Friday, March 23, 2012

Only in California - A Photo Essay of Fun


You know you're in a resort community when you see streets named after celebrities, when golf carts are given the right of way, when casinos are the highest buildings on the horizon.
And I suppose, to many people, these kinds of pictures are 'typical' for life in what has been not-so-affectionately called LaLaLand.
I can almost hear the armchair critics now:
"Just a bunch of glitz out there in Cali-forn-eye-ay, Mildred.
Them folks got no morals, no culture, nothin' that's real.
Ya wanna stay away from that place."

Yes, I jest.
A little.
And if this were all there was to see when traveling around the greater Palm Springs area, you might sit right down in that armchair and join the chorus.
But I'm here to tell you - there's a lot more to see, to do, to enjoy,
 than celebrities, golf and gambling.
Especially if you're in need of a change of pace, some time and space to rest, and the fun of watching portions of a renowned tennis tournament.
 The first thing to remember is that you are, truly, in the desert. When you arrive at your hotel or your rented condominium, things will not look like this, however.
 They might very well look like this.
Or possibly like this.
Surrounded by towering mountains,
silhouettes of palm trees everywhere,
angled light of late winter,
colorful blooms,
rolling green golf courses,
you could be sitting on a small, delightful patio,
just aiming your camera wherever you please.
 More than likely, there will be a well-maintained,
nicely heated pool somewhere nearby.
This always makes for a relaxing afternoon.
 Of course, there are the local courses to wander.
The mountain backdrop somehow makes everything seem more dramatic, more picturesque.
 And on those wanderings, you might encounter some water fowl here and there.
 Ducks of various kinds.
And an occasional honker or two,
lost on their migration back home to Canada and points north.
 No guys - that's not a pond. It's a sand trap. Try again.
 And there's no better place to enjoy a little bird-watching - from the comfort of your patio chair, of course.
 The mocking birds are out in force, preening and singing their little hearts out, hoping to set up shop with the missus somewhere nearby.
 The hummers love the lantana right next to the table, so you can spend hours - literally! - waiting to capture just one of them with your camera.
If you're really blessed, you might just spy a small beauty like this one, whose name you may never know.
 And in the temperate climes of the late winter high desert,  there are always blooms to enjoy - 
colorful, interesting, unique.
 And if you're really fortunate, you might glimpse some of these fluttering, wandering wonders, too.
 After all that rigorous activity, you'll need some sort of outing to refresh and inspire you. And this place is just the ticket!
The Indian Wells Tennis Stadium - at night, to avoid the heat of the midday sun.
 The tournament is sponsored by a bank most of us have never heard of before - but if they have their way, we will all know who they are very, very soon.
 And if, perchance,  you should happen to be in attendance on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, you will get a chance to see the two finalists play - on their way to becoming finalists.
(The finals are much easier to watch from the comfort of your own family room, upon your return home.)
 Roger Federer, the Swiss titan.
 Who actually lost the first set to an up-and-coming young Canadian named Milos Raonic - who was excellent.
 But then, of course, he went on to win this round, beat Nadal in the next round and win the tournament the following Sunday.

And then you might be able to watch John Isner, the only American left in contention. Six feet, nine inches with a powerhouse serve, this guy is intimidating on the court and played well against Federer in the finals.
 If you're a true fan of the game, you'll stay for the second event of each evening, although almost everyone else will abandon ship. Watching women's doubles is interesting and exciting and Ivanovich won her singles match to advance to the semis and eventually the finals.
 What you will come to appreciate if you attend a tournament like this is the huge network of folks who make it happen.
Line judges, referees and ball-fetchers, to name just a few.
 Figuring out when they rotate positions is tough to do. And you might find yourself wondering how the kids who chase down stray balls and tend to the needs of the players can possibly stay awake in school the next day. 
Especially when you get out at midnight both nights.
Yes, there is much more to these California desert resorts than celebrities, casinos and golf.
There is natural beauty, on scales both grand and small,
there is warm sunshine,
there is a relaxing ambiance that invites you to slow down,
settle in,
and unwind.
And that is a very good thing.

Joining this (and part 2) with L.L. Barkat and Laura Boggess for their weekly invitations:
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