Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Friends and Sunnylands

Our last week in the Palm Springs area was filled with a visit from friends and exploring new attractions.  Tom and Georgie flew in from WashPA on Tuesday with a personal mail delivery.  Once again, as we have said so many times, seeing friends and sharing our RV lifestyle is the best thing about being on the road.  We enjoyed Palm Springs, toured Sunnylands, checked out Village Fest and soared to the top of the mountain on the tram.  We also played a bit of euchre and I am happy to report that the guys prevailed. 
Tom and Georgie at one of the many local eateries we enjoyed.  As you can see by their clothing they did bring some cool weather with them.  That chill only lasted a couple of days and the warm weather returned.
That cool weather brought more snow to the tops of the mountains, but as you can see the beautiful blue skies returned.
Sunnylands was the winter home of Pennsylvania media mogul, Walter Annenberg.  His company published the Philadelphia Inquirer, TV Guide and Seventeen magazines and broadcasted American Bandstand.  The 200 acre property includes several lakes and a nine hole golf course in the middle of the desert.  
The 25,000 square foot home was built in 1963 in the design of a Mayan temple.
Some of the art work on the property.  The column fountain shows the history of Mexico. 
The entrance leads into a 6,400 square foot living room.  It was neat walking through the door that so many famous people had passed through.  Frank Sinatra was married in this room.   No photos were allowed inside.  The house was like an art museum with art valued at over a billion dollars when the Annenbergs lived there.  Reproductions of all the paintings are still on the walls.  The originals were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.    
The pool has a wonderful view of the San Jacinto Mountains.  Check out the unique palm tree on the left.  They are in the process of removing some non-desert invasive plants in an effort to reduce water consumption.  As you can see from all the flowers and green grass they use a lot of water.  That is not uncommon in this area as there are over 100 golf courses.
This is the pink guest room, one of five that are the same except for their color; pink, yellow, peach, blue and green. The tour included the grand living room, dining room, master bedroom and the room of memories.  The room of memories was my favorite with hundreds of photos of the many famous people the Annenbergs knew and who visited Sunnylands.  There are pictures of world leaders, presidents, politicians, royalty  and entertainers.  Walter was the US ambassador to Great Britain under Nixon and his wife Leonore served as Chief of Protocol under Reagan.  
Today Sunnylands has become a retreat center for conferences and has been used as a Camp David west for high level presidential meetings.  Last year President Obama met the Chinese President Xi Jinping here for an informal summit.  This follows in the tradition of important meetings.  President H. W. Bush met with the Japanese president, Queen Elizabeth visited and the Annenbergs were famous for their New Years Eve parties with many famous guests.  The pictures show invitations and china from each of these events.
Another of the beautiful lakes with a small waterfall.  We have visited many homes of the rich and famous during our travels and I think Sunnylands is one of the best, because of the historical, significant events that have happened there in our lifetime.
On Friday we did an Art Walk at the Art Place, a small strip mall like setting with several studios of artist's work.  There was everything from photography to paintings to these huge works of pottery.  The kiln they fired these in was as big as a walk-in refrigerator.  The walk is the first Friday of the month during the winter.
And of course Tom and Georgie wanted to take advantage of the hot springs at Sam's to soak their bones.
We all soaked up some California sun, although our guests had to be careful exposing all that white skin to the desert rays.  It sure is nice being at the pool in April, something that we never experienced until we went on the road.
Sam's has several small ponds with koi.  They look like they are loving the sun also.
Another of those great desert sunsets.  After a winter with so many wonderful desert sunsets, I may have to change my mind about whether Florida Keys or desert sunsets are better.  Both are real neat.
On the last day of their visit we decided to take Tom and Georgie to new heights on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  The car on the left is one of the original ones from when the tramway was built in the 1960's.  Right is one of the new cars.  In the new cars the floor rotates so that everyone gets a view of the valley below as they ascend out of Chino Canyon at 2,643 feet above sea level to the top at 8,516 feet in 10 minutes. 
The view from the top is spectacular.  These are the windmills in the Sonoran Desert.  The mountains are part of Joshua Tree National Park.  The tram travels through five climate zones from desert to Arctic / Alpine. 
An interesting look of how the whole Palm Springs area is squeezed between the mountains and the desert.  We went up in the late afternoon so we got to see the valley as the lights came on, very neat.
Far to the south you can see the Salton Sea.  The sea was a below sea level sink that was covered with water when an irrigation canal was flooded by the Colorado River in 1905.  It has become a big agricultural area.  We would recommend a trip on the tram for a great view of the desert valley.  There are two restaurants at the top and also several hiking trails.
One last dinner with Tom and Georgie.  They headed out to visit San Diego for a couple of days.  They are planning on meeting up with us this summer in Alaska.  The weather and the scenery will be different, but it sure will be great seeing great friends again.

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