Friday, March 21, 2008

Palm Springs Vacation--The Opening Salvo

So the Grandparents Evil rented a house for the month of March in Palm Springs, and have graciously allowed the Evil/Sweetie horde to invade for 10 days. Thus, I am currently sitting in a 1950 moderne house, which is all squares and hard surfaces, looking out on the desert garden and blue sky. I would be sitting at the backyard pool, but my power cord doesn't reach that far.

Palm Springs experienced its big growth spurt back when the weary stars of 1930 Hollywood needed to get away, and bundled up their belongings for the 4 hour car jaunt to the desert. Now it is primarily a golfing destination, although it still trades on its glamor reputation. So, you have the ability to come to Palm Springs and seek out celebrities, as long as you prefer your celebrities---dead.

Thus, the Tours of the Stars' Homes features such cutting edge cultural icons as Rock Hudson, Liberace, Bob Hope and some other people you have never heard of. Many of the streets are named for other Palm Springs legends, such as Ginger Rogers, Gene Autry, and Frank Sinatra (which is actually way outside the swanky center of town, so maybe the people of Palm Springs weren't all that enamored of him).

Apparently, some stars still do come here, which makes this a great location for the Betty Ford Center. Your publicist can release a statement that you have come to P.S. for a little R&R--Rest and Rehab.

Mr. Sweetie and I, geeks that we are, are fascinated by the geology of the area. The Coachella Valley lies across one arm of the San Andreas fault, and the geography is highly fault-dependent. The mountains that surround the valley are either sharp and rugged, betraying their relative youth, or else they are piles of dirt and rubble, pushed up and splintered off as the tectonic plates rub against each other and fracture.

We toured the amazing 1000 Palms, which is a literal oasis in the desert, created by the San Andreas fault. Water is trapped below the surface, often even below layers of granite, but is able to seep to the surface where the tectonic plates meet. You can find the oases, and thus trace the path of the fault line, where palm tree groves stand scattered across the desert. While hiking an easy trail from the 1000 Palms visitor center, you literally stand in muddy, marshy wetness, then turn a corner to arid and bare desert.

As Mr. Sweetie pointed out, the desert is littered with granite stones of a pretty substantial size--at least 10 inches long, and 5-6 inches across. In Minnesota, we would immediately identify them as glacial scree--rocks picked up by the advancing glaciers and scoured smooth before being dropped by the glacial melt. But--no glaciers here! So where did they come from?

Again, from the fault line. The pressure of the two plates against each other fractures and splinters the underlying rock, pushing it to the surface as rubble. Quite a different process. Needless to say, we have managed to bore the kidlets stone cold with this discussion, and have had to make up to them with date milkshakes.

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