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  • Writer's pictureKathy Condon

Palm Springs Road Trip to the Ocean Reveals Surprises

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Picture of the Presidential Office decorated in Royal blue and Gold
Presidential Official as it was during Nixon Era

It is tradition when one of my friends in Vancouver, Washington, visits me here in Palm Springs; we plan a road trip to the ocean. Usually, we design a three-day trip. This year was no exception. Before she arrived, we agreed we would go to the Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace. Then keep on going and make our hotel reservations in San Clemente.

Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

I have always loved Presidential Libraries, and it was time to go to Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, which is newly remodeled. Located in Yorba Linda, a 1.5-hour drive from Palm Springs, this site has been on my bucket list for a long time. I will write an extensive article about the place, but first, I wanted to share what surprised me.

1. The Library and Conference Center is on land purchased by Nixon's grandparents. The original house, including the bedroom he was born, is in pristine condition.

2. Nixon faced these crises in 1969: City riots over race issues, the cold war with China, and escalating issues with Russia. Sound familiar?

3. I did not know he signed the Environmental Protection Agency into law and established a cabinet seat for environmental affairs.

My future article will address more things he accomplished that I had not known about or had forgotten. I would also like to share with you Watergate was not swept under the rug. An entire large exhibit room is devoted to the event.

Highrise White Spanish Architecture Building
Street Near Beach in San Clemente

Road Trip to the Ocean - Next Stop San Clemente California

Both of us were looking forward to seeing the Pacific Ocean. We were not disappointed with the perfect temperatures for our entire three-day journey. We felt like we had hit the jackpot with weather hovering around 72 degrees as predicted, with lots of sunshine.

It was mid-afternoon, and the hunger bug was rearing its head. Our hotel manager at the Surfbreak Hotel suggested we head to the pier and Fisherman's Market. Oh my, the food was so good, and the view was stellar. We could watch people walking the beach and hearty souls frolicking in the waves, without wet suits, I might add….brrr.

With our brains stretched and our stomachs full, we headed back to the hotel for a relaxing night of watching whodunit TV shows. Competition ensued about which of us would be accurate in our guesses.

Observation about San Clemente. It definitely is a beach community with all the amenities one could want on any trip to the beach. Glistening in the sun, snow-white Spanish architecture, with red-tile roofs, hugged the rugged hillside. Lovely parks with grass lawns and palm trees align with expansive white-sand beach.

Visit to Rancho Capistrano Winery

We headed out for a return culinary visit to Rancho Capistrano Winery. My family and I visited there in January. We still rave about our lunch on their 3,000 ft patio.

This time we met with Devin, the Wine Club Manager, and the Chef before we started our explorations of new menu items interspersed with choices from their wine menu. I told them that their food was worth five stars, and I meant it.

Again, a more detailed account of this winery will appear in my writings soon. Meanwhile, this lovely place is within easy walking distance of the San Juan Capistrano Mission.

Buildings around the Courtyard of Mission San Juan Capistrano
View of Mission San Juan Capistrano Grounds

Mission San Juan Capistrano

You know how you have a vision in your head of something, and then you find out your image is dead wrong. Well, that's what happened to me when I walked through the Mission San Juan Capistrano Gift Shop into the yard. Fortunately, I had the audiotape headphones. I quickly got the gist. I was in for a lovely historical learning experience.

This is the seventh Mission (out of 21) the Franciscans built in California after the Spanish-American War. One of the first things that caught my eye was the lavishly blooming blue flowers tucked up against the light beige stone used in many buildings. Yes, I said buildings. There is far more to see than the remains of the original Mission destroyed in 1812.

An observation about the Mission. If you are interested in missions, this would be a must-stop. Thanks to Father Sullivan, who became the resident Priest in 1920 and restored many of the buildings so we could walk the halls and hear the whispers of people who came before us.

This was a great three-day road trip. However, it is possible to make a day trip to any of these three places, for they are all about a two-hour drive from Palm Springs.

Kathy Condon in white shirt and wearing large gold beads
Kathy Condon Journalist and Travel Writer

Kathy Condon is a freelance journalist and travel writer. She is the Founder of the Palm Springs Insider Guide. Her book It Doesn't Hurt to Ask: It's All About Communication was named Best Book Finalist By USA Book News


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28 de set. de 2022

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08 de mar. de 2022

As I read, as felt as though I was walking with you to these most interesting and lovely locals…simply enjoyable reading.


Kathy Condon
Kathy Condon
07 de mar. de 2022

Great glad you shared. March 19th is the official day they welcome the swallows.


07 de mar. de 2022

Enjoyed this "read" very much!! The Mission San Juan Capistrano is a lovely place and when I was there I noticed the Swallow nests in the eaves, so the Swallows still do RETURN. Hope you don't mind my "sharing" my photos with you. Thank you Kathy for your inspiration.

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