Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday, January 23, through Thursday, January 29, 2015: Back In The Desert, Week 5:

Friday afternoon I returned to Dr. Czako's to see how my wrist was healing.  All was well.  Otherwise, Friday was a very casual day.

Saturday morning, we met with Chuck Conway, one of Becky's former bosses, to tour Sunnylands, a landmark in nearby Rancho Mirage.  Sunnylands is the former home of Walter Annenberg and his wife, Lee.  It is now a combination museum and conference center. 

The home itself is 25,000 square feet and there are several outbuildings to house guests, as well as a large visitor center with appropriate displays.  The main part of the property consists of 200 acres and there are 200 more acres almost surrounding the property.  (Someone was able to squeeze in a small adjacent housing development before the Annenbergs were able to buy up everything around their property.)

The house and grounds complex, built in the '60s, is absolutely amazing.  They took bare desert and made an oasis out of it.  There is a nine-hole golf course, available only to guests staying on the property.  They planted 6,000 trees, only two of which are palm trees.  (Those two were planted at the suggestion of Dwight Eisenhower, who thought it strange that a place in the desert did not have any palm trees.)  There is an aquifer under the property which supplies all of the water used on the estate---including feeding the eleven lakes that have been created there.  And the artwork and objets d'art in the house can only be described as phenomenal.  When they were living there, the Annenbergs hosted presidents, royalty, and a zillion other notables, and pictures of everyone adorn the place.

After the tour, the three of us had a wonderful lunch at the Rancho Las Palmas resort.  I chose the mussels, which were delicious.  We always enjoy spending time with Chuck, and this was no exception.

Saturday evening, we watched The Good Lie from the redbox.  It's about some refugees from the Sudan civil war.  Good movie. 

Sunday afternoon, we headed for Desert Hot Springs and the home of Stephanie and Joe Raffel to have dinner.  Stephanie was in Becky's class at San Marino High. 

They last saw each other three years ago at a reunion.  I had never met either of them, and Becky had never met Joe.  Stephanie and Joe have a very large property in DHS, which they have owned for 25 years.  They actually live in Sandia Park, New Mexico, and this is just a getaway place for them.  We had a great time together.

On Monday we first dropped off  Ramsey and Kelsey at a new kennel we are trying, called Mission Inn Pet Resort, then ventured the 140 miles (roundtrip) to Riverside to meet Priscilla and Dick Offhaus for lunch at the historic (and quite coincidental) Mission Inn.

Priscilla and Dick are a delightful couple from Montgomery, Illinois (near Chicago) we met on our trip to France last year.  They are in the west visiting their children.  We had not been at the inn for several years and the Offhauses had never been there.  The place is awesome, of course, and we all had a terrific time there, including a nice buffet lunch.

It was not the warmest day, and I had worn shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.  Frankly, I was cold.  So, after lunch, while the ladies were searching the gift shop for exotic items, I bought a sweatshirt.  I was much more comfortable after that. 

The ride back to the desert was uneventful, and the dogs were exhausted when we picked them up.  That's good.  All of us spent the rest of the evening relaxing.

Becky went to Pasadena late on Tuesday for more work at her dad's home, spending the night at the Jonathan Club and "working" on Wednesday.  I had dog duty while she was gone.  All went pretty well, including the early morning wakeup walk.  Becky returned in the late afternoon on Wednesday and we took Ramsey to a group obedience class with Valerie Masi at 6:00.  He did very well.

We picked up dinner at the Panda Express on the way home.  Delicious, as usual.

Thursday was a very odd day.  We have been considering replacing the "home theater" machine in our RV because we learned that the CD/DVD player portion did not work.  (We've had the machine for four years but never previously tried to use it for playing movies through our TV set;  we've used it only to for our satellite radio.)  And we saw some neato carry-on luggage at Costco the other day that we've decided to buy. 

Thursday morning, I went to Best Buy to discuss the home theater situation.  After 15 minutes of having no one pay any attention to me, I gave up and headed to the nearest Costco to buy the luggage, only to discover that particular store did not carry the luggage we had seen earlier in a different Costco.  So, I returned home completely frustrated.

That afternoon had even more strangeness.  First, Kurt failed to show for our scheduled workout at the gym, and, because Becky had the truck and was delayed at an appointment, I decided to walk the near-mile to our RV park.  That is not something I normally do.  Becky picked me up less than a block from home. 

Second, we attended a 3:00 PM spaghetti dinner for the pickleball crown (and spouses) at the adult lodge, thrown by one of the new players as a means of getting acquainted.  Thanks, Larry. 

Third, we had another dinner at 6:30 with Steve Gore (an old LA Junior Chamber buddy of Becky's) and his wife, Lucy.  They have only been married for 5 years and we had never met Lucy before. 

They are staying at the J W Marriott Desert Springs Resort, and that's where we had dinner (in The Grill).  I had very nice fish & chips.  We had a fun time with Steve and Lucy, talking long enough to close the place.  We were exhausted when we got home---well past our usual bedtime.

Thus ended our current week in the desert.  

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