Say Hello to Palm Springs, California!

Before I ever visited Palm Springs, California I had envisioned it to be stuck in the 1960’s. I had thoughts of old cars with “fins” riding up and down the palm tree-lined streets. I assumed that every home was painted pink or neon green (or both). And, that the sounds of Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin were heard on stereos everywhere you turned.

You know what? I wasn’t that far off with my “visions”. You see Palm Springs is a quirky city. Parts of it are hipster 2022 while much of it seems stuck in the decade of Marilyn Monroe. In fact, the streets are often named after presidents who lived or vacationed in the area or mega-watt celebrities of past eras. And… I love it!

If you decide to visit Palm Springs (or are returning) – here are some tips on how to maximize the fun factor.

Book ahead. You can save a heap of $$ if you book ahead using one of the many discount websites. You know that I love TripAdvisor for just this reason.

We stayed at the Shadow Ridge Resort in the Palm Desert/ Rancho Mirage area, a Marriott property. This is a timeshare resort that offers apartments, when available. You can always trust that a Marriott will be top-notch with quality amenities – like golf, pool, spa, and more. For more information go here.


(Plus, many more suggestions below)

#1 PIONEERTOWN

This place is actually 45 minutes or so outside of Palm Springs. Known for being an old movie set converted to part artist colony and part honky tonk village – Pioneertown is sure to please most people. Please note that there is a lot of sand in Pioneertown. This will make mobility carts/ wheelchairs tough to get around. But, you can access the fun and delicious Pappy and Harriet’s restaurant without any problem. This place is reason alone to go to the high desert. Plus, you are very close to Joshua Tree – so consider that a bonus to your visit!

Scenes from Pioneertown


#2 The PALM SPRINGS TRAMWAY!

I absolutely love this tramway! The people are exceptionally nice and knowledgable. (A Shout-Out to a staff member – Gil!) The ten-minute tramway ride takes you to over 8 thousand feet above sea level. There are two restaurants at the top building. Plus, you can see miles and miles from the balconies and the building. The gift shop is really chocked full of fun and interesting items for all ages. And, the tramway is accessible for people who need mobility equipment. On the way down to the base building, our tramway conductor put on music, and collectively the riders sang to Neil Diamond’s, Sweet Caroline!

Call ahead for your tickets here.

Ride the tramway in this video!


#3 THE LIVING DESERT

The Living Desert combines a wonderful eco-friendly zoo with lovely botanical gardens. It is small enough to visit in just a few hours or discover in small bites. We went with friends when it opened because the Palm Springs afternoons can be brutally hot. Easy access and multi-lingual information is available. Great for couples, families, or solo travelers! Visit their website here.


Runner-Ups for my “Best of Palm Springs” list:

The Cabazon Dinosaurs. A fun park intended for families with young children. Great for Instagrammers!

The Palms to Pines Scenic Ride (and a visit to Lake Hemet)

Agua Caliente Casino – Actually there are three! Photo credit: Agua Caliente

Whitewater Preserve This is a great place to rest, relax, and have a picnic!

Wait there is more!

Click on the links below to discover more about Palm Springs

Great Restaurants on Palm Canyon Drive

Village Fest

Antique and Thrift Shopping

Traveling with disabilities to Palm Springs

Palm Springs Road Names (yes, many are in memory of celebrities!)


For more about Palm Springs and area hotels, restaurants, and more go to VisitPalmSprings.com

I will not be silent about THIS

I know that THIS blog will stir a deluge of controversy. So be it. I won’t remain silent on a topic so important as why we need to not reverse ROE vs. WADE. If you have decided to just skip to the comments, please do me the favor of at least reading this blog before you type.

The year was 1981. I graduated college early and before going to graduate school decided to take a job as a counselor in a girl’s residential facility. About a month after I started working there a 14-year-old, “Macy” showed up. She was quite “peculiar”, as the other teens described her. She often would sit quietly in a corner of the main room – never speaking. Day after day there she sat, apparently deep in thought. Finally, one day, when it happened that we were the only two in the room – she started to talk in a very soft, almost nonaudible – whisper. “Macy” slowly and steadily explained her reasons for being selectively mute. She didn’t bother with any idle chit-chat but seemed in a hurry to tell her story before others returned to the room. She described in detail how her mother’s boyfriend repeatedly molested her. His first assault was when she was only 11. She became pregnant shortly after her 12th birthday and delivered a baby that would never make it home from the hospital. She talked about the devastation of having to go through labor and then the grief to find out the child died upon birth. How the doctors lectured her and never suspected that “the father” lived under her roof. Instead, they believed her mother who made up a story of her daughter being “promiscuous”. No counseling was offered to “Macy”. Instead, she was sent home – with interior and exterior bruises.

Her horror didn’t stop there. Her mother continued to shame and blame “Macy” by restricting her from going any place alone – but school. Even when she became pregnant for a second time, – by Mom’s monster of a boyfriend (shocker!) – her mother refused to believe that she was a victim of ongoing rape. Instead, her mother forced her to carry the baby to term and then placed “Macy” in the residential facility for her “deviant behaviors”. She arrived days after her second baby was unceremoniously taken away from her. “Macy” was not given a chance to hold him or her before it was placed “in the system” for foster care. Her grief and shame were so overwhelming that she retreated inward. Not speaking. Not able to function. Just existing.

After she told me her story I contacted child protective services. “Macy” was able to get therapy and the mother (finally) came around to the fact the boyfriend was indeed the father of these two children. She deeply regretted her actions and indicated that if she had believed her – different options, like ending the pregnancy, would have been considered. She also would have left the boyfriend. Sadly, a younger sister suffered the same fate before the mom had this epiphany. I honestly don’t know what happened to the monster.

Why am I telling you this story? Because 40 years later I still remember the vivid details about Macy and her anguish. And, I want to advocate for all the Macy’s in our world. I STRONGLY believe that victims of sexual crimes who become pregnant should have options. They are victims. And, in the case of young girls, like “Macy” – they are at risk of medical issues or even death for having to give birth when they are barely out of elementary school.

I am by no means saying that all who have unwanted or unplanned pregnancies should run out and have an abortion. Do not misconstrue my words or intent. I simply am asking to keep ROE vs. WADE as a viable LEGAL and SAFE option.

Respectful comments are always welcome. Those who are disrespectful will be blocked.

Thank you for reading.

My Journey with the making of “The Salon” – Culminating with a Win! (Indie Series Award for Best Ensemble- Comedy)

It has been more than four years since I sat with my friend Roxanne Messina Captor at the Yellow Vase in Redondo Beach to discuss a possible extension of her short film – A Couple of White Chicks at the Hairdresser. This older film with the not so politically correct title, told the story of the comings and goings of “frenemies” who routinely met at their upscale hair salon. Loosley based on Roxanne’s own experiences, the film became popular and award nominated. Fans of of principle actor, Harry Shearer loved it. Fast forward a few years to when Roxanne was being urged by her friends to continue the “chicks” storyline. With much consideration and more than a few cups of coffee- the ideas for “The Salon” began to percolate (oh come’on it was too easy to make that pun).

For me, meeting that day with Roxanne was my baptism into how one creates a digital series. This week, I found out that the arc of digital series making also can be a like a rainbow- with a pot of gold at the end. For on April 7th The Salon won the Indie Series Award for Best Ensemble – Comedy.

I have a confession. I didn’t expect us to win. The competition was fierce! In fact, I was so lackadaisical about us winning that a few minutes into the ceremony I took off my shoes. Only minutes before our category was announced by Jason Stuart and Mitch Hara did I think to put back on my shoes. That was a good call.

And the winner for Best Ensemble – Comedy goes to … The Salon! “, announced Stuart and Hara

I couldn’t believe it! With aching feet, but exhilerated, I joined Roxanne and members of the cast, Kate Linder, Luis Jose Lopez, and Akende Munalula to receive the award on stage. When we hopped on the stage we were met with lots of cheers from the audience. Roxanne began her eloquent speech that touched on how important inclusion was to her for this project. She told the attentive audience about how she used humor juxtapose with pathos in The Salon. She added her admiration to the ensemble cast who she remarked brilliantly brought the characters they played to life. She thanked the cast and crew – who worked for SAG deferment – and gave a shout-out to all who took this journey with her.

What a night! WOW oh WOW!

What next? Well, now we are on to the next chapter for The Salon.

When an award is given as a recognition of the caliber of a project- it is the hopes of the creators that there is a “something next”. In this case, the hopes are that The Salon finds a permanent home on a streaming network in order for a large audience to enjoy it and for the story to continue with a Season 2.

I hope I piqued your curiosity. And before ending this article let me give my own thanks to all who were involved – most of all the visionary – Roxanne Messina Captor.

Here are related links followed by photos from the Indie Series Awards and behind the scenes.

TheSalonDigitalSeries.com

Last press release

Meet the cast:

Official poster:


Indie Series Awards 2022 – The Salon photos


Behind the Scenes of the Making of The Salon

Everything Danish (almost) is found in Solvang, California

Looking for a get-away vacation? Perhaps a place to rest your weary head when traveling along the coastal highways of California? Look no further than the quaint, culturally rich, proud Danish town of Solvang.

The first time I visited Solvang, a hamlet about 40 miles north of Santa Barbara nestled in the San Inez area of California, was before my college years. The second time I was pushing a baby buggy. So, obviously, it has been a long while and I was overdue. The Solvang I remembered has grown, but still kept the charm I recalled. Ready to be enticed to visit with a Top 5 list of things to do when visiting Solvang? I hope so!


Here are my TOP 5 things to do while visiting Solvang.

Visit the Elverhoj Museum

Located on a side street, but close to town, is the charming Elverhoj Museum. Partly a historical homage to the city of Solvang and part art gallery, this museum was once was the home of Viggo Brandt-Erichsen and his wife, Martha Mott. Both Viggo and Martha were renowned artisans. Together they built a sensational home/art gallery packed full of photos and art but nailing together boards the “old fashioned way” – one peg at a time. The building is a testimony to the heritage of Danish culture and the history of Solvang. Well worth your time and guess what – it is FREE (but donations are welcome!)

Discovering and Creating Solvang …

When you enter the Elverhoj museum take time to chat with the uber knowledgeable docents, Linda and Kirsten. They relay and weave many that may you feel as if you are being transported in time. After you have completed touring the rooms – be sure to stop in the art gallery. Currently, they have an exhibit titled Fables, Foibles, and Fairy Tales by Susan Read Cronin. These whimsical sculptures just add to the charm of this lovely experience!


#2 Old Mission of Santa Ynes

The Old Mission of Santa Ynes is a lovely place to go and visit a true California relic. However, due to Covid 19, it would seem that the mission has restricted tour hours. But, the grounds are open and they welcome guests walking about.


#3 Take a sweet tour…

The Solvang Visitor Center offers a variety of tours throughout the year. The walking tours are under two hours and stop at a variety of “hot” spots (Most stops are yummy bakeries and candy shops – my kind of tour!).

Along the way, you can spot the Hans Christian Anderson bookstore, see the horse-drawn trolleys, and visit the Water Tower. (Langauge aficionados will want to try to read the various inscriptions on the side of the tower – representing a variety of cultures). Oh, guess what?! Kirsten (from the Elverhoj) and her dad, Dean, were our tour guides!


#4 Wine! Wine! Wine!

Wineries and taverns with tastings are throughout this area. From small bistros downtown to the large vineyards that adorn the perimeter of the towns – you will find a wine for nearly every palate. Many establishments serve small bites – while others are minimalistic. Prices vary. Ask around. The local folks have their favorites!

#5 Solvang is a Restaurant Bonanza!

Solvang is known for being a town with top-notch restaurants- including the First and Oak – a restaurant with a Michelin star. And you can’t miss the smell of sweet delights that waft the streets from morning through the day due to the local bakeshops. Yes, the bakeries are filled with creamy this and bready that… all delicious. (Rumor has it that the Danish elves remove all the calories!?!)

Despite the Danish bakeries and great local fare restaurants, our favorite place to eat was Ramen Kotori a noodle shop nestled on a side street. This place knows how to “heat things up” – so be sure to order the Thai Tea, too!


In closing, Solvang is a great place to relax, eat delicious food, and learn about Danish culture. But, most of all – it is about the people. And for that reason alone- we will be back!

Quick Links:

Solvang Tourism Link: SolvangUSA.org

Chumash Casino Link (nearby attraction): http://chumashcasino.com