top of page

Search Results

93 items found for ""

  • 4 Reviews of Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 Events

    Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Since I have been a resident of Palm Springs for 12 years, I can see different Modernism Week events each year. New events, including new home tours, are added to the schedule each year. Over  135,000 people from all over the world descended on our community. I say descended because our small town is at capacity in its hotels and dining establishments. Thus, it is important for you to plan your visit in February well in advance. Signing up for the Modernism Week newsletter is the best way for you to get a crack at buying tickets for the more popular tours. My article Palm Springs Modernism Week from my Point of View will give you a more extensive overview of the week, but I wanted to share some of the events I attended. Begin at the Palm Springs Modernism Week Camp Hyatt When you arrive in Palm Springs, make your way to the Camp at the Hyatt Hotel Palm Springs. If you are staying in one of our many Palm Springs Preferred Hotels, it is an easy walk from many of them or an easy Lyft, Uber, or Taxi. PRO TIP:  Our Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) is 10 minutes from the Camp. Frankly, most of the events are close together and having experienced the traffic this year, I believe it would be much easier NOT to have a car. You cannot help but feel the excitement when walking into the Camp. The entire lower level of the hotel is filled with vendors, places to lounge, and the all-important check-in for the famous Double-Decker Bus Tours. (Catch one with Charles Phoenix if you can, for he will have you laughing most of the way, and you will learn little details about our Architecture.) Throughout the area, I looked down and learned the pattern rugs (really recyclable tiles) were our first introduction to the new Trina Turk flooring line. When you arrive, breeze through Destination PSP's sizeable retail store, set up with everything Modernism and Palm Springs. It is the perfect place to buy gifts or something for yourself as a souvenir from the trip. Witness to a Conversation with Nelda Linsk and Trina Turk The event was held at the Annenberg Auditorium in the Palm Springs Art Museum. I came in minutes before the event was to start. I checked in with a volunteer, and much to my joy, she escorted me to a single seat, second row, in front of the lovely seating area where the women would be conversing. For those of you who do not know, Nelda is the woman in the yellow outfit in the famous Slim Aarons photo Poolside Gossip. In fact, it is her house, the Kaufman house pool area, where it was taken. She said Slim called up. They were friends, and he said he wanted to come to Palm Springs and take some pictures, so could she gather her friends for a photo shoot? Which she promptly did, not knowing one of these photos would be recognizable throughout the world. She joked I would have done two things differently. I would have worn something different because now everyone wants me to wear yellow. Plus, it would have worked out a commission for the photo. Trina Turk's honor to be in a conversation like this with Nelda was evident. It turns out it was a full circle moment for Nelda, excited about a new designer store opening up in North Palm Springs, and Nelda was Trina's first customer in the store in 2002. Trina took us through her history and the decision to open the store, for originally, she only sold her clothing line wholesale. Trina kept talking and dreaming about having a store. Her husband, growing weary of her talking about it, said let's do it. Then, when the building became available, Mid-Century architecture appeared to fit Trina's designs well. It is still considered her flagship store at 891 N Palm Springs Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. She smiled when she talked about adding Mr. Turk to her line. She said we had a vintage men's clothing rack off to one side of the store. Whispers became louder, and it became clear that men wanted fresh designer clothes, too. So we opened the store, and my husband was in charge of it until his death. Now, his assistant handles the line. It was an informative conversation sprinkled with laughter. The women were wearing Trina's clothing. Then, with a flourish, local celebrity models came out with some of the clothing from her new collection, ending a lovely interlude in our lives. Visit to Palm Springs Wexler '54 Home Tour On Mesquite Avenue, this Wexler-designed home is in the Deepwell area of Palm Springs. It was one of the first homes designed by his architecture firm in 1954. It was named a historic designated home in 2022, and its place in Palm Springs' history will forever be maintained. Working with Susan Secoy Jensen, a preservation consultant, and H3K Design, the home reflects the era, while the furnishings provide an atmosphere where one wants to stay for a while. The pool area has a covered dining area and a large cabana with a firepit that will indeed have some stories to tell in the future. One immediately notes glass is used in practically every room of this four-bedroom house, a prominent design element of Modernism—bringing the outside in. The flat overhanging roofline helps keep out the Palm Springs sun. Frank Sintra's Twin Palms Home Admittedly, this home, literally four blocks from my home, has been on my bucket list to see since I arrived in Palm Springs. At last, the occasion came to attend a cocktail party in the home. The weather cooperated and was one of the warmest winter evenings this year. I dressed up in my California Caftan and was escorted to the event. The long walkway takes you under the breezeway, designed to create shadows reminiscent of a keyboard adjacent to the enormous pool designed in the shape of a piano. Set up with two outdoor bars, we found our way to the one on the other side of the pool. There, one could see the outline of the house clearly. The home was designed with glass in most rooms. Thus, activities could be witnessed as people toured the house. DJ Bobby, aka Bob Deck Realtor, spun songs that clearly caught the crowd's attention because dancing and swaying to the music was not only okay, it was encouraged. Meanwhile, tables inside and outside were filled with people enjoying the pasta dishes they created using ingredients from Lulu's extensive buffet. A tour revealed an unusual Palm Spring's home feature. There were fireplaces throughout the home. One can only imagine how cozy a fire in your bedroom on a cool Palm Springs winter evening would be with a glass of wine. The kitchen has the original baby blue appliances. Remarkably, they are still in service to those renting this space. A large island wall provided the divider for the dining room. The living room's main feature is the original stereo system. When Frank and Ava Gardner lived here, it was pretty apparent that this was a gathering place to listen to music, for it felt like a poolside place because of the large glass doors leading out to the pool area. One of the bedrooms was filled with black and white photos of celebrities who apparently had visited Twin Palms---yes, there are two very tall palm trees adjacent to the pool. Close of Palm Springs Modernism Week 2024 It has been a fun and exciting time for me this past week. Modernism Week is 11 days long. As you can see, the events are varied, and there is so much to learn. The time flew by, and I look forward to exploring more events during Fall Modernism on October 24-27, 2024. Tickets go on sale for it on August 1, 2024, Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of large cities. 760-902-3094

  • Palm Springs Modernism Week From My Viewpoint 2024

    I am a fortunate person to be living in Palm Springs. Perhaps, fortunate is not the correct word, for I chose to move from Vancouver, Washington, twelve years ago. After 26 years in the Northwest, I looked for new adventures and warmer weather. Little did I understand the world that was opening to me. You have read about many of my adventures on my previous blogs. Today, however, I wanted to focus on one I am experiencing literally out my door. The subject is Modernism Week, a misnomer 11 days in length. This annual event started in 2006 as an extension of the Palm Springs Modernism Show and Sale and Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Symposium. Today, with 360 events to choose from, it attracts over 135,000 people worldwide in February every year. Modernism is So Much More than About Buildings Yes, Palm Springs' architectural style, now labeled Modernism or Midcentury, is prevalent. During the 50s and 60s, architects took risks, used steel in new ways, experimented with design elements to bring the outside in, using natural stone, and emphasized simplicity. Happily, many of these homes still exist. They have been restored and even designated as historical sites, assuring future protection. During Modernism, you can take the double-decker bus to see neighborhoods with these homes and even tour individual residences. Past Lectures for Palm Springs Modernism Week History of Airstreams I spent many years camping in a trailer with my family as a child. When the pass arrived for a film/lecture on Airstream trailers, I readily admit that I thought okay, but my excitement was underwhelming. Camping days were in my rearview mirror. Yet, that afternoon, I found myself mesmerized by what I learned watching the documentary about the history of its development and relevance today. Untold Stories of Black Influence in Palm Springs Remember I said I have lived here for twelve years. Fortunately, stories are being uncovered and now written down. Listening to the presentations of black architects and community Activists and learning more about Lawrence Crosley, for whom we named a street, was quite the eye-opener. I attended other lectures, but you get the picture. My brain was stretched because I was exposed to new subjects. I urge you to go to the Palm Springs Modernism Week website and sign up for their newsletter so you know what lectures are being presented in February 2024. Meeting People Conversations, standing in line or sitting next to someone in the auditorium, are always enlightening. I met a reporter from the Financial Times who had flown in from England to cover the events. These casual interchanges often end, offering some great insights into visitors' perceptions of our community. Parties One year, the Dreamboats shared their talent at the open-air space at the Hyatt Palm Springs, exposing the younger people at Thursday night's Street Fair to the music popular in the 60s. Generation Y parents were seen rocking their children's strollers to the beat. Shopping Craving to find a vintage 60s dress or shirt? Need new décor for your home? How about a vintage lamp or vase? We have everything from style shows to vintage vendors pulling out all the stops with their finds and willing to let go to a new home. I trust I have raised your curiosity a bit. This 11-day feast of touring, learning, and shopping is under the umbrella of the word Modernism. If you are interested, I suggest you go to the Modernism Week website and sign up for their newsletter to get earlier notice of tickets for the smaller preview week in October 2024. You might also want to consider making your hotel reservation for the fall because our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels fill up rapidly. For now, you understand thousands of people will descend on Palm Springs for this internationally recognized event. Sign up for my blog updates at the bottom of the Palm Springs Insider Guide page. Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author with a niche of luxury experiences and cities living in the shadows of others. Publications here. About Kathy 760-902-2094

  • JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa Review by Palm Springs Resident

    Living in Coachella Valley, residents drive by beautiful resorts and hotels. However, since we have our residences, we rarely have the opportunity to experience the ambiance and amenities of these outstanding resorts. I was offered the opportunity to spend a night at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa to help unveil its JW Desert Springs Spa enhancements. I checked my calendar and was delighted I could accept the invitation. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Arrival at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa is the largest in Palm Desert, with 884 guest rooms, which include 101 luxury suites, 400 King guest rooms, and 383 Queen Guest rooms. As I checked in, someone said, "This a city within a city."  I would find that observation accurate as I explored the 450 acres surrounded by mountains on three sides. Everything you would need can be found at this resort. With an activities list and a map, I headed to my 8th-floor room, with its breathtaking view. In the distance, snow-capped mountains provided a backdrop for the scene before me. The beautiful golf course, pools, and brilliant sun made for a tourism bureau's dream photo. While unpacking, there was a knock at the door. I opened it, and there was a beautiful welcome gift of fruit and vegetables. The creative presentation and the makeup of the cuisine were my first hints that it would be a stay unlike any others I had experienced. Reception at Rockwood Grill After a quick nap under the fantastic comfy linens in the king-size bed, it was time to get dressed for the welcome reception at the Rockwood Grill on the water's edge. I was great to meet people I had communicated with via email. Meeting fellow journalists and travel writers from the Los Angeles and San Diego area was fun, sharing our experiences and reactions to the welcome thus far. Cuisine Served at the Reception It was a delight to have Chef Eric Theiss share his thoughts on creating the evening's outstanding buffet on the Rockwell Grill patio. For the first time, he and his staff produced a buffet using foods from the Blue Zones, those five areas of the world where people live the longest. Let's use a cliché: He and his staff " Hit it out of the ballpark." Each dish seemed better than the previous one I tasted. The delightful dessert of sorbet was made before our eyes. The lemon flavor danced on our tastebuds. The Official Welcome Jan Hulahan, Director of Sales and Marketing, welcomed us and introduced Dawn Ferraro, the JW Marriott Desert Springs Spa Director. Dawn shared that the next day, we would be one of the first to see their new coed lounge and have the opportunity to experience the chairs using the latest technology. We could relax and rejuvenate as we relaxed in the lounge and enjoyed the amenities of a Day Pass for the Spa. Plus, we learned this particular Marriott is the first in the world to debut the first JW Wellness Lounge and the Barker Wellness product for the exclusive Barker Wellness CBD Massage. The following day's activities loomed fairly early in the morning, so I took my leave from the reception. I wandered some of the many paths and eventually headed to my room. Sitting on my balcony patio made me feel and appreciate the world surrounding me in Coachella Valley. Morning Began at the JW Marriot Desert Springs Spa Walking into the bistro, a part of the Palm Desert JW Desert Marriott Spa, caused me to break into a smile. On the long counter was a variety of breakfast items waiting to be scooped up by fellow travel writers and taken to the set tables waiting for us. Chef Theiss greeted us and said he carried on the theme and that all the food options were vegan. He shared they are testing recipes, and many of the items we had the opportunity to taste may or may not be on the resort's menu in the future. In any case, they are working to ensure the menu has some vegan options throughout the resort, including around the pool. However, the standard hamburger and hot dogs will still be available for those who want it. Entering the JW Marriott Desert Springs Spa Coed Wellness Lounge We were broken into groups and directed to one of the new relaxation chairs. We changed chairs every 20 minutes. First Chair-- A separate piece was placed over your stomach, noted to help with digestion. With numerous settings, you could adjust which area of your body you wanted massaged. Since I had just returned from a trip to New York City and had walked miles, I appreciated how it massaged my still sore hips. Second Chair—With headphones on my head, I sat back, chose the setting "Emotional," and relaxed to the soothing music. Third Chair—And, perhaps, my favorite chair. Wearing a mask, I soon felt the heat, and then it gently started massaging my sinuses. Oh my, with the weather being less than perfect lately, I appreciated how I could feel my sinuses clearing. I enjoyed every aspect of this particular experience. On to A 60 Minute Massage with CBD The JW Marriott Spa Palm Desert offers 60-minute massages instead of 50-minute ones. Be sure to book a Barker Wellness CBD Massage to ensure CBD will be used for your treatment. The warmth of the oil and the excellent therapeutic hands of my masseur were what I needed to create the final scenario for me to recover from a seven-day trip that included four airplanes and walking miles. Alas, the rain was moving in after the massage, and flooding streets was predicted. Thus, I chose to leave the soothing oil on my skin, changed into my street clothes, and headed back to the safety of my home 10 miles away. The overnight stay opened my eyes to several features of this magnificent resort in our Valley: · The cuisine is varied, and there is something for the pickiest eater I may have to entertain in the Valley. ·  If you want a resort with all services on your vacation, you cannot go wrong at the spa JW Marriott Palm Desert. ·  I've become a linen snob—you won't be disappointed with the feel as you crawl into one of their very comfortable beds. · If you want a spa day with friends, this is one of the top spas in Coachella Valley using the Barker Wellness product line founded by renowned musician Travis Barker. These products elevate the massage experience with both CBD and CBC Muscle Therapy Cream and Cannabiond-infused Body Oil. The timing was perfect for me to experience the food and treatments of the resort. However, even more importantly, my awareness of its amenities will be helpful as I continue to share the resources available to visitors in Coachella Valley. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger ones.   ABOUT KATHY        Publications can be viewed here. 760-902-3094

  • Palm Springs to Redondo Beach Road Trip Ends at Hotel

    We, residents of Palm Springs, California, appreciate our sunshine 350 days a year, but we sometimes feel wanderlust raise its head. Then we know we need a change of scenery. So, when I had the opportunity to review Sonesta Redondo Beach and Marina, I was more than ready to explore a new area. Plus, those of you reading my website, Palm Springs Insider Guide, know I love to share my discoveries with my readers. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Redondo Beach is just south of the Los Angeles airport. So long ago, I learned that if I'm taking a road trip to the area, I must get up bright and early to beat the work traffic or wait until after 9:00 a.m. to leave Palm Springs. It is 120 miles, so it is two hours' driving time with good traffic. I passed the exit for the Nixon Presidential Library in Loma Linda, which I had previously visited. You can review my reaction when I traveled there with a friend a year ago. No matter what your political leanings, I urge you to see this Presidential Library. My goal to be at the beach at 11:00 a.m. was achieved. Check-in at Sonesta Redondo Beach and Marina was a breeze. It wasn't long before I was on the way to my room. The hotel is built in a U so that more rooms can have an ocean view. Thus, be sure to wear comfortable shoes because some rooms are quite far from the bank of elevators. The opened door revealed a patio with a lovely ocean view from the 6th floor. With brilliant sunshine and warm weather, it was the perfect place to have coffee in the morning or have a cocktail in the afternoon. Hey, I've come here to relax, and both sound equally inviting. Time for Lunch After pursuing my room, the hunger bug reminded me I had eaten breakfast early. When I arrived, I noticed the Harbor Bar & Bistro appeared to be a happening place. It is just steps away from the hotel's entrance. I sat down at the bar and was immediately drawn into the conversations. It quickly became apparent that many people eating or having a cocktail had been here before. The conversation soon turned to talking about the staff. People who frequent this hotel and bar talked about how they had met staff members who have been here for 30 years, with 15 years probably the average. I had already noticed the staff smiles and the accommodating service. With staff staying that long, it is well known that the administrations most likely treat their employees well. Adjacent to the bar is a lovely lounge area. People chatting, while others found a quiet space to use their phones. Tour of the Sonesta Redondo Beach and Marina I met the lovely concierge at the appointed time. We visited the many meeting rooms and noted that the artwork on the walls was original, most with a beach theme. Walls can be reconfigured for any size of meeting or conference. The heated outside pool is next to a large space perfect for a wedding with an ocean view. On the top floor are windows with beautiful ocean views and a Grab-and-Go shop, accessible with specific hotel keys. It was well stocked, and I loved eating the biscotti with my morning coffee. Then there was a surprise. I have never seen a hotel with a calming room for the employees.We quietly entered. I first noticed how the high ceiling was draped with cloth. A waterfall feature provided the sound of rushing water while calming music played in the background. A couple of employees stretched out on lounge chairs while a nearby refrigerator provided water. Maria explained that the administration realizes employees can have difficult things going on in their lives or work with demanding visitors. This room is for them to chill out. I am betting this is one of the reasons employees stay so long, for they understand IF the administration provides a space like this, they genuinely care about their employees. Time to Explore on Trip from Palm Springs to Redondo Beach The Sonesta Redondo Beach and Marina location provides easy access to the beach and nearby restaurants. It was a beautiful day, so I went on foot to explore. Captain Kidd's market was fun to peruse the fresh seafood you could buy to prepare in your home or kitchenette if you had one in your rental. Since I wasn't hungry, I wasn't interested in going to the restaurant, but noted it was available. Directly across from the hotel is a large building rumored to become a restaurant soon. It is on prime property with a great view, so it is expected to be a great asset. Redondo Beach Pier I walked but noticed a hefty parking fee in the large parking garage. I loved the murals along the walkway and was enamored with the tiles, creating a mural-like effect on one of the stairways. While walking, I got a bit confused and found myself on the level of modern offices and a few shops. It's impressive how the developer built them on a level above the Pier. I spied an elevator and took it down to the Redondo Beach Pier to begin exploring. There were shops you would expect to see on a beach. At the end of the Pier, numerous fishermen hope to catch their evening meal. At lunchtime, I opted to try Tony's on the Pier, also known as Old Tony's. I enjoyed my fish and chips and cold beer while watching the waves lapping up over the nearby boulders. A little shopping resulted in a new silver necklace from a lovely pearl shop going out of business. Too bad, for it had beautiful pearl jewelry. Dinner at the SOL One of the highlights of the visit to the Sonesta Redondo Beach and Marina was having dinner at the SOL Restaurant. It is located adjacent to the hotel's entrance. The well-lit entrance made you feel like a star entering a special place. I smiled when I saw the décor—very different—an elegance about it, but with still a rustic feel. Large picnic-like tables made of boards rough-hewed but with a lovely, polished seal. They were set with settings for four, two across from each other. Fresh flowers served as beautiful centerpieces on each table. Addison, the Food and Beverage Manager for the Sonesta Redondo Beach, greeted me as I arrived. I sat down and perused the menu. After a discussion with Addison, I decided I wanted to be surprised. The wonton soup was superb. The word is that the chef forms each wonton by hand. There was no question in my mind the broth contained some of his secret ingredients. Next to arrive was Ahi Tuna Tartare. Until now, I thought I was not too fond of this dish. After eating this, I find myself craving it---looks like I'll have to return to Redondo Beach just for that. My main entree, Honey Walnut Shimp, with scallion, garlic, and aioli, arrived, and it was apparent I needed a dining partner because the serving was so large. I looked around and noticed all the entrees were large. The SOL is a restaurant that encourages sharing. Various serving dishes were used for the main course, including a charcuterie board. My choice for dessert was an Espresso Martini. Oh my, one of the best. Time to Head Back to Palm Springs With my suitcase packed, I sat on the patio with a cup of coffee. Adjacent to the SOL restaurant is a large alcove serving breakfast, a continuation of the Harbor Bistro and Bar. A buffet is available, and my spinach and feta cheese omelet made to order was the perfect choice to sustain me for my drive home. The valet brought my car to the front of the hotel. It was a wonderful stay. I smiled as I drove out of the driveway. I felt relaxed and delighted about what I had learned and appreciated the grace the Sonesta Redondo Beach and Marina staff showed me during my two-day stay. Even if you have just a day, a road trip from Palm Springs to Redondo Beach is worth the effort. However, if you want to plan a longer stay, consider this hotel, one that honors its staff, a location perfect for exploring our Southern California Coast, and terrific cuisine. Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. About Kathy  760-902-3094

  • Palm Springs Resident Reviews of Palm Springs International Film Festival 2024

    In January, the buzz begins. What stars will attend the Annual Awards Dinner for the Palm Springs International Film Festival? This year, the Awards Dinner has come and gone. People attending said it was an especially excellent event, and the award-winners' speeches were poignant and meaningful for today's world. Admittedly, I have been a groupie, standing behind the ropes watching as the stars arrive to walk the red carpet. For example, I've seen Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, and Richard Gere. It is always a crowd guessing game about who will walk over to the waiting crowd to sign autographs and take selfies. However, 135,000 plus people come to see films spread over 11 days. The Palm Springs Film Festival is one of the largest in North America. This year, 179 movies will be shown at various venues representing 74 countries. Palm Springs Resident Reviews of Palm Springs International Film Festival First We Bombed New Mexico Director Lois Lipman follows the life of Tina Cordova, founder of Downwinders Consortium. When a ticket surfaced to attend this film, I gladly accepted it, although I had no idea what I would learn. In the words of Tina Cordova, founder of the Downwinders Consortium, I can't unforget what the movie revealed. For those of us who saw Oppenheimer, this film shows the other side of the repercussions of the event that changed the world. In Oppenheimer, we saw how the site's infrastructure was constructed and watched as millions of dollars poured into the area. However, what was not considered was how the blast would affect the surrounding communities, some 15 miles away. Organizers did not even consider how the New Mexico winds can change direction rapidly. As a result, more communities and areas were engulfed with dust from the blast, floating to every crack and crevice in the area. People aged 11 and 12 living in the area when the blast occurred gave their first-hand knowledge. One man said his mother was so angry because her newly laundered clothes on the line turned black from the dust. They were not alerted to the imminent test. Thus, when it happened, they wondered what it was. Today, 75 years later, people who lived in the area wonder WHEN they will get cancer, not IF. Recent records uncovered showed 35 babies died within months of the test. Family trees reveal the cancer rate far outpaces the rate in other areas of the country. So far, the government has not acknowledged that New Mexico residents were victims of the test, while other states where the debris drifted have been given medical help and reparation. At the end of the film, the panel expresses disbelief that twice a year, the government opens the site, and hundreds of people, with their families, flock to the exact spot where the bomb was detonated, with Geiger counters still registering radiation. You can read more about the movie and situation here: Art for Everybody The directorial debut of Miranda Youself. I was intrigued when I saw a documentary about Thomas Kinkade. I was aware of his art but was even more interested since I had visited Placerville where he grew up. I wasn't prepared for what the film Art for Everybody revealed. First of all, I didn't know he died in April 2012 of alcoholism at 54 years of age. The movie takes us through his life, accompanied by audio tapes he recorded at age 16, in which he said, I want to be a famous artist like Van Gogh, but want to be recognized during my lifetime. He married and had four girls, which were interviewed for the film. They watched as his father appeared addicted to attention and the need to keep spreading his name and marketing his art on everything from reprints to plates to armchairs. As pressure grew to produce at least one painting a month, appear at public events, make ads, and open his galleries spreading across the country, his family started to notice his withdrawal from them—but making sure they were present in ads portraying a healthy, happy family. Ironically, he did not drink when he was married, and sparkling cider was served at his wedding. However, with pressure and meetings, drinking became part of the culture, and his daughters/friends/wife eventually organized an intervention. He ended up going to a rehab facility, but the first thing he did when he was out was get a drink. Through a series of changes in management and the decision to ramp up productions of his approximately 600 paintings in reprints, people no longer felt investing in his art would add to their retirement funds. Plus, lawsuits started to surface. He was not accepted as an artist of critical acclaim during his lifetime. In the film, one art critic stated that a part of me hopes someday, hidden in a vault, will be Kinkade art with a whole different approach to his art. Well, his desire came true. Upon his death, the vault in his home revealed over 6,000 pieces of art, from drawings to completed paintings, but only 600 were paintings, as we understood his style. The additional paintings were very dark and showed a man in turmoil. In retrospect, those who knew him well feel it was childhood with an abusive father, and then, once he became famous, he presented a persona people expected instead of who he really was, provided the inner resources and talent to create a very different body of work. The family has not cataloged the art, and no one except those of us who have seen the documentary has gotten a glimpse of the very different style of his work. From what I saw, there is no question one of his goals may be met after his death. Art critics may change their minds about him being worthy of being recognized as one of our more important American artists. As I walked out of the theatre, a man said, Were you in the theatre to see the film on Kinkade? Were you as surprised as I was about him? I replied, Yes, I was. This Palm Springs resident review of the Palm Springs International Film Festival is a small glimpse of why people come from all over the world to the festival. There is so much to learn. Thank goodness for documentaries like these that have us stop and enter worlds and learn about things, not inside the bubbles we live in. An additional fact is that both of these documentary makers were women. Consider coming in 2025. Sign up for their newsletter at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. About Kathy     760-902-3094

  • Palm Spring Trail System Created by Desert Riders

    Recently, I was invited to a Desert Riders social, the annual ride and breakfast at Desert Riders Park. While approximately 20 members of Desert Riders were on horseback on the way to the breakfast, others of us were shuttled to the breakfast location high above Palm Springs. The Setting for Desert Riders Breakfast As a newbie, I didn't know what to expect. I was a guest of Negie Bogert, who helped me figure out what to wear. Since it will be out in the open, she said, be sure to wear a hat and comfortable shoes because we will be walking on desert landscape paths. We also brought a beverage that was added to the bar set up for people to select their drink of choice. We exited the shuttle at the top of the mountain, where the horses would be tied while the riders ate breakfast and waited for their return ride down through the canyons. On the level space, I smiled as I saw tables scattered throughout the space, with red tablecloths and holiday decorations serving as centerpieces. The Desert Riders Park sign is discreetly placed on the mountain's edge. While we waited for the Desert Riders on horseback riding through the Canyons, we had the opportunity to talk with each other and share stories of our lives. With a guitarist and vocalist playing in the background holiday music, it was fun to watch the group occasionally join in at the chorus. The breakfast buffet was created by Desert Riders and included a homemade quiche, a terrific salad, ham, and sausage, and, for dessert, fruit bars and a cake. Maybe it was because we were sitting at the tables overlooking the Coachella Valley that we are proud to call our home, but I must say it was the best breakfast buffet I have experienced in a long time. After breakfast, a poet from Joshua Tree regaled us with holiday poems. Then he ended with a heart-pulling rendition of a poem about our flag and how it still stands today. A Little History About Desert Riders and Palm Springs Trails Desert Riders' history can be traced back to the 1930s. Jane Hoff, now 104 years old, was one of the original groups who said, "Desert Riders started as a way of camaraderie with barbecues and breakfast rides." She reminded us back then, there were few opportunities for social activities in Palm Springs. Jane Hoff's father, Carl Lykken, is responsible for forming the group into an organization. The Lykken Trail was named for him on South Palm Canyon in Palm Springs. Lykken Trail is one of the most used Palm Springs hiking trails. Not only does it have beautiful views of the Coachella Valley, but it also provides excellent opportunities to spy on our famous Mountain Sheep in the wild. Besides getting together for social activities, the mission of Desert Riders was "To Preserve Palm Springs Western Lifestyle." Remember, there were no trails; the desert was wide open with little development. Development of Palm Springs and Effect on Palm Springs Trails The development of Palm Springs golf courses, hotels, and housing started causing detours of the previously wide-open land. Safety on the trails and protecting the environment became of utmost concern to the Desert Riders'. With their diligent efforts, 28 trails were identified. These same trails have now been documented with global position equipment. Today, you can get a map of these trails at the Palm Springs Historical Society. Desert Riders Trail Foundation Formed in 1972 Recognizing it was becoming impossible to maintain all the Palm Springs trails, Desert Riders formed the Desert Riders Trail Foundation, a non-profit organization. Soon, the Trail Council included the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Game Department, National Park, the City of Palm Springs, Palm Springs hiking groups, Palm Springs biking groups, and equestrian clubs. More About the Desert Riders Event in Palm Springs If I hadn't been invited to the event at the top of the mountain, my curiosity and the goal of wanting to share with you, I wouldn't have delved deeper into the history of the Desert Riders. So, I am most appreciative. I learned more about Palm Springs's history. It was a wonderful experience being reminded the roots of Palm Springs began with the cowboys and wranglers who brought their cattle to the area. The present-day Desert Riders continue to carry a wonderful tribute to this way of life. Many of them no longer ride, but if you take the time to sit down and listen to them, you will have a new appreciation of the stories that they had to share about life here before we became known as a tourist community. This writer especially appreciates Negie Bogert, who continues to be my mentor in learning about Palm Springs, which I am happy to call my home. Plus, I now understand that the Desert Riders are responsible for the hiking trails in Palm Springs and all of the trails in Palm Springs that continue to attract people from all over the world. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in larger cities' shadows.     760-902-3094

  • A Miracle Pop Up at Truss and Twine in Palm Springs California 2023

    Really? A miracle? Perhaps it isn’t what you usually think about when using the term. However, Miracle Pop Up at the Truss and Twine is a whole lot of fun. Truss and Twine is a classy craft cocktail venue in Palm Springs, California, in the Uptown Design District. On any evening, customers can be seated at the U-shaped bar. The minimalist décor is reinforced with a cantilever black steel canopy over the concrete bar. Co-owners Michael Beckman and Jose Mourani share their time between Truss and Twine and Workshop Kitchen Bar. At Truss and Twine, Brandon Glass, with an electric personality, serves as General Manager and Bartender, regaling customers with stories as they relax. Miracle Pop-Up Arrives for the Holidays at Truss and Twine What is a Miracle Pop-Up? Greg Boehm was building a cocktail bar in East Village in New York City. The space would not be finished for the holidays, so Greg’s mother suggested they transform it into a pop-up serving specialty drinks with holiday décor. To their surprise, not only did friends come to support them, but crowds started to appear. It became the place where lone customers could come in and experience the joy of Christmas through the kitschy décor and holiday music. Laughter permeated the air. His bar industry colleagues took notice and asked how he created the event. Thinking the process through, Greg figured out how the event could be duplicated. By 2016, four locations had opened with specifically crafted cocktails and information about creating the atmosphere to make it feel like a nostalgic Christmas. Today, Miracle has been recreated in over 150 locations throughout the world. Truss and Twine Miracle Pop-Up: Only One in Palm Springs Brandon Glass proudly shares how pleased they are to be the host of this event. The closest other one would be in Los Angeles. The franchise has a strict limit: Miracle Pop-Ups must be at least 50 miles from each other. Walking into Truss and Twine The minute you park the car, you see the lights and even Santa and his sleigh marking the façade of North Palm Canyon. I couldn’t help but notice the white trees meticulously stenciled on the windows and the doors as we entered Truss and Twine. Greeted by staff in holiday sweaters and Santa hats, we sat down at the bar. Lined against the wall were tables waiting for groups of people to sit. Santa-like hats, complete with the pompons on one side, were gracing the back of all the chairs in the entire space. White lights dangled from the ceiling. The concrete walls were creatively decorated to look like gift boxes. Seriously, it would be impossible not to start feeling the Christmas spirit from the décor created by Palm Springs event planner Haley Riccio. Haley does all the events for Truss and Twine and Workplace Kitchen and Bar. Time to Taste the Miracle Pop-Up Specialty Cocktails Snowball Old-Fashioned – Rye whiskey, gingerbread, aromatic & wormwood bitters, orange essence. I had this old-fashioned and can give it a thumbs up. A delightful touch, the ice was a snowball, perfectly formed under the watchful eyes of the staff. Yippee Ki Ya Mother F----r—Barbados rum, rhum agricole, Trinidad overproof rum, ube & coconut orgeat, acid-adjusted pineapple juice. My companion ordered this drink, which came in Santa’s pants mug. Jingle Balls Nog—cognac, cream sherry, almond milk, cream, egg, vanilla nutmeg. Since I love drinking egg nog during the holidays, I ordered this, trusting I wouldn’t be disappointed. I wasn’t. I love it. Rudolph’s Replacement---Vodka, coffee liqueur, white crème de cacao, orange curacao, chai, almond milk, aromatic bitters. My companion ordered this and said it was like a mild Espresso martini served in a dragon mug. There are a total of 12 specialty drinks. So, another trip will be necessary to take full advantage of this varied cocktail menu. I plan to meet there with friends again. When you purchase a specialty mug in which the craft cocktails are served, 10% of the sales profits go to SEVA. SEVA is a foundation that promotes the sustainability of organizations worldwide to help support eyesight health. Small Bites are Available On Wednesdays and Thursdays, Hoja Blanca, a local food pop-up, serves a menu of modern Mexican-inspired food. Friday through Tuesday, a special menu created by the Truss and Twine team has a Christmas theme menu. For example, they have a Christmas Cheese Ball, Mary’s Chicken Leg Confit in Mole, and a cookie tin for those wanting sweets. Alas, it was time to say goodnight. It indeed was a fun experience, with the addition of helping it be the first-holiday event I have attended this year and put me in the holiday experience. This is a unique opportunity to meet up with friends and enjoy the holiday spirit while having an adventure trying Miracle Pop-Up’s specialty cocktails. Truss and Twine is open from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. and is hosting this event through December 31, so you have plenty of time to get it on your calendar. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. 760-902-3094

  • Temecula California a Short RoadTrip from Palm Springs Part 2 (2024)

    After a full day of exploring wineries in Temecula, California, including Robert Renzoni Vineyards, Leoness Cellars, Wilson Creek Winery, and Fazeli Cellars (see Part 1), I was ready to investigate other attractions in the area. Vine House Bed and Breakfast is Elegant without Pretense. I woke up to sunlight beaming through the windows of my second-floor suite at The Vine House Bed and Breakfast. Checking in the day before, I felt like I had been crowned a princess. The room was huge: a crystal chandelier, giant padded headboard, and French doors leading to a patio overlooking the nearby vineyard. Plus, exquisite linens made it extremely difficult to fling back the covers and start my day. At 9:00 a.m., there was a quiet knock at my door. I opened the door, and sitting on a portable table was my breakfast with a rose, accompanied by orange juice, a long narrow plate displaying a perfectly made omelet, potatoes, and French toast. Knowing there had to be a story behind the charming Bed and Breakfast, I was thrilled to interview Lacey Britton, the co-owner with her husband, Rob. Lacey worked in Human Resources in San Diego; her husband was well-established in the financial world there. After a few years, and with small children, she started thinking about what she would really like to do for her next career. She told her husband about a dream of having a venue where she could host weddings, so the search started. About the same time, her father-in-law passed away, and they wanted to provide a home for his mother. As they looked for property, they fanned out further and further from San Diego. Then they discovered Temecula and this property with a home, a casita for the mother-in-law, and a barn that housed race cars. With her vision in mind for the barn, she and her husband built it into a beautiful yet charming five-bedroom bed and breakfast. Lacey watches over every detail, creating each room with a theme. Every amenity a person could want is provided. Its location is in the countryside yet easily accessible to local wineries and attractions. Dorland Mountain Arts Colony Near Temecula California Ellen and Robert Dorland homesteaded 300 acres near Temecula. Ellen, an accomplished internationally known concert pianist, was friends with Barbara Horton, a dedicated environmentalist. Ellen dreamed of making the space a retreat for artists. The two women formed a non-profit organization in 1979 by working with the Nature Conservancy. Today, the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony has six cottages (one with a grand piano) and two art studios on a section of the land. A building called the Kitchen House provides a meeting place for the artists to collaborate if they choose to do so. Over 1500 artists, musicians, and writers have applied and been accepted to spend a week in the tranquil setting. Here, surrounded by only the rustle of leaves and occasional forest animals and birds, they can allow their creativity to flourish. Temecula Olive Oil Company Olive View Ranch The 18-mile drive to Olive View Ranch through Temecula Valley revealed an expected pleasant visit. I parked my car by the rail fence graced with white rose bushes, alerting me that I may be for a different experience than expected. I walked up the winding pathway to the tasting room, an open, tropical-like building with bottles of olive oil and vinegar waiting to be tasted. Thom Curry, a Southern California authority on growing and processing olives, met me, for I had made the required reservation for a tour. Thom took me through the grounds, once a wetland and drug-infested area and now a place where there were various vignettes waiting for visitors to relax and enjoy the solace of the quiet countryside. Relax in twig furniture or take a page from your childhood and grab a swing and pump your way to a thrilling ride, the ones that made you smile when you were little. With plenty of space, weddings have found a peaceful, serene setting, and fundraisers are frequent because of the variety of venues. If you want a family reunion, the ideal place for a large community grill is waiting to be the centerpiece for preparing your meal. The olive orchard trees meet to form a cathedral-like setting as you walk through them. Thom explains how he designed the first portable olive pressing machine. My experience harvesting olives at Sunnylands resulted in a great conversation, for he pressed the olives that day. The tour ended with me sitting and enjoying the tasting of olive oil. Thom has mastered mixing olive oil and vinegar, producing a salad dressing that is hard to resist. Dining in Temecula I already talked about the excellent breakfast at Vine House Bed and Breakfast. Now let's look closer at the places where I dined. Creekside Grille at the Wilson Creek Winery Not only is the Creekside Grille at the Wilson Creek Winery in a beautiful setting, but I also had the extraordinary opportunity to meet with Kristina Filippi—one of three women winemakers in Temecula Valley, whom I wrote about in Part 1 of Temecula California Road Trip from Palm Springs. Thirty-year-old Cabernet grapevines surround the lovely outdoor patio. I thoroughly enjoyed my Vineyard Salad with organic baby greens, golden raisins, candied walnuts, bleu cheese, and vanilla balsamic vinaigrette. A glass of Viognier perfectly accompanied the meal and our conversation. Avensole Winery the Perfect Place to Meet a Friend for Lunch To say the grounds of Avensole Winery are beautiful does not effectively describe the scene that was laid out before me as I explored before I had lunch with Jessica Neilson, General Manager. I wandered into the tasting room at the foot of the path, with an outdoor patio overlooking the gazebo used for weddings and the water lily-laden pond next to it. The tasting room was stripped of extraneous items and focused instead on the wine bottles and beautiful tasting bar serving as the focus of the entire room. During lunch, Jessica revealed that she often comes to the grounds early before the staff arrives to enjoy the morning quiet. She enjoys observing hot air balloons floating over the vineyards. I can only imagine how tranquil this way of starting a day must be. Avensole Winery, a women-run winery, focuses on Zinfandel, but on its 16 acres, grows other grapes, taking full advantage of the cool morning air floating in the Pacific Ocean to produce outstanding wine. With award-winning wines and a variety of venues to have a wedding, this winery is a place you will want to consider for any special event. For lunch, I ordered 2020 Zinfandel Rose, 100% Zinfandel rose, strawberry, cherry & blood orange with an elegant finish. Okay, I had two glasses. It was a long lunch. I felt like I was transported back to my experience drinking Rose in southern France on a day with weather similar to what I experienced here in Temecula. It paired perfectly with a Chicken Club, with grilled chicken, smoked bacon, heirloom tomato, and avocado spread. Ponte Family Estate Winery Restaurant While coming from the parking lot to The Restaurant of the Ponte dining patio, you walk a path surrounded by blooming white roses, revealing their beauty on the well-lit path. Seated in the perfect spot, with heaters providing the ideal temperature, it was fabulous dining outside in late October. A special moment was when Chef Admin Boubaddi came out to greet Norma Marlowe of Visit Temecula Valley and me. He told us he enjoyed having a constantly changing menu and using products to create farm-to-table cuisine. His smile broadened as he told us he only used fresh herbs. Alas, it was too dark for us to tour his herb garden, which was obviously his pride and joy. My entrée, halibut, was pan-sheared with porcini mushroom and breadcrumb-crusted filet and served in a bowl with olives, artichokes, asparagus, potato gnocchi topped with white wine butter. My Pinot Grigio was the perfect accompaniment. Now about dessert, oh my. Souffle of dark chocolate cake, vanilla anglaise, chocolate sauce, and fresh berries. With 300 acres of mature vineyards and gardens perfectly landscaped, there is much more to come back and explore. Plus, there is a hotel on the grounds, and the gift shop offers a wide variety of unusual gifts. One of their blends, such as Super T and the ever-popular Beverino would be a perfect hostess gift. The Gambling Cowboy makes its name at Great Steakhouse Located off Main Street in Old Town Temecula, you take an elevator to the top floor to the Gambling Cowboy Steakhouse. Once you walk off the elevator, your eyes dance across the room, for there is so much to observe. Every inch of the walls and flat surfaces has an object on it. I use the word object because photographs, sculptures, vases, saddles, and anything remotely connected to a Western theme are displayed. Since it is a steakhouse, I ordered a 72-hour Blacken ribeye steak. It was plated with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus from a nearby farm. I paired it with a glass of Leoness Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, and I was one happy diner. Of course, we had to try the dessert and let us say, the homemade bread pudding with warm Jack Daniels caramel sauce did not disappoint. A hot cup of coffee was the crowning touch to a more than satisfying meal. When Rene Ehmcke, the owner, joined the table, it was the perfect time for me to ask, Why did you name the restaurant the Gambling Cowboy? She smiled, and she said, There is a story. My Mom and I wanted to name the restaurant after my dad, who was alive. We were having trouble coming up with a name. One night, we went to a local Mexican restaurant. After a couple of margaritas, I said, Dad always gambled on me. My Mom piped up. He has always been a cowboy. That's when it was decided it would be the Gambling Cowboy. The place was bustling; word had gotten out; one can always count on getting an excellent steak at this restaurant that has never lost its focus, serving great steaks. I trust you enjoyed reading Part 1 and Part 2 about my discoveries with the guidance of Visit Temecula Valley; without their direction, I would likely never have discovered these places. It was a fantastic journey, and I'm already looking forward to going back and digging deeper into the stories of the attractions and people that make up this community, which I quickly discovered do everything they can to support each other. Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. 760-902-3094

  • Desert Wine Festival at Omni Rancho Las Palmas

    It was an ordinary day in front of the computer when I was invited to attend a Chef's Dinner at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas to launch their first Desert Wine Festival on their beautiful grounds. I was fortunate to spend a few days at this resort in the middle of Coachella Valley in Rancho Mirage, which had me wondering why I hadn't spent more time here. See my article 6 Ways to Enjoy a Staycation at a Luxury Resort, and you will learn about my experience there last summer. Thus, I was thrilled to be invited back. Omni Rancho Las Palmas Chef Dinner Dressing for a night out on the town, my friend Kim Galland, owner of Kimbals downtown Palm Springs, and I headed out. Parking is easy for dinner at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas. There is a self-parking lot, or you can valet park and leave your car behind security gates. It was still daylight and the perfect time for Kim to see the lobby and exit entrance to the restaurant, bathed in the sunlight. The dining tables were set on the patio, waiting for valley visitors and guests to arrive for dinner. However, we were greeted by Resort Manager Ed Moreno, who guided us to the patio beyond the Bleu Embers Restaurant to a private space. There, we saw this beautifully set table. Scherr Lillico, CEO/Director of Desert Wine Fest, and Mary Gavin of the Wagner Family of Wines, who would showcase Caymus Vineyard wine during our dinner, also graciously greeted us. Chef Simon Warren pulled out all the stops with his four-course dinner. AMuse – Pacific Oyster (Flashed Fried/Hollandaise/Domestic Caviar) paired with after Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay 2021 First Pairing- Mushrooms (Exotic Bend/Truffle Cream/Focaccia Crisp) paired with Mel Soleil Reserve Chardonnay 2121 Second Pairing—Poached Pear (Point Reyes Blue/Candied Pecan Brittle/Date Jam) paired with Sea Sun California Chardonnay 2021 (This turned out to be one of my favorite Caymus wines.) Third Pairing--Seared Sea Scallops (Pork Belly, Candied Beets/Parsnip Puree) paired with Caymus California Carbnet Savuvigon 2021 Fourth Pairing—Smoked Chocolate Cake (Toffee Crumble/Cherries/Vanilla Cream) paired with Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 With new friendships formed and an evening of superb wines and fine dining, we said our goodbyes. Then we walked back onto the grounds toward the resort's entrance, past the firepits and guests enjoying their nightcaps under our beautiful Palm Springs starlit sky. Desert Wine Festival Fun Event The Desert Wine Festival is in Full Swing at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort With perfect weather on Saturday morning, it was a pleasure to head out to the Desert Wine Festival at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage. Parking was at a premium. However, organizers had thought of that and provided detailed parking instructions with your tickets. People who had never been on the grounds could marvel at the sight as they walked outside from the resort lobby. The sound of bubbling water was in the air from the two-tier fountain, topped with a profuse of flowers, announced the entrance to the courtyard. Once checked in and received your wristband, you were handed a wine glass and a program. Then, it was time to sip and enjoy everything related to wine. Music was on in the air, with locals performing on stage. You could see people sitting down and tapping to the upbeat music floating through the air. For non-wine drinkers accompanying friends, Aqua Panna, San Pellegrino, or Celsius was available but kept us all hydrated on the warm Palm Springs afternoon. Besides the wines, there were exhibitors. My friend bought some fabulous jewelry from Timka Jewelry, and I couldn't resist getting PartyPop Corn for an upcoming trip. It was fun browsing the vendors interspersed with the various wine tasting opportunities, and I resisted buying some beautiful apparel. However, the afternoon was focused on wine tasting, and we had wine tasting with wineries from Washington, Oregon, California, Spain, Italy, and even New Zealand. The VIP area was sold out, and guests enjoyed food prepared by Chef Daniel of Daniel's Table in Cathedral City. It was a lovely afternoon, leisurely enjoying the afternoon on the beautiful grounds of Omni Rancho Las Palmas. I could have easily returned to the Desert Wine Fest for the second day of the weekend event, but alas, I had previously committed to other plans. Finally, it was wonderful knowing The Desert WineFest event was a fundraiser for The Desert Cancer Foundation. Kathy Condon is a Travel Writer, Journalist, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and smaller communities living in the shadows of large cities. 760-902-3094

  • Temecula California a Short Trip from Palm Springs (Part 1 2023)

    With fall in the air and an itch to go on a road trip, I suggest you might want to consider Temecula, California. I recently returned from spending three days there and want to share with you the things I discovered to do in the City of Temecula and the surrounding Temecula Valley. Since I experienced so much, I am dividing my trip into two separate blogs. How do you get to Temecula California from Palm Springs? You have three choices for your journey: · Go to Palm Desert and take Highway 74 right into Temecula Valley. This road is not for the faint of heart, for the road is very winding over the mountains. However, the views for the passengers accompanying you will be a magnificent visual treat. This route takes about 1.5 hours. · If you prefer Highway driving, you will want to consider taking Highway 10 west to Highway 15 South. This route will take you to the outskirts of Old Town Temecula. This is the longest route, but still about 1.5 hours because of freeway driving. There is a caveat: avoiding this route on Friday or Sunday night is best due to people returning to San Diego and Los Angeles. · Head west on Highway 10 and take Highway 79 South at Beaumont. This route is not the most direct way, but I have to say it is my favorite. It takes me over the mountain in gentle curves, drops down into the agricultural area, and eventually through rolling hills and miles of vineyards. You have arrived in Wine Country in Southern California. With approximately 50 wineries in the area, you certainly cannot expect to make a dent in visiting these wineries with fabulous tasting rooms, all of which have the owner's touch. The average wine tasting fee is $20. However, expect to pay more to sample their smaller batch wines. If a winery is well-known for a particular wine, you certainly can order just a glass and sit and enjoy the ambiance. From experience, I suggest you visit no more than three wineries in one day. This plan gives you ample time to sip and learn from the hostess pouring your samples. Then, you can purchase a glass of your favorite wine and wander the manicured grounds, each with its own personality. Since I visited four wineries during my stay, I would like to share with you what I experienced and learned from the owners and winemakers. All four have restaurants I will write about in Part 2 of Temecula is a Short Trip from Palm Springs. Robert Renzoni Winery For four generations, the Renzoni family was known for its fine Italian wines along Italy's northern coast. Today, Robert Renzoni's enthusiasm for the wine industry in Temecula can only be described as pride in his ancestors and his quest to carry on the family name in a bright light. The Robert Renzoni Winery tasting room doors are a recreation of the doors gracing his ancestors' building, creating a nod to his heritage the minute you walk into the room. Look around the tasting room; you will soon discover Robert has picked up the torch of fostering sustainability. Everywhere you look, wood in the space is either reclaimed or made from trees left to languish on the floors of the nearby forests. Here, I was delighted to discover Barbera wine, a signature red wine of Robert Renzoni. This may be my new favorite red wine. Valle de los Caballos is built on 13 acres, offering a view of the vineyards that carry your eyes far into the horizon. Robert proudly points out that most of his staff, including his chef, are women. He trusts them and looks to them for creative ideas to enhance the operation. However, there is no doubt who is in charge and makes the final decisions on every aspect of the operation. His hands-on approach makes this a place you will want to visit. Leoness Winery What an honor to sit down with Mike Rennie, co-owner of Leoness Winery, and Norma Marlowe of Visit Temecula to learn first-hand about the winery. I loved how Mike calls himself a farmer. Quite the farmer, for he is a sommelier and helps keep an eye on the 20 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon Estate and other blocks of vines throughout the area. With an eye on customer service, tours, educational classes, and dining, Leoness can genuinely be called an asset to the Temecula Valley Community. Then, let's talk about the area's sweeping views from almost any place you walk or sit. One of the most unique aspects of this winery is that it is divided into blocks. We met in the Rolling Hills block, where the tasting room and restaurant are located. Thus, wine produced from this particular block is bottled with Rolling Hills on its label. Cabernet vines loaded with ready-to-be harvest grapes surrounded us as we sat and enjoyed the sunny day on the vineyard's edge. Let's say I was hooked when I sipped the Cabernet Sauvignon. For white, my favorite was their 2022 CS Viognier-perfect wine for a hot Palm Springs Day. For their Vineyard Series, wines are produced 100% from the designated block. The label on this series of bottles shares information about the characteristics of the land and the growing of the grapes used in its production. Characteristics include soil type, block, exposure, harvest date, fermentation length, and barrel aging, to name a few listed. Wilson Creek Winery I was thrilled to learn Wilson Creek's Winery winemaker was a woman. I sat down with Kristina Filippi in the winery's restaurant. She is one of three women winemakers in the Temecula Valley. Kristina has been working in the wine industry for 15 years. Much of her knowledge gleamed while she went to college and worked for the Filippi Winery in Rancho Cucamonga. Also, a Le Cordon Bleu Culinary arts graduate, her love for pairing took her to the Mission Inn Restaurant in downtown Riverside, California. After Ten years of being the winemaker for Filippi, she proudly has embraced her role at Wilson Creek Winery, where she implements her old-world winemaking traditions into her style. Since she arrived, gold medals, Double Gold, best in the Class for Petit Sirah, and 90+ ratings prove she knows her craft well. Wilson Winery is family-owned and operated. Their hands-on approach displays their passion, experience, and creativity throughout the winery. Partnerships are honored with an eye to conservation. Fruit quality is constantly monitored, assuring this winery adjusts to climate extremes while creating great wines. Wines like Almond Sparkling Wine have become a must for Southwest California celebrations. Fazeli Cellars Winery When I parked the car, I looked up the hill and saw a vintage red truck parked in front of the building. This should have been my first clue. I was about to experience something very different than the other wineries in the area. Walking up winding steps to the Fazeli Cellars Winery winetasting room, I stopped and turned around to see the view of the nearby mountains, showing off their different layers of rock and colors glistening in the sunlight. At the top of the stairs, I saw flowerpots overflowing the edges with bright orange and scarlet blossoms. The vessels were placed by doorways and arches leading to hallways. I wandered through them, feeling like I had entered a small Moorish village. Then I learned from the owner, BJ Fazeli, that is the ambiance he purposely designed and built to create an atmosphere reminiscent of his native Persia (Now Iran). Mr. Stanley carries the name BJ gave him to differentiate him from the other two Stanleys working at the winery. His pride in the winery, colleagues, and BJ is evident as he regales stories about the wine, the winery, and the joy he finds in meeting people worldwide. One of their signature wines, out of 20 varieties, was the 2019 Shiraz. With BJ's hands-on approach, it was no wonder I found this superb wine worthy of a medal. The above is how I experienced these wineries through my eyes. I appreciate the fact I had such extraordinary access to these owners and winemakers. I encourage you to head to Temecula and have your own experiences at these wineries and observe their welcoming attitudes and attention to customer service. I suggest it is time for you to make a day trip or plan a weekend getaway. It is a place to build memories with whomever you decide to travel. Part 2 of this article will focus on things to do in Temecula, California, where to stay and dining experiences that satisfy a foodie with a most discriminating palate. Kathy Condon is a travel writer, journalist, and award-winning author. Kathy's niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of large communities. 760-902-3094

  • Fall in Palm Springs Brings Changes in Lifestyle (2023)

    As I walked out on my patio at 6:00 a.m., the sun rose over the San Jacinto mountains, and a few fluffy clouds floated by. I smiled, for fall in Palm Springs has obviously arrived. The cool morning air allows me to, once again, sit out on the patio for a couple of hours while looking through social media and planning my day. There is no question we locals are happy and relieved the 100-degree days are behind us. We have watched enough streaming TV movies. We missed our patio dining and poolside chats with friends. Fall in Palm Springs Changes in Routines · Planning trips out to do errands before 10:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. is no longer necessary. During the summer, we have to make sure we have water with us, sunglasses, and, of course, wearing suntan lotion as we walk out our front doors. Now, we have no hesitation in running errands at any time of the day. · As the snowbirds arrived and visitors from nearby Los Angeles and San Diego, we realized we must make reservations for our favorite restaurants. Some restaurants closed to allow owners and employees to have vacations. Still, others used the summer months to do updating. So, it is fun to see changes when they reopened, including perusing the new menus. · No longer do we seek the parking spot nearest the grocery store entrance. Now, I find myself parking far away to get some steps in and soak up the beauty surrounding us on any given day. · Early morning swims are postponed until the sun and pool heaters raise the temperatures. I have discovered about 11:00 a.m. is perfect. · With the stores along Palm Canyon packed with new merchandise, one can browse and talk to the shop owners anytime. By the way, most of our stores in the city of Palm Springs are independently owned. · Now, one does not have to get up at the crack of dawn to head to our favorite trail. However, we still wear a hat and suntan lotion and take twice as much water as we think we need. Plus, we tell a friend where we will be going. Events Increased Two-fold in the Fall in Palm Springs. Admittedly, I love opening my emails and finding announcements of openings and events. Here are some of the recent announcements: · The Aqua Caliente Tribe announced the Grand Opening of its long-awaited new Cultural Center on November 3, 2023. The exterior of the building is beautiful, so we look forward to the fence being removed and the opportunity to learn through their exhibits and lectures. · The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway went through its annual maintenance and is now open for reservations and the perfect place to hike, relax on their patios, and have dinner. · The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and winter hours to 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. · The Coachella Vally Firebirds have started their season—an opportunity to see, perhaps, your first ice hockey game at the Acrisure Arena. Ice Hockey is an activity that the entire family will likely enjoy. · Palm Springs Modernism Fall Show is opening this month. We look forward to seeing some iconic 50s and 60s homes perfectly preserved or restored to their former grandeur. · VillageFest’s vendors increase in the fall. Thursday nights on Palm Canyon continue to become a community gathering place. · The Palm Springs Art Museum is open, free of charge, on Thursdays from 4:00-8:00 p.m., thanks to a grant from the City of Palm Springs. · Our new downtown Palm Springs Park (Still to be officially named) starts concerts in the park. There is no charge, and here is your chance to relax under the beautiful palm trees and star-filled sky. · The golf courses have been reseeded, and they look forward to a season where people come from all over the world to experience our professional courses with stunning mountain views. · It is the perfect time to get up and get close to the Windmills by taking a tour. You don’t know how large they are until you stand at the base of one of them. · Oscars is open while remodeling the large space. Their intimate evenings are special when we hear famous people share personal aspects of their lives. · The Palm Springs Cultural Center continues to offer live music, innovative programming, and sharing its grounds with the Certified Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Patio dining is once again in great demand. Please make your reservations and take a light wrap, for our desert climate can get cool in the evenings. Fall in Palm Springs encourages locals to stop and greet our neighbors on our walkway as we head to our community parking lots. Sitting outside on our patios with cocktails, we once again watch the sun set behind our mountains, causing the scattered clouds to turn brilliant pink. We trust you will plan a trip here and come to enjoy the relaxed, awesome community we call home 360 days a year. Oh, alright, we plan our vacations in the middle of the summer, but now it is time to celebrate our weather and events, making every day an adventure living here. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of large cities. 760-902-3094

  • Nonstop Flight on Alaska Airlines from Palm Springs to Seattle NorthCountry (2023) Part 2

    First, I want to address a guest comment about my blog, Alaska Direct Flight from Palm Springs to Seattle NorthCountry, Part 1. A commentator suggested I needed to learn the difference between Direct flight and Nonstop. I looked it up and discovered that while the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference. Direct flights go between two places with one or more stops. A nonstop flight goes between two locations without stopping. The Alaska Flight from Palm Springs to Seattle NorthCountry is a Nonstop flight. Secondly, that same guest comment implied I was ridiculous in calling the area Seattle NorthCountry. I smiled, for I did not make up the name for the area. Seattle NorthCountry is a term used to market the area working to forge a separate identity from Seattle. After visiting the area, I understand that the cities within easy commute of downtown Seattle are entirely different. Part II Exploring on the Trip from Palm Springs to Seattle NorthCountry After a good night's sleep, it was time to head to Venture Kitchen & Bar, down the hall from my beautiful suite at the Delta Hotel. By the way, my suite was located on one side of the conference meeting rooms. When planning a conference here, I encourage you to reserve one of these suites. Each has a full kitchen and ample space for small receptions. Plus, there is plenty of seating for some side-bar conversations or scheduled small meetings with attendees. After a made-to-order breakfast, sitting by a window framing a tree showcasing its turning leaves, it was time to head out to Snohomish, 9 miles away. Things to Do in Historic Downtown Snohomish Washington Since it was early morning, I quickly found a parking space. A tip: Grab the first parking space you come to. Later in the day, finding an empty parking space is not easy. Shopping for Antiques It didn't take me long to notice there were many antique stores. Not only were there individual vintage stores, but giant storefront buildings housed many antique vendors within their walls. I learned Snohomish is a mecca for those looking for antiques in the Northwest. Individuals walking the street could be seen carrying tiny vintage horses, crochet tablecloths, and country-style décor. Dining Downtown Snohomish Heidi's SandwichBoard It was suggested I go to Heidi's SandwichBoard for lunch. I found it down at the far end of downtown First Street. Walking in made me smile; everywhere my eye looked, antiques lined the walls and high shelves over the serving area. I ordered a cocktail, for I found it charming that a deli would have an array of cocktails on its menu. Fresh flowers were on the table, and I sort of felt like I had settled into my grandmother's kitchen. I ended up with a delightful conversation with Heidi, the owner. Our discussion, accompanied by Heidi's broad smile, revealed a woman doing what she loves. She ran a catering service before buying the restaurant. When asked what she likes about being the owner, she replied, "I make the decisions and can create the details of the restaurant's environment. For example, the flowers on the table are picked by my children from our garden. Hamburgers at The Oxford Saloon with a Friend A friend in Everett saw my social media posts and asked if there was space in my trip to the Northwest to go to dinner. With the Oxford Saloon on my itinerary, we decided it was the perfect place to catch up. The building's use has changed over the years. First, a dry goods store, bordello, and basement with men's cardroom and bar, and now a saloon. Though there is no certified documentation, it is believed this building is one of the most haunted buildings in Washington. Those who have experienced episodes make it seem plausible that both good and evil spirits lurk throughout the building. Order the Ghost Burger. It's messy to eat, but oh so good. And enjoy the live music that vibrates throughout this 100-year-plus-old building. Grain Artisan Bakery It didn't take me long to notice the many combination bakeries and coffee shops scattered throughout First Street. The city of Snohomish figured out that visitors seeking out the antiques need a place to grab coffee and rest before continuing their journey. For those who require gluten-free pastries, you will be pleased to discover Grain Artisan Bakery, where there is nothing but gluten-free pastries. Even better, if you live within driving distance, you can find gluten-free cakes for any occasion. Fisherman Jack's on the Everett Waterfront Word obviously traveled fast about the opening of this Asian-inspired Fisherman Jack's Restaurant, for it was only the 11th meal they served, and the line was already out the door. It didn't take long to discover why. The atmosphere is family-friendly, and the outdoor patio opens to the waterfront. Every morsel of food, including Dim Sum seafood and noodle dishes flavors, kept your tastebuds dancing and happy. I only wished I lived nearby. When heading to the restrooms, stop and look closely at the outstanding art---made from string and pins. I still marvel at the artistry necessary to complete these exceptional pieces that grace the walls as you enter the restrooms. Hibulb Cultural Center in Tulalip Located on a reservation in Seattle NorthCountry, the Hibulb Cultural Center's role is to preserve and protect the history and traditional culture of the Tulalip Tribes, which include the Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Skykomish tribes. Educational events teach how to build skills to create beautiful, traditional fabrics and woven baskets used in the daily lives of the indigenous people. I particularly enjoyed sitting in a replica of the Longhouse and learning how it was used and its central role in the tribes' lives. Whale Watching in Puget Sound My first-time whale watching, I wasn't sure what to expect on a 4-hour tour on the Puget Sound Express. Going with the flow, I arrived at the appointed time and learned we would board a boat built specifically for whale watching two years ago. We started our education when we boarded this modern, immaculate boat. Two naturalists were aboard, and an intern helped us learn about the whales and the surrounding environment. We saw our first two Orcas (Killer whales) three-quarters of an hour out. Then we caught up to their pod of six, keeping them in sight for many miles. The next thing we knew, they made a circle, devoured their prey, and leaped into the air, celebrating their victory and delight. Since it was my first trip, I asked the naturalist why I was so lucky. Smiling, she said, "I think Captain Brian was a whale once, for he always finds them." As we pulled into the dock, Captain Brian announced, "You have just been on an epic whale-watching trip." I sat back, smiled, and could hardly wait to tell my daughter and granddaughter the story. Boeing Future of Flight on Seattle Paine Field As a former resident of Washington State, I knew about the Boeing Future of Flight, located directly across from the Boeing Everett manufacturing site—the largest undercover manufacturing plant in the world. Plant tours are about to resume after a three-year stoppage and will resume on November 5, 2023 I walked into the museum building and smiled at the enormity of the 28,000-square-foot exhibition floor. Following the well-defined path, I went by the children's area, where small tables and chairs revealed quickly this is a family-friendly museum. The history of the Boeing factory is well laid out—starting with a picture showing the first mail delivery by air that sparked the imagination for the development of Boeing. On the roof, you can look over Seattle Paine Field, a valuable place for launching the new aircraft to many parts of the world. I was particularly fascinated by the exact duplication of the module now attached to our present space station. You learn how astronauts sleep and where the numerous tests are organized while in space. If you want a souvenir from Seattle NorthCountry, the official Boeing Store is a great place to shop. Replicas of planes manufactured there line one wall. Or, if you need a little warmth, purchase one of the great hoodies bearing the Boeing name. Flight back to Palm Springs It has become apparent there is still much to discover about Seattle NorthCountry. Fortunately, the Alaska Nonstop flight from Palm Springs to and from Seattle NorthCountry is now on the schedule. It makes it so easy to fly into Seattle Paine Field and, from there, rent a car and start exploring, where water sports, mountains, fine dining, art, and shops await your visit. Guess where I plan to go when the temperatures reach 110 next summer in Palm Springs? I have so much yet to explore in Seattle NorthCountry. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is writing about luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities.

bottom of page