a mess.

And I beat Jim by 7 strokes today on a 9 hole par 3! This is where he spent most of his time!

We finally managed to get into a local Mexican restaurant called El Gallito...always big lineups but we headed out early last night so didn't have to wait more than 5 minutes and there's always interesting people to talk to. Great and cheap homemade Mexican food...yum.