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  • Becoming a Digital Nomad: Tips and Advice to Make it Happen

    Guest Post by: Lance Cody-Valdez The Courage to change your lifestyle and career is the first step toward becoming a digital nomad and living and working on your own terms. Thanks to modern-day telecommunications technologies, a nomadic lifestyle has never been more attainable. Kathy Condon’s Palm Springs Insider Guide is an example of a site where she can add a blog from any place she may be in the world. Start by Changing Your Lifestyle A nomadic lifestyle isn’t right for everyone, but it could work for you if you’re able to eliminate the possessions that bind you to a particular area. Depending on your situation, this could mean selling your home or subletting your apartment, quitting your nine-to-five job to pursue freelancing, and/or getting rid of your personal vehicle to eliminate car payments, automobile insurance premiums, and other car ownership costs. Next, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to get around and where you’re going to live as a digital nomad. Depending on your length of stay, a hotel or motel may be the best choice. If you’re staying in Palm Springs for a few weeks, check out Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels to find the perfect place to hang your freelance shingle. If you’re moving to another city, state, or country, you’ll also need to figure out what to do with your unwanted belongings — such as your old shoes, books, clothing, and furniture. For the belongings you’d like to keep but can’t take with you on your travels, you could rent a storage locker from facilities such as MakeSpace, Public Storage, or U-Haul. The best storage units will typically be climate-controlled, video monitored, and secure. Find Remote Work Opportunities If you’re ready to ditch your nine-to-five job for a nomadic lifestyle, you could start a business as a freelancer — as this will allow you to set your own schedule and work remotely from nearly anywhere in the world. Some examples of online businesses for digital nomads include: ● Writing, blogging, and copywriting. ● Photography. ● Video blogging (or vlogging). ● Graphic design. ● Web development and design. ● Social media management. ● Health coaching. ● Digital marketing. When starting a business, Writing From Nowhere recommends using online job boards to create a profile and search for freelance opportunities in areas such as WordPress development, writing, and graphic design. Potential clients will look at your freelance rates, reviews, and expected delivery times before deciding whether to hire you for a project, but your actual salary will depend on your skills and experiences. When you are ready to start a business in California, there are legal details too, like registering your business as an entity for tax purposes. Usually, this comes down to determining whether you want to be a sole proprietorship or an LLC. An LLC can be especially beneficial thanks to asset protection and several tax perks, which you won’t see as a sole proprietorship. If you’re in a time crunch, you can find forms to start an LLC through an online service to help you expedite this process. Consider Your Tech Needs When changing your lifestyle and becoming a digital nomad, it’s important to consider the different types of gear you’ll need to effectively work from co-working spaces, hotel rooms, cafes, or anywhere else in the world. As a few examples, Chris Schalkx of AFAR recommends purchasing noise-canceling earbuds, a laptop stand, a mobile mouse, and a Google FI SIM card for your smartphone. And last but not least, you’ll need a reliable laptop for working and traveling — and a tablet as a backup in the event that your computer breaks. Embrace the Digital Lifestyle There are so many benefits of becoming a digital nomad, but it’s crucial to think things through and come up with a good plan before quitting your day job to travel the world. In some cases, you may be better off taking a six-month sabbatical to travel before returning to your day job — or see if your employer will allow you to transition to remote work so you can pursue your dream of becoming a digital nomad. Starting a business is another great option, but you’ll need to have some money saved as you get your freelance business off the ground. Becoming a digital nomad has never been easier, and these tips will help you to turn your dream of traveling the world into a reality. As long as you have the technology you need to get your work done each day, you can work from virtually anywhere in the world! Lance Cody-Valdez "A few years ago, burned out and miserable from his job in corporate marketing, Lance Cody-Valdez decided it was time to invest in himself. He quit his job the following day and used his meager savings to stay afloat as he built a career as a freelance writer and content marketer. He created to help others use freelancing to escape the 9 to 5 daily grind." Photo Credits: Pexels

  • Priscilla Presley Evening in Palm Springs

    Oscar's in Palm Springs took the pandemic time to revamp. Their thoughts turned toward ways to attract a wide variety of audiences and entertainers to downtown Palm Springs. If my recent experience with an Intimate Evening with Priscilla Presley is any indication, I'd say they are on the right track. I saw their announcement that Priscilla was going to be in Palm Springs. Since there are so many rumors surrounding her, I thought it was an excellent opportunity to hear what she says about her life in the past and present. Since I couldn't find anyone who wanted to go with me, I decided the day before I would go by myself. It turned out to be the very last ticket, so I took that as a good omen. Oscar's Venue Check-in was easy, and many people chose to have dinner before the Presentation. Thus, the courtyard was filled with beautiful, draped tables and under the crystal-clear desert sky. The balcony above was utilized for seating guests. (Note to me—I'd love to sit there in the future.) The lighting was beautiful, and curtains on the outside of the building glistened, helping to make one feel exceptional as I was escorted to my seat with a perfect side view close to the stage. I ordered my cocktail, Old Fashion so that I could sip during the Presentation. While sitting there struck up a conversation with a woman next to me. A peruse of the audience reveals a mature woman wearing a beautiful brightly colored caftan with a handsome man in a tuxedo. Later in the evening, the woman was introduced as Margaret O'Brien. She is one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. Conversation with Priscilla Presley Sitting on a chair on the stage, Priscilla started by sharing about how she met Elvis. Remember this now a lovely mature woman of 74 who started dating Elvis at 14 years of age. Her parents had great concern. At her dad's request, she invited Elvis to their home, and she was convinced he would say no. Instead, he said, Can I bring my father? The visit was arranged. Without Priscilla in the room, she could hear the laughter and bonding going on between Elvis, her father, and Elvis's father, Vernon. The rest is history about the beginning of the courtship. It is true. Elvis helped create her persona. He would go with her to buy the clothes she wore. She proudly stated, when we were viewing photos of the era, That was my natural hair. Elvis was a very private person. Thus, he had sort of a posse around him most of the time. While he loved performing and his audience, he wanted to be alone with trusted people in his private time. They were all men except for Priscilla, who was always part of the Elvis inner circle. Palm Springs Connections We call it the Honeymoon House, and I had been under the assumption it was where they had just spent their honeymoon. It turns out they lived there for a couple of years. They moved into the other house in Little Tuscany only because Rona Barrett and photographers got so brazen, and they wanted to get away from them. She said once they moved to the second house, they spent much more time in Palm Springs. It was a place where they had many good times. She spoke of Palm Springs fondly and was happy to visit again. She was a little stunned by the changes in the town from when they lived here. Video and Photos were used throughout the Presentation Priscilla hadn't seen many of them in years, so at times, emotions radiated in her voice as she began to talk. The video of Dancing on the Stars caused her to state; It was one of the most challenging things I have done in my life. I prayed I would be voted off. After each viewing, she freely shared her thoughts and what was going on when the videos were taken. Rare and real emotions were shared with the audience. There was a moment when I am sure there was more than just me with a few tears in my eyes. Priscilla said Lisa Marie has a beautiful voice. Her regret was she never had the opportunity to sing with her dad. With the help of technology, a video of Elvis and Lisa Marie appeared before us performing together. Unfortunately, I forgot the song's name because I was so caught up in how beautiful it was to hear their voices blending. I am just hoping the video will be posted somewhere so more people can witness a moment that will not, unfortunately, appear in real life. Priscilla Life Today Priscilla said I will always love Elvis. Maybe I loved him too much, for I could not continue to be around him. It was not stated explicitly, but I got the sense that it was the women around Elvis and the drugs. All our lives, we remained friends, connected about Lisa Marie, and talked often. I spoke to him the day before he passed on. Today, she is a successful businesswoman. She is very involved in the continuation of Elvis's legacy through the operation of Graceland, which is the second most visited home after the White House. While she is enjoying her acting career, she has no plans to be an actor again. She is happy, not dating but surrounds herself with some great male friends and looks forward to continuing to help carry the mantel of Elvis's Legacy. It was an informative, delightful evening in Palm Springs. I came away admiring Priscilla Presley, who I previously did not know much about her, for my focus on Elvis overshadowed her. Not anymore, and I look forward to watching her as she keeps impacting our world. 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

  • Coachella Valley Concert with Andrea Bocelli and David Foster

    If you are Eisenhower Health Center and it is your 50th-anniversary celebration, what do you do? You plan an event like no other and make it one of the most memorable evenings for attendees. On November 1, 2021, the gate opened at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and the party started. Women dressed in beautiful gowns and men in tuxedos walked through the 5-red rose-covered stars, representing the 5-five-point logo of Eisenhower Health Center. A photographer was there, capturing the attendees in their evening's splendor. Then they were handed a glass of champagne, and headed to the lounge area adorned with sofas and barista tables draped white tablecloths. More champagne? No problem, the champagne carved ice station was nearby. The weather cooperated, and sipping champagne, and dining on hearty canapes outside while you mingled was the main scene of this part of the evening. However, tents adorned with beautiful flowers and tables were available if you wanted to sit inside. The Concert Set-Up Tables were set upon on the Courtyard floor and draped with floor-length tables in front of the stage. Areas of the stadium were covered and provided more of a sense of intimacy, and Stadium seats for the concert were covered with blue celebratory Eisenhower Health cushions. On each side of the stage, giant screens projected close-ups, resulting in no one having a bad seat. Of course, the Suites had their projection screens capturing the nuances of the evening. The Concert Jay Leno put the audience in a relaxed mood. He was grateful to be in entertaining a large audience once again. (As a side note, I met him outside before the event, introduced myself, and told him the women I was with were from the Auxiliary. This resulted in a broad smile, "Congratulations.”) Not sure I have this in the order it happened, for it was such an incredible and fast-moving 2.5 hours, I'm still a little starstruck. David Foster came on stage and starts playing some of his award-winning songs. It became evident that David would be the Master of Ceremonies for the evening when he said we had a special guest that couldn't be here in person tonight. He introduced Kenny G on Zoom, and the two of them performed together. As David introduced Andrea Bocelli, you could immediately tell these two were not only friends but admired and appreciated the talent of each other. Of course, the audience sat mesmerized while Bocelli began to sing. The next surprise, Bocelli sang a song with his 10-year-old daughter. I sat there in total rapture, thinking about my granddaughter close to that age, admiring their talent and how perfectly their tones blended. Followed by another surprise: Bocelli introduced his son, who came out to sing with him. Bocelli left the stage, and his son's stunning voice filled the stadium. David Foster introduced Pia Toscano, a voice being compared to Celine. Hard to put into words the gravity and strength of her singing talent. She now travels with Bocelli on this concert tours. At one point, David said we are a divided country, but I trust this arrangement I have written will bring us a little closer together. Pia came out and sang "God Bless America." The entire stadium was on its feet, and people held each other's hands or shoulders. (You couldn't possibly listen without having tears in your eyes.) I'm not done yet. Throughout the evening, Katherine McPhee came out to sing accompanied by David on the piano. They are now husband and wife, and I am happy to report they are now residents of The Vintage in Coachella Valley. If you don't remember, she was on American Idol….we will eliminate the number of years ago. She is also a gifted songwriter. The evening closed with an encore by Bocelli, which certainly did not disappoint the audience. As we gathered our belongings and found our way to the exit, the reality started to sink in; we had experienced a once-in-a-lifetime concert. The organizers of Eisenhower Health Center have much to be proud of for the execution of this event appeared flawless from the outside. The weather was perfect under the desert sky, so no one needed a wrap to protect them from the desert air. As I drove the 16 miles home, I reflected on my life. Indeed, I have seen and done some fantastic things in my lifetime, but this ranks in the top five of all-time favorite things I have been able to witness in person. 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

  • Palm Springs Day Tour to the Getty Museum

    Too many years ago, even to remember, I was at the Getty Museum (Also referred to as the Getty Center.) At that time, I remember marveling at the travertine stone gracing the walls of a magnificent building perched high above Los Angeles on the hilltop of the Santa Monica Mountains. The clouds lifted and revealed a superb view of downtown. I remember thoroughly enjoying viewing the art, then a lovely lunch in the elegant dining room. I felt a little bit naughty having a glass of wine at noon for lunch with wine when it was considered passé to drink it at noon. A random fun fact. I was browsing through the notecards with a woman in their museum's bookstore when her friend Jamie Lee Curtis came up. We didn't miss a beat and continued to talk about the content of the boxes. We were all a little bummed because there were no cards for some of our favorite pieces of art. Tour to the Getty Fast forward to the present. Let's face it, many of us would've loved to have gone to the Getty long ago. However, the logistic of driving there and back in one day is not high on most peoples' agenda, and it wasn't on mine. Then I saw on Facebook an announcement by Let's Go Travel! for a day trip on a bus. All I had to do was sign up, pay their fee, and browse on my own for 4.5 hours at what I already knew was a magnificent experience. The Logistics Let's Go Travel! set up two pick-up points, one at Sam's Club in Palm Desert and one at Mizell Center in Palm Springs. We were all checked for vaccinations and were told we needed to wear our masks while on the bus. Snacks and water were handed out, and we were on our way. During the 2.5 hours, our escort Dixie made a few brief comments pointing out some geological points of interest. However, most of the trip, we were free to chat with friends, read, study, or sleep; it was your choice. Interesting factoid: Escorts: Make sure you are on the bus, take care of any issues concerning transportation or personal needs while on the vehicle, and when you return. If going to a hotel, they make sure everyone has a room, etc. Let's Go Travel! has escorted tours. Guides: Do all the above and are knowledgeable about giving tours and all the information about exhibits and places you will be visiting. Once we arrived, the bus parked, then we either took the stairs or elevators to the level where the tram was located. Now we were on our own and maneuvered the maze set up for security purposes, bags were checked out, and we were free to take the 20-minute walk up to the top or take the tram. The Buildings As I mentioned, it had been years since I was here. Thus, getting off the tram, my eyes gazed over the site laid before me: white pathways going everywhere and five buildings with beautiful architecture beckoning me to come to them. I learned long ago to turn in the opposite direction of the crowd, so I found myself wandering and looking at the distant views and taking time to capture photos of the buildings. Getty's permanent collection is housed in four of the buildings, and the fifth one has both permanent collections and contemporary exhibits. There was an outstanding Hans Holbein, a German Artist exhibit of his signature portrait paintings, when we visited. Adjacent to this exhibit, an Impressionist Exhibit was graced with the painting "Irises" by Vincent Van Gogh, part of Getty's permanent collection. Dining at the Getty Center Determined to see if I could dine in the restaurant I had previously mentioned, I asked the Information Desk and soon found myself standing in front of it. I was escorted to a table draped with a floor-length tablecloth and view of the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains. My salad of figs, pears, peaches, and feta cheese was superb. Okay, this time, I had coffee; it had been an early start time for me. While sitting there, I struck up a conversation with a couple from San Francisco at the next table. Not only did we compare notes about what we had already seen, we exchanged contact cards. They are coming to Palm Springs for Modernism Week February 17-27, 2022, so I urged them to get tickets now. When you visit the Getty Center, you can bring your lunch. Picnic tables are placed throughout the grounds; thus, it makes it convenient and cost-effective for families to pack their children's favorite food and snacks. Scattered throughout are coffee shops and small delis with sandwiches and snacks to tie you over if the hunger bug hits you or you need a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. (By the way, if you come on your own, the only cost for visiting the Getty Center is the $20 fee paid to the City of Los Angeles for parking. J. Paul Getty bequeaths the Center to the people with the stipulation it would always be accessible to the public at no charge.) Getty Gift Shop With the holidays rapidly approaching, I wandered in looking for something to challenge my 11-year-old granddaughter. Their staff helped me find the perfect book that will facilitate my Belgium granddaughter to read English with ease; for now, her first language is French. For me, some beautiful notecards. They will find their way into peoples' hands as the year progresses. Yes, I believe in handwritten notes. The Gardens Peering over the balcony of some of the buildings, it is evident the gardens warrant a closer look. After looking at my watch, I saw it was time to head back to the bus. I made a note to myself, come back in the spring, when the plants awaken to a new life. From my view, it looks like the garden would rival one at any estate in Europe. The Ride Back The tram continuously takes trips, so no need to panic about how long the journey will take to get you back to your transportation. Once Dixie, our escort, had checked the list and everyone was accounted for, we were on our way back to Coachella Valley. To Sum it Up I cannot think of any way one could have a more glorious day exploring this national treasure. Let's Go Travel! did an outstanding job of making the trip so easy. No driving fatigue, no worrying about what to do next, and the added benefit of meeting some delightful new people that put traveling and learning on their schedule as a high priority in their lives. Suggestion: You go to Kathy Kanold Day Facebook Page and sign up, so you are alerted for trips. Some great ones are coming up for the holiday season, and the Getty Center trip will be repeated in February. For additional questions, Kathy gave me her permission to post her email: Kathy Condon is a freelance journalist and travel writer. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. About Kathy 760-902-3094

  • What do I Need to Visit Palm Springs in the Fall?

    We residents are now sitting on our patios, reading our papers, and drinking our coffee in the morning. Noticing our pots with withered plants and leaves makes us mentally put on our to-do list that it's time to do for fall cleanup. This area will now be an extended part of our homes for the next few months. In my case, it means getting out the vacuum to suck up the dry leaves that found their way into every little nook and cranny. Then decide which pots I want to keep or do I want something new. Different pots are so easy to find at our outstanding garage sales, which take place practically every weekend. Going into my 12th year living in Palm Springs in the same condo, I have figured out which plants flourish on my shaded patio. Cyclamens and impatiens thrive, for they appreciate shade. Now to decide what color, light pink, dark pink, or white theme for the flowers, for I will look at them until it is too warm in the middle of June. Prepare for a Fall Visit As you can see, we residents do not only have a change of attitude from the oppressive heat of the summer days to fall in Palm Springs; we prepare for a different lifestyle. Thus, I can share from my point of view how to make your trip to Coachella Valley a memorable one and have you longing to come back again. (See my Blog, Plan Your Trip to Palm Springs, so you understand the layout of the Valley.) Make Your Hotel Reservation In case you haven't heard, Palm Springs is becoming a year-round destination. With 70 plus small hotels (Hotels with 50 rooms or less), there are many choices you can explore on the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website. Some people are wary of getting on an airplane. Thus, Palm Springs is a two or three-hour drive from Los Angeles or San Diego and is a great way to experience the sun at almost any time of year. There is competition for these small boutique hotels, so you will want to reserve ahead of time. We have name-brand hotels, of course, but again, remember what you want to do once you arrive. Some of them are a bit remote from all the activity. What Should I Pack? You will want to pack your swimming suit, for most of the hotels have heated pools. However, you might want to confirm with the hotel you are considering that it has a heated pool. I was in for a few surprises until I realized that not everyone in Palm Springs keeps their pools heated. Because our evenings in the fall and winter are very cool, it causes the pools’ temperatures to plummet, making them too expensive to heat all year round. Yes, you can find people wearing white all winter here, so do put on your white slacks and capris. However, remember Palm Springs is known for its color, so leave the black tops at home and pull out the brightest things in your closets. No need to pack a bunch of shoes unless you want to be colored and coordinated with your dress. Sandals are accepted everywhere, including restaurants. Men enjoy wearing their Caribbean design shirts with slacks and shorts just about anywhere. If you go to Country Clubs or some of our finer restaurants, checking their dress code for dinner might be good. In any case, I think you can leave your ties behind. Essentials You will need suntan lotion, sunglasses, and a refillable water bottle. Pack a crushable hat; you will need it on the trails, shopping, and visiting our attractions; even though it appears the sun isn't hot, you will be glad you have it. You will need a sweater or light jacket for the evening, for you might be surprised by how cool it gets. If you plan to ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, remember the elevation is 8,516 feet above sea level. We have a contest for when the first snowfall will happen, so you get the picture. It can be pretty cold up there, so plan your wardrobe accordingly. Keeping a few of these things in mind will help make your trip not only fun but more comfortable and helps eliminate the wish I would’ve brought regrets. If you have other questions about things to do, my Visit Palm Springs in Photos tab will give you links to some of the things to do, though keep in mind it is far from conclusive, for this thriving community is changing and growing even as I write this blog. 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

  • 5 Things to See on a Trip To Idyllwild

    For those living at sea level in the desert, this day trip is a nice reprieve from our high temperatures, which we experience each summer in Palm Springs. At 5500 ft., you can expect it to be 20-plus degrees cooler in Idyllwild, California. Highway 74 through Palm Desert and Highway 243 from Banning, California, are two ways to get to this community. The lookout about halfway up the mountain on Highway 74 provides a spectacular view of the Coachella Valley. This 75-mile drive will take about 1.5 hours, no matter which road you choose for your trip. Pro Tip: Either way you go, be forewarned. The road to Idyllwild can be a bit scary, for it clings to the mountain edge in numerous places on both routes. 1. Time for a Cup of Coffee When You Arrive in Idyllwild Once you are in Idyllwild, the driver will be ready to park the car and unwind a bit before exploring the town begins. Pure Bean Idy located in the town's circle, has every conceivable drink available to satisfy even the most discriminating person's tastes. You can grab a pastry and head out to the patio so you can start breathing in the fresh mountain air. 2. Explore the Gardens A wonderland opens before you as you walk under the Idyllwild Gardens. Various paths lead you to multiple kinds of plants and delightful garden art that causes you to smile and have you call your friend over to look at the artist's creativity. When you least expect it, you turn a corner and discover a little oasis coaxing you to stop and relax on a colorful bench to take in the surroundings. Then there is a vintage trailer converted into a store containing several unusual items perfect for gifts. There is a garden-like shed filled with specialty food items in another area, many of which you probably have not encountered before on your shopping trips. 3. Time for lunch If you like fish and chips, the Idyllwild Brew Pub on the edge of town is a great choice. It is in the mall on Village Drive, along with the Fairway Foods Market, the area's largest grocery store. If you park your car in the mall area, your access to the Pub is down a stairway that brings visions of walking down one of those NYC fire escapes you see in the movies. A friendly hostess will welcome you. Tell her you want to sit at the window bar. Once you are on your high-top stool, you will have a bird's eyes view of the forest surrounding the Idyllwild area. With a glass of locally brewed IPA, beautiful scenery, and anticipating a delicious meal, I am betting you exclaim, Life is good! 4. A Little Shopping is Always in Order I am not sure if the giant hat at the entrance or the merchandise inside makes Wooleys a must-stop on any visit to Idyllwild. Suppose you are looking for a hat. Oh my, many choices, so their sign is more than appropriate. If you decide to stay longer and didn't bring your hiking gear, you can easily supplement your wardrobe. Wooleys specializes in quality sheepskin, so you can find warm vests and jackets, which will be welcomed later in the year in colder climates or the cooler Coachella Valley winter evenings. By the way, they are family-owned since 2001. You will also want to stop at their jewelry counter with natural stones if you dare. 5. A Chocolate Break at Idyllwild Once tucked away in one of the alleys lined with retail stores, El Bueno Cacao has a new home. It is in the same mall as the Idyllwild Brew Pub. The owners proudly welcome you to their new store and facility, where they make their chocolate creations in their adjacent kitchen. Locals line up for their morning chocolate treats, some of which are paired with coffee. Then there is sipping chocolate, rivaling any you may have had in on a European trip. More than once, I have watched first-time tasters of El Buen Cacao savoring a bite of their bar and basking in the release of flavors on their tastebuds. Just saying you will be hooked on them. The good news is you can order more on their website once you get home. If you haven't had a shake for a while, now is the time to break any diet. You will be glad you did, for El Bueno Cacao shakes are superior to any chocolate shake I have ever tasted. Suddenly, you look at your watch and realize it is 4:30 p.m., and time to head back to Coachella Valley. Take time to look at the meadows lined with mountain peaks before you start descending the mountain. In the distance, you will see picture-perfect ranches with white picket fences keeping horses safe while they graze in the green pastures. Now that you have made this initial trip to Idyllwild, you know what to expect on your next visit. Many galleries, unique retail stores, and restaurants are waiting for you to discover them. Plus, this blog is about a summer trip. Imagine how beautiful the deciduous trees will be in the fall or covered with big fluffy flakes of snow in the wintertime. 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

  • My First Visit to the Presidio of San Francisco

    When I visited San Francisco in the early 80s, I thought I was at the Presidio of San Francisco when I saw the Palace of the Arts and its park. I remembered it perched on the Bay’s edge and a beautiful sight. Recently, I was invited to stay a couple of days by the Presidio of San Francisco. With research, it became evident that I was wrong about the breath of the Presidio; it is 1500 acres filled with history, activities, and incredible photographic views. (Just for the record, I have taken a survey. I have discovered few people in Palm Springs even know it exists.) A Little Bit of Presidio of San Francisco History To be fair, when I was there in the 80s, it was still an Army military base, and access was not open to the public. A millennium woman I met on my journey told me that they often found their way into the base when they were teenagers. It was too tempting not to head to the beaches or the paths with scenic views overlooking San Francisco at night. The history of this area is intriguing. Including the fact, the very first wall built in California has recently been uncovered. It was part of the fort built by the Spaniards when they claimed the area for Spain in 1776. Currently, archaeologists on the property are watching over 30 historical sites on the 1500 acres. There is much that happened on this acreage, but let’s fast forward to 1994 when the Army turned the base over to the National Park Service. Some of the magnificent buildings peppered throughout the land were in desperate need of attention. The Repurposing of Buildings Began This writer was privileged to stay in the Inn at the Presidio. Just a few steps away from the parade ground, this historic Inn once was the quarters for bachelor officers in the Army. The two-room suite had a working fireplace, replicas of historical photos, and period furniture. The luxurious linens made it hard to leave the tranquil serenity of my room. It was the perfect location from which to explore the area, for there was a nearby free shuttle that transports people to outlying areas. However, one who likes walking will find it easy to navigate paths to the beach and many places of interest, such as the most perfect ever view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Next to the Inn, you will see the Chapel, a superb Spanish mission revival architecture example. Today, it is a venue for rent and in high demand for weddings. As you walk past the Chapel, you will see the Archaeology Lab, the Presidio Museum, home of the local Red Cross, and the Lodge at the Presidio, to name a few of the occupants of this scenic and historic location. Three Beaches Welcome the Public I know you have driven across the Golden State Bridge. You looked up at the grandeur of the structure and craned your neck to see if you could see Alcatraz in the distance. However, let’s assume you were leaving San Francisco. If you look down and to the right, you will see an expansive, beach pristine sand calling to you. What a wonderful place to swim, breathe in the fresh ocean air, and meet friends for a day of family fun. The two other beaches require a car or the use of the shuttle. However, they too offer magnificent views and beautiful sandy beaches. Letterman Quarters (Named after a former General at the Presidio) George Lucas has taken an interest in the Presidio, and his impact on this area is more than stunning. This section is now revitalized. Due to his investment of millions of dollars and his creative vision of the site is thriving. Office space abounds; he is housing a portion of his digital organization there. The grounds offer an inviting place to stop, relax and have a picnic with your family and friends. The abundance of trees and flowers will help the most stressed person find a reprieve from outside influences. If you love Wagyu beef or want to try it, you should head to Sessions at the Presidio. This expansive restaurant with enclosed patio dining overlooking the Letterman large greenway is the perfect place to have a lunch or an exceptional dinner. If you are fortunate fresh beignets will be served for dessert. The beef and most organic produce used in the chef’s creative menus come from George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch about 20 miles north of the Presidio. The wines served are also from the Lucas ranch. At the manager’s urging, I had the Chardonnay and have to say it is by the far one of the best Chardonnay’s I have ever experienced. So Much to See and Do at the Presidio I trust I have aroused your curiosity about the Presidio. This treasure of a place is quietly waiting for people to discover it, literally steps away from the city. If you leave Palm Springs by air, it is a short plane ride to the San Francisco Airport. Once you are there, an Uber or Lyft is easy to find and will transport you the sixteen miles to a world you never expected. You will not need a car once you are there, for the free shuttle takes you to every place you may want to go. If you are a hiker, bring your hiking shoes, there are numerous trails for you to explore. Yes, this journey was an eye-opener to me, and there is no question I want to go back. There is still so much to explore. 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

  • Summer Temperatures Changes Routines of Palm Springs Residents

    Rarely a day goes by that we Palm Spring residents are not asked, “How do you handle 100 plus degrees temperatures?” One is tempted to say flippantly, “Carefully.” However, we know it is a sincere question. Thus, we all have our way of answering it. Let me share my perspective and how I handle our rising temperatures. After perusing my Facebook posts, I discovered I am so appreciative that I rarely turn the air conditioner on before May 1. Our evenings are quite cool (sometimes in the high 50s), so with all the windows open, that cool air keeps my condo pleasant in the morning. About 10:00 a.m., I close the condo up because temperatures start to rise. May Temperatures Once May 1st comes along, temperatures gradually start to rise. I have learned to be comfortable in sundresses at 80 degrees in my home. The air conditioner does not usually turn on until about 2:00 p.m. From then on, it is day-by-day in May. Some days may rise to 100 degrees, and then other days, it can be in the low 90s. Our low humidity allows us to tolerate higher temperatures. June Temperatures All bets are off for June. However, residents reconciled to the fact the summer of all air-conditioning has begun. Think of it like your winters; you turn on your heater, we turn on the air conditioner. Our Routines If you want to do any walking or hiking, you get up early and get on your way. Many of us living in Palm Springs are early risers for the quiet; the beauty of our sunrises and desire to enjoy the outdoors is a great motivator. Sometimes we even catch the moon still up. If you have errands to run, such as getting groceries, you would be well advised to do that before 10:00 a.m. I have learned to be quite comfortable out-and-about until the temperatures reach 105 degrees. However, after that, your steering wheel may get so hot you need something to enable you to hold it in your hands. If we are going to park in the sun, we put in sunshades in our front window. With errands done and physical exercise taking care of the rest of the day can be devoted to office work, meetings, or just getting together with friends at one of our many air-conditioned coffee shops. Evenings are an excellent time for dining outside for the temperatures in the desert start going down. The outside patios are open on at least three sides and often have misters. If you are not dining out, now is the time we get caught up on the latest Netflix movies or read the books that we bought during our winter. A Need to Get Away I have stayed through the summer in Palm Springs two times. The first one was tough for the unrelenting heat and no outdoor events or college lectures. My extremely varied and active lifestyle took a hit. Thus, my happiness meter was at a low. The second time was during the pandemic. Interestingly, this time it was easier, for I knew no one in the world was out-and-about, and we were all in the same boat. I used the time wisely to develop a strong foundation for my travel writing. Now with restrictions easing up, I am making summer travel plans. I am not alone in saying that if one can get out at least a couple of weeks in summer, one’s attitude is uplifted. Frankly, I prefer the end of July or sometime in August. The Fall By September 1, evenings are cooling down, people have evening BBQs with their friends, and Palm Springs events start kicking in. Once again, people share conversations across their condo patios in the evenings, for their doors and windows are wide open. Outside dining is at its best. No Regrets I moved to Palm Springs from Vancouver, Washington. In Washington, I remember working at my desk in the winter, and the sun would come out. I knew I had to drop everything and go out, or I might not see the sun again for a few days. In Palm Springs, it is a rare day when the sun doesn’t come out. Thus, I find myself happier and healthier since I am allergic to mold. Nine months of the year, I am free to move about this incredible area to concerts, lectures, and welcome visitors from all over the world, and listen to their life’s stories. No place is perfect. However, I must say with mostly balmy days, palm trees, and very few bugs, I am one very happy woman living in Palm Springs, California. 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

  • 5 Scenic Locations to Photograph in Palm Springs

    Historically, Palm Springs was considered Hollywood’s playground because of its connections to celebrities like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Liberace. Today, it remains an enjoyable and relaxing getaway for those looking to soak in a sophisticated desert destination. Aside from the natural hot springs, sprawling golf courses, and fair weather, it’s home to picturesque landscapes that everyone can appreciate. Photo Credit: Kathy Condon Though the pandemic has forced Palm Springs to enforce social distancing measures, tourists are still welcome to come over and enjoy the local scenery. As such, we’ve compiled five scenic locations to photograph here for your next visit. The Cabazon Dinosaurs Mr. Rex and Dinny the Dinosaur, also known as the Cabazon Dinosaurs, are perhaps some of the most iconic roadside attractions you can see in California. Roughly 20 minutes west of Palm Springs, these quirky beasts were created by Claud Bell, a former amusement park sculptor back in the 1960s. These dinosaurs have since been featured in music videos and films such as Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Photo Credit: Tony Mataras Joshua Tree National Park So names for the population of Joshua trees, it is home to the Joshua Tree National Park is another must-visit for Palm Springs tourists. Here you will see gorgeous geological formations like the Arch Rock and the Skull Rock, on top of the desert flora and wildflowers in the area. What's more is that you can even go camping in designated locations and take photos of the night sky. Photo Credit: Kathy Condon INTERSTATE10 - WINDMILLS They're not just a pretty sight. The windmills you see along Interstate-10 are used to generate clean energy for the entire Coachella Valley. But while these turbines make for quite a view, the shifting sand dunes and the San Jacinto mountain range behind them make the landscape extra stunning. Photo Credit: Kathy Condon The Saguaro Hotel If you're looking for an Instagramable location in Palm Springs, look no further than the Saguaro Hotel. Swathed in vibrant pinks, yellows, and purples, the hotel is a treat for the eyes. Its color palette is the work of renowned architects Paul Aferiat and Peter Stamberg, who wanted to use hues that evoke the colors of desert wildflowers. The result is a wonderland of color with hundreds of gorgeous locations in which to shoot photos. Photo Credit: Saguaro Hotel Tahquitz Canyon Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a trip to Agua Caliente tribe's Tahquitz Canyon, which is home to various types of desert flora and fauna. Here you can also see ancient irrigation systems and rock art. If you are visiting during the winter, you may see the 60-foot Tahquitz Falls in its full glory. This is on the Reservation, so be sure to check hours and there is an admission cost. Photo Credit: Agentz92505, Tahquitz Falls 1, CC BY-SA 3.0 What to bring • Plenty of drinking water – Depending on when you come to Palm Springs, the weather can get scorching. So if you’re planning to take pictures outdoors, don’t forget to bring more water than you think you’ll need to keep yourself rehydrated. • A good camera – Smartphones nowadays are equipped to take high-quality photos. But if you want to go the extra mile and get professional-grade pictures, you might want to bring along a camera. If you’re worried about carry something too heavy, Adorama’s selection of travel-friendly cameras shows that most contemporary models are lightweight, but still pack plenty of features for taking that perfect shot. For example, the Sony Alpha 7C is compact but holds a powerful 24.2 MP sensor to deliver beautiful image resolution. Similarly, the Fujifilm X-T30 is lightweight at just 13.5 ounces — while boasting a top-notch APS-C sensor for fast auto-focus and face detection while you take photos. • A breathable face mask – Though the public is allowed to go outside, precautions against COVID-19 must still be followed. With that said, included among's recommendations for face masks is the VTER Cotton Breathing Mask, which is extra soft and effectively blocks dust and dirt. This way, you stay comfortable while following health protocols. Guest Post By: Troy Oliver Murphy

  • What do you Expect on a Dental Adventure to Mexico?

    For quite a while, I hesitated to write about my eight trips to Sani Dental in Los Algodones, Mexico. However, after repeated visits and saving thousands of dollars, it is time for me to share my experience. Q: How did you find out where to go in Mexico? I knew Los Algodones would be much easier to navigate than Tijuana. I posed the question on Facebook Palm Springs Neighborhood Group about which dentist it would recommend for dental work. Sani Dental came up numerous times. I explored their website. I discovered it was a big clinic; dentists were trained in reputable Universities, and many of them in the United States. Q: How do you get to Los Algodones? A: By car, the road trip is about 2.5 hours from Palm Springs. The road is very easy to navigate and hardly any traffic on the trips I have taken there. People from all over the world fly into Yuma, Arizona. The clinic will pick you up for about the 12-mile drive. Los Algodones operates on Arizona time and has no daylight savings time. Thus, be sure to check the time of your appointment against your time zone. Q: If you drive, what do you do with your car? A: On the United States side, there is a very secure parking lot. If you stay overnight, the cost is $10 a night. The walk across the border is very easy, though the pavement is a bit uneven in spots. Q: Where do you stay? A. You can stay on the US side at the Quechan Casino. Again, transportation will be provided. However, I prefer to stay at Cielito Lindo, located in the MediPlaza in downtown Los Algodones. It is a lovely clean hotel with a delightful staff. This hotel is connected to Sani Dental, so that you may get a free night depending on the amount of work done. However, it still only costs $70 a night, so worth all the hassle of border crossing numerous days. Q: You mentioned days. Why? A: If you have a crown done, you have to plan on being here for 2.5 days. Crowns are made on the premises so that you will go home with the job completed and with a two-year warranty on it. If you have a checkup and cleaning done, you can easily have that all done in one day. Thus, it possible to drive back to Palm Spring in one day. However, I have learned to plan for three just in case. Q: Are the rates for dental work that much cheaper to make the trip worth it? A: Absolutely. Check the prices on Sani Dental’s website. Those are the prices they charge. After a few visits to their clinic, they will negotiate a bit. Q: Do you feel safe there? A: After all of these visits, I have had absolutely no problem or seen any issue. Keep in mind this town is a Medical Tourism destination, so any inappropriate actions would undoubtedly cause harm to the town’s entire economy, for there are no other means for economic support except for the visitors who buy from the vendors. Q: I heard rumors pharmaceutical drugs are less expensive there? A: It is true. Be sure to bring your prescriptions with you. Check the border restrictions on that, but I buy Retin A, allergy drugs, and antibiotics there with no problem. Definitely less expensive. Q: Are eyeglasses really less expensive there? A: Absolutely. I got a designer frame, which I later found online for $325. I paid $125 for my glasses, including new lenses. I had the lenses checked on my next visit to my regular eye doctor, and the lenses were perfect. You can bring your prescription, and they will make lenses according to your specifications. I recently got progressive sunglass lenses with anti-glare put into a frame I already had for a cost of $90. Q: How is the food? A: Since the pandemic started, restaurants have had to cut back their menus. You might not find your favorite Mexican food on menus, but there are restaurants serving visitors, AND yes, you can get a margarita at any time. Q. What is the border crossing like today? A. Because of the pandemic, the border closes at 2:00 p.m. When you are ready to go, be sure to check the guidelines for crossing and the hours. Lines are getting longer to get across the border so be sure to factor in extra time to get through immigration at the border. My experience is that the dental work is superb. The dentists are well trained, and Sani Dental is part of the American Dental Association. 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

  • Palm Springs was the Motivation to Start a Travel Writing Career

    Visiting Palm Springs can be a daunting experience if you decide to do more than golf or sit around the pool sipping tropical cocktails. This area, formally called Coachella Valley, is 45 miles long. See how it is structured in my previous blog Plan your Visit to Palm Springs. On this morning of my birthday, I felt a strong desire to share the developing chapter of my life with you. The saga of my travel writing career began one-and-one-half years ago. The Beginning When my friends come to visit, I take them on My Kathy Condon Tour. After doing it a few times, I realized how appreciative they were that I showed them an entirely different Palm Springs than they had expected. After eight years of living here, I am still uncovering things to do here or in our surrounding area. The mountains looming over the city provide a scenic backdrop to many grand estates built in the early 50 and 60s. These estates remain out-of-sight for many visitors; yet prove to be of great interest to my visitors. Massive Washingtonian and California palm trees stand tall on the landscaped lawns designed with natural boulders, rocks, and native fauna. Nearer downtown, small boutique hotels line the streets. Each displays its personality by unusual exteriors, signs, and hedges, which assure privacy for your getaway. These small hotels are so unique we have a Candlelight Walk through them one night in December. In Downtown Palm Springs, you will see some global brand shops such as H&M and Starbucks. However, most stores are small businesses privately owned and operated by people who live here year-round. Do you want to find unusual items? Look no further. Educating People on the Area I believe you are starting to sense a trend. Yes, I love and appreciate this community. I cannot help myself from sharing my discoveries with you. There was a strong pull to write down what I was discovering. A first-time trip to Joshua Tree National Park with my daughter left us ill-prepared to make that journey. While it ended up fine, I was not about to let others experience our same fate, so I wrote Prepare for a Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park from Palm Springs. Development of the Palm Springs Insider Guide So with no previous experience, I set out to build my website. Thankfully, WIX was easy to maneuver. The ability to change and add to my website at any time I choose was a benefit that dangled in front of me to kept pushing me onward. Today, the site has become one of the go-to-sites for visitors and even residents, for there are many insider tips. I include the tips about things I wish I had known about an area, attraction, or restaurant. The Next Step Joining a group called the Great Escape Publishing launched me to a new level of what is referred to as travel writing. Travel writing consists of going to a destination, capturing its essence, and sharing information to entice others to come and experience the location for themselves. Before I knew it, I had been accepted into some of the premier travel writing groups, TravMedia, including their virtual IMM conference. I passed the test to become a full-fledged member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Association (ITWPA). The Future I am feeling fortunate with the pandemic moving behind us because I have had vaccine shots; I look forward to this summer. As Palm Springs residents know, time away from the harsh summer heat is good for the soul. So far, if the State of California continues to open up, I am heading to Yosemite, Concord, Mammoth, and Monterey on road trips to learn about the respective areas under the leadership of their various Visitors Bureaus. If plans keep falling into place, I will be heading to Loreto, Mexico, to explore and write about their historic mission, culture, and arts. Do not worry; I will not abandon the Palm Springs Insider Guide. I cannot even begin to imagine all the new attractions, stores, and restaurants I will have the chance to share with you. We all look forward to being fully open and welcoming all visitors, including ones from around the world. 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

  • Palm Springs Family Activity Windmill Tour

    When you fly or drive into Palm Springs from the West, you cannot miss the sudden, dramatic appearance of hundreds of windmills. To be exact, 2200 at this writing. Few people know that it is possible to take a tour of this windmill farm. In fact, it is a delightful family activity. Standing at the bottom of a windmill and looking up is a thrill for even the most skeptical participant. Background The formation of the windmill farm, as it is now called, origin began in 1984. The location was chosen for it is consistently the windiest place in the United States. Winds regularly are clocked at 30 mph, for air current is trapped and funneled between the two mountain ranges. With the oil crisis in the 1980s came the need to increase the development of energy; thus, this area received international attention and became a focus for rapid design and development of more efficient windmills.   Today, constant research is done by four companies, including one from Spain. Public Access With changing times, the Windmill Tour Company pivoted. Previously, a bus trip through the area was accompanied by a volunteer narrator for the tour. Now, one can take a vehicle with up to eight people and drive through the farm with a video or audio narration. Upon arrival, you are handed a sanitized iPad in a plastic bag.  Then you drive through the designated path, which is marked, and look for the blue barrel with a number that matches the narrative on the video. At each stop, there is room to park so that you can get out and take as many pictures as you want. Highlights of the Tour For the engineers, there is a display of the original turbines with detailed descriptions of the design. We learned that the original open-tower design proved noisy and caused the demise of many birds. Thus, it was back to the drawing board for redesign, especially the blades. Today, the fiberglass blades can be 144 feet long, almost the width of a football field. One of the stops allows you to get right up to the windmill with a column that extends 300 feet into the air. The majesty of this engineering feat is difficult to comprehend. Helpful Hints: Make reservations on their website. There are no restrooms available. Make sure you take plenty of water and a hat, for there is no shade on this tour. Finally, when you sign up for the tour, be sure to copy the directions. It is handicap accessible. This approximately 1.5-hour tour is truly a magnificent experience. You learn, take in the fresh desert air, and your appreciation of windmill power will increase tenfold. Palm Springs Windmill Tours 62950 20th Avenue Palm Springs, CA 92262 800-531-5834 Kathy Condon is a freelance travel writer and blogger. 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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