Last Wednesday I boarded a plane from Palm Springs to Boise. This was the thirtieth time in thirty years that I have completed this roundtrip. What began as a week long spring break has morphed into a two-month annual journey to the desert with my mom. I used to think that visiting the same place would fall into the trap of becoming a routine. The only thing that is constant about this trip is boarding the plane and leaving all expectations on the tarmac.
A few years ago, I was fortunate to spend a month living three blocks south of Central Park in Manhattan. I made a point to walk through the park on a daily basis. On the first day, the tree buds were popping. What seemed like moments later, a gust of wind was spreading small petals into the sky. By the end of the trip, fresh leaves that were blotting out the incredible skyline of New York City. Instead of being there for spring, I experienced the unfolding of spring.
In the early years of Palm Springs, my focus was blurred by margaritas and coors light. The middle years were centered around golf and cultural events at their performing arts theater. Hiking replaced golf and we devoured the mountains that surround the valley like a horseshoe. As age took its course, mountain trails were replaced with flat walks along the desert washes that serve as a drainage system for flash floods.
Politicians are often jilted by the October surprise. When I depart for the desert, I am primed for the Palm surprise. It always appears from nowhere and becomes a defining theme of each trip. It is never planned or expected, but instead unfolds like spring in Central Park.
For the first month of this last trip, the temperatures were at least twenty degrees below normal and the sunny skies were plagued by clouds. On the second day as I was departing for the gym, my mom tagged along with the intention of learning how to lift weights. While she is naturally athletic, most people do not take their first plunge into strength training at age 83. After 48 training sessions, my mom has gained tremendous strength and the unexpected highlight of the trip was out time together at the gym.
I could not have scripted a more enjoyable trip.