Palm Springs to Huntington Beach to the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple

Palm Springs: I had no idea what I expected, but probably not this ‘back in time’ one-horse town.103

Don’t get me wrong, people rave about it – those with second homes who enjoy the desert heat, the very large aging gay population for whom Palm Springs was a wonderful refuge ‘back in the day’ and the interesting woman in her late 70s, a Trump supporter who kept going on about her family’s military connection.096 097 098 099 100 101 102

As we drive along listening to National Public Radio I am continuing to follow the political situation and the rise and rise of the vile man that is Donald Trump. The salutes that he was demanding of his followers have been likened to the rallies of Adolf Hitler – another ‘charismatic’ Narcissist. Heaven help America if he becomes President. I wonder to what lengths the Republican Party will go to ensure he does not get the nomination.


Getting to Palm Springs involved more God-forsaken roads and a Satnav that wanted me to take a dirt track for 50 miles! The photographs speak for themselves. At one point I thought I saw water – it was, literally, a mirage in the desert! Just before Palm Springs we came across acres and acres of wind farms.105 106 107

So, Palm Springs – pretty flowers, a brilliant soda shop and a lot of restaurants. Oh, and at our hotel, the worst receptionist ever. Rude and unhelpful doesn’t even begin to describe her. At least the swimming pool was nice – and I have taken advantage of every swimming pool in the hotels in which we have stayed.

Never stay at the Vagabond Hotel in Palm Springs. Yes, they ‘upgraded’ us to 2 King beds (like we needed them) but the lack of lightbulbs, the seriously unhelpful attitude of the staff and the mediocre ‘breakfast’ amongst other things makes it a hotel to avoid.

Michael and I went for a stroll on the only road with real life in it. I had a yen for root beer and was delighted to discover the soda shop with so many sodas, including 37 different varieties of root beer (my favourite drink here!) The young women who work there are very knowledgeable and so I downed 2 different types … Then Michael and I returned to the fish restaurant that had wonderful fish tacos (award-winning, apparently) but no root beer…

Alfie still seemed tired and lethargic and I continued to fret about him.  He has been lacking in energy since leaving Santa Fe, and – hindsight being a wonderful thing – it gradually dawned on me that very low humidity, high heat and dryness does not suit him.

After a swim in the hotel pool, and a fabulous pastrami sandwich in another allegedly award-winning delicatessen, we left Palm Springs in the early afternoon and drove the 100 miles to Huntington Beach, California.108

Before meeting Gina (also blind) we filled up with petrol and visited the huge petstore to buy some more food and treats for Alfie.

Huntington Beach is where Michael finished his road trip with me – Alfie and I were off to Santa Monica on our own. We travelled for 20 days together and managed to rub along together with no conflict, which is a result given we hardly knew each other. I think the total lack of chemistry between us helped! He and my other blind friend Debbie may end up having a’thing’ when they see each other in July – at least that is what I hope for them both!

We walked along the beach near the Huntington Beach pier and then made our way to Gina’s house to meet her adorable guide dog who got on famously with Alfie – he does love the girly dogs. A short wander brought us to the ‘Pick up Sticks’ restaurant where we had some passably good Asian food.

I slept comfortably on Gina’s couch and left for Santa Monica at 9.30 a.m. – the traffic coming into Los Angeles was characteristically slow and the weather hot. Apparently, LA has some of the worst traffic in the USA and I believe it.

Using the GPS on my iphone, it was easy to find Akiko’s place on 18th Street, Santa Monica,  where I had booked to stay for 4 nights with Air BnB. I dislike the people who started Air BnB – they rip off both the owners and the people booking. They are so disliked in some quarters that a website has sprung up: 078

Akiko is Japanese and she has a lovely girl-dog, Cha Cha, who is very laid-back and welcoming and enjoyed having Alfie visit. Almost immediately, Alfie perked up – finally at sea level.  It is interesting the things that one discovers travelling. I hadn’t even considered that, like humans, dogs would be so affected by altitude and humidity.003 004 006 007 011 012 017 019 020 021

As I settled in my comfortable room I realised that the leather pouch containing my passport, Alfie’s irreplaceable passport and my credit cards was missing. Going through my belongings and through the entire car I had to admit defeat. It was gone.

A sudden realisation of just what a mess this was dawned on me. Calm. I had to keep calm. I started to retrace my steps for the past 24 hours. I made 6 phone calls and drew a blank. Then I realised that after the meal last night we had stopped at Albertson’s supermarket where I had purchased more Alfie-food. After what seemed like an interminable wait I heard a reassuring voice ‘Yes. It is here.’ They open at 5 a.m. so I arranged that the next day I would drive down to collect it.

When I recovered, I decided to go to the calmest place in LA – The Self-realization Fellowship Lake Shrine Temple.

This beautiful place is on Sunset Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades and was created and dedicated by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1950.

Taking a ten acre-site and turning it into the stunningly beautiful spiritual sanctuary was a work of love. The lake is fed by a natural spring and as well as the wonderful gardens and flowers also contains ducks, koi carp, swans and many birds.

The grounds contain a ‘court of religions’ honouring the 5 principal religions of the world and there is a Mahatma Ghandhi World Peace memorial where a portion of Gandhi’s ashes is enshrined. The pictures demonstrate how beautiful it is. And in an area where many flowers and trees abound, it still stands out.

My next blog will contain the rest of my Santa Monica experiences.