Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Great Getaway: Part 3

On day two of the Rose and the Peach's visit to the Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa ( Rancho Mirage, Calif., between Palm Desert and Palm Springs, the Peach arose nice and early, got ready for the day and patiently waited for the Rose to awake. When she did finally come to life, the Rose found the Peach holding court with the area's entire bird population — domestic or wild! Only the enticement of a promised trip to Panera Bread (for breakfast and to stock up on some late-night scones) and yet more shopping could part bird and animal whisperer.

After breakfast, the Peach felt that another educational shopping experience was necessary for the Rose. So, DSW- Designer Shoe Warehouse ( was their next port of call. For the Rose (who loves shoes and has never set foot in a DSW), it was an “OMG moment” as she spied 12 rows of shoes and even a shoe chandelier! It took all of five seconds for the Rose to get over her mesmerized state, and then the shopping frenzy began.

What seemed like two hours later, the shoppers rushed to the car with purchases in hand and sped off to the resort’s next organized epicurean event — a noontime “Chardonnays of the World” wine-tasting and light lunch at bluEmber restaurant.

Choosing from a showcase of five chardonnays, the Rose declared the 2010 Marlborough Unoaked Chardonnay from New Zealand’s Kim Crawford Wines the clear winner because it was a very light and dry vintage with a pleasant after-taste. A refreshing 2009 Napa Valley Chardonnay from Robert Mondavi Wines that “was completely different, yet gorgeous,” managed to pique her interest as well.

After the tasting, which included remarks from Scott Young, a luxury wine specialist with The Hogue Cellars (, everyone headed to a self-serve buffet to nosh on beet salad; tarts (my favorite was the barbecued duck — with apologies to my new friends — that chef Sean O’Connell told us he uses to make tacos for the bluEmber restaurant’s regular menu); and desserts including blueberry cheesecake and coconut cake.

With about an hour or so to spare before our 3:30 p.m. facials, the Peach managed to pull the Rose away once again and we headed across the street to check out The River at Rancho Mirage (, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex that boasts a park-like waterfront with cascading waterfalls and whimsical sculptures (the huge pig was our favorite). We then perused the nearby E&J’s Designer Shoe Outlet (, which the Rose said she liked better than DSW.

Alas, the award-winning Spa Las Palmas beckoned, with the Peach set for a European Deep Cleansing Facial and the Rose the Sensitive Skin Calming Facial. The Rose especially loved all of the pampering and felt that her skin was ridden of all toxins. The neck and shoulder massage wasn’t bad, either, said the Brit, who left feeling that life could not get much better … But, oh, was she wrong! For Ruth (the Peach’s 101-year-old Palm Desert girlfriend) was ready to take them to dinner.

“Ruth turned out to be the most wonderful lady,” said the Peach, who especially loved hearing how Ruth had lived in Palm Desert for a number of years and knew most people of her generation, including silent screen stars and even an astronaut!

Ruth, left, and the Peach

After a casual meal at California Pizza Kitchen, the Rose and Peach dropped off Ruth and then drove around looking to see just what kind of trouble we could get ourselves into. We ended up at Barnes & Noble, where the Rose told me we were to spread out and each find a book that we wouldn’t normally pick for ourselves. I chose a book of poetry — “Immortal Poems of the English Language” — which reminded me of my college English class days, and the Rose settled on “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” which is among the earliest surviving works of literature. The Peach bought her book, vowing to read at least one poem a day and to decipher its meaning.

What a wonderful night out and such a perfect end to a fantastic day, the Rose and the Peach both agreed.

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