Good morning and greetings, New Year’s fans. Well, 2010, much like the resolutions I made 48 hours ago to lose weight, exercise more and watch less TV, is now history, so hello 2011. But I must confess that I’m always more excited about the even numbered years. Yes, I know, that seems odd.
I spent a week over the winter holidays in lovely Palm Desert, which is located directly east of Palm Springs for those of you who have never visited this desert oasis. It is a winter haven filled with swaying palm trees, sparkling green fairways and luxurious accomodations for those seeking a Sunday brunch with ice sculptures shaped like a young Dinah Shore.
So while much of the country was as frozen as the gluten-free french toast sticks in my freezer, the desert was as warm as the holiday greeting card I received from Kim Jong II. And rumor has it while I was desert storming a little bit of snow fell in the New York Metropolitan area. It conjures up the words of my old pal Irving Berlin, “I’m dreaming of a whiteout Christmas.”
On our first few days in the southland a little moisture dropped down on the sand traps and putting greens. I’m lucky I brought along my “Sons of Anarchy” poncho, because on December 22, more rain fell in the Coachella Valley than in all of 2009. Because of the constant downpour, you wouldn’t have known this was a desert wonderland of golf, tennis and Indian casinos. It was like the old joke, what happens when the fog lifts in California? UCLA.
The following day, Noah hauled away his ark and the skies returned to their crystal blue persuasion. The snow-capped San Jacinto mountains went back to changing color throughout the day rather than being shrouded by low lying clouds. I’m not sure Moses would have recognized this place, as the palm trees, waterfalls and endless lakes might have confused the guy who parted a fool and his money right after the Red Sea.
But it might have inspired the eleventh commandmant, thou shalt build condos on the golf course with a pool and hot tub within 100 yards surrounded by fruit trees that bloom throughout the winter. Growing up in New Jersey, I was not aware that this warm weather paradise existed. I was happy just watching the traffic flow smoothly on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge.
So normally when I’m in the desert mode I’m shooting photos every day. Sunrises, sunsets, masseuses-in-training, flowers, road runners, gun runners, flocks of airborne Canadian geese and Canadian bacon. But due to sports, weather and traffic and still being in shock from the New York Giants’ collapse against Michael Vick and the Eagles, I was happy just connecting the dots in my coloring book.
Well, that’s not completely true, as I did shoot one lovely sunrise, which I have featured in photos five and six. But since this is the first post of the year, I wanted to bring to you, in the words of author David Halberstam, “The Best and the Brightest,” and let you see for yourself how spectacular the desert skies can be. I didn’t journey out there on a horse with no name, but let me tell you, it was good to get out of the rain.
Photos one and two are my favorite sunrise shots from along the back nine of the golf course at the Palm Valley Country Club. Over the years, people have asked of the second shot, was this taken in Bali, Cambodia, or Staten Island? No, it’s early morning action in the Southern Californian desert, which is great way to start the day before snorkeling in the hot tub.
Photos three and four are a couple of epic sunset shots from the land of the Bob Hope Classic. On the first, the sky turned as crimson red as any Alabama moment that I’ve ever witnessed here on planet earth. The next shot was just off the charts, as I could see from the way the clouds were lining up that the mother lode of sunsets was approaching. It turned out to be better than I had hoped, much like the matzo ball soup at my bar mitzvah party.
I should mention that on our ride up the coast to fly out of SFO the sights were also spectacular, as the storm was in full flow and thousands of gulls flooded the beaches. These were as beautiful gull shots as I had ever seen and would have made for a fantastic storm blog, but we wanted to get to the airport as quickly as possible so we could wait for a few hours as our flight was delayed, which is not the same as CANCELLED, which we experienced on our attempted return home.
And just in case you were were wondering how long it takes to drive from Palm Springs to Santa Cruz, go with 8.5 to 9 hours, just to be safe. And in the parting words of one of my newest best friends, an unnamed California Highway Patrol officer who I met early Wednesday morning just outside of Pescadero, “watch your speedometer.” A simple “Mele Kalikimaka” would have been sufficient.
Here’s a little taste of the late night. “This morning President Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ into law. He would have signed it last night, but supporters of the bill didn’t want to miss last night’s episode of ‘Glee.’” –Conan O’Brien “President Obama signed into law the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ What does it say about us that we think gay men can handle armed combat, but can’t handle marriage? The census shows there are more than 308 million people living in America. The amazing part is: More than half of those people are Americans.” –Jay Leno “Sarah Palin is getting into the Christmas spirit. Today, she shot a partridge in a pear tree.” –David Letterman
So that’s our first blast of 2011. Hopefully, the new year will be filled with joy, good health and hope that things will be better for so many Americans. And if not, maybe they’ll be more garlic shrimp in my next takeout order. It’s great to be back in the saddle with my cyber audience. We’ll catch you running a deep fly pattern. Aloha, mahalo and later once again, Dwyane Wade fans.