Wednesday, September 24, 2008


After driving by for years and wondering what was out there I saw a PBS special about California landmarks and found out the secrets to this freeway offramp located midway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Check out this website!
You'll be intrigued by it as well. There is a place to stay and study the desert operated by Cal State Fullerton.

What do you think? Should we rendezvous there? The site says reservations are available!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Hollywood Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music

Last Friday we had a great time with forty-three ward friends experiencing a unique Southern California event - "The Sound of Music" sing-along at the Hollywood Bowl . We paid $35 to watch the 1965 movie classic starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer on the Big Screen. And what a delightful event! Before the movie started there was a costume contest with a cruise as the grand prize. This years winners were a family with eight children dressed as the musical notations 'Do-Re-Mi'-etc. To be in the company of enthused participants gave whole new meaning to a movie so well entrenched in our lives. It was hilarious to yodel with 18,000 people to 'The Lonely Goatherd' and to ponder on how to solve a problem like 'Maria' while holding up q-cards that came in our participant bag (what is a Flibberdigibbit?) A crowd favorite was 'Edelweiss', with 18,000 glowing cell phones raised above the head while the audience swayed and sang in admiration of the nobel, white alpine flower. And when Maria and the Captain finally kissed - everyone let loose with poppers! When the Nazis chased the fleeing family through the cemetery in darkness, prepared participants broke out their flashlights to shed light on the tombstones. And whenever Baroness Shrader or Rolf, the telegram messenger appeared there were hisses and boos . Several laser pointers kept us entertained by visually trying to eliminate the bad guys or telling vicarious understories through their machinations. (ie. the Captain checking out the Baroness' chest.)

On the two hour bus ride from the church to the bowl (it was after all Friday night rush hour) we were tested on our SofM knowledge. We happened to sit in front of a man who knew it all! His wife was equally well versed and kept the questions coming throughout the long ride. One trivia detail I learned later - the four older Osmond brothers auditioned to be Von Trapp children! Think you remember details? Take the Trivia challenge and see how much you know.

Celebrating 29 years in Twentynine Palms

Eric & I have been married for 29 years! Wahoo! But how do you celebrate a mini-milestone year? For our 19th Anniversary we enjoyed the $19 special in Wendover! A room, prime rib dinner for two and some gambling gimic we declined. We booked the room, enjoyed the meal, tolerated the smoke, took a walk through town (the Nevada side thrives, the Utah side is neglected) and entertained the idea of kayaking at Blue Lake, a few miles out of town on the Salt Flats, but finally decided against it for fear our boats would be snatched from the car rack in the casino parking lot. In keeping with our niner tradition of finding something related to the number, we decided it was time to visit Twentynine Palms!

But what could we find to do in Twentynine Palms? Well it is the gateway to Joshua Tree National Monument and we've wanted to check it out and check it off our List of Things to Do While Living in California. Ten years ago our son Ben made a memorable climbing pilgrimage with his friend Justin Warren who was studying at USC at the time. Joshua Tree has amazing climbing routes that are world renowned. Ben came home with awe-inspiring tales of adventure, a head full of Smurf-blue hair and a pierced eyebrow - that made his escapades memorable to all of us!

But back to our day in the sun. Well number one - though it was hot it wasn't unbearable! Thankfully it was only in the 80's & low '90's. For a place which is known to offer triple digits with regularity, we lucked out! We checked out Cholla Cactus Garden, Skull Rock, Keys View, Barker Dam, Hidden Valley and more.

After a full day of hiking we headed to Palm Desert to spend the night. We celebrated my birthday dinner at Red Robin which would not have been complete without Mud Pie!

After a good night's sleep we went exploring in Palm Springs and environs. We entered Points of Interest in the GPS and Tahquitz Waterfall popped up. We followed the directions the GPS voice gave us - which put us into the middle of a trailer park! We exited and found our way while ignoring the mechancial voice which instructed us to 'u-turn at the nearest intersection and go back'. We found the Visitor's Center and were informed that the waterfall was dry and that it was not worth the two mile hike at this time of year. The employee kindly suggested that we check out Indian Canyons. On our way there we passed Moorten Botanical Garden. It looked interesting so we figured what the heck, today's an adventure waiting to happen. We u-turned, parked, paid our $3 and had a delightful time at this privately owned Living Museum founded in 1938. The Moorten family turned their residence estate into a living museum of desert lore. There were glistening crystals, colorful rocks, ancient fossils, pioneer and gold-mine relics and the world's first 'Cactarium' (a word they coined) with an exhibit of rare plants.

This private arboretum was created to share the beauty and extraordinary varieties of desert plants from around the world - featuring desert trees and cacti from miniatures to giants. There were more than 3000 varieties of plants along a nature trail. The Moorten's Mediterranean style home called 'Cactus Castle' lies in the Palm Grove Oasis and the entire area was touted for being an ideal site for weddings, receptions, art exhibits, concerts, classes, meetings, memorials, mixers and fashion shows. Ideal for photography television programs and movie site locations the brochure proclaims.

We have to agree, it was unique and a refreshing change from the over-commercialized, big box sameness of most tourist spots.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September Always Makes Me Melancholy

From the time I was a little girl, September meant back to school shopping. Even when there was little or no money, my Mom made sure that we had new school clothes to start out the year. When I was in elementary school she would dress me in turtle neck shirts and matching knee high socks, paired with a cute little skirt, I was tres chic! You have to remember that in those days you always had to wear a dress to school. Of course often there were shorts underneath, just so you could do proper flips on the monkey bars without flashing the frilly undies to everyone!

In later years, as I become a Mom September meant many other things. No longer were there little ones at home during the day - I was free to pursue other things during the hours of 9-3. Of course often those pursuits revolved around those absent progeny. I was involved in PTA, School Community Council and volunteering as a room mother.

When the kids hit high school, September meant cross country meets. I really miss running from one vantage point to another just to yell words of encouragement to the team as they pushed the limits of the endurance to go the three miles in a race. GO WEST!!! will always have special meaning to me.

I miss Back to School night. I appreciated putting faces to the teacher's names that had become an integral part of my children's daily existence.

I miss August's rain storms and Keileigh jumping in the puddles.

I miss the Family Reunion in Bear Lake...

There's the changing leaves that I'm missing while I'm here in California...

There's the Peter Breinholt September concert in Sundance...

There's so much more...

The one thing I don't miss - HOT SUMMER DAYS!

I Love Park City!

In August Keileigh and I had the opportunity to go to Park City and stay at a condo with our Kremer cousins.

Aunt Natalie, Mary, Danica, Jaclyn & Eden packed up the van and headed for the hills to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. We had an adventure trying to find the condo, then trying to get the key lock box to open. We spent a half hour trying to get the combination to work before we determined that we were trying on the wrong condo!!! When we found the right location the combo worked like a breeze. Fortunately for us we didn't set off any alarms trying to break into the wrong location!

The Olympics were going strong and we watched gymnastics and swimming events while eating and waiting for the Main Event - real shooting stars! Natalie went out to scope out a good vantage point. When she didn't return, I went out in the dark to find her. As I made my way up to the roadway I heard a rustling up ahead. I called out in a timid voice, 'Natalie?' Instead of the expected reply from a female voice, I was terrified to see a huge beast go dashing across the way in full sprint! The headlights from a car in the far distance illuminated the antlers of a huge deer only a few yards away! After my heart stopped pounding, and I determined that yes I was now alone, I heard Natalie call out my name, 'Christy, is that you?' She hadn't seen nor heard the deer and couldn't figure out why I didn't respond.

We had a wonderful time watching the shooting stars. They were few and far between at first, but we had a great time sitting on a rock and catching up on our lives. Around midnight we went inside and got blankets and returned for a second go-around around 1:00am. Keileigh & Mary joined us around 2:00am and were rewarded with some great streaking lights.

The following morning we spent time in the pool

and then we road the cabriolet up to The Canyons Resort which we explored for a while

then we rode back down to the parking lot and discovered a farmer's market. We had a great time browsing and making a few purchases.

Spending time in the mountains reminded me of how much I enjoyed Park City. It's been a while since I've spent any time up there and despite the changes, it's still a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the beauties of the world.