"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

May 8, 2017

Crooning, or Careening Along

Time to play catch-up.  After California but before Ziplining, I was heading to Oregon via the California Sierras, camping in Corps of Engineer sites along my way. I tried driving the red-line road up to the mighty Sierras but my nerves gave out at the turnout for this stairway in the middle of nowhere so I turned tail and headed back down to wider roads. Good thing it was off-season because I was driving no more than 15 mph both directions; and no, I didn’t go down these stairs. The thought of climbing back up stopped me.

I’d moved to another campground east of Fresno the week before Easter when a storm front moved in. Luckily insomnia kept me awake because just before midnight I heard the frightening drip, drip, drip announcing a leak through my newly-replaced air conditioner. For two days three garbage bags funneled water into my pink cooler, which I often emptied hourly.

As soon as the rain stopped I dashed back south to the mechanic for a quick repair; but instead of heading north yet again, I headed east. First place I hit was Palm Springs.




No wonder people like it there. I’ve been a Frank Sinatra fan for decades, so as long as I was in the neighborhood I visited Twin Palms, his residence with Ava Gardner.

I expected it to be far from the road but the only thing between the house and me was an iron gate, which opened unexpectedly while I was sitting across the street, figuring where to go next. I have several photos so I’ll tell a short story:

Sis and I were working in Manhattan in the ‘80s when I called her excitedly one day during lunch.

“Frank Sinatra’s going to be at the (then) Garden State Arts Center tonight and there’s still tickets…wanna go?”  The venue was one exit up the Parkway and we had good jobs so nothing stopped us. That’s how life was at the time.

It seemed Ol' Blue Eyes was only singing in London or Vegas, and the possibility of seeing this legend with such little effort before, well, you know, was too enticing to pass up.  He drank, smoked and sang his hits in a gravelly voice while the audience cheered him on, including me, even ‘tho I didn’t know most of his songs.

Oh, oh, I know this one…it’s Jack the Knife.

Mack the Knife,” Hillary corrected.  “Why did you even want to come?”

The chance may never come again, plus I learned some new songs.

Back to the future. It was a beautiful drive on Highway 86 through picturesque, expensive towns then suddenly nothing…but grove upon grove of palm trees. I was fascinated and kept snapping pictures of different varieties. The idea of uprooting and transplanting these giants for landscapers fascinated me for some reason. I guess it’s just what you’re not used to.

I also have a Palm Tree story involving three grade-school cousins, a backyard kiddie pool and a leather strap, but I think I’ll leave that one for another day.

The Salton Sea was along the way and I thought I might stop for a night but didn’t. Honestly, I couldn’t breathe.  As I drove further south there was a border patrol station in the opposite direction and traffic was at a standstill for miles.  I didn’t really know where I wanted to go except NOT into Mexico, so I drove around and up, where I ran into my own border patrol station, with dogs, the sign said, and I was the only vehicle around.  Terrific.

But as I slowed the guy smiled and waved us along to be swallowed up by the Imperial Sand Dunes and finally spit out into Arizona, ptew, ptew!

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