Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sometimes a country girl at heart

You know what they say? "You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl." Substitute person, man, boy, individual, woman for "girl" and it's more or less the same effect. Despite that I gravitate to more urban and metropolitan areas, having lived in or around a number of cities as an adult, I grew up outside a small town along the U.S.-Mexican border in Texas, a fact that surprises many people when/if I tell them. Not that it's a well-guarded secret, seeing as I frequently visit my family members who still live there, but I like to think that I've pretty much shed my accent and most any trace of Texas from my being.
That said, there are memories and images and moments that will tug at my heart, and I will feel a sense of loyalty and even a bit of that Texas pride for my origins. When Michael and I took a road trip at Christmas, cutting through West Texas from El Paso and on to San Antonio, we spent the night in Kerrville, Texas, right in the heart of the "Texas Hill Country", where I used so spend summers at camp and my family would spend Thanksgivings. I will always remember my experiences raising sheep for the local 4H club. Never was I so surprised as when I won a blue ribbon for "showmanship" with one of those idiotic lambs, considering that I never worked with the animal. Not once. But somehow it performed that night, to my wonder and surprise. Nor was I ever so happy as when I sold those beasts - usually to a family friend, because despite the lambs' youth, the meat wasn't very good (I think South Texas is just too hot of a place to raise good lamb).
A few years back, my parents gave us cowboy boots for Christmas, and they are, without a doubt, some of the finest shoes that I will ever own in my life. We went out to a ranch north of my parents' place, and they measured our feet and our legs and we picked out everything - the leather, the design, the type of heel (I chose a lower "walking" heel), whether we wanted toe bugs (stitches on the toes) or not. A few months later, my parents surprised us with them for a wedding that we attended. The rehearsal dinner was country western-themed, so we danced all night in those boots. They were so comfortable, that despite never having worn them before, it seemed that I could spend the rest of my life in them.
Last night, we went to the movies and watched "Crazy Heart", and yet again I felt that twinge of sentimentalism about Texas and country western culture. I did not LOVE everything about the movie, but I really did like the main character played by Jeff Bridges, and I also loved the music. I don't listen to much country music, and I passionately hate the crap that comes out of Nashville (there was definitely a joke about the fabricated Nashville music in the movie). But some good, soulful country music, by the likes of Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard touches me rather deeply and takes me back to a childhood memory or two, especially if I'm driving through the not-yet-tamed parts of the American West or feeling nostalgic about Texas or small towns or the places and spaces in between.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Down time (aka "The most boring post EVER")

While I could (or *should*) be grading right now, I'm taking a break. Last night was also a break, despite the fact that I actually had just got a fresh batch of tests in and that I had (and have, present tense here) some papers that are turning a bit stale. I swear, I will attack them this weekend! I can't wait - scintillating analysis of Cabeza de Vaca's Naufragios as compared to Lazarillo de Tormes, the first picaresque novel! I will hand them back, in exchange for an essay on Cervantes and el Quijote. Not REALLY el Quijote since the students only read a wretched 5 chapters of the work, but that is what is required on the AP Spanish Literature reading list. This class has made me loath the College Board, an organization that must be run by Satan, I've decided. Who else would create a reading list composed of 57 different works? Some are short, many are fragments, but still...
After two rather frantic weeks, this week seems to be offering me a bit of a breather. Last night, I decided that I was prepared enough for today to watch an ENTIRE movie. That almost never happens on week nights during the school year, I'm such a curmudgeon . I picked the movie that just arrived in the afternoon, so that also was inspiration to take the night "off". The movie, "In the Loop", while not the best movie I have seen recent, certainly had some very sharp moments and the writing at times was incredible. Some of the situations were hysterically funny. I won't say anything else about it because I don't want to spoil it, but I would recommend to people who like comedies of the darker nature.
Tonight, I will actually grade some tests. Nothing like the present subjunctive used with expressions of doubt and denial versus the indicative with expressions of truth and certainty! And throw in a few superlatives, such as "the most boring post ever"!
Michael's made a huge pot of black beans, so we'll enjoy an evening of rice and beans, a salad, an old 30-Rock episode, and lots of tummy rubs for the dogs.
If I can tuck into bed before 9:00 and read some of "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle", I will be completely content!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Deep thoughts from (and about) the gym

I actually went to the gym TWO days in a row this weekend. Almost as much a miracle as the US Hockey Team beating the Russians way back in 1980 or the Canadians just yesterday. Go Team USA (hello patriotism!). I happen to love going to the gym these days because they are showing the Olympics on a regular basis, something that I cannot get at home, seeing that we do not have cable. So far, I have seen some of the Men's ski cross (way cool) and the biathlon (very warrior-esque). If I could be an athlete in one event or the other, I would definitely favor biathlon.
Other than going to the gym to catch up on some TV viewing, I also meet up with a friend on a regular basis and we bitch and moan while we are on the elliptical trainer. The other option for me is the treadmill, where I join Michael, although we don't talk and socialize so much.
I find the gym experience a bit boring but also rather social in a nice way, since I'm apt to run into a colleague or a student from work. It's quite a change from the gym that we used to frequent (or non-frequent, really) in LA. It was in the heart of Hollywood, which sounds cool, perhaps, but was a nightmare. It fit the term "meat market" to a 'T'. Now, I don't mind so much that I'm a bit of a blob because there are plenty of normal people at this gym. I am running a bit on the treadmill, which feels good and painful at the same time. Ah, love that! It is actually nice to feel that I'm pushing myself a bit these days, even if it's to run for 5 minutes rather than 4.
Back to the experience yesterday... While I was watching the men's ski cross, they were also showing on another television "Keeping up with the Kardashians" or whatever-it's-called. I must admit that I knew about this family, but I had NEVER seen an episode until yesterday. It was like the proverbial carwreck - I couldn't help watching it! Seriously though, who ARE these people? And why is reality TV such a big draw? I do not understand our culture/society at times.
Anyway, that's it from the gym.
To be honest, I really prefer being out and about when/if I exercise. Despite loving sports and athletics and athletes, I'm more "active" than "athletic". I enjoy a challenge, but it doesn't necessarily have to be competitive. Rather, it can be that wonderful sensation that comes from a long, exhausting and exhilarating hike. Or the satisfaction of a backpacking trip (only short ones for me, unfortunately). Or the thrill of a bike ride with lots of hills thrown in.
I can't wait until I can actually DO half the stuff I've mentioned here, by the way!
Go Team USA, Go Me!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Date night!

Since moving from Silverlake and the comfort of a double income, Michael and I have significantly scaled back our evenings out. Often, we'll do something local, just getting a glass of wine or a martini at one of two places that we frequent. While we do occasionally splurge, we've also tried to be more economical and mindful of what we are spending, and we have discovered that we can go out to a nice place but it doesn't have to be expensive. The past month or so has felt downright indulgent, then, with a birthday celebration for me, several dinners out with my parents, out-of-town visitors and pizza and Mexican food, and then getting together with friends last weekend on the West Side. What a whirlwind!
However, it has been a while since we've just had a random "date night" - nothing special to celebrate, except the fact that we still enjoy our company and have a great time together.
Last night was a wonderful reminder of that!
A friend gave us coupons to go to a swanky, cool restaurant, so we went ALL out last night!

There are actually 3 different "Chaya" restaurants in the LA area, and we chose Downtown Chaya, the latest incarnation of the restaurant. We hadn't eaten at any of these, since we seem to gravitate to the usual suspects, but the reviews were favorable in Zagats, even though people frequently used the adjective "trendy" to describe the restaurant. Being a non-trendsetter myself, I feel somewhat ambivalent about cool, trendy places.
At any rate, I'd had a pretty brutal week - lots of meetings, one of which was a two-hour "Sexual Harassment Training", then a work gathering at my house on Friday which was fun but still kind of stressful. It seemed like a chore to shower, look nice, go out, deal with traffic, find parking, whatever. However, we rallied, I got dressed up (black skirt and crisp white shirt) and we ended up having one of the BEST times out!
Downtown LA is such a strange combination of hotels, parking lots and sleek buildings that run into abandoned corners, graffiti and Skid Row. Despite the fact that we go to Downtown a few times a year, I never feel confident that I "know" it like other neighborhoods. Still, it's striving for its own Renaissance, and after last night, I'll definitely try out new and different places.
Chaya is in a bank building, which seemed random. It felt a little bit like a discoteca inside to me and there were several tables of large groups of cool people. My initial skepticism quickly diminished, however, when I took a sip of my drink (some amazing concoction with Hendricks gin and cucumber - not sweet but not too strong) and after we started our dinner with a taste of sushi and sashimi - flying fish and cuttlefish from Japan. While we like sushi, we generally stick to the tried and true (yellowtail, albacore, sometimes throwing in a yellowjack or mackerel into the mix...), but we decided to be adventurous. It was so good that we ended up getting the Omakase platter - the chef's choice of sushi for the night. I can't even remember all the sushi that we had, but it was all superb.
From there, we switched to the French side of the menu. I was a bit unsure how to transition from sushi to French, but I decided that since the restaurant touted itself as "French-Asian fusion", we should experience the fusion. I'm not sure that it was a perfect blend, but it was a fun one! And our entrees were great - we each ordered something but then ate off both plates, sharing miso marinated sea bass and pappardelle with mushrooms and a bolognese sauce. They were both different but SO SO good.
We finished off the night sipping on a lovely glass of "Mia's Playground" Zinfandel. So sublime.
That evening definitely made an ordinary weekend quite special, and Chaya has definitely become a new favorite for us! I would hate to expect the "same" experience, but I also can't wait to return one of these days.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The bad wife

Okay, I'm not really a "bad wife" (whatever that means - I'm sure there is a wide range of definitions and opinions on the topic), but I do feel, at times, that I don't help out around the house as much as I should/could. We have a pretty unequal division of labor, in part because I have a MUCH higher tolerance of dirt and grime and in part because Michael is working from home, so he can pick up some, or a lot, of the slack around here. And he also keeps a better house than I do.
That said, it doesn't lessen the guilt that sometimes creeps up as I wish that I were more of a clean/neat freak or more of a "home-maker". Instead, I am a breadwinner! Rosie the Riveter, eat your heart out. Whatever that means.
Today, however, I felt more like a L-O-S-E-R than anything. One of the perks (in my view) of working from home is that Michael spends quality time with our dogs, Gus and Milo. I often walk with them on weekday afternoons and weekends, but forget about weekday mornings when I go into work at 7:00 am. Today, after a busy day (I can tell when it's a busy day by the number of emails I send Michael throughout the day; today, I sent him ZERO), we went to the gym for a quick workout and then went to walk the dogs. Half-way into the walk, I just wanted to go home because I was so tired.
Pathetically, I did so.
I just needed a MOMENT to not have to do anything. Of course, sitting here typing away, I wonder if I could have pushed through the walk. After all, it's not as though we walk vigorously with our dogs. They are on the older side, and Gus definitely takes his time! Still, it was just that small window to come home and putz around the house.
Michael, being the freaking saint that he is, totally let me off the hook. I owe my sanity to him on a daily basis.

Monday, February 15, 2010

LA and the movies

Michael and I watched "500 Days of Summer" last night, which I probably liked more than he did. I've been quite a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt ever since "Third Rock from the Sun" was on TV. Perhaps it wasn't a truly great show, but it had its moments, and the acting was quite superb (John Lithgow, Jane Curtain...). I think I 'appreciated' the movie more than I liked it - the structure, for instance. Also, I found snippets of the movie hysterical (getting drunk in your 20's - such an experience), I really enjoyed some of the movie-within-movie playfulness, and I loved the music - so many great 80's songs from The Smiths and The Pixies (okay, that was a karaoke performance in the movie, but still!). Michael did the eye-roll thing when I said that I liked the soundtrack. I suppose that's a too-typical comment?
But what I did enjoy about the movie was seeing shots of Los Angeles in it. I'm not a huge film buff, but I enjoy movies, just as much as any other person, and my taste is more discerning than not, depending on the occasion. Living in LA, I find that I have developed a love-hate relationship with "the Industry", as it's known. I occasionally do get the slight thrill when I see someone mildly famous (like last weekend, at the Kidspace Museum in Pasadena, a random sighting of a B-list actress whom I recognized, to my own chagrine and delight). Despite not having cable to watch TV, Michael and I stay well abreast of some of the shows, and my "US Weekly" informs me of the newest hunks and latest celebutants out there. Good times.
All of that aside, I honestly like watching a movie that IS about the city of Los Angeles, or about some aspect of life here. Not that they all need to be or can be "Chinatown" (LOVE that movie, although I do believe that Roman Polanski should face justice of some sort, despite the outcry), but it is cool to see a building that was in "Blade Runner" (for instance, the Bradbury Building, which was also in "500 Days of Summer" - quite the wink or nod or both). A few favorites are "Laurel Canyon", "The Player", "The Big Lebowski", "The Big Sleep" and "In a Lonely Place".
Not that my life resembles the excitement that some of these movies present. Perhaps I watch movies to experience that thrill? I suppose that we all watch them for one reason or another, whether its pure entertainment, laughter, tears or escapism, a good movie can transport us, sometimes to another moment and another place. Funny that I enjoy movies that transport to a different LA from the one that I experience daily.

*A few random thoughts:
- I disliked the female character, Summer, and wonder if that was the intent or if I was alone in that.
- Despite disliking her, I fully understood not wanting to define oneself as a 'girlfriend'. Michael and I never defined ourselves in such a way, and now we're married. Random.
- I loved what his friend said about his wife - how the girl/woman of his dreams wasn't anything like his wife (would have big boobs, etcetera) but that his wife was so much better than the woman of his dreams.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bliss - A three-day weekend

I am cognizant of the fact that I just had, in theory, a "semester break", and so a three-day weekend should not delight me quite as much as it does. In my defense, however, I did have houseguests three (!!) weekends in a row (note to self: NEVER do that again, especially if some of those guests are of the parental variety and if others have children of the toddler variety). So, life has not provided me with ample opportunity to relax.
Plus, this past week just kicked my ass. I won't go into too much detail, but I had several meetings, one of which involved talking to a group of parents, mainly mothers, about the rest of the year for seniors. As the senior dean, I will be EVER so slightly involved with events such as the senior trip, baccalaureate, graduation in addition to the daily task of running after students to remind them of X and/or Y. I really do like the teaching aspect of my job, but the administrative piece leaves me somewhat cold.
Back to the topic du jour, which is not to lament my job, but to laud the fact that I have a three-day weekend.
It's definitely nice (quite the understatement) to have an extra day! Not because I'll do something "exciting" but at least I can take one day totally off. That was today - I did not open a book for school nor grade a single paper. Bliss!
The weekend, so far, has involved meeting up with friends at Father's Office, a bar/restaurant with two locations in LA - we went to the Culver City locale, meeting up with a friend of ours from work. I hate that it's a 'hip' and happening and rather crowded place, but I love the setting at the same time. It's nice and open, and the crowd is definitely mixed, varying from hipsters to business types to total nerds. We definitely fall somewhere in-between! In addition to a good bar (mainly a great place for beer, but the mixed drinks are potent and well-done), the food is good. This is not TGIFridays or Chili's. Not that there is anything wrong with those places, but this place is rather famous for its burger, reportedly the "best in LA". And it IS a damn good burger. I actually did not order the burger, but I ate half of Michael's and had to admit that it trumped my duck confit. As tasty as that was, it just could not quite match the burger.
Today, we relaxed - walked the dogs, went for a walk along the beach, did some shopping, took an awesome nap, walked the dogs again...
It seems to me as though we have been shopping quite a bit these days (have we? I don't know), but I had several Nordstrom's gift cards that students had given me around the Christmas holiday, so that's my 'excuse'. I'm actually not a huge fan of Nordstrom's, but we did buy some nice towels for the house, and then today Michael replenished his sock drawer with the rest of the money. Not too exciting, but new socks can give one a small sense of satisfaction. I suppose that was my V-day present to him?! How romantic!

The evening was pretty blissful too: green curry chicken and a movie.
We've been experimenting with more Asian flavors these days, and we'd tried this recipe a few months ago and liked it but did not feel that it was strong enough. So, this time we doubled the coconut milk, the fish sauce and the thai green curry paste. It was definitely an improvement!
The grand finale - "Casino Royale". I happen to LOVE the James Bond movies, and although there are some terrible movies in the collection, there is something equally terribly romantic and exciting about them all. I do believe that this one sets itself apart in many ways (not only because of Daniel Craig!), and I very much enjoyed the movie. Not having seen it since its theatrical release, it was almost new for me.
Tomorrow WILL involve some work, but today has offered me such a lovely respite that I won't mind the work. Okay, maybe I will a little, but not too much. Really.
I'm going to bed now and will read a bit of The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. I had wanted to read this book for a while, and finally I snapped it up. I'm not too far into it, but so far, I would absolutely recommend it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Run, run, run!

I admit that I have a long relationship with "running", despite an almost equally long hiatus from the activity thanks to knee issues. I've never been a tremendously athletic person, but I have been active, on the whole, and running is such an efficient and easy way to be active. It isn't cheap to buy shoes, but once a person has proper shoes, good socks, a decent pair of shorts, a jog bra and some nice t-shirts, then why not go out for a run? It is much easier here in Southern CA to 'gear up', I'll admit. I first "got into" running when I lived in Philadelphia, and I ran on hard, pounding, uneven streets and the weather left a great deal to be desired. I do love the fact that I STILL own and wear frequently a shirt that I bought when I was 24 (back in 1996!) and training for my first and last marathon. It's a blue, Patagonia (see, I love the Patagucci) long-sleeve shirt with a zip-up neck. Yes, it has seen better days, but it still works. It kept me warm but not too warm during the marathon, which I finished in just over 4 hours, if I recall.
Fast-forward to 2003, I was training for my second marathon (I had actually already trained for my second marathon, but did not run because of an injury). A few weeks before the race, I went skiing in Tahoe and went down a black run which isn't a good idea for me in the best of conditions, and these were completely shitty. I turned, but my knee did not really respond. To top it all off, we were in the more "back-country" area, so no one else was around. Fortunately, ski patrol did come by, and strapped me into one of those stretchers as they put me on two different lifts before I made it down to the Squaw Valley ski 'clinic'. Apparently the snow was quite bad because they had seen more than their fair share of screwed up knees for the day. It was slightly comforting to know that I wasn't alone. It ended up that I had partially torn my meniscus, so it mended with time. Within the next year, I could run, and I did, but I found that I could not run long distances. A few miles here and there, not too often.
I resigned myself to that, and the few miles became fewer and fewer over the years. There did not seem to be anything WRONG with my knee, but there was either pain during or after a run, or both. I missed the convenience of going out for a run, and I hated that I felt out-of-shape from lack of a HARD run, but I adjusted. No more backpacking, and I was careful when I hiked on the downhill. Definitely no skiing, downhill or Nordic, but I didn't miss it that much. It's an expensive sport at any rate.
And so I logically explained away so many physical activities that I truly enjoyed. I picked up cycling and tried to get "into" swimming (without much luck). I was pretty healthy. No worries.
Then, last March, I was playing ultimate frisbee at a school event, and I performed a quick stop, cut and turn. Then I experienced sharp pain and limped off the field. A few months later, I finally had an MRI which informed the doctor (and me) that my ACL was completely torn. That would explain the fact that my knee seemed to shift unexpectedly quite often, even when I was just walking normally. Great.
So, an operation and MONTHS (going on five fucking months) later of physical therapy, the doctor gave me the green light to start to run.
Which is great, except that I am nervous and scared about running and it is still a painful activity because I am weak (or my muscles are). Not to eschew the "no pain, no gain" philosophy, but it's hard to return to running, both physically and mentally. Still, I'd love to be able to take longish runs through local trails, around the Rose Bowl, along the bike/running paths in Santa Monica and on south, experience Runyon Canyon and other popular trails and maybe even run a 5K race here and there. All of these options entice me, offer me a world that I don't know and haven't experienced.
So, it's up to me, to build up the strength and tolerance, to find that "sweet spot" when running feels good and when nothing else matters. Despite the feelings of nervousness and the physical effort that it will take, I look forward to the challenge of running and exploring.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Consumerism and the order of things

I realize that many people struggle with the task of self-definition. "Who am I" often becomes more about "What do I do" or "What do I like" or "What are my hobbies". Then there is the other major question - "What do I own, what do I buy and what does it say about me?". Not that I believe that what I own or consume *defines* me, per se, but it does reflect something of my values and my taste. For a while, I think I tried unsuccessfully to deny that I enjoyed shopping and clothes and things of that nature. Mind you, some people might see how I dress and still make that assumption about me, but they would be wrong. I prefer to be understated, I like jewelry that is not mass-produced and prefer silver to gold (the gold jewelry that I do own sits rather lonely in a box), I do not have a flashy car (and the car that I have sits in the driveway, unattended because we pulled it off the insurance this summer).
Not that I follow the latest trends, but I do like:
- Cute t-shirts (especially those that Michael gives me for my birthday and/or other events, like a "just because" day; see below for an example of a cute t-shirt, despite the bad photo.
- Smart wool socks - Seriously, they are so great!
- Almost anything from Patagonia (which is a problem, because how many little fleece jackets do I really need? Ditto goes for their women's underwear!)
- Cardigan sweaters and crisp white, tailored shirts.
- Nice notecards - especially letterpress on good card stock (see below again).
- Products by Aveda.

See, consumerism! And, to top it all off, Michael and I finally succumbed to the pressure, to the desire to HAVE and we bought ourselves a television. MAJOR CONSUMERISM!
It was a slow process, and it took years for us to finally give in. I still blame Sara, my friend who moved to Paris, because we inherited their old but pretty-nice TV in the summer, and we realized that it was nice to not watch shows on a computer screen. Now, we are the proud owners of a flat-screen TV. And a PS3. Did I fail to mention that?
I'm not sure what this means, or if it means anything. I feel as though we've become true suburbanites, but a friend assured me that owning a television is not the sole terrain of suburbia. I must confess that I do enjoy the picture quality of the movies we watch. We have yet to install cable, but it may be the next step in our "we are consumers" reality.
Maybe there's another issue for me. While the television was a very deliberate purchase, and we made that decision as a 'household', I also like the occasional, random purchase here or there. A skirt that maybe I don't really *need*, but it's kind of cute. A part of my nature tends to the impulsive, the impractical, and the spontaneous (although I also like structure!).
Anyway, random thoughts, but I do wonder what it all means, if it means anything. I've never tried to adopt a zero-impact lifestyle, as much as that sounds appealing in theory, and I try to not judge other people (although I probably do have some smug moments, no doubt) for their choices. However, I do think that our choices reflect something about who we are, what are values are, what we believe. And, whether we like it or not, what we buy is a choice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Desert hike

Yes, it's a Joshua tree! I've decided that Joshua Tree National Park is, just maybe, one of my favorite places in the world (along with the Lake Enchantments in the North Cascades, Point Reyes in Marin, Moab, Utah and Bryce Canyon... The list could go on, no doubt!). I "discovered" that I liked hiking and the outdoors at a rather late age - well into my twenties. I wish that I had grown up in an outdoorsy place or with an outdoorsy family. Mind you, we were outside enough, my mother often shooing us outside during the long, hot summer months, and my brothers and father taking hunting trips. Hiking and camping, however, are something that I can claim very much as my own.
I always forget how close the desert is to the Los Angeles area. We probably go once a year or so, and I remind myself "Must spend more time in the desert!". As for J-Tree, I've been there three times now, each trip at a different time of year and each one offering something new. The first time I went was years ago, when I signed up for a weekend rock climbing seminar. It was bitter cold in December, but being on the rock was pretty amazing, although my body ached for a week or so afterwards. Last year, Michael and I spent a weekend there in early April, just missing most of the desert blooms, but we were able to enjoy a few late flowers. And this time around, it was a quick trip up from Palm Springs to the park. We spent the morning just exploring different rock formations and climbing around (nothing technical, but still fun to scamper around). The rock there IS pretty great - I forget how sturdy it is, how forgiving, how much it lets you pull and push on it. Even non-technical bouldering is a treat.
We entered into the north entrance, and then headed south, stopping by the "Cholla Garden" before we arrived at our major destination. The Cholla cactus is pretty cool - a rather beautiful but unforgiving plant:
Anyhoo, we finally arrived at the Cottonwood campground around noon and started our hike to "Lost Palms Oasis". It was a GREAT little hike, with lots of ups and downs, rather than down the entire way there and then UP coming back, or vice versa. The first two miles were fairly easy - we made great time! The last mile was definitely a challenge, but so worth it as we ended up at an oasis (obviously) with lots of palms and shade. After a rest there and a scarfed-down lunch of typical hiking stuff (3 oranges, lots of trail mix and I can't remember anything else), we headed back. The weather was just gorgeous - cool if we stopped moving, but never too hot, and the blue sky was a lovely contrast against the green (yes, green! It had rained last week or the week before, so there was a subtle vibrancy to the landscape) and browns and red of the desert.
We booked it back to Palm Springs, which seemed like a foreign country after being in the stillness and relative solitude of the desert. Michael, my dad and I grabbed a beer and chips and salsa and waited for my mom to do some shopping. I must say that a cold beer after a long, tiring hike is pretty close to Nirvana.
It was a wonderful experience to share with my parents. They are not necessarily young (at 67 and 71, respectively), but they are still active, for which I am grateful. Also, this hike was a bit of a triumph for me too, being the first major outing since knee surgery in September. 7.2 miles isn't too shabby! And a bit of soreness afterwards was well worth the experience!