Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wall Street Mill

Our weather has continued to be cooler and more humid than normal. So once again, we headed into the park early one morning this week and finished our hike to the Wall Street Mill. This car resides en route, as does the windmill below.

The mill was operated by William F. Keys, who lived on nearby Keys Ranch from pre-1930 until his death in 1969--aside from a stint off-ranch in jail. In an infamous incident, he shot and killed his neighbor Worth Bagley over a dispute regarding a road. (Bagley fired the first shot and missed). Keys served over 5 years of a 10-year sentence before he was released, eventually receiving a full pardon. Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the Perry Mason novels, was instrumental in obtaining Keys' release. Here's the grave that marks where Bagley fell.

The two-stamp mill is a complete gold ore crushing mill with late nineteenth-century machinery. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Lizards like it, too.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ramblin' in JTNP

It's not as hot this summer as it could be. Last week we took advantage of a cool early morning for a ramble in the park. We went without a destination in mind and took the turnoff at Old Lost Horse Rd. There are lots of spots for rock climbers--here, you can choose from "Left Hand of Darkness," "Mindless Mound," and "Banana Cracks." As best I can tell, the photo above shows the Banana Cracks (center).

Afterwards we enjoyed a leisurely drive, with hardly a car in sight, and ultimately ended up taking another short hike, on the trail to the Wall St. Mill. We didn't go all the way but spent time around these ruined buildings.

There were lots of Parry's Nolinas out, and a long-nosed leopard lizard too.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel

This summer, we're taking advantage of a nearby desert getaway: the Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel. It's less than a half-hour drive down the hill, it has eight mineral water pools, and it only costs $3 or $5 per person, depending on the day. What could be better than that?

We like to get there early, around 8:30 am. As you can see, hardly anyone is around at that hour. But it's plenty warm out, and we can get in a couple of hours of soaking and sunbathing, then leave when it's starting to get crowded and be home in time for lunch.

The mineral water doesn't have a sulfur smell, and it comes out at different temperatures in the different pools. The most popular pool is the hottest one, which is around 105 degrees. There's also a cold pool--above, with the fountain--and a full-length swimming pool filled with mineral water, below. They do use some chlorine, but to me it's hardly noticeable.
We've met all kinds of people here, including some real characters. But everybody seems to agree about one thing: "Don't worry, be happy!"

Sunday, July 10, 2011


A big part of my life this spring was helping coordinate and edit an exhibition brochure for the Palm Springs Art Museum. "Ransom," a multi-part installation by artist Lewis deSoto, is about Hernando de Soto's conquest of the New World. (According to the artist, yes, he might have a distant family connection with the conqueror.) That's the cover of the brochure above. The standing pot is undamaged and represents the pre-Columbian era: the fallen, broken pot is post-Columbian.

But the pots aren't the big draw of this exhibition, by a long shot. The big draw is the DeSoto Conquest, a fictional model that is sitting in the atrium of the museum. Lewis deSoto took a Chrysler New Yorker and modified it to represent a modern version of the conqueror's white war horse. There are some great details, like the conquistador's head on the steering wheel.

The other big draw is that local kids are featured in the exhibition on video. The kids above are reading "El Requerimiento," a chilling message that was delivered (in Spanish, of course) by the Spanish conquerors to native peoples wherever they went. Basically it goes like this: "Hello, we are the Spaniards. We are the superior race. By the authority of our King and Queen and the Pope, we are going to take everything you have that we want. If you won't give it to us, we will kill you and it will be your fault."

On the mezzanine, there are telescopes for viewing figures from the museum's pre-Columbian collection on the opposite side. The video screens have close-up footage of the eyes of local kids.

The car is on exhibit until mid-September; the rest of the exhibit stays up until December. (All photos in this post are by Lewis deSoto except for the brochure cover and the telescope, which are by Evelyn Trejo.)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Huntington

A few weeks ago we met one of Bill's old college friends and his wife at The Huntington in Pasadena. This friend (who was the lead singer in their Milwaukee, WI rock band, The Motley Odds) is an English professor doing research on the Regency period in England--so the Huntington is a hangout of his. We took a tour with them through the library and art collections, then after lunch spent some time on our own in the gardens. It was a Saturday and the place was packed. Kids just couldn't resist running across the big lawns. We haven't seen that much grass in years! (I'm surprised lawns like that are still legal!)

Here are a couple of views of the Japanese garden. It's extensive and is becoming even more so, with an expansion currently under way.

Desert people that we are, our favorite thing was the cactus garden. There are many old, old plants, including some massive euphorbias (right) that are truly the size of trees.

We were in luck: the cactus greenhouse was open. Inside there is an impressive collection of lithops--plants that look like stones.

In the art collections, my favorite things were the portrait gallery (where Blue Boy, Pinkie and their cohorts are hanging--the young aristocrats of yesteryear); the John Frame exhibit, "Three Fragments of a Lost Tale" (exhibit now over, but catalog available at; and Frame's selections from the library's William Blake collection, tucked away in a small room on the top floor of the art building.