Trends in Writing, The Arts, Regional Events, and High Desert Living

Posts in category Day Trips

“Palms to Pines” Ride Not Far Away

Tram leaves canyon station

Tram leaves canyon station







Where can you go when the temperature is getting so hot that you feel your skin dripping off? Palm Springs, California, of course. What? Yes, that is a destination with an unique twist. Just when you think it can’t get any hotter, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway can take you to a cool place — over 8500 feet to crisp and breezy San Jacinto Peak.


Visitors come from around the world, their voices excited and familiar

Visitors come from around the world, their voices excited and familiar

One of Palm Springs signature amusements is the breathtaking ride up craggy canyons, over pinnacles, and across deep tree-filled ravines. It’s managed nicely by letting you and dozens of other visitors stand onboard a round gondola with 365 degree views. It’s the world’s largest rotating tramcar. Really.

The initial climb is enchanting

The initial climb is enchanting

Recently updated, the gondola ride is smooth and now rotates around its core control port still manned by a tram driver. As the ride lifts you up above the arid desert floor of Chino Canyon, you can easily spot the Palm Springs Airport, the wind farms, and other large features. The detailed rock faces can be just as impressive as the height. Soaring over the deep canyons, and hearing everyone onboard chattering in different languages about their feelings as we passed cable towers, is part of the experience.

Breathtaking view of the valley floor

Breathtaking view of the valley floor

Riders hold their cameras continually as everyone takes photos of their family, their friends, their best canyon shots, and even the gondola driver. Each tower we passed caused a bit of excitement due to the slight swing the gondola took to level back out as it continued skyward.

The air is clear and crisp. At over 8500 feet, the heat of the desert dissipates. Pine trees provide the aroma, while rock swallows and ground squirrels provide some entertainment. Be warned — the air is much thinner at this

View of trailhead facing the peak hiking paths

View of trailhead facing the peak hiking paths

elevation so you might feel a bit light-headed or find yourself breathing harder to get more air. But that’s all part of the experience of the sudden climb from the base station at 2,643 feet above sea level, crossing five bio-transition zones to pristine alpine habitat.

Shear canyon walls

Shear canyon walls

Our goal was the top building perched high on San Jacinto Mountain filled with two large restaurants, shops, a museum, and the doorway to “top of the world” hiking trails. For the intrepid, this is the trailhead to over 80 miles of rated trails — easy, moderate, and skilled. Rain or shine, snow-capped or clear, the mountain is always open.

Your appetite is enhanced by the climb and view

Your appetite is enhanced by the climb and view

Our purpose that day was to enjoy one of the visitors’ packages: Ride and Dine. For one price you get a tasty dinner to go along with that incredible ride. The complete experience is truly a “Palms to Pines” adventure. And for us, our 34th anniversary celebration.



To find out more about the PS Tram’s ride packages, its history, its trails, and hours of operation, you can phone: (760) 325-1391 or go to:


Preserving Western History One Plaque at a Time

E Clampus Vitus is a fraternal historical society that erects monuments to remind us of little known — and well-known — historical sites and events. The chapter to which one of our readers belong is Billy Holcomb 1069, (see Chapter 1069) and they claim to be the Kings of the mountains and the desert.

If you’ve ever been driving out on Route 66 or I-40 or State Route 62 or points in between you have probably seen their ‘monuments’.  From Lake Hemet to Goffs, from Needles to Desert Center, the society has many plaques dedicated to Western history and to the many troops who trained under General Patton in preparation for battle with the Axis Powers of WWII. The tank tracks can still be seen in our Eastern Mojave regions.

Many monuments have to do with the mining of this country’s wealth from this very region we call home, to the hard- scrabble miners and pioneers who heeded the call to ‘Go West, young man.’ They pay tribute to these and others who have played a role in Western history.

There are over 40 chapters in the Western USA: California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico … ALL with a keen interest in honoring our past.

E Clampus Vitus encourages everyone to look up ECV Monuments/markers on a Google search  — or to this link — and read more about the many plaques in your home area and also along the roadside of any trip you may be planning. The site will show locations. And these  monuments are EVERYWHERE!!

A challenge from our reader:  Now get out there and enjoy history!

We encourage your family to find out more about our history and roadside attractions that are free to see, and often just a few hours away.

Rusty LaGrange

Desert Writers Escape to Catalina Island

Guest Blogger: Brenda Hill, Newberry Springs


Catalina Island Writers Retreat

Brenda Hill at Catalina Island Retreat


What a fun time, and insightful learning experience for five California writers. Santa Catalina Island was the perfect choice for the first Writers Escape Weekend.

Writers hailed from different parts of the country. All authors shared many diverse genres. Workshop subjects included short story, fiction, creative non-fiction, character/plot development and blogging.

When we first arrived on the magical shores of Catalina, we could walk to our conveniently located weekend hide-away, The Catalina Lodge.

One of the advantages of Catalina is very few cars, only golf carts and bicycles. We explored the nooks and crannies of this magical island by foot from sunrise to sunset, then again in the evening to marvel at the nearly full hunter’s moon illuminating the boats in the bay. I took a refreshing swim at the local beach each day.

Brenda Hill's Catalina Harbor Photo

Catalina Harbor


Catalina Island, CA

Sunrise on Catalina Island

We feasted on gourmet coffee, authentic Mexican specialties, and fresh Mahi Mahi. The golden sun was warm. The ice cream was a cool refresher.

One night we enjoyed a starry night “at home” in our cozy courtyard. Cheese, nuts, fresh fruit, and wine was the perfect writers picnic under an almost full hunters moon.

Another highlight of our retreat was a  tour through the museum. The rich natural and social history of the island is fascinating.

Leaving this unique place is always bittersweet for me. All of us would have enjoyed at least one more day of sun, fun, fellowship and learning.  While dolphins danced near the deck of our ferry, our merry little group of writers planned our next writers retreat.

Avalon, CA Ferry

Catalina Ferry

Look for the details of the Spring Writers  Escape, perhaps to Big Bear, on this blog. We would enjoy hearing your comments, suggestions and ideas. 



Brenda Hill is the author of Success, Your Path to a Successful Book,
Our Love Affairs with Food and Travel, and blogger at

Catalina Island – So Cal Day Trip

Take a day trip from the High Desert to Avalon – Santa Catalina Island. Traveling I-15 from Victorville, go to Long Beach, park your car, and ride the boat to the island. If you leave Victorville by 6 am, you can be on the island in about three hours.

Catalina Island is a great place to go for a romantic getaway…

Catalina Island Vacation

Romantic Getaway













historical and museum excursion…


Catalina Museum

Walkway to the Catalina Museum

OSS History, Catalina Island

History of the OSS at the Catalina Island Museum


water sports…



sightseeing or shopping…


Catalina Island Shopping

Shopping at Catalina Island, CA


Catalina Island Sites

See the sites on Catalina Island

relaxing at the spa or a hair and nail salon…


Relaxing at a spa

Sara relaxing at a spa on Catalina Island, CA

Allow extra time for a little relaxation and people watching while being pampered at a Catalina Island hair and nail salon where I met Sara (without the “h”). My friend Ann and I had walked by and couldn’t resist walking in to meet the lovely Sara. Ann had noticed Sara at first and suggested that I take a picture. Little did Ann know that I would spend extra time in the shop getting to know Sara and Manicurist Emily so I could blog about them.

The two ladies, Sara the guest and Emily the manicurest, were gracious to allow me the privilege of posting their photos and videos v=Og4ekGNczkI&

When you visit the salon, let Emily or the owners know that you learned about them on Catalina Hair and Nail Salon is located at 205 Crescent Street,  #120A, Avalon, CA at the Metropole Marketplace.


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