Africa, Australia, and North America

Giraffe at Palm Desert’s The Living Desert

When visiting my brother in the desert, I enjoy going with him to one of my favorite zoos, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert. I remember going there with Martine when she lived and work in Twentynine Palms for the naval hospital there at the Marine Combat Center. Now that Martine has come to hate the desert after having lived in it for two years, now i go with my brother and his family.

Over the years, there have been numerous improvements, including an Australian sub-zoo and now a rhinoceros exhibit. Unfortunately, the rhino was not into being stared at, so he was in hiding when we were there on Sunday. Originally, there were only two parts to the zoo, North America and Africa.

Me at the Living Desert

My brother took the above picture of me sitting in a rocking chair. He deliberately cut off my feet as part of a family joke. My father used to say that if you didn’t show the subject’s feet in a picture, people would think he or she didn’t have any. So you can guess whether or not I have any feet. (Hint: I do.)

Probably the most spectacular creatures this visit were the giraffes. They are in a particularly large and photogenic location, so I managed to get a lot of pictures of them.

On Desert Time

I had a good time visiting my brother in the desert. When the weather is just right, as it was this weekend, there is no better place to be. Conversely, during the scorching days of summer, it is best to seek water, shade, and air conditioning as fast as possible. Touch a metal surface on your car, and you can hear your skin burn.

It is difficult to imagine ponds in the desert, yet they exist, as the above image shows. It’s mostly because they are near the San Andreas fault, where subterranean water sometimes pools at the surface.

The only palm tree native to California is the Washingtonia filifera, or California Fan Palm. On a hot day, they not only provide excellent shade, but somehow seem to lower the shade temperature by several degrees. The best place to see this in the Coachella Valley is at the Thousand Palms Oasis off Ramon Road.

Stretching at times all the way to the ground, the dead fronds provide a safe habitat for various critters.

Cholla cactus look so inviting, so huggable even. But beware, the spines are barbed and difficult to remove. Many dogs have chased critters into a cholla and find themselves in great pain. An Arizona hiking site gives instructions for removing cholla cactus spines:

  1. Do not touch your face or put the injured area into your mouth. The cactus needles can easily transfer, so putting it near or face and/or mouth will only make the problem worse.
  2. Carry a plastic hair comb or a multi tool in your pack. It’s been said that if you get stuck with a cholla, you can use the comb to go underneath and pluck it out of your skin. Just make sure your aiming the cholla pod away from everyone else around.
  3. Use tweezers to remove the left over needles. They will likely be small and hard to see so make sure you get to good lighting to see better.
  4. Place duct tape over the area and then quickly pull it off like a band aid. This will hopefully remove the needles, and not your skin!
  5. Use gauze and white glue. Wrap the area up in gauze and then soak it in white glue. Once the glue dries, peel off the gauze which should take the needles with it.

Escape to the Desert

It’s off to the Coachella Valley for me this weekend to spend some time with my brother. I figured it was best to go now before it started to get hot, as it does late in the spring. My next post will probably be on Monday. With luck, I will have some new scenic photographs with desert views.

Two Generations

Me with My Niece’s Oldest Son, Ollie

While many of my family members cavorted in the pool at a rental house in Indio, I sat reading James Boswell’s Boswell in Holland, 1763-1764. I had had a vicious siege of blepharitis that lasted for the better part of a year, so I was not about to subject my eyes to pool chemicals.

As I was eating my sister-in-law’s excellent orzo salad with olives, orange bell peppers, and feta cheese, my niece Hilary’s son Oliver came and sat down next to me. He had matured considerably since the time when, while rough-housing, he kicked me in the head. (Fortunately he was barefoot at the time.) Since that time, I have resolved never to rough-house with children. I could get hurt. Or worse, I can turn into my father and deliver an angry swat.

When my brother proposed I look after three children while their parents went elsewhere, I answered “No effing way!” Some people are not meant to be parents: I am one of that number. But then he knew, and he was only jesting with me.

In the Bosom of the Fambly

The Extended Paris/Moorman/Duche Family in Indio

Crouching: Oliver Moorman and Hilary Paris Moorman
Standing: Jennifer Duche, Me, Lori Paris, Ely Moorman, Dan Paris, Joseph Moorman

Just to get the relationships straight:

  • Dan Paris is my younger brother. He is married to Lori Paris.
  • Jennifer Duche is Lori’s daughter from an earlier marriage.
  • Dan’s daughter from an earlier marriage is Hilary Paris (and therefore my niece).
  • Hilary Paris is married to Joseph Moorman with two sons, Oliver and Ely.
  • I just happened to wander into the picture.

Ours is a widely diverse family, including anti-vaxxers, a Trump supporter, a Yoga instructor, a Seattle Parks & Recreation employee, two Hungarians, a Master Builder, a travel specialist, and me—perhaps the strangest one of all.

Joe and Hilary rented an Air B&B house in Indio, California, where most of the get-togethers were held.

In addition to family stuff, I saw the new James Bond film (No Time to Die) and liked it, and I visited the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert, where I took pictures (which you will sample in the coming days).

The weather was a bit on the cool side, with a wild and windy rain squall on my final evening in the desert.


A Weekend in Palm Desert

No, I Do Not Plan to Visit Any Golf Courses

It looks kind of idyllic, doesn’t it? The damned thing is it can be idyllic, or it can be hellacious. Fortunately, the weather in the desert is cooling somewhat, and I don’t have to worry about losing any skin if I touch any of the metal surfaces on my car.

On Saturday, I will drive to Palm Springs for a mini-family-reunion, staying in a cheap motel in the area. I am primarily interested in spending time with my brother and sister-in-law, and I hope to take some pictures of the weekend. Martine will stay behind in L.A., as she is not feeling well.

Monday is Columbus Day. Although it has become something of a bogus holiday, it is still observed by governments, banks, and some school districts; so I will stay on until Tuesday morning, when I drive back to Los Angeles.

I may or may not post on Friday of this week.

The Palm Springs Air Museum

“Mitch the Witch II” with Two Confirmed Japanese Warship Victims

The Coachella Valley means a lot more to me than giant rock concerts. There’s Mount San Jacinto brooding over the valley, the Living Desert Zoo and gardens in Palm Desert, delicious Deglet Noor dates, and, of course, the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Apparently, a lot of WW2 pilots found their way to the Coachella Valley and contributed their efforts to making the Palm Springs Air Museum one of the best in the United States. While they are still walking the earth, these are the best and most learned docents on the subject that you can find anywhere.

“Bunny”—Is She African-American?

The Museum is located on Gene Autry Trail on the east side of the Palm Springs Airport. As you see the exhibits parked outside, you can watch passenger jets take off and land just a few hundred feet away.

You can even climb up on one of the WW2 bombers and walk through it, marveling at how lightweight and flimsy it appears to be.

“King of the Cats”

I find I can spend hours wandering among the hundred or so aircraft, stores inside and out, and dreaming what it must have been like to fight two enemies on opposite sides of the globe.

Weekend in the Desert

Looking Up from the Book I Was Reading, This Was the View

It was good to see my brother again after four months of quarantining alone with Martine. Because she hates the desert (having lived and work for two years in Twentynine Palms), Martine stayed behind in L.A. and engaged in several cleaning projects which would have been difficult with me tromping about the place.

Dan and my sister-in-law Lori were, as usual, excellent hosts. Dan went out of his way to cook several gourmet meals including a vegetarian lasagna with eggplant and spinach as well as corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots. We didn’t visit many places, because the Coachella Valley is still under a Covid-19 lockdown. But I did manage to read two whole books sitting in Dan’s back yard. The weather was perfect, an even 70° Fahrenheit (21° Celsius) with an occasional cool breeze.

The photo above was taken from the chair in which I was reading Hilaire Belloc’s Selected Essays and Jon Krakauer’s Classic Krakauer: Essays on Wilderness and Risk. (I love reading essays, as I consider myself to be something of an essay writer, but in a small way.)

My Brother Dan at the Moorten Cactus Garden in Palm Springs

Because Dan lives in the lower desert of California, I would not venture to visit him during the blazingly hot summer months. I hope that he can make it to L.A., or I will have to wait until the fall to drive out again.

Desert Bound

Cabot Yerxa’s Pueblo in Desert Hot Springs

This weekend I will drive out to the Coachella Valley to see my brother. It won’t be long before the temperature goes up to 100° F (37° Celsius) and over each day. Although Dan has air conditioning at his place, I don’t want to step outside only to be instantly dehydrated.

At this time of year, the desert can be beautiful. Alas, it has been a dry year, and thus not a great time for wildflowers. I remember times when I visited the desert in February and March to find it filled with uncounted millions of wildflowers, ranging from tiny blossoms to large cactus flowers.

Consequently, I will not post again until Monday, March 1. I hope to take a lot of pictures to use in next week’s posts.

Going to the Desert

Joshua Trees at El Mirage Dry Lake

This next weekend, I will break quarantine for the first time to visit my brother Dan and sister-in-law Lori in Palm Desert, near Palm Springs. It will still be hot as Hades, but for the first time I will have a chance to talk face to face with someone other than just Martine.

She, by the way, will not be coming with me. Having lived and worked for a couple years at Twentynine Palms in the Morongo Valley, about an hour north of Dan, she hates the desert with a passion.

I would not live in the desert, as my brother does, but I enjoy visiting it from time to time—especially when the dead heat of summer begins to let up.

Perhaps I can visit a couple of places that I particularly like, such as the Thousand Palms Oasis or the Indian Canyons south of Palm Springs. More likely, I will be reading some books and taking advantage of Dan’s air conditioning and swimming pool. And, of course, his cooking.

As usual, I will be leaving L.A. before the sun rises. I will stop at Hadley Fruit Orchards In Cabazon to do some shopping before making a beeline to Palm Desert. Right around Cabazon, I will set my car radio dial to MOD-FM 107.3 to listen to their parade of classical 1950s hits with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, and their ilk.