By lex, on April 11th, 2010
So, as I mentioned, the past week was Spring Break for the Kat, who insisted – she is the youngest, and can be very insistent – that the only right and proper place to celebrate the waning months of sophomore year was Palm Desert. An entire week was out of the question, of course: There’s the expense to reckon with, and it turns out that in the silly-civilian world employers are nothing like so generous as Uncle Sam in the article of time off.
Three days, two nights at the Marriott Palm Desert Villas. It would suffice, my youngest said, with a politely deferential tilt of her pretty head that had me in no way deceived. I am so on to her.
Not that it does me any good.
Up the 15 to Temecula, then east on California Route 79 towards Indio. East of T-Town we stopped in at a winery for to dine on over-priced comestibles, surrounded by the Sex in the City set, 10 to 15 years on. After what passes for wine country here in Southern California comes rolling hills and switchbacks, the fierce urgency to get there tempered by an awareness of mortality: Signs urged passers-by to turn their headlights on and report drunk drivers as the roads narrowed, snaking through the hills. That caution born of long experience driving in the foothills was itself in conflict with the maddening spectacle of truck-drawn horse trailers right ahead with never a passing lane in sight, themselves dawdling uphill at 35 MPH with seemingly no particular place to be and no particular time to get there. Any person that would ride horses having long ago given up modern notions of efficiency in transport from one place to the next.
In the front seat beside me, the Hobbit oohed and ahhed about sights I could not long take my eyes of the road to enjoy, those same trucks – or trucks just like them – that had groaned up the many hills having reversed course to careen back down them, spilling out of their lanes and into oncoming traffic with alarming regularity. It was a fun, but focused drive in mid-day. I presume it could prove a harrowing one at night, especially when the wine tasters make their muddled way back down to the coast. Flying the Cardinal over, I asserted to an impassive and evidently unpersuaded audience, would have been so much safer.
Was I aware that her 16th birthday was racing up on us, the Kat asked casually, with all that the consequence that this significant milestone imports?
I was aware, dimly, I was forced to admit. The date having been repeatedly thrust into the forefront of my consciousness over the last several months by none other than herself.
An Audi A4 would make a lovely addition to the stable, she suggested. If a late model BMW 3-series was out of the question. The lady being not entirely insensitive to the niceties of domestic economics, not to mention these our troubled times more generally.
Whatever you can afford m’dear, is the invariable reply, putting aside – for the now – this latest iteration of the grapple for to focus on the road.
It’s dry and hot, the coastal greenery haven yielded to the golden grasses that give the Golden State its name. Dessicated, gray-green scrub trees and chaparral shoved towards the road in anguish, almost begging for the arsonist’s match to put them out of their misery, taking the whole world with them. In the back seat, the Kat and her friend, our guest, made disappointed clucking noises over the paucity of reception bars on their cellular devices. The things we did not dream of back when “hi tech” meant portable transistor radios having become a kind of lifeline to the only world that matters. Which is, essentially, all of it.
CA 371 takes you to Anza, where it gives way to CA 74 in the Mount Saint Jacinto National Wilderness. Approaching Pinyon Crest, even the sere grasses and scrub brush give way to rude boulders and then suddenly – almost implausibly – there it is, the San Bernadino Valley laying there below you. The transition from alpine rocks to watered lawns and be-sprinklered golf courses happens with disorienting velocity.
We checked in to a charming one-bedroom villa with pull-out couches for the girls in the main room. A nice little kitchenette that saw little use. A pair of moderately successful rounds of golf given my lack of recent practice. Had a charming hour or so in converse with XBradTC, who passes time there in Palm Desert and who was graciously provided funding through the kindness of occasional readers who learned that we would meet and who offered to support my creeping dissolution.
The young ladies spent their days joining the scandalously clad adolescent set poolside, and the only barely more decently dressed gangs of teenagers on break that prowled the evenings, interspersed by languorous sprawls on various couches in afternoons, snoozing to NCIS re-runs. The Hobbit took her own leisure and walked the grounds to her heart’s content, almost entirely relieved of quotidian concerns. We dined rather more well than wisely. Greeted the day’s end with adult beverages adorned with cucumber slices, for it is a dry heat in the desert, and thirst is a terrible thing. Sturdily read my emails, both work and private, only surreptitiously. Contributed not one jot to the world outside the narrowly constructed one right before me.
I wore no salmon colored trousers never, nor yaller neither, for there are some things I remain rigidly unwilling to do.
Drove back the way we came t’other day, flew once yesterday, today I will do my taxes and find out exactly how deep the rabbit hole goes. Work Monday.