I spent the week between Christmas and New Year's in Southern California’s pocket of wealth: Palm Springs.
Palm Springs, for those who haven’t been there, is southeast of Los Angeles just off Interstate 10.
It is one of a series of towns — Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta and Indio — dotting the I-10 corridor which runs through the Coachella Valley before the road snakes east into the Arizona desert and eventually ends in Jacksonville, Fla.
To an outsider, the corridor is the quintessential “pocket of wealth.”
It’s an area rich in mid-century modern homes, stuffed with good restaurants, clogged with high-end car dealers, suffused with manicured golf courses and blessed with retirees who have more than their fair share of disposable income.
And, of course, Palm Springs plays host to the billionaire Koch brothers who land there regularly to host their fundraising retreat.
I mention these oases of wealth because so many of us live our lives hopping from one financial, cultural and ideological watering hole to another, skipping everything in between.
My wife and daughter, along with my in-laws, rented a splendid home in the middle of Palm Springs.
It didn’t take long, however, before my niece, nephew and daughter as well as the adults in the group, began texting friends spending their Christmas vacations in other oases: Utah ski resorts, for example, or friends living in Hollywood.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a memorable vacation and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. We made a jaunt to Tinseltown, visited with step-relatives who live in Long Beach, spent a day in the stunning Joshua Tree National Park, hiked up and down desert canyons, toured buildings built 70 years ago that still look and feel modern today, and even played a short round of “soccer-golf.”
As with everywhere else, there are pockets of lesser affluence from the (well-tended) trailer parks to the mentally disturbed homeless shouting at the top of her lungs on one of Palm Springs’ thoroughfares on a Sunday morning, to the arid outposts in the Yucca Valley on the way to Joshua Tree.
On the flight over before our layover in San Francisco, I remember looking down at vast emptiness from more than 30,000 feet as the clouds melted away. The travel map on the back of the seat in front of me indicated we were over western Nebraska and headed into southeastern Wyoming.
Toward the end or our week-long stay, I suggested we plan a family holiday somewhere we’d never think to go — like Kansas or Nebraska — a nod, perhaps, to the country’s vast, rich interior and the antithesis of the oasis.
The suggestion was quickly dismissed, consigned to a dusty death.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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