The chop got my attention. A toddler in the seat ahead whimpered. He’d fussed and cried for much of the two hour flight. Over tired, I suspect. The last stewardess standing swayed with the pitch and roll of our descent. She buckled in. Soon after, the plane hit the tarmac hard, bounced once, and settled. Its reverse thrusters sucked in the dry air of Palm Springs. We had arrived.
We rented an Airbnb in La Quinta, 20 miles from the airport. Our quiet street had no sidewalks. But cars did not clutter the curb. Most were either parked inside garages or gone for the day. Those on the driveways were cleaners, I theoried, jobbing out other neighborhood rentals.
On day one, we hiked desert trails nearby. The parched air shrunk my throat. It was warmer than we’d hoped. Yet the expanse of sky bathed us in peaceful blue hues. We ate Japanese takeout for dinner and watched the Winter Olympics on TV.
On day two, we drove an hour north to Joshua Tree National Park. We hiked three short trails. Each had arboretum like placards describing the area’s ecology.
Milder temperatures made walking comfortable. We four, my wife, her sister, brother-in-law, and I spent an entire day in thrall of granite boulders and the magical forest of Joshua Trees.
We travel well together. Family vacations going back three decades are the bedrock of our relationship. The kids are now in their 30s and 40s. We’ve watched them soar and crash and soar again. We’ve shared their successes and their challenges. We wonder when or if raising them will end. But, honestly, we still hold on and let go, hold on and let go …
Traffic thickened on our approach to the springs. The road heading out of town clogged when a hay truck caught fire. We missed the worst of that misery. The crush of cars, however, made my rural Northwestern antennae prickle. We were a long ways from the land of rainbows.
After a rest, dinner was Mexican, outdoors at a downtown restaurant. Entertainment at the Airbnb was a TV special, Riveted, The History Of Jeans.
Day three was roadside attraction day. A visit to Moorten Botanical Garden surprised us. Its vast collection of desert vegetation is an authentic addition to Palm Springs. The gardens thrive in contrast to what is often, otherwise, excess: artificial oases of golf courses and a Möbius strip of shopping malls.
Sigh. I can be such a snob. 🙄
Later, the brother-in-law and I ventured downtown. It bustled with tourists just like us. We all searched for the perfect pizza and a parking space. Back at our joint, in the wide streeted no side-walked quiet neighborhood of La Quinta, we watched the movie, C’mon, C’mon.
Desert living is not for me, especially in the air conditioned environment exemplified by Palm Springs. But the desert’s “adapt or die” credo does resemble the life I’m living with blood cancer.
In December, my oncologist recommended we re-stage the disease. She was unimpressed with its borderline stability.
So, I underwent several diagnostics: blood draws, a biopsy, bone imaging, and an ultra sound of my heart. We also stopped the drug combo that had prevailed for the last four years. Currently, I’m enjoying a drug holiday … I think. The significant cancer markers continue their slow creep but are not yet rushing into the vacuum.
Results from these exams were presented to the hospital’s Tumor Board for review. I’ll begin a new program as soon as insurance approvals are in place.
Getaway day from Palm Springs was uneventful. The crowded airport and mediocre food seemed a fitting end to our desert sojourn. All in all, this second short vacation from our retirements added comparative texture to the fickle Oregon winter. We parted at PDX and headed home. In early March we have planned one more escape: Oakland and San Francisco.
To close, a song: Red Flowers in a Vase.