Category Archives: California
Wow, January! You were really something. During your calendar page time, I made my way home from California, spent an evening with friends in New Paltz and had a quick getaway to Miami Beach. There were numerous runs, some yoga, lots of golf course walks with Jeter and the first ski of the season. It was a month full of living life and spending time with people whose company I enjoy. 2019, I think you’re going to be a good one…
As I spent a little time reflecting on the past month, I couldn’t help but recognize that it didn’t matter where I physically was, wherever I was I felt happy. I guess this internal happiness I’ve been working to cultivate travels well. It really is true, you know, wherever you go, that’s where you are.
It didn’t matter if I was traveling alone or with someone else, if the sun was shining or the wind blowing, or where I physically was – my general state of emotional being was positive. I felt lucky to be wherever I happened to be, even when it wasn’t a place with a scenic view or the warmth of sun on my face. I’m alive. I have family and friends and people with whom I enjoy sharing my time. I have a home and a job. My health is good and my body (mostly) does what I ask it to do. And, there isn’t a single day that I don’t appreciate every single one of those things.
One of the best gifts about growing older is learning new lessons about life and oneself, and how those two things relate. I think the happiness I’m currently experiencing comes in part to my recent realization that beyond my children, the only one I’m obligated to is myself. I’ve known for a long time that I alone am responsible for my own happiness and security, but I’m starting to have a different understanding about what that means. To me, at least.
The commitment I have to being happy, to living my best life, comes with an emotional independence that I hadn’t previously considered. While I most certainly owe honesty to any romantic partner I am with, I’m not obligated to sacrifice my needs to a relationship which may not fill my soul in the manner in which I desire. This is, to me, a rather radical understanding of myself and the state of being linked emotionally with another. I don’t have to stifle my feelings or longings because my ultimate commitment is to me. I only get to do this life thing once and I’m unwilling to experience it as an observer. I want to live it. All of it.
How is the new year treating you? What are you doing to make your life one that is well lived? Are you living your best life?
Trysted. What a word! Sometimes the state of language distresses me…folks don’t respect it enough to spell it or speak it correctly and the words we’ve added to English just don’t seem to have added much really. Like “hooking up,” for instance. But, I digress. Let’s get to where Hepburn and Tracy trysted!
During my recent time in Palm Springs, I had a few touristy things I wanted to do and one of them was a tour of the heavily Mid-Century Modern (MCM) neighborhood of Old Las Palmas. After doing some quick research, I decided that the Palm Spring Historical Society’s “Golden Era Hollywood Homes” tour sounded like exactly what I was hoping to find. $20 and a couple of days later and there I was, meeting my group by the Synagogue which had been unfortunately renovated to disguise its MCM roots. Apparently, until the 1980’s MCM was a look not very highly regarded by many. But me? I love it.
The tour covered about 2 miles at an easy pace and lasted 2.5 hours. Our guide, (Joe?), a retired actor originally from Rochester or Buffalo, NY who graduated from Geneseo, was terrific. His narration was rehearsed but didn’t sound canned and his enthusiasm was contagious. On a beautiful morning, our group of 14 or so made its way past the former homes of, among others, George Hamilton, Kirk Douglas, Dinah Shore, Liberace and Lily Tomlin. We paused outside of Leonardo DiCaprio’s, available as an AirBandB, I believe, and eventually found ourselves outside of the completely-hidden-by-a-fence-and-wooden-gate home of Hollywood legend, Spencer Tracy.
Our guide shared some of the history of the wildly romantic and tragic relationship of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, star-crossed lovers of the golden era of Hollywood. He, a devout and married Catholic and she, a woman of rare independence, had shared a life of sorts in Palm Springs behind the very gate of which we stood in front. The gate which slid open to permit a woman and her small, leashed dog to exit. The woman smiled and took a few steps away from us before turning around to greet us with a “Good morning.” She continued to address us saying that since it was the holidays, she’d like to invite our group inside the gates to see the property. For real.
It was such an unexpected and graciously offered treat. She showed us through the car port to the rear of the house where there was spa, including a waterfall of sorts which was decorated with three stone monkeys depicting “See no evil,” “Speak no evil,” and “Hear no evil.” It seemed perfectly appropriate for every part of the situation.
We finished our tour with entry to the foyer of the house. The floors were 8” squares of terra-cotta tile with a thick grout line. The ceilings were gorgeous wood. Beautiful. As we entered, the view was to the pool area we had just visited as seen through tall glass windows. Sigh.
The courtesy we enjoyed made the tour nearly impossible to ever repeat and I’ll remember it for a longtime.
When I travel I refuse to overbook myself or make too many specific plans, preferring to be flexible because it’s vacation and having a rigid schedule sort of contradicts that concept for me. Prior to departing from home, I familiarize myself with some of the offerings and attractions available at my destination and try to determine what might need to be booked in advance. It sucks when there’s something you might want to experience when you’re visiting a new (or favorite) place only to learn that reservations needed to be made ahead of time – think the statue of David in Florence or the Washington Memorial in D.C.
Beyond those sort of points of interest, I’m all about getting a feel for a place, figuring out what can be accomplished without sacrificing my vacation vibe and seeing how the local weather influences which activities can be enjoyed. On this trip, my focus has been spending time with a dear friend, but I did have a couple of items on my hope-to-do list. On Friday I knocked two of them off.
I began with Joshua Tree National Park, a place I’ve never been before. As a person who considers U2’s 1987 album an absolute desert island record, checking out JTNP has long interested me. Unfortunately, the current government shutdown, along with a fierce and cold wind, made for a less than ideal visit. There weren’t any guided tours or services available and I was hesitant to hike any distance solo, so my explorations were limited to a short walk and some clambering up rock piles to access the best views – and what views there were! Every direction beckoned and I had to remind myself to not allow the vistas to tempt me into going further into the park (and away from where I had parked) in an attempt to see what might be visible from a different angle.
The wind was numbing and my hands were stiff from the cold, but the hour or so I spent looking around, climbing and shooting photos provided an introduction to a fantastic national resource that I hope to visit again under better conditions. With teeth nearly chattering, I made for my car and a destination that promised to warm me up – Miracle Springs Resort & Spa in Desert Hot Springs. I needed to soak.
It wasn’t easy to find a spot that offered mineral baths with a day use option, but the established Miracle Springs met my requirements of convenient location, multiple outdoor pool options and not expensive since I only planned to indulge myself for an hour or two. This place checked all the boxes and the $14 daily use fee was just what I was looking to spend. If you’re hoping for fancy this may not be the resort for you, but, if you’re satisfied with hot, bubbling water, sunshine on your face and a view of the mountains, perhaps you’ll be content. I was. Bonus if you, like me, enjoy a dry sauna because there are even a couple of those available. Not luxurious, but more than serviceable and a great way to warm up on a cool, high desert day.
The other afternoon I hit the hills for a hike/run. The sun was warm and I was comfortable in a tank top and capri length pants – a treat to someone who has been layering up in UnderArmour for the past couple of months.
I made it up the first long, steep hill without pause, using my technique of only looking up to the top of the hill once before training my gaze to the ground more immediately in front of me. I find this A. helps me to not get intimidated by how much farther I have to go and B. limits my likelihood of tripping and falling down.
The next hill leveled me. Hands on knees, gasping, I took a moment to look around. The San Jacinto mountains divided the horizon between sky and desert and I was struck by my incredible good fortune. I got to be here, right now, stretching my legs and challenging myself by running up a friggin killer hill in the sunshine. How lucky was I?
As my breathing evened out, I considered that in 2018 I’ve run surrounded by some pretty incredible mountain views – Vesuvius, the Austrian Alps and now these brown mountains dusted with snow in the distance. My eyes welled up and a tear leaked out before I burst out laughing. What a gift, what a life, what a day.
I took a deep breath and started running again.
Yesterday I spent a lot of time on my feet exploring and reacquainting myself with Palm Springs. In the morning, I hoofed it to Palm Canyon Drive to wander along the wide avenue, browsing shop windows and people watching. The cloudless blue sky and mild temperatures made it easy to lose myself for a couple of hours and I really enjoyed my alone time.
Later in the day, my friend R and I drove to meet a friend of hers for a walk, that is a walk for me to take with R’s friend, J. An MS diagnosis has caused my friend to curtail her activities and she wanted to give me a chance to exert myself, so naturally a hike with 80 year-old J was just what I needed. Um, ok.
I’ve walked and run these trails before and they are no bullshit. The grade can be pretty steep, the trail is often quite wide, but equally rutted and rocky and the surface is an unsympathetic sandy dirt. Introductions were made and a remarkably fit and youthful J and I headed up the hill in the warm sunshine.
It turns out that J, a retired Canadian teacher-librarian (!), and I immediately hit if off. Our conversation, between catching our breath from the demands of the trail, was easy and comfortable. We talked about sons and husbands and divorce and politics and life and the time flew by. Her fitness was impressive and she told me how conscientiously she has worked to stay active, how it hasn’t been easy but she feels rewarded by her efforts. She was a marvel.
We made our way down the hill to meet R, who we were going to walk a bit back up the hill with to cool down. As we collected R, another woman familiar to my friends joined us, E. Walking poles in hand with eyes of the brightest blue, E, another active 80 year-old, became part of our posse. I learned she was a retired physical therapist and it seems, judging from her level of fitness, she was good at her job. E made some suggestions to me to work on my bothersome piriformis muscle and shared some thoughts on staying active. Her walk with us was her second time of the day to hit the hill and she said it wasn’t unusual for her to visit the trail three times in a day. Wow.
Growing old can be daunting. We don’t do a great job taking care of the aged in our country and I could really get myself freaked out about staying independent and healthy, but after my time yesterday afternoon, I’m feeling more inspired and positive than I’ve ever been previously about what 70 or 80 might look like. Honestly, I’m hoping to grow up and become Rose.