Tag Archives: outdoors

There I Was


Tall Trees

In Napa Valley.


Peak Picnic

I’d heard that in early November, a group of trail runners brought this picnic table up to one of my favorite local mountain tops. This was my first visit since then. Next time, we’ll bring the food.


The Morning Dove



A week ago, MA, Andrea and I experienced something unexpected and unique. I’d never yearned to visit Palm Springs, as my mind only associated it with desert, golf, and the occasional celebrity. Our experience there involved only some of the first, and none of the other two, although we did meet somebody who played an extra in a movie scene with Bradley Cooper a few months ago, so…

Besides the fantastic food we ate all weekend (restaurants noted later), the best part of the trip was the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway which took us to another world.

The base, Valley Station, was 10 minutes from our hotel (motel) and at an elevation of 2,643 feet. From the valley floor, we drove 3 1/2 miles up a winding canyon road to get there. We arrived a little after 9, so were able to park in the nearest lot. There were maybe 8 lower lots that required either a bit of a hike or a bus shuttle to get to the station. It was about 60 degrees, so we were a little concerned when we saw people dressed in full ski gear, toting sleds. I was fine with freezing later if it meant not dying of heat exhaustion as we waited in line and rode up on the tram.

On the way up, we passed the other car coming down. There are only two, and the force of the downward car pulls the other one up. Each can hold up to 80 people and has a slowly rotating floor, like the Space Needle. (The tram cars are the largest in the world, and the tram is the only one of its kind in the Western hemisphere.) The trip one way takes about 10 minutes. At the top is the San Jacinto Wilderness at 8,516 feet, and a completely different world.

The view from the lodge.

It was in the 40s and there were snow and trees. And lots of people frolicking, so no wildlife. Wait, I did see a chipmunk.

Big trees.

The peak of mount San Jacinto is accessible via a 12 mile round trip hike. There are 50 miles of trails and numerous primitive campgrounds in the Wilderness area. We tackled the 1 mile Nature Loop with great success, meaning we didn’t fall on the slippery snow-packed trail like some visitors we saw.

People frolicking.

We had some impressive visibility, and could see across the entire Coachella Valley, almost to Joshua Tree National Park.

The trip down felt faster than the trip up, but of course we were going the same speed. Here’s a video Andrea took:

If for some crazy reason I had to live in Palm Springs, I am relieved to know that annual passes to the tram are available. In 10 minutes I could be out of the stifling heat and with a short hike I could escape the Nature Trail lookie-loos with blaring blue tooth speakers. And then again, there is the food.

We ate at and recommend:

Rooster and the Pig

Tyler’s Burgers



So if you go to Palm Springs for a summer pool party, the Desert Hills Premium outlet stores, Coachella, or 18 holes, you have your oasis. And fortunately, I have mine.


Boy on the Bay