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The last trip that Julia and I made in 2023 was to travel down south, back to our home of 30 years, California. Our new Portland friends Jon and Gordon (Indy) invited us to stay with them in Palm Springs. On our way, we stopped by San Francisco to see some old friends. We had a blast catching up with them. The sun was shining in San Francisco, unlike the rain that was pouring in Portland. A massive atmospheric river was flooding our home at that time. But it wasn’t just the sun in the blue California sky making us feel good, it was also spending time with folks we knew so well. Thanks to everyone that took the time to reconnect with Julia and me.

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Alas, our stay in San Francisco was cut short as I picked up a cold somewhere, during our drive down south. The symptoms got bad and then Julia came down with the same bug. At that point rather than spreading the thing to our friends we decided to return home. We were really bummed not to have spent more time with our friends in San Francisco and not making it to Palm Springs was extremely disappointing.

We spent the next three weeks at home getting over this nasty bug. We tested for COVID several times and the results were always negative. This just goes to show that it’s not just COVID that can disable you. Anyway, we both did recover and decided to complete our trip to Palm Springs when we were feeling better.

A group of people posing for a photo

Palm Springs is a city of contrasts, where the ancient and the modern coexist in harmony. It is a place where the past and the present are intertwined, where the natural and the artificial are blended, and where the desert and the mountains are juxtaposed.

The history of Palm Springs goes back to the time when the Cahuilla people, the original inhabitants of the area, settled in the oasis that they called Se-Khi, meaning boiling water. They lived in harmony with the land, using the abundant springs, palm trees, and plants for their food, shelter, and medicine. They spoke Ivilyuat, a language that belongs to the Uto-Aztecan family, and developed a rich culture and tradition that still survives today.

A group of people standing on a rock

The first major change in Palm Springs came in 1884, when Judge John Guthrie McCallum and his family moved from San Francisco, seeking a better climate for his son's tuberculosis. They bought land from the Southern Pacific Railroad and built a home and a canal system to irrigate the desert. They also planted crops and orchards and introduced new species of plants and animals to the area.

The second major change in Palm Springs came in the early 20th century, when the city became a popular destination for Hollywood celebrities, who were attracted by its sunny weather, scenic beauty, and privacy. They built lavish homes, hotels, and resorts, and brought glamour and fame to the city. They also contributed to the cultural and artistic development of Palm Springs, supporting local artists, writers, and musicians. Some of the famous stars who frequented Palm Springs include Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Lucille Ball, and Bob Hope.

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The third major change in Palm Springs came in the late 20th century, when the city became a hub for architecture, design, and art. Palm Springs is known for its distinctive style of mid-century modern architecture, which features clean lines, geometric shapes, and bold colors. The city also hosts various festivals and events, such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Modernism Week, and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, that showcase its cultural diversity and creativity.

The geology of Palm Springs is also fascinating, as it reveals the dynamic forces that shaped the landscape over millions of years. Palm Springs is in the Coachella Valley, a rift valley that was formed by the movement of the San Andreas Fault. The valley is part of the Colorado Desert, a subdivision of the Sonoran Desert, which is characterized by low rainfall, high temperatures, and sparse vegetation.

A person and person in hats

The San Jacinto Mountains, which rise to the west of Palm Springs, are part of the Peninsular Ranges, a chain of mountains that extends from Southern California to Baja California. The mountains are composed of granitic rocks that were formed by the intrusion of magma into the crust. The mountains also have a rich biodiversity, with various ecosystems ranging from desert to alpine.

The Palm Spring Formation, which is exposed in the eastern part of the valley, is a geologic formation that dates to the Pleistocene Epoch, about 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago. The formation is a delta-plain deposit that was created by the ancestral Colorado River, which flowed into the Salton Trough, a large basin that was periodically filled and drained by water. The formation contains fossils of plants and animals that lived in the ancient river and lake environments.

A group of people sitting on a rock by water

Palm Springs is a city that has a lot to offer, from its history and culture to its geology and nature. It is a city that invites exploration, discovery, and appreciation. It is a city that has a story to tell, and a story to be told. And it is a place where Julia and I were able to spend time with new friends.

Happy Winter/Summer solstice to you and yours. May we all be new friends again in the New Year. And may the orange orangutan go to prison in 2024.


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