Tibs Manor

Monday, August 01, 2005

Birthday Recap

It was a fun birthday weekend. Lauren gave me a copy of Finstere Flure / Fearsome Floors, Rodney Dangerfield's autobigraphy, and a diecast Mini Cooper from her European trip. The Cooper came packaged with a small card game of some type and is published by a company called "Top Ass".

For her birthday, I got her a piece of luggage and whisked her off to Palm Springs. It was a nice town, although the end of July is NOT the time to see it. Lots of stuff was closed completely or closed early in the day. Who would have thought that summer in the desert gets warm?

The highlight was an afternoon and evening spent in Mount San Jacinto State Park. We took the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to get there. This is supposedly the steepest aerial tramway in North America (number two in the world, although I can't seem to find out what is number one), and it sure felt like it. It was a little hazy but still some really nice views of the desert, the massive windmill farms, and the mountains.

Up top was very cool, there was an observation building and then the park itself. We took a very easy hike and just looked at trees and rocks and streams. It was very pretty and very relaxing, and it was only about 60 degrees up there! Did you know a Jeffrey Pine smells like butterscotch? We watched a short movie about the park and the tram, it is quite the engineering marvel. We ate dinner up there too. There was a nice restaurant and cafeteria style dining and we accidentally had bought tickets for the cafeteria style, but it was actually surprisingly good. We both had ribs.

The other notable activity was a visit to the Palm Springs Air Museum. This is a WWII air museum with two main display halls, one for the Pacific Theater, and one for the European Theater. Very cool place, lots of planes (all but two of which are still in working condition) and interesting displays on stuff from women pilots to the tuskegee airmen to spam. I saw a Ramses brand condom from like 1910! The place is staffed by veterans - I had a long conversation with one in the Pacific Theater room about the various planes he had flown, he had some interesting stories.

There was also a third room that contains a B-17 Bomber that we crawled through. We briefly spoke to a former B-17 pilot who told us how he had encountered a chinese "oriental" woman and gotten in a fight with her about democracy. By that I mean he had encountered her earlier that day. He had been shot down during the war, and claimed to be good friends with the two Germans responsible, who now live in California! Also, apparently that movie Memphis Belle is misleading; the ball turret, while it may look terrifying, is much more heavily armored than the rest of the fuselage, and so is in fact one of the safest places to be while on the plane. Still looks scary as hell to me.


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