March 20 – 25
Beaver Tales; Elvis Spotted In Hemet!; Kiss Me, Squeeze Me, Make Me Wine
It has been a very busy few days and nights, so I haven’t had a chance to catch up for a while.
We arrived in Hemet just after noon and got set up. This is a very nice RV park with excellent facilities. The rest of the day was taken up with orientation and get-acquainted activities.
Day 2 was Palm Springs day. The buses first took us up to the Aerial Tramway, which we had done last year, but is still an impressive trip, with quite a view from the 8500 ft. peak. Unfortunately, we were given very little time up there before they wanted us back down to get back on the bus, which did not go down well, particularly with those who were doing this for the first time. Next stop was Palm Springs, where we were given a couple of hours to have lunch and shop. We found a wonderful little store called Olive A’ Sudden, where we bought some olive oil and balsamic vinegar for salad dressing and dipping. It is all made in Modena Italy, and is to die for!
After returning to the buses, we did a tour of the Palm Springs “Movie Colony” neighbourhood, where many of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s movie stars had homes. We had a knowledgeable, if a bit overenthusiastic, tour guide. It was interesting, but almost all of the homes have been sold, resold and renovated over the years, and many are surrounded by tall hedges, which made them difficult to see. After returning to the RV park, we ended the day with an evening social gathering. coincidentally, there was a “Beaver” gathering going on at the RV park (not the animals, but owners of what is apparently the Ferrari of motor coaches made by the Beaver company). unlike the lowly $300,000-$500,000 rigs attending the Fantasy rally. Beavers start at a million and top out at a million seven. At the same time as we were having our wine and snacks social, they were having their farewell banquet, topped off by an almost two hour performance by an Elvis impersonator with a great band, and they kindly invited us to come and watch the show. It was awesome, and we’re still wondering how the 61 year old performer kept it at full-bore for that long. The next morning, we wandered among the Beavers as they were getting ready to leave, hoping someone would invite us inside, but despite our best efforts, no-one did. I wanted to know if, for that price, the Beaver slapped its tailpipe on the ground when it was startled, but I guess that will remain a mystery.
Day 3 began with breakfast and a shuffleboard tournament in a surprisingly large shuffleboard complex in the park. Despite its image, shuffleboard is more complicated than it would appear, complete with an almost ritualistic preparation of the lanes, involving waxing and sweeping, resulting in a surface so smooth that the discs require only a tiny application of force to travel from end of the lane to the other. Since neither of us are quite ready to become participants (I think it has to do with an admission of age), we remained in the stands and acted as cheerleaders for some of our friends. This was followed by a BBQ lunch and a Charity Auction to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. It was a blind auction in the sense that there were five gift-wrapped sealed boxes to bid on, all of which contained some pretty nice stuff. The first four went for $300-$350 each, with the last one going for $700. Needless to say, our hands stayed firmly in our laps! Fantasy Tours matched the total bids, along with matching the cash and cheque donations, so the total raised was north of $8000.00. Later that night there was a 70’s costume and dance party, which revealed some confusion between what was worn in the 70’s and what was worn in the 60’s, but the music was great and we had a good time.
Day 4 began with a bus tour of the wine country around here, ending up at the South Coast Winery, the largest winery in the area for a first-class brunch and a private wine-tasting. It is only 11 years old, but has already won a ton of medals for its products. It is a beautiful place:
We exercised great self-restraint and only bought two bottles.
The afternoon began with a dessert bar (just what we needed!), then we put in some pool time before playing “Fantasy Bingo” in the evening (won nothing).
Day 5 was basically a day of travelogues promoting future trips with Fantasy, along with door prizes, none of which made it into our hands, followed by a farewell dinner. Tomorrow we are off to spend a night visiting our friends Jack and Ruby, who are about 30 minutes away from here. On Thursday we begin to make our way home up the coast highway by way of Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Leggett in California, Bandon (John and Lorna may remember the Bandon Dog), and Neskowin in Oregon, then Elma in Washington State. The tentative plan is to arrive home sometime in late afternoon on Easter Sunday.