Friday, February 14, 2014
SAN JACINTO STATE PARK.
Four intrepid adventurers arrived at the base of the 2nd steepest tram ride in the world. We watched as this gondola full of passengers returned. You can't see the destination at the top from here.
As we rise above the valley and pass the 2nd tower you can see by the cables how straight up you go, with 80 people sharing a gondola. The gondola has a revolving floor, one of three such trams in the world. These are the largest cars of the three systems and since the floor is moving you have a view of what is behind you, in front of you and to the sides.
The sun hit a pinnacle called the lily on the right. Straight up and down.
Because you revolve, your view is a constant play of shadow and sunlight. Burnished tips of this evergreen growing out of solid rock as they do, attract the eye. Try and plant one in rock and you fail.
The mountain plants and minerals continually change. The gondola looks in shadow as though a man is standing on top of it and riding it down.
Minerals in the rock produce surprising patches of color. As the floor rotates you get a few chances to take pictures through two open windows. But most of the pictures have to be taken through glass, and always while moving.
Plants get quite stunted as you near the summit of 8,516 feet above the valley floor.
There was a small patch of ice in the shade at the summit. The park shows a film of the recreational opportunities of this unusual place, a cool place for folks to retreat during hot summers, 54,000 acres of mountain forest, walking trails, tobogganing and winter play in the snow in some year. What's not to like?
Spectacular views. A restaurant, gift shop and small museum.
Bruce is handicapped and this is a comfortable place for people in wheel chairs or unable to walk stairs. Elevators and ramps bring you everywhere. We were warned that the temperature is 30 degrees cooler than the valley. Pat and I wore extra clothing, but Bruce and Jim decided they were tough and didn't need anything but their shorts and T-shirts.
Mineral coloration, the yellow and two bright orange streaks fascinate me.
On the return trip I heard someone behind me say to her partner: "I thought you were afraid of heights?." He answered: "No, I 'm afraid of falling. I feel safe in the gondola." If you visit Palm Springs, this is a lovely way to stay cool and spend an afternoon.
We had dinner at Elmers, a restaurant I remembered from somewhere in our travels. We weren't disappointed. Excellent food, average prices. That was also borne out by the surprising pictures on the wall.
I guess you could say good enough for presidents...
...and the rich and famous. There were many pictures of the glitterati here.
We played a dice game in the dark wearing headlamps. Remember the old Coleman lanterns? The headlamps are very comfortable and cast plenty of light, though I took this shot with a flash. The game they brought is called Farkle, or Zilch. I've heard it by other names as well.