A Spring Break from Blogging and Crap Weather

Hello!  Remember me? It’s been a while.

I gave a little teaser in my last post from oh-so-many days ago, but we were out of town this week for the kids’ Spring Break.  We went to warm and sunny La Quinta, California, in the Coachella Valley, a few towns over from Palm Springs.  It was dry and the sun was visible in the sky every single day we were there, which is a pleasant change from our mossy little corner of the world, the Pacific Northwest.

Our trip down started a little rocky, beginning with our flight from SeaTac to Ontario, which hit some fairly violent turbulence as we started our initial descent. It felt like we lost about 50 feet of altitude with the first unexpected and nasty drop (during which several people on the flight started yelping and making noises of distress), which a pilot friend of mine indicated means we actually lost a couple of hundred feet. The plane took some more wild bucks until the pilot (who, disturbingly, was silent during all of this and didn’t come on the PA to assure us all) suddenly jammed it back up in altitude.  It was all pretty frightening and even my son was scared. Fortunately, the pilot worked it out and we came in for a relatively smooth landing.  Thank God!

We landed in Ontario, which is about an hour and a half from La Quinta on I-10.  It’s an easy, fast drive because–well–it’s California and you can drive fast there. We were making good time on our way to the desert when we saw a sign that warned about high winds, blowing dust, and low visibility. Errr… what?

We hit the dust storm right as we descended into the Coachella Valley, and it was kind of freaky. I’ve never been in a dust storm, but I guess it was everything I had expected one would be like. There was–not surprisingly–a lot of dust.

It was actually much dustier than this, I promise.

It was actually much dustier than this, I promise.

Finally we made it through the storm and arrived at our hotel, the Embassy Suites, where we stayed one night before moving into our rental condo. We  are big fans of the Embassy Suites because of the free cocktail hour and full breakfast. Never too cool to pass up free stuff, we are!

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Oops. Did I just say we were “cool?”

After our free cocktail hour/snack frenzy, we walked to a nearby park and engaged in some twilight exercise.

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Those self-powered ellipticals were just about the most dangerous thing I have stepped on in years. It was like planting each foot on its own skateboard. Yikes. Fortunately, my daughter and her friend managed to use the machines without tearing anything/falling/crying. Ah, youth.

My husband was a good sport and demonstrated the self-powered treadmill for all you loyal readers:

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The only workout I had that night was a hearty belly laugh.

Which is not to say I didn’t exercise when I was down in La Quinta. I ran three times:

  • Monday – easy 6 miles
  • Wednesday – 1 mile warm-up, 30 minutes tempo, and 1 mile cool-down
  • Friday – easy 6 miles

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See? I ran in the desert; here’s proof.

And, as I complained about in my last post, I also took three rest days. Ugh. Actually–it was kind of nice, especially the day after my Wednesday workout.  And resting in the sun is quite nice–ask any lizard.

I also ate. A lot. That’s one of my favorite things about vacation. This was the best thing I ate the whole week:

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They were Tacos Dorados (fried tacos) from Asadero Los Corrales in nearby Indio. Asadero Los Corrales serves Sinaloan cuisine, which is seafood-centered, but these were stuffed with shredded beef. They were served with a little container of broth which you use to drizzle on the taco. I have never eaten Tacos Dorados before, but they were life-changing.

And we ate at that restaurant three times during our weeklong stay in the desert. I’m not proud.

Also to be filed under Things I’m Not Proud Of, Version 2014.4:

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We just had to make a stop at the In-N-Out.

When we weren’t eating cheeseburgers Animal-style and amazing Sinaolan tacos, we did some touristy things.

My husband and I met up with a couple of friends from home and went on an architecture tour in Palm Springs. The tour was operated by Palm Springs Modern Tours and it was incredibly interesting and educational. I enjoyed mid-century architecture before the tour, but now I need to make an announcement: I am in love with mid-century architecture, and we are getting married in June.

During the tour, I considered buying this home:

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Unfortunately, Leonardo DiCaprio just purchased it, so I couldn’t.  Dammit. It was such a steal at only $5.2 million.

So instead I thought I’d pick up this old fixer-upper:

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Looking at this place, Richard Neutra’s iconic Kaufmann House, makes my blood pressure instantly lower. It’s just stunning.  Too bad it’s slightly out of my price range (in 2008, when it went on the auction block at Christie’s, it had a presale estimate of $15 million to $25 million).

While in the desert, we also had a fun family outing with our friends/neighbors from home, who were also visiting La Quinta for Spring Break. We went to the Coachella Valley Preserve, an oasis. My first oasis!

coachella valleyThe preserve was a short drive from La Quinta, making it a convenient, easy day hike for the kids. My son actually exclaimed, “I love nature!” within 5 minutes of being on the trail.

I, however, was a little dubious. Note the wildlife warnings:

coachella critters collage Also, the preserve was located on the San Andreas Fault. So, yeah.

But we had a great time even as we tempted death by strolling along a fault line while being surrounded by mountain lions and poisonous snakes. During “snake season,” which, who knew?

On our way to the airport, we made one last touristy stop: the very weird unusual date farm I have been curious about since I first drove by it when I was in college and visiting the area on Spring Break. It’s one of those places that has a lot of funny billboards around it–kind of like Wall Drug, but on a much, much, much, much (you get the idea) smaller marketing scale.

It’s Shields’! Since 1924!

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Note the happy family on the right. That’s not our family. Remember, this was at the end of the trip.

Famous for its date shakes and, um, dates in general, we spent all of about 10 minutes to look inside and stand out on the back patio, contemplating whether we should pay $5 per person to tour a garden depicting the Passion of the Christ. We passed. And then I saw this:

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Ooh la la, who can pass up a sign like that?

Well, me. I looked in the theater, which looked like it hadn’t been renovated since, well, ever, and like the Phantom of the Opera could at any moment pop out from behind the curtain, and decided we should leave.

So we left Sheilds’, and our favorite Sinaloan restaurant, and La Quinta, hitting I-10 for the drive back to the Ontario airport. The flight home was mercifully less eventful, and we made it home.

Because all good things must come to an end at some point.

and were back

Hello, drizzle and gray skies: we are definitely home.

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