Just a thought... What makes things memorable is that they are meaningful, significant, colorful. [Joshua Foer]
Oh, I love the stories you shared with me on FB, in light of yesterday’s journal, about the Christmases that you ruined. Thank you so much for your own memories. One reader, as a girl, burst into tears on the big day because she’d already found her Timex watch. Talk about a guilty conscience!
If you look back at Christmases past, as I did yesterday with my "found" guitar debacle, you'll find that it's the feelings that were stirred that make for the most indelible memories. Most of those emotions, I hope, are positive ones. Of course, any time you mix family dynamics, high expectations and, yes, alcohol, the atmosphere is ripe for drama. But I'm talking about the experiences. And that's where today's Friday Favourite takes me.
Sooner or later, we come to an age where things no longer matter as much and Christmas, birthdays or any special events become less about accumulating stuff than having your heart touched; being reminded that someone knows you well enough to choose something you'll really appreciate. This year my younger cousin Karen and her husband gave Rob and me a gift that we'll long remember because it was an experience - something we might not have done otherwise.
Before Rob and I left for Ontario and then came down here, we exchanged gifts with our Victoria-area family. Last year we gave Karen and her young family a year's pass to Butchart Gardens to enjoy, and they did, we're told. This year, it was a few months' dues for the YMCA where her family swims and plays and Karen works out. I like the idea of giving people gifts that they might not purchase for themselves, but which - I hope - they'll use and think of us as they do.
Karen and her husband returned the favour with a certificate printed off via the internet for two passes to a big local attraction down here: the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Despite our two or three previous visits to family spending winter months here, somehow Rob and I didn't know about or experience the world's largest rotating aerial tramway. Thanks to Karen and Joe, we did and our friends Ian and Anita MacArthur rode it with us!
With the help of Wikipedia (and the ongoing recorded commentary as we travelled), we learned that this 12-and-a-half minute ride passes up North America's sheerest mountain face.
In addition, you start in the Sonoran Desert and end up in an alpine forest! Quite the view as you start to ascend and look back down.
Not for the claustrophic or those who are afraid of heights, eighty passengers are allowed to enter the round vessel at a time, very careful not to lean against windows or put your bags down near them, as one is reminded that indeed this tram car definitely is rotating: two revolutions are completed in your trips up and down the thick support cable. There's a bit of a bumpy sway when you pass over each of the handful of towers, eliciting a group "oooooooh!" but other than that, it's quite a serene experience.
We were fortunate to have a relatively clear day at the top, with temperatures around 15C; some days the temperature can be 15-20 celcius degrees cooler than it is on the desert floor below. Anita and I posed near a massive log before embarking on a brief walk that left us winded, not only because of its rather deceiving steep angles, but the thinness of the air up there in Mount San Jacinto State Park.
There is a restaurant and café, carefully groomed trails for hikers of all abilities and plenty of lookout locations. From here you can see clear to Nevada; if it's not hazy or smoky there's a pretty good view of Mount Charleston, just outside of Las Vegas.
In colder months, families come up to play in the snow, which is quite a novelty in Southern California, as you can imagine. Guests can choose to take in films or browse the well-stocked gift shop. It was a lovely way to spend several hours and if your travels ever bring you to this part of the world, the $25.95 ticket for adults (about $10 less for children) is well worth it. But booking ahead is recommended, especially during the holiday season. Here's a link if you're interested.
Completed and opened in 1963, the Aerial Tramway has been featured in the pilot episode of Mannix (if you remember that one) plus Columbo, I Spy and even a few feature films. I'm glad I didn't know about the 1974 ABC TV movie Skyway to Death before we went!
You don't have to do much research to see what some of the older tram cars looked like; they have a few of them dotting the welcome and parking areas as you arrive.
At this date, it may be late if you're still trying to come up with that special gift for someone who is, as has so often been said of Rob and me, "so hard to buy for." But the tramway experience was perfect, and Karen's folks, my aunt and uncle in Victoria, printed off and gave us a gift certificate for a local restaurant and nightclub, The Purple Room, that we have yet to visit, but are so looking forward to in the new year. It's even within walking distance from our place!
Just the thoughtfulness that went into looking at where we were going to be and what we might find interesting (and doing plenty of research while they were at it, I'm sure) makes these gifts so memorable and appreciated - our days both merry and bright!
Thanks for making time during this hectic season to stop in. I'll be back with you Monday with a whole new batch of journals. (If they're like my cooking, when I smell the smoke, I'll know they're done.) Peace!
(@erindavis on Twitter)