Friday 6 July 2012 - Fourth of July
We've just got back from Indio, CA for a 2-night break for the 4th of July. The wife's aunt has timeshare credits she can use and this place, near Palm Springs, was chosen. In all there were five women, three 4-year old boys, two babies, and myself. I really should have realised what was coming with that combination!
It's only a 2 hour drive fortunately so quite doable in one hit, if it wasn't for the kids. Virtually all of it was on Interstate too so the cruise control was set and barely altered. Arrival at the resort was late afternoon and we sat and waited... and waited.... and waited until the rooms were ready. Quite appalling really, with no explanation as to why the rooms weren't ready well beyond the earliest check-in time. Once we got to the apartments, they were clean and okay, if somewhat cheaply furnished. For example, the counter tops in both apartments were loose/wobbly in various places, and made out of cheap plastic-coated chipboard (I think they call it powderboard here?). Never mind, it's a place to stay, and we're only there for 48 hours. A couple of nice pools, surrounded by golf courses (none of us into that), some wildlife, but not a lot else.
In the afternoon of the 4th the kids were either sleeping or watching a movie, along with most of the adults. So I took the opportunity to go for a drive. As you may have noticed from previous posts, I do like a bit of railway/railroad action so I thought I'd drive along and watch some trains. I found a road which, as it turned out, ran beside what is known as the Sunset Route between Los Angeles and Houston. I knew further along, from having been on a train, that the rails pass close to the Salton Sea, an inland giant lake, so I thought there might be photo opportunities. So I drove. And drove. And drove, but the road was between the railway and the sea, with miles of nothing inland, so nowhere to take pictures from! To make matters worse, I was getting stomach cramps. Eventually I decided it was time to turn back but there was a town up ahead called Bombay Beach - there must be a store of some sort, I thought. Sure enough, in this large trailer park, there was indeed a store which looked a little rough. I went in, bought some drink - and then decided I really needed to do something about my cramps. So I swallowed my pride and asked if there was a public restroom. There wasn't but the lady kindly allowed me to use the employee one. I was a little hesitant at first but then the cramps told me to stop being a silly sod and get on with it. Five minutes later I was feeling much better and tried to give the lady a tip but she wouldn't accept it, no matter how hard I tried! By then, she and two customers in the shop realised I wasn't local and - though initially asked if I voted Republican, to which I safely answered "I'm not eligible to vote" - asked where I was from. "From the UK" I said, forgetting until somewhat later that it was July 4th (independence from the British), but either they also forgot that particular detail, or didn't really care, and instead all wished me happy 4th of July, which I returned. So, for a rough-looking trailer park literally tens of miles from anywhere, I took a giant dump in their toilet and got wished a happy day for an event that happened hundreds of years ago against my own countryfolk! Not a bad afternoon! (Apologies for the detail but it was important to the story)
On to the celebrations. We found out that there was to be a free fireworks display in Palm Desert, and got a vague address of where to aim for. That turned out to be optimistic as they'd closed numerous roads for the celebration and omitted to erect any signs indicating where to go for the event itself! Eventually, after approaching the closure area from the other direction, we saw lines of traffic heading for a parking area so followed them in. Then we found out (only by asking) that we had to either take a road tram, joining a long line to do so, or walk to the event. We chose to wait as we had toddlers and kids, which turned out to be a good half hour wait - compared to a half mile walk. Eventually we got there. a large park type place. But again no indications of where to look for the fireworks or if there was anything else going on. But at 9pm fireworks started - were they "our" display? Who cares, as it turned out we had managed to sit in the closest corner of the park to the display! Twenty minutes of somewhat repetitive displays, culminating in a loud and bright finale, and it was all over. Time to head back again.
We decided not to bother with the tram. Despite being close to where it dropped off, already there were masses of people headed there. We weren't entirely sure if it was running - the driver of the earlier journey had said it wouldn't be running, which I assumed was a joke as people had laughed at his comment, but the wife thought otherwise. Anyway, only half a mile so we walked - with the masses of others walking! Thankfully it was all moving and even the road traffic out of the parking was moving at a good pace.
Another half hour drive back to the hotel (with DD screaming all the way) and it was all over. A cold beer was waiting in the fridge and was much appreciated by myself. So that was it for the 4th of July - not the most interesting I've had, but at least we did something American!
My attempt to get an EB1a visa for the US, a person of extraordinary ability, which gives a green card pretty much immediately, and there is no waiting period unlike most other visas.
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