Hot visitors

Jim peeking through patio curtains

Perspiring during a cold snap

Jim and Angela came down from the Bay Area to spend the weekend and experience the desert in all its June glory. Unfortunately, they were deprived of a truly authentic experience due to a relative cold snap. They didn't seem too, too disappointed.

Rocky the Ram

Feel the Power. Friday evening we took in a home game of the Palm Springs Power baseball team. It was quite entertaining. There was the usual assortment of fan-participation games and contests — the dizzy-bat race was really amusing, especially the part where the small boy veered off precipitously into the dugout. There was Rocky the Ram, the team mascot. And of course there were the hot dogs, peanuts, and beer. In a particularly deft move, they got all the kids to help clean up the stadium in the guise of a contest to win a free children's meal at Las Casuelas mexican restaurant.

Lake Hemet

Up and away. On Saturday, we took a day trip to Idyllwild, an idyllic little village high up in the San Jacinto mountains. We stopped along the way to check out Lake Hemet, that turned out to be much larger than expected and obviously very popular with campers.

In Idyllwild itself we had a fine lunch at JoAnn's cafe, now under new ownership, and spent a long time sautering through the town browsing galleries and stores. Everyone was exceedingly friendly and eager to show off their wares. The town has much the same feel as Twain Harte up in the Sierra: pine trees, rustic vacation homes, a refuge from the hustle and bustle.

scientology compound bonnieview

We had an incredible discovery on the way home. Returning to lower elevations, we noticed a huge, immense, simply gargantuan house snuggled up against the base of the mountains surrounded by other large buildings. When we got home, we broke out Google Earth to investigate and learned that we had discovered Scientology's headquarters compound. The big house is Bonnieview, built for L. Ron Hubbard when he returns in his next life. (He died in 1986.)

In the evening, we tried out a new tapas restaurant in town. The setting was great: balcony seating overlooking Palm Canyon Drive, misters, and fans. Unfortunately, the food and service weren't quite ready for prime time. A couple of our little plates were very delicious, a few so-so, and one yucky; service was inexcusably slow; and the sangria was unremarkable. Oh well, you never know until you try.

bloody mary's

Brunch. Sunday is brunch day, and we decided to do bunch Chez Paul where it would be easier to talk and socialize than around a long table in the Rainbow, our usual haunt. Réal and I had spent several hours testing bloody Mary recipes earlier in the week, and in the morning I mixed up a big pitcher, following the best formula. As a special touch, I added a jumbo schrimp to the garnishes for the first two rounds, a trick Réal had picked up at a bar out east.

Everyone pitched in with pot luck, and at two o'clock we sent Jim and a giddy Angela on their way back to Ontario to catch the flight home. The rest of us had to stay and finish off the remaining bottles of champagne.

Check out the slideshow for more pictures (sidebar).