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  • Buellton a Stop on Highway 101

    Those who know me weren't surprised that I would decide to make a 247-mile one-way road trip from Palm Springs. Admittedly, Buellton a stop on Highway 101 in California, was not on my radar to spend two days exploring. However, when 360ViewPR asked me if I would be willing to go there and write about my findings, I readily agreed. Fresh Ocean Air The Pacific Ocean spread out before me once I got through the Los Angeles area traffic. Clear skies and citron-colored mustard seed blossoms graced the craggy cliffs lining Highway 101. I was ready for a stop, so I pulled off at Sea Cliffs and wound my way through a little sketchy backroad but continued through the tunnel supporting Highway 101. To the right was a dead-end, wide spot where I could get out, stretch, and breathe in the fresh, pure ocean air on a gorgeous day. Checking into the Pea Soup Andersen Inn This internationally famous Pea Soup Andersen Inn is my home for two days. My room was spacious, with a king-size bed that beckoned me to stop once I arrived. However, I was hungry for my driving snacks had run out, and I was ready for a satisfying meal. The heated pool was right out of my patio door, and the enclosed kiosk-like structure where breakfast is served was 100 ft away. Perfect! I did take the time to check out this immaculately clean room with a refrigerator and microwave, which proved to be very handy when warming up the complimentary breakfast of superb Danish pastries. Dining in Buellton If you are a traveler on Highway 101, you will want to check out my list, for I can attest I did not even have an average meal in Buellton. All the restaurants had a twist that made them a particular cuisine delight. A.J. Spurs, located about one-half mile from the Pea Soup Andersen Inn, provides you with an experience that will help you understand what it might have been like when this area was swarming with hungry cowboys and cowgirls. Fiddle-type western music greets you as you are escorted to your table with taxidermy animals keeping guard over this immense restaurant. Objects from the early settlers' days are everywhere. They might even have some items that came over on a wagon train. Food is served as it might have been around early campfires. The hearty soup was served in a cast-iron pot and arrived with a salad with a fabulous bleu cheese dressing. The barbecue spareribs prepared in the old western manner held up to the adage finger-licking good. Industrial Eats lives up to its reputation as a restaurant where you can get farm-to-table cuisine with a twist. The line to the door is your first clue. This is a popular restaurant. Don't let the line deter you. It is worth the short wait. Starting as a catering service known for its fresh creative food, the owners have taken their talents to this restaurant with industrial décor and community tables. The regular menu is tacked on the wall and listed on the brown butcher wrap. Specials are displayed on separate sheets displayed so you can peruse them as you inch toward the person taking your order. Kathy Vreeland from Discover Buellton and I enjoyed our seafood, meatballs with a twist, and a Caesar salad with a crisp glass of local white wine made for a perfect dinner meeting. Pea Soup Andersen Restaurant Of course, I couldn't come to Buellton without trying the famous pea soup. Years ago, I had it but didn't remember why it was supposed to be so special. I took a sip. Savory spices combined with the split peas caused my tastebuds to dance with pleasure. Bread served with the soup made it the perfect lunchtime meal. The Travel's Special came with a milkshake I took to the car. Attractions in Buellton a Stop on Highway 101 The Avenue of the Flags greets you as you turn off Highway 101. The city commissioned this urban project when Highway 101 was changed from the center of town to its present location. Six lanes were no longer needed, so they took two lanes and made them into a boulevard with an art installation showcasing a floral arch, a flag on a tall pole, and life-size people in bronze saluting the flag. Then all down, the boulevard flags fly, welcoming guests. Ostrich Land Now is your chance if you have never been up close and personal with an ostrich. Ostrich Land is a 33-acre breeding farm and home to over 100 ostriches and emus. Here you can feed these magnificent birds. It is incredible how fast they can gobble up a tin of food. Ostriches are not keen on you touching them. I quickly learned they were attracted to my rings and glittery fingernail polish. So, word to the wise, don't wear rings when you go there and watch them from a distance after you feed them. On the other hand, the kinder, gentler emus welcome your petting. A knowledgeable staff is there, ready to answer questions. One of the many things you will learn is that an ostrich lays an egg every 1-3 days, and that egg is 18 times the size of a regular egg. Mendenhall Museum I can assure you you have never seen anything like the Mendenhall Museum. Fifteen garage-sized rooms filled with memorabilia showing the evolution of the gasoline pumps, their glass globes that once proudly glowed at the top of them, vehicles, and signs that served as advertising and directions for road trip warriors. Mark and Vickie Mendenhall serve as curators of this private museum, open by appointment only. The Mendenhalls are proud that the museum serves as the Dry Lake Racers Hall of Fame location. If you want to rent a venue that will astonish your guests, this is the place. Santa Ynez Botanical Gardens Local people recognize the need to educate children about native plants. The two-acre garden Santa Ynez Botanical Gardens was created and is maintained by volunteers. This welcoming garden takes measures to preserve fauna so it thrives in this watershed area. Schools use it for tours. I loved the Wishing Tree, which now has my wish dangling from one of its branches. An Additional Stop at Dorwood Distillery Dorwood Distillery, located on Industrial Way, is the perfect place to be introduced to fermenting and distilling process used to make liquors. Jay, one of the owners, is there six days a week and delights in showing visitors the process. End the tour with tasting sips of the liquors while relaxing in their welcoming tasting room. All Good Things Must Come to an End No trip to Buellton, a stop on Highway 101, is complete without seeing the Sideways Inn, the site for the movie Sideways. The Inn served as the home for a week of two men on a bachelor trip before one of their impending weddings while exploring wine tastings and playing golf in the Santa Ynez Valley. The Inn has recently been remodeled. The lounge was the perfect place to end my day with a nightcap while sinking into one of their comfy lounge chairs. My three-day trek was more than worth the drive. I learned, and I laughed. I met gracious people, and Buellton, California, is now no longer a small town on Highway 101. It is a place with a great soul, and I look forward to what the next few years bring to this welcoming community. 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. Facebook Instagram

  • Palm Springs Garage and Estate Sales

    In case you haven't heard, many Palm Springs, California, residents hunt for the perfect accessories for their homes at garage and estate sales. More than one person has arranged her Friday and Saturday morning schedule to stop at sales, trusting she might find a unique treasure. Palm Springs Garage and Estate Sales Are Different Estate Sales Palm Springs is relatively a new town, incorporated in 1938; it is only 84 years old. Thus, it has not been long since these magnificent homes' original owners passed away. Now their heirs may have settled in other parts of the country. The burden of keeping up an estate that may once have been their family home is more than they want to handle in their lives. With objects chosen from the homes that are meaningful to them, heirs are often left with a house stuffed with things and memorabilia that have no intrinsic value to their modern-day family. Thus, they bring in a professional estate agent to handle the items. Tattoo Mark is an active estate agent who regularly handles sales in Palm Springs. Experience has revealed that early looky-loos are not allowed. So, if you want to be one of the first to peruse the items, you probably will have to stand in line for a minimum of ½ hour, but more likely an hour for the more prestigious homes. If the sale advertises it will start at 9:30 a.m., that is when the doors open and not earlier. Once you are allowed in, the fun begins as you start to explore these Palm Springs estate sales. As a lover of art, my first trip through the house is to check out the art. I have found art is one of the first things people look for, so if you see something, be sure to immediately take it off the wall and claim it as yours. Usually, there is a spot where you can put your chosen items together until you are done "shopping." If you are looking for a particular item for your kitchen, you might want to head there first. Rooms that are not to be accessed are marked off with tape. But otherwise, you are allowed to wander through the entire home. This is important. If you see something you want or haven't made up your mind about, keep it in your arms. Many people are following you who might find the item you wanted is perfect for them or a friend, and it will be gone when you return for it. Take the time to peer into the backyards, even if items are not for sale there. Again, seeing some of these beautifully manicured yards with pools and unique spa designs is your chance to see places you may not have access to in the future. With decisions made, gather your purchases and proceed to checkout. Cash is king at these sales. Estate sales are often held during the week. Garage Sales Are Normally on Weekends in Palm Springs Garage sales typically occur when the house's cupboards and the garage are getting too full of items one does not need or want anymore. Items usually are smaller in size than objects found at estate sales. When I arrived in Palm Springs, my early Saturday morning activity was to explore our many garage sales. A local friend enjoyed researching, so she would discover the locations and put them on a list for our morning adventures. Eventually, she even had the list numbered, so we didn't backtrack. In the beginning, I was setting up my condo, so I needed everything. We would meet at 8:00 a.m. and were off, armed with water bottles and our hats. I remember running across a waffle iron and immediately purchasing it for $5 because I missed the one I had left behind. As a jewelry lover, sales with an array of jewelry were always dangerous for me. Like most women, we have to have the right jewelry with the right outfit—just like men need the right tool to make or fix something. If you are looking for glassware at reasonable prices, garage sales will help you quickly be able to tick things off your list. You might even find a match to a set you already have so you can replace that broken glass. How do I control the urge to buy stuff at Palm Springs garage and estate sales? It is easy to get carried away buying things because they are very inexpensive, and they are calling to you to say, "Buy me!" Thus, I have come up with my guidelines: 1. It has to be arty. 2. It must be a step up from anything I own. An example, I had a stapler but found an executive stapler that exuded class. With a condo well-furnished now, I rarely stop at a garage sale. However, I watch the ads, and if an estate sale is in one of our exclusive areas, I will often go. It is the only way we can see some of these stately homes and gardens. Palm Springs garage and estate sales are more prolific during the fall and winter, for summer temperatures are not conducive to standing out in someone's front yard or wandering through a house with all the doors wide open. For more "inside" information about Palm Springs activities, please sign up to receive my blog updates on the form below. 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 Facebook Instagram

  • First Time Coachella Visitor Tips

    It all started with my frustration with locals not being able to see the artwork that graces the grounds of Coachella at the Indio Polo Field. Since I am a travel writer and pride myself in discovering "the little things" people want to know about, I set out to see how I could rectify this omission. Looking through the Coachella website, I discovered the area for media requests. I secured a pass to go to Coachella by sending a carefully thought-out query. The understanding was that I would write about the art and share it on social media. There will be some articles from different vantage points about the art, but for now, I wanted to get down to writing my thoughts as first-time Coachella visitor tips. To see examples of the art, check out my Instagram accounts. CuriousKathyAdventures and PalmSpringsInsiderGuide I will preface this article by saying the goal: To cover the art in the daylight and after dark. The Adventure to Coachella Begins Many friends thought it amusing that I was going off to Coachella, equated with young people. Yet, for those who know me, the fact I was a mature woman setting off on this kind of adventure was not surprising. With no pop culture clothing in my wardrobe, I decided comfort and protection from the intense sun was the strategy for my exploring outfit. Yellow knee-high shorts and white linen long-sleeve blouse adorned with brown beads would do. Armed with lots of suntan lotion and a white hat, I was ready. I joined up with a friend, and we set out to the parking lot at around 3:00 p.m. No problem finding parking in the free Coachella lot. However, great care was taken to ensure we knew where we parked the car in this massive area. Then we were off. First, we walked past the camping area where creativity was on display. Campers knew what they needed for their comfort for this three-day event. Think how your campsite might look in a secluded forest but with privacy walls decorated with everything you could conjure up in your mind—no nice green patches of grass to enjoy. You were literally 12 inches at the most from your neighbor. No water bottles were in our hands because no food, water, or unauthorized camera could be brought into the event. The warning to wear extremely comfortable walking shoes proved to be an excellent tip for walking to the grounds was not for the faint of heart. Going through Security at Coachella Backpacks were checked, and our wristbands lit green when we were authorized to continue the journey to the grounds, which we could see in the distance marked by the gigantic Ferris wheel. Yes, the path stretched out before us, and we continued our way to the entrance to the actual site. Again, our wristbands lit up, and we walked through the gate to begin our explorations. The first thing on the agenda is to get a bottle of water. With that accomplished and a few swigs of water, we were off. The Exploring Begins at the Coachella Grounds The enormity of this festival became apparent. We walked in with a gigantic stage to our right, and in the far distance, we could see additional stages. We couldn't even see the art we now know is on the perimeter of the far side. Lounging on their blankets were attendees who found shade in the fences' shadows or the stages. While the music played in the distance, it lulled one to sleep. It was nap time, so one would be alert for the headliners that played later in the evening. Time for a Bite With the hunger bug starting to rise, we marveled at the vast number of choices for grabbing a bite to eat. Even more impressive, there were no name-brand vendors. One can only assume Golden Voice, the presenter of the extravaganza, understood well the importance of supporting the local community. Even though the sun seemed intense in this open field late in the day with no trees. The Lemonade Stands scattered throughout the grounds had long lines. One can only assume they have come up with the right formula to make a thirst-quenching drink. With nachos in hand, we wandered toward the art installations. Looming high above us were six separate structures that immediately drew us in. There were nooks to sit for photo opportunities, silhouettes of dogs decked out with living fauna, and multi-dimension art created that made you want to stand there and keep watching the kaleidoscope of designs and colors changing its look constantly. Night Fall Changes the Look and Atmosphere As planned, we watched the sunset behind our glorious mountains, and the lights intermittently came out on the art structures. Again, stay tuned for the reveal, or check out my Instagram listed above. We did notice the crowds had grown substantially, and people with blankets on the ground were few and far between. Naps had been taken, and people were moving to their spots to settle in to see their favorite bands. Another observation is that even though marijuana is prohibited from being brought in and used, its scent was prolific through the air. We saw no evidence of any enforcement. However, we marveled that during our 6.5 hours on the grounds, we saw no one the slightest bit upset over anything. People were there to enjoy the music, the art, and our beautiful Coachella Valley climate. First Time Coachella Visitor Tips for Leaving the Grounds After 6.5 hours of walking and touring the grounds, it was time to leave. My mission had been accomplished. While I would have loved to hear the headliner, Billie Ellish, her stage time of 11:45 seemed a long time off. When you walk out the gate of the grounds, bike rickshaws will take you, for a small amount, back to the shuttles or parking lot. If you don't want to drive, shuttles are available from all parts of the Coachella Valley. Especially if you're going to stay to the end, I highly recommend purchasing the shuttle pass and letting the driver maneuver through the exiting traffic. When we arrived, we were told to take notice of the color path and gate we came in so we would be positioned to find the right parking lot to get back to our car. Okay, I will admit, we got a bit off track even remembering the path and number, but all was well. We easily drove out of the parking lot and noted the sign that said this lot was now full at 10:00 p.m., leaving us wondering where new arrivals would be parking. My Final Thoughts about Coachella I felt a little overloaded as I walked back to the car. Everywhere you go on the grounds, your senses are picking something up. However, I am more than appreciative to have been given the opportunity to learn, see, and share this International Event with you, the reader. With Coachella 2022 now on the books, I cannot help but congratulate the Golden Voice organization on bringing this genuinely world-class event to Indio. Keep tuned for in-depth coverage of the art that it rightly deserves. Be sure to sign up on the form below so you can read my blog on the art of Coachella. 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 Facebook Instagram About

  • Summer in Palm Springs As We Residents Settle In

    Palm Springs Summer Plans for July and August Having experienced two summers here, I know getting out of here for at least two weeks is important. The relentless heat does get to one. I am well aware our community's beautiful weather will turn into 100-plus temperatures. Many of our local attractions and events are on hold until the fall. Really how many movies do I want to watch? Palm Springs Travel Thoughts European airline flight nightmares still float around. Should I take a trip to Europe to visit my family? Nixed that idea since they are coming for the holidays. After making numerous trips to the beach, I love Oceanside. I know I can easily head there, even for a day, if I want to change my summer routine. Plus, the advantage of very fresh seafood always awaits me. Then there is Idyllwild high about us, yet only 75 miles away. Great place to explore in the summertime. Exploring new establishments and talking to the people who make this mountain community their home is always fun. After failed attempts to plan something, I have decided just to let it be and see what evolves. There is so much to explore in Southern California, so pledging to myself when I start to get antsy, I plan a day away. My dog-sitting clients may decide to hit the road, and I'll be available. Each home and dogs are different. Thus, the monotony of being home in the air conditioning will be broken up with various dog-sitting gigs. AND there is always a chance another wonderful opportunity to travel may pop up. Kathy Condon is always open to a new adventure if you haven't figured it out by now. As my girlfriend said one day, "You make an adventure as you walk out the door." Smiling, I think she is right. Travel Writing Planning for the Fall Meanwhile, there are plenty of things to do to refresh my website and learn about new software. However, most of my time with be spent reaching out to Directors of Marketing and finding unfamiliar places to explore in the fall and winter. Media trips don't just happen. There is lots of planning behind the scenes by the travel writer and the person setting up a schedule. I am taking Peter Greenberg's advice. There are so many stories to tell and interesting people to meet in any community. I am going to search for some smaller towns to write about next year. In addition, I'll be reaching out to new publications. A large portion of the travel sites you enjoy and travel magazines you read have articles written by freelance writers such as myself. Many of them have not come across my writing, so I will help them become aware I have a plethora of storylines I can share with them. What lies ahead for a summer in Palm Springs? I'm not sure, but in the meantime, sign-up for updates at the bottom of the page. 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 Facebook Instagram

  • Travel and Adventure Show Tips To Use While Planning Your Trips.

    Making a move to Palm Springs nine years ago proved to be an excellent decision for the life path I am now living. When I moved from Vancouver, Washington, I had no idea that my insatiable desire to learn and travel would result in me becoming a travel writer. I have already written about how and why I became a travel writer. Those who know me will not be surprised to see the map above. The pink lines reveal the roads I have traveled since I arrived in Coachella Valley in September 2012. Many of those trips were solo. Yes, that includes Highway 10 to Los Angeles, whose traffic sometimes slows to a turtle, which causes some people not even to consider driving there alone. A Recent Trip to the Travel and Adventure Show Before I had decided to become a travel writer, the nuggets of what lay before me at this event raised my awareness of what I wanted to do. After a two-year hiatus, The Travel and Adventure Show was scheduled for March 2022, and I immediately added the date to my calendar. My plan to get there in time to hear Peter Greenberg speak worked perfectly. I walked into the Los Angeles Convention Center ten minutes before he began to talk. Travel and Adventure ShowTips from Peter Greenberg a. In surveys, people state their number one destination wish is Paris. His suggestion: seek out less-traveled cities b. Flying into smaller airports can save you money. c. Hire a travel agency broker to help you choose the appropriate travel insurance, which he recommends you always buy. d. He would not be afraid to take a cruise. New air circulation systems are in place, and vaccinations are required. Even with some cases on the ships, it is a tiny number considering the number of people on the boat. After the talk, I connected with several vendors, including Visit Buellton, where I am heading next week, to explore and share what I learned during my three-day stay. Delighted to Hear Pauline Frommer Pauline's life revolves around travel in every sense of the word. She is the author of numerous books and Editor and Director of the Frommer Guides, presenting Travel and Adventure Show tips. Here's what I heard her say: a. Museums do not get the attention they deserve. Stand in front of a painting for 15 seconds, instead of the average three seconds, and really look at what is before you. b. Slow down when you go to a new place. You do not have to see an entire city on your first visit. Start talking with the citizens and ask about places to go for meals and attractions. c. Sites she recommends for checking airfares: Skiplagged, Momondo, or Skyscanner d. Use software that hides your identity. When searching for fares, keep in mind cookies are used. When you go to the site again, they will know you have already looked, and the price will be higher. When I decided to go to the Travel and Adventure Show, I made a plan for an overnight trip since I was on the coast. My timing was perfect for The Flower Fields of Carlsbad, California. Ranunculus flowers were waking up and spreading their beauty across 50 acres. See my article Sightseeing in The Flower Fields of Carlsbad. After visiting the Flower Fields, I returned to Oceanside to have coconut shrimp at the Lighthouse Oyster Bar and Grill. Hey, we travel writers have our favorite foods, and oh my, their coconut shrimp is superb. Planning Made for a Magnificent Trip Even from the tone of this article, you can tell I was pleased with the decision I made to go and discover Travel and Adventure Show tips and use them for planning my year. As I write, I am looking forward to a media trip to Buellton and a trip to Half Moon Bay in a couple of weeks later. I plan to add a few more pink lines to the photo above. 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 Facebook Instagram

  • Healthy Lifestyle and Exercise Tips for Any Budget a Palm Springs Insider Guide

    Guest Blog by Justin Bennett Leading a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to require large time commitments and a bottomless bank account. Health can be surprisingly simple! If you’re looking for ways to fit health and fitness into your existing schedule without breaking the bank, look no further. Palm Springs Insider Guide shares some great healthy lifestyle and exercise tips below to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle and make the most of this sunny city! Design Your Home Around Healthy Living People in Palm Springs generally enjoy a laid-back lifestyle, and life can easily feel like a permanent vacation. If you want to maximize the relaxing effects of living in such a beautiful place, take some time to redecorate your home with healthy lifestyle and exercise tips in mind. Decluttering is a great way to make your home healthier. Verywell Mind explains that clutter can contribute to stress, worsen symptoms of depression, cause brain fog, and exacerbate allergies. Cleaning, organizing, and decluttering your home can help you expel negative energy from your home and make way for positive vibes! It’s also important to pay attention to your indoor air quality. Living in Palm Springs, you should have no problem opening your windows to refresh your indoor air and dilute those pollutants. During the summer, when you’re running the AC, consider using an air purifier and placing a few houseplants around your home to remove indoor pollutants without opening the windows. And remember to change your AC filter. Healthy Lifestyle and Exercise TipsTry New Forms of Exercise If you’re struggling to find the motivation to exercise, it’s time to explore some new fitness options. Water aerobics, for example, is perfect for those who live in Palm Springs! Compared with many other forms of exercise, water aerobics puts less strain on the body while offering a multitude of health benefits. It’s a low-impact and refreshing way to exercise when the weather is hot. And if you have a pool in your backyard, getting started won’t cost you a dime! Healthline suggests getting started with some beginner-friendly pool exercises. Try walking through waist-height water or doing jumping jacks in chest-level water. You might also want to get some foam dumbbells to add resistance to your water workouts. If you have some more room in your budget, consider signing up for an aquatic class at a local fitness center! Exercise Outdoors Exercising outdoors is a great way to maximize the health benefits of your fitness activities while saving money on equipment and gym memberships. Not only is outdoor exercise completely free, but it’s also a great way to soak up vitamin D and alleviate insomnia through exposure to bright daytime light. There are many different types of exercise you can do outdoors. Besides water aerobics, try jogging, pickleball, beach volleyball, stand-up paddleboarding, outdoor yoga, or using park gym equipment for strength training. Traffic is generally light in Palm Springs, so biking is another excellent activity for outdoor enthusiasts. During the hot summer days, aim to work out in the morning or evening so you can stay cool and avoid the risk of heatstroke. When you think about making healthy changes to your lifestyle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the work ahead of you. Try to keep it simple and stick to small but impactful lifestyle changes that will easily fit into your existing routine. Carving out some time in your schedule for daily outdoor exercise will do wonders for your mental and physical health! Sign up below for Palm Springs Insider Guide updates for more tips and resources to help you make the most of your time in Palm Springs. Justin Bennett Justin still remembers the day he finally decided to live healthier. It was the day he was supposed to be at his best friend’s wedding, and the tux he’d ordered months ago fit a little too snug. Now Justin is a fitness enthusiast, seeking to help others like him who want to start living, feeling, and looking healthier.

  • Palm Springs Road Trip to the Ocean Reveals Surprises

    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. 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. 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 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 760-902-3094

  • Travel Fog is Real

    I have done a great deal of travel via road trips and air flights from Palm Springs. After observing my emotions the day after a trip, I have concluded and verified that travel fog is real with the help of friends. Jetlag Let me explain. If you have traveled overseas, you are well aware of jet lag. After returning from Europe, most people know not to plan any gathering or to meet the next day after one returns. To use an old cliché, you probably will not be the sharpest tack in the box. Let's hope you don't have to make a life-changing decision. Three days after an international flight, more than likely, you still feel like you need a long nap at 3:00 p.m. I am certainly not against naps, for I am up most mornings by 5:00 a.m. A refreshing 15-minute nap perks me up for the activities for the rest of the day. However, a two-to-three-hour snooze is bound to affect your evening sleep. Short Airline Trips and Road-trip Travel Fog What do I mean by travel fog? After you return home from a trip, have you noticed how your mind says, "I should unpack? I should go to the grocery store. I should call Henrietta?" Yet, the energy to do things seems like a monumental task. That is what I am referring to as travel fog. You just want to be left alone and assimilate back into your environment. Hopefully, your spouse or partner has been on the trip, so he understands the feeling. Is there a cure for travel fog or a way to shorten it? Years ago, when I was an Executive Assistant, the President said, "Kathy, I have clients coming in from Japan at 10:00 a.m. Will you book us a tee-off time at 1:00 p.m.?" Incredulously I asked, "Won't they want to take a nap instead of playing golf?" He replied, "The best way to help them get over jetlag is to get them grounded to the land." Then I took a trip to Europe. Shortly after we settled in at the house, my daughter said, "Mom, we are taking the dogs to the park." You can imagine my reaction. I just wanted to sleep. But hey, I just arrived, and I wanted to grab every European moment and share it with my daughter. I came back from the walk in the park refreshed and was able to stay awake until my family's regular bedtime. What were the similarities? Both activities were on land, not concrete. Suggestions for combatting Travel Fog when you arrive in Palm Springs. The impulse is to shed your winter clothes and head to the pool. However, in the Greater Palm Springs area, we have beautiful places to explore where you can touch the ground. Palm Springs has Ruth Hardy Park, which has a suggested exercise trail. Frances Stevens Park beckons you to slow down. Its extensive lawn area is the perfect place to stretch out and relax with a picnic from one of our nearby restaurants. If you are a hiker, grab your hiking boots and head up to see the falls in Tahquitz Canyon. The trail isn't too challenging yet will give you a sense of our desert world. Reward yourself with a dip in your heated hotel's pool and an umbrella cocktail. Is my theory about travel fog scientifically proven? Frankly, I haven't taken the time to do the research. After a trip, I experience travel fog, and I am too tired to go to the computer. (Smile) My website Palm Springs Insider Guide will give you links to many of the things we locals love and appreciate about Palm Springs. AND if you accept my theory about travel fog, it might even help you have even more fun, for I believe you will be more alert and energetic to explore the place we residents call home. 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 Facebook Instagram

  • Palm Springs Road Trip to Historical Citrus Park

    Feel like you have been home for a long time? You want to get away but are not sure where to go. Here's an idea. Grab a friend, head out to West Riverside, California, and explore the California Citrus State Historic Park. I'm not sure where I heard this place existed, but when I did, I knew I had to go there when the citrus fruit would be ripening. Once I connected with my travel buddy and confirmed the date, we waited in anticipation for the day to arrive. Unfortunately, the only way to get there was via the freeway. Google Maps guided us on the 62-mile drive there. Once we turned off the freeway, we noted industrial parks and residential areas were leading to the main entrance to the park. The Site of the Historical Park There were many locations where you were high-up and could take in the vastness of the 300 acres planted in citrus trees. Rolling hills, unobstructed views of distant snow-capped mountains, and a glorious Southern California sun-filled sky immediately brought our senses alive. They assured us we had made the right move taking ourselves on this journey. It is designated a historical park by the State of California because it contains The Gage Canal. To gain the title to 640 acres, Matthew Gage built 11.91 miles of the canal between 1985 and 1889 from Santa Ana River, which still supplies water to local citrus ranches. Tour of the Orchards The Ranger met us in front of the Visitors Center, and we were off for the next hour. Online the times for Ranger tours are listed. We had opted for the 11:00 a.m. one, which turned out to be just the right one for us. (The tour and Visitors Center are totally handicap accessible. The trails are wide and can accommodate a wheelchair.) Some of the things we learned: · There are over 1,000 varieties of citrus fruit. · This park has 70 varieties of citrus. · Bees do not pollinate the trees. · Citrus trees cross-pollinate when next to each other. So, no two years will the fruit taste the same if there is another kind of citrus planted next to it. The list above is just a teaser. You will learn so much more. Visitors Center The building that houses the Visitors Center was one of the old packaging sheds. Walk around the space, read the display panels, and watch the two movies. They will open your mind to even more appreciation of the citrus fruit industry. You will be surprised what you learn about the history of oranges. Did you know oranges became of real prominence in California when food sources were sought to feed the influx of gold miners? Gift Shop Cliché, but true, the Eliza Gift Shop is charming. Floor-length tablecloths draped on the tables filled with merchandise, much of it made from oranges. A fine collection of books about the orange industry is available, and refrigerator magnets are touting the great designs once used on orange crates. Getting Ready to Walk Out the Door of Visitors Center Since we were on the tour, we were handed a bag weighing five pounds full of a variety of citrus fruit. So good and sweet. Let's just say it was opened before we finished our road trip. Touring the Grounds We got in our car and started driving. Discovering the site for weddings caused us to get out and explore more. Complete with a gazebo, a large building to hold a reception, and citrus trees surrounding the entire area. There is more than enough ample parking. If you come to the park and have a group of people or fancy having a picnic lunch, picnic tables are scattered through this beautiful area with a view of the mountains. Lunch Time We didn't know about bringing a lunch, so we were starving when we were through exploring the park. We asked the lovely woman in the Gift Shop where we could go to have a satisfying meal. She immediately recommended Olivia's for Mexican food. We headed there, thanks to Google Maps, found our table, and ordered our go-to Mexican food. The Chili Rellenos did not disappoint, nor did the cactus salad. Again, we tried to find an alternative route rather than heading back on the freeway. However, there appeared to be no alternative route. Alas, it was time to head home. Final Thoughts on the Day Years ago, I heard Tony Robbins say; you should spend a day in an industry that you know nothing about to help open your creativity. While exploring this industry, we asked questions, learned, and safely learned about a place that played a significant role in developing California's economy. So, if you are ready for a day trip, seriously think about going to this beautiful park halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. 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. 760-902-3094

  • Are you Responsible Enough to be a Dog Sitter?

    After three years plus, dog sitting and house sitting in Palm Springs, California, I have a few thoughts to share. Dog sitting pairs perfectly with my travel writing career, though it would not be ideal for everyone. Let me Get Something Off my Chest First Your animals are your children in every sense of the word. If you have a dog, you feel, and rightly so, this animal is indeed a member of your family. It is a massive responsibility of the dog sitter to make sure this four-legged member is fed, exercised, and keeps the routine Jasper is used to while you are gone. With that being said, I cannot fathom why people willingly turn their homes over to strangers, not pay them anything, and expect to come home and find everything in their home in perfect shape and their animal as happy as the day they left. And the other side of it, with all the responsibility, why would a house sitter take care of animals for free? When an animal is involved, your schedule and ability to explore revolves totally around the animals every hour the owner is gone. What does dog sitting involve? In my case, I have elected to dog sit only if the owner wants me to stay in her home. My writing is too interrupted if I stop two or three times a day to get in the car, drive someplace, walk, feed the dog, and then come back to my home. Step 1: After the initial contact, either through a referral or an ad, a phone call takes place to see if it is a good match. The dog sitter supplies references with phone numbers. Step 2: The dog owner calls up to see if the dog sitter can come over and meet the animals. Step 3: I have yet to meet a dog I didn't like, and dogs sense it, so the owners quickly see I would be good with their dog. Step 4: Dates are set, and then there is a home tour. The owner will often go over the dog's routine, food needs, etc. However, I smile, for they will go over it, have everything written down in detail, and go over the routine again before heading out the door. Remember, these are their children. Step 5: A check-in by phone a week before to make sure both are on schedule for the client's getaway. Step 6: The professional dog sitter will ask how long a dog may be left by himself. It varies from 2 hours to about 3.5 hours. Thus, you know the window of time you can leave the premises. Step 7: I arrive one-half hour before the client is ready to take off. Jasper now recognizes me, and last-minute details about the mail, watering plants, or expected deliveries are discussed. Step 8: I am now in charge. Step 9: Walks for the dog take place, and here in Palm Springs, the dog sitter must keep a keen eye out for coyotes, who are presently seen in many of our neighborhoods. Step 10: Feeding on time. You follow the directions of the owners precisely. You learned earlier if the dog can have any food, popcorn, or anything besides his prescribed meals. In any case, you are to be ready to accept those sad, watchful eyes while you eat and do what the owner has requested. Step 11: Bedtime, follow the routine and do precisely what the owner told you to do. I learned I do not sleep well with a dog in my bed, but I tell the owner beforehand, and we make the adjustment, and the dog does too. Step 12: No matter if it is 4:30 a.m. or 7:00 a.m., if a dog needs to go, you need to drag your body out of bed, release the house alarm, and head outside. Step 13: Take a picture of Jasper and send it to the owner. Sometimes I pretend it is Jasper talking, or I use that text to update the owner on anything she needs to know about Jasper or the house. Then the Day Begins All Over Again Recently, a major storm was coming. I secured several outdoor items and covered the furniture with a tarp. During the storm, the tarp blew off. I grabbed the furniture pillows, saving them from getting soaked. The key to the mailbox reminds you to bring in the mail. If it is an extended stay, you oversee watering indoor plants or pots scattered throughout the yard. If trash is to be taken to the street on a particular day, make a note to yourself to do it. When you use an item for cooking, be sure to notice where you got it and put it away in the same place. You have experienced what it is like not to find something in its assigned place. Why wouldn't you do this same thing in a place you are staying? Meanwhile, you are watching to make sure the dog isn't outside when the Pool man comes or the landscape people, for there is a chance this one time they may just have left the gate to the street open, and Jasper sees an opportunity to explore the neighborhood on his own. By now, you have figured out which toy Jasper loves, and a rousing game of tug of war makes the for exercise for both of you. At feeding time, carefully read the directions and hide any medication the dog may need in the format prescribed by the owner. It may be wrapped in a piece of turkey or just buried in this food for the day. The Owner Will be Arriving Take out the trash in the kitchen and replace the bags. Pick up the dog's toys that may be strewn around the house due to your play adventures. Strip your bed if they do not have a housekeeper and empty the refrigerator of food you have leftover. Typically, I bring all my food but am delighted when there are snacks or a special dessert I can have for a change of pace. Since I have been updating the owner on the status of Jasper and the house, we talk about when it is okay for me to leave the premises and Jasper. I have learned most owners prefer to walk into their own homes after a journey and not chit-chat and instead play with their animals. When I walk out of the house, I want it to look like it appeared when I walked into it before the owner left. Okay, I'll admit I give the dog a treat as I say goodbye to him. In the last text, I ask the owner to tell me when she is in her home, for I feel like I am on duty until I get that final text. Once I get the text, I confirm I have seen it; thus, I am officially off duty. It isn't Easy as you Might have Thought It is a huge responsibility. I didn't even mention the anxiety caused by a dog suddenly getting sick, having a seizure, or hurting himself playing. Your sleeping patterns will more than likely be interrupted. Jasper doesn't know that you like to get up at 6:00 a.m. instead of 4:30 a.m., and you function much better after you have had your cup of coffee. He needs to go out now. Flexibility is necessary. Long ago, I learned not to plan any of my own activities the day after a dog sitting gig is supposed to end. Frequently, the owner's plans change. It may be an extended meeting, but more usual is their plane connections didn't work, and they won't be home until the next day. Thus, you have another overnight stay. Yes, there is great variety. All the dogs have different personalities, and most of the time, they will test you to see if they can break the household rules. The homes reflect the owners' personalities, and I can assure you that no two homes have the same TV controls. I am thankful my two paths have come together. It is also interesting that I chose to write the first blog of the year, combining these two paths by using my talent to write about my dog and house sitting segment of my life. Kathy Condon is a freelance travel writer journalist. 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 760-902-3094

  • You Meet the Nicest People Going to the Dentist in Mexico

    About nine years ago, I started going to Los Algodones, Baja, Mexico, for dental work. I knew I needed crowns, so I asked my Palm Springs Neighborhood Group on Facebook what place they would recommend. When seven people recommended Sani Dental, I took the leap and made a reservation. A friend also needed to get work done, so she agreed to take this three-hour road trip with me. See my blog What do you Expect on Dental Adventure to Mexico. Sani Dental has two hotels connected with their organization. I have always stayed at the hotel mentioned in my blog but decided I wanted to make this trip an adventure, so I chose to go to the Hacienda Los Algodones, a four-block walk from the dental office. Fast forward to this past week. I decided to go by myself for I thought I might need a crown, which would require me to stay two nights, and friends couldn’t get away. I arrived a half-hour ahead of time (Los Algodones is Arizona time). The dental office happily stored my suitcase, and I was off to the routine procedures. It turns out; I just needed a deep cleaning of a molar because of a slight nagging ache and a small filling. Previously, I learned that it is best to have a good book with you, for there are often long waiting times between seeing specialized doctors. However, I was done and could still head home if I wanted this time. Instead, a sense of disappointment filled my consciousness, and I didn’t want to go home yet. I love this town, its people and admittedly the food. Decision Time I reclaimed my suitcase and sat down in the newly remodeled waiting room to check messages. Instead struck up a conversation with a couple waiting to start the process. They were lovely, and I found out they were staying at the same hotel I would be if I stayed. They had flown in from North Dakota and were first-time visitors, wanting to be assured they had made the right decision to come here. I enjoyed our conversation. It was then I decided I was going to stay. Well, I did want some of the coconut shrimp from my favorite restaurant and Chile Rellenos. Lunch in Los Algodones I was not going to leave without having coconut shrimp at my favorite restaurant Mi Casa es Su Casa. I walked in and smiled as I was greeted by the same staff that has been there for years. Stephanie escorted me to the outdoor balcony. A young woman was sitting there working on her computer. I greeted her, and we were deep into discussions before we knew it. She and her boyfriend were from Phoenix; he was having work done at Sani Dental while she worked on her website promoting her organic deodorant. Her boyfriend, who recently arrived from Germany, joined us about an hour later. After his girlfriend introduced me, he said, I need to share something with you. I sat in the dental chair, looked up at the wall. There were the credentials of the dentist who would be working on me. His credentials were from the best dental school in Germany. The next thing we knew, we pulled out photos and showed each other places from our hometowns. And now, I have no pain anymore on top of all of that. They were a lovely couple and great fun to meet. However, I want to point out the dentists at Sani Dental are credentialed from some of the best institutions in the world, many of them in the USA. In addition, Sani Dental is part of the American Dental Association. Checking into my Hotel The clinic runs a shuttle between the two offices and the two hotels. So, the shuttled was called, and I was indeed on a new adventure. The turn into the hotel was down a dirt road, with The Wall looming in the distance. We turned the corner, and I broke into a smile--lying before me was a cheerful yellow hotel, with a courtyard complete with a tall three-tiered Mexican fountain. Check-in was smooth, and I was led up the stairs inlaid with tiny elongated gray stones to my second-floor room. My room was immaculate, and the bathroom had a large corner shower. I was no longer questioning my decision to stay. Drinks in the Courtyard I unpacked a bit. Then I peered through my window and saw the people enjoying animated conversations in the courtyard. I grabbed my sweater just in case the evening turned cooler and headed down the stairs. Sitting together were three women drinking wine. I asked them where they got the wine, and they pointed me in the direction of the onsite restaurant. Since I was in Mexico, I ordered a margarita delivered to my table. The couple I had met in the dental office arrived, and I invited them to join me. The conversation went from dental work to a discussion about racism in the United States to the joys and attractions in the area. Before we knew it, we were talking to the women at the adjacent table--two sisters supporting their sister having implants. One of the sisters was from Goodyear, Arizona, Kansas City, Missouri, and San Felipe, Mexico. Then I noticed one woman had the shirt on with a heart and the initials KC, my initials. I asked what it stood for—she replied Kansas City. Then I told her they were my initials. That was the end of that conversation, and we moved on to other topics. I smiled as I went up to my room and was surprised there were English-speaking programs on TV. I settled in but opted to turn the TV off and read my engrossing novel on my Kindle. A Fresh New Day I had decided I would leave that morning but would detour to Yuma six miles away to get the lay of the land. Hopefully, next trip, I could stay and explore their attractions. As I went down the stairs, I noticed two women I met the night before having breakfast. One of them called me over. She said, Kathy, I would like you to have this. It was the t-shirt she had worn the night before with my KC initials. I just stood there in absolute amazement and was thrilled to have it. When I started writing this blog, I said, you meet the nicest people in Los Algodones. Now I know they will even give you the shirt off their back. In addition, I have been invited to San Felipe, Mexico. Stay tuned, for I intend to visit this community near to the US border in the future. 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 760-902-3094

  • Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa Rancho Mirage Reopening.

    Life for this Palm Springs travel writer is filled with peaks and valleys. I have learned to take rejection, celebrate the wins, and value the relationships that I make along the way. This past week, all the good aspects of this writing journey came together at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa's reopening after a $15 million remodel of the resort and grounds. Through various Facebook posts, zoom calls, and phone calls, I realized there was a person who not only was willing to share but went out of her way to help writers learn the path to becoming a good and recognized travel writers. Her name is Mary Charlebois. I sought her out somewhere along the line for some quiet advice on a direction I was thinking about taking the following week. I knew I could count on getting an answer from her based on her seven years plus of travel writing and editing for a popular website. An Email Arrived Mary sent me a note and told me how she had met the lovely women from 360viewPR on her travel journeys. They had invited her to come to Palm Springs to reopen the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa and wanted her to cover various aspects of the resort. I gave her a call, excited about the fact that we would at last meet in person. During that conversation, she said, Let me send them an email and suggest you be invited to cover the event too since you live there. Meeting at the Restaurant at the Resort We agreed to meet for lunch at the newly remodeled Pinzimini Restaurant for she had breakfast there and was raving about the food. At the appointed time, we met, hugged and carried on with a two-hour lunch and a tour of the beautiful resort grounds. Later we agreed there were no surprises about meeting each other then she thought I was taller. The Introduction had Worked The 360viewPR group invited me to attend the dinner and concert that evening. After my lunch and tour, I headed home and changed clothes to enable me to arrive on time to meet the others covering this event. Michelle Rodriquez, the owner of 360viewPR, and her colleague Jan Ortega met me along with Mary in the resort lobby. The resort manager soon arrived and escorted us to our VIP table. The floor-length tablecloths provided the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful table with an approximately three-foot-long fresh flower centerpiece. The Evening The meal was delicious and had contained several healthy options. The resort's goal of becoming known as a wellness resort appears to be well on its way. The spa is remodeled, the exercise room has a view of the 18-hole champion golf course, and bicycles are available to rent. Courts for pickleball, tennis, basketball, and volleyball are upgraded. The huge central pool is convenient to the hotel and restaurants and provides the perfect space to exercise or to drink your umbrella decorated cocktails if you desire. The Backyard Venue This newly enlarged and remodeled space on the Westin Mission Golf Resort and Spa grounds is sure to become a place where locals and hotel guests look forward to the scheduled concerts at this outdoor venue. The location with artificial turf, raised round stage, provides a great space under the stars that is hard to beat. Please see the attached schedule for the concerts. The first concert showcasing DW3, and The Grooves sold out. It was easy to see why. Not only did the music have us tapping our feet and swaying with the music the dance area was packed. As I left the concert and walked toward the entrance, I peeked in Pinz & Pints, a game arcade where you can play various pinball machines, bowl, or play air hockey. If you want to watch, no problem, there is a great bar and lounge area. It has been a wonderful day. Quiet time with Mary was very special. I met many members of the resort staff who not only were attentive, but their pride in their resort was also so evident, for they enjoyed sharing some details we may have overlooked. As a resident of Coachella Valley, I can say that I am thrilled to learn about this beautiful resort. No question, I will be back, and I look forward to inviting someone to come with me to the future concerts in their Backyard. 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. 760-902-3094

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