Ghost Towns along Highway 49

I am sorry to report I don’t have any images from our time spent in Portland. I was incredibly busy constantly visiting with friends and family, and shopping of course! What I do have to show for our trip though are some shots I took of some ghost towns. we visited during our journey back home.

Honestly, I can’t recall when I first fell in love with the old mining towns along California Highway 49. What I do remember though is being very young and marveling at the old buildings the small town of Mariposa, where my great aunt and uncle used to lived (they have since moved to Seal Beach). We visited them every so often during our trips to California, and I always loved returning to that town. California’s gold rush is a unique moment in time, and a driving force in California’s rich (no pun intended) history, much like the Spanish missions and Hollywood. The towns that sprung up from it continue to draw me in whenever I get the chance to drive through them.

After crossing the border between Oregon and California, we peeled off I-5 just before Sacramento and made our way down Highway 49 visiting Amador City, Sutter Creek, Mokelume Hill, Murphys, Angels Camp, and Columbia. Sadly, we didn’t make it into Mariposa (it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since I was there) but there are still many more gold rush towns I wish to visit, and I know we will make it there one day. But today I just want to share with you some of the images I took during our visit to these quiet and peaceful towns.

A couple of years ago we visited Coloma, where gold was first discovered in California, and you can take a peek at here.

Patrick and I didn’t have much down time after getting home. In fact we are off to Joshua Tree for the weekend! So I better go repack my suitcase! I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Mission Santa Barbara

Over the weekend Patrick and I drove up the coast and crossed another one of California’s Missions of the list, Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786.

Nicknamed “Queen of the Missions”, and sitting upon a hill that overlooks the town of Santa Barbara, as well as the ocean, Mission Santa Barbara has a color exterior, one that shows little of the horrors it endured during a massive earthquake in 1925, as it was fully restored just two years later in 1927.

Onto the next California mission!

Outfit
Shawl: Found by my dad!
Peasant top: Pin-Up Girl Clothing
Skirt: I don’t remember!
Coral Squash Blossom Necklace & Ring: West of Texas, Redlands, California
Bracelet: A random antique show we went to on a road trip…
Tooled Leather Purse: Retro Rejuvenation, Coburg, Oregon
Shoes: Re-Mix

Salvation Mountain

Each time I would visit Palm Springs and return home I would get asked “Did you go to Salvation Mountain?” Here’s the funny thing about where Salvation Mountain is… It’s hardly “close” to Palm Springs. Palm Springs, and its neighboring cities of Palm Desert, Cathedral City, and Indio are the closest cities of any real consequence to Salvation Mountain, which is actually located in Niland, near the southeastern edge of the Salton Sea, and about 75 miles from Palm Springs. But it’s like, if you’re already that far out into the desert, why not go? And this time we finally made it. So, what is Salvation Mountain?

In 1984 a man by the name of Leonard Knight trekked out to Niland and began to build a monument to God, and the message of “God is Love”, a message Knight felt so deeply and wanted to share with the world. He added to the mountain in a variety of ways every day. He also covered his vehicles in the same message with incredible detail. Seriously. People come for the mountain, but the trucks to me are the real work of art. No matter your religious beliefs, I think Salvation Mountain is a must see for those interested in the weird and bizarre of California’s desert landscape, as well as those interested in folk art, because it truly is a prime example of folk art.

Knight passed away in February of 2014, but Salvation Mountain doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s still looked after, and it is still an incredibly popular spot for people to visit, at least a dozen people came and went while we were there.

This pretty much wraps it up for my Palm Springs posts. I did a bit of shopping, and am contemplating a “haul” post, but not entirely sold on the idea yet…so we’ll see!

Outfit
Hat: Ricochet, Joshua Tree, California
Blouse & Shorts: Buffalo Exchange
Belt: I honestly don’t remember…
Sandals: Minnetonka

Universal Studios

After living in California for nearly a year (seriously, where does the time go, but I’ll reflect on that in a later post), Patrick and I finally made it to Universal Studios yesterday. I hadn’t been since I believe 1997, and Patrick had never been. With the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening in spring of next year, I assumed there is going to be a mob of people visiting the park, and decided that we should go and experience Universal prior to all of that madness, and then return once Harry Potter opens and enjoy it without the stress of needing to visit other portions of the park. Thankfully Universal Studios was also doing a promotion of buy one day, get two days free, so we have two more days (until mid-February) to return.

A lot has certainly changed over the years, gone is the Back to the Future ride, as well as the E.T. ride, and sadly the Wild West Stunt Show has also shuttered its doors. With a fire in 2008 that took out many iconic sets, as well a King Kong animatronic, which was part of the studio tour, a 3-D experience has been installed, featuring a scene from Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong. Additionally, for you Fast and the Furious fans, Universal has added a 3-D aspect to the end of their studio tour that incorporates the latest film. 3-D has a much greater presence at Universal verses Disneyland, with multiple attractions using in, such as Despicable Me, Transformers, and the Simpsons ride. Which, I won’t lie, is kind of disappointing. I often feel like 3-D, simulation attractions are cop outs. We see movies every day that are images on screens, which use special effects, having an image virtually come toward me doesn’t feel much different. I am much more impressed physical and practical effects when visiting amusement parks. But these feelings aside, Universal Studios is still a really neat place to go, and the studio tour offers a unique look behind the scenes of movies and television, and it’s always wonderful to be so close to such iconic locations that have been used in countless movies and television series. Some of my favorites that have graced Universal’s backlot are I Dream of Jeannie, The Muntsters, Back to the Future, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jaws, Psycho, and Universal’s classic horror films such as Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Frankenstein, just to name a few.

Outfit
Shirt: The Wigwam Motel, Rialto, CA
Shorts & Belt (I think…): Buffalo Exchange
Jewelry: Here and there
Mocs: Minnetonka
Purse: Target, bought when I had a purse tear on me while on vacation awhile back, has turned out quite useful actually.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

One of my favorite things about California history is that of the Spanish missions. It is a goal of mine to visit each of them, and before this last Tuesday, I had only been to three of them. Mission San Juan Capistrano, often described as the “jewel” of the missions, is not too far from us, and is absolutely stunning, so gear up for a pretty gosh darn picture heavy post!

Founded November 1, 1776, Mission San Juan Capistrano is large, and lush, featuring a church, housing, plaza and patio, as well as lush garden, where the first vineyard was planted in California. What was called the “Great Stone Church” was completed in 1806, and offered a beautiful place to worship for six years until tragedy struck on December 8, 1812, when a massive earthquake occurred. The roof of the Great Stone Church collapsed, killing 40 worshipers, as well as the two boys who were ringing the bells. This tragedy makes Mission San Juan Capistrano one of California’s most haunted locations, with various claims of apparitions, and even SyFy’s Ghost Hunters filmed there, capturing compelling evidence. Today the ruins of the Great Stone Church remain, and are one of the few true ruins in America.

Despite the tragedy of 1812, Mission San Juan Capistrano still holds a majestic beauty for visitors to enjoy, and I loved walking around its grounds and learning more about the Native Americans of California, and the Spanish colonists.

Outfit
Dress: Retro Rejuvenation, Coburg, Oregon
Belt: Umm… Don’t remember…
Hat: Ricochet, Joshua Tree, California
Shoes: Re-Mix
Purse: Buffalo Exchange
Donkey Brooch & Charm Bracelet: Found by my dad
Turquoise Ring: Expo, I think…

Desert Shores

Over the weekend Patrick and I took a day trip to the Salton Sea to see what we could see (yeah, I just went there). Last March I visited the ghostly Salton Sea for the first time with my dad, but we only explored the east side of the sea. During this visit, Patrick and I drove along a portion of the west side.

The anomaly that is the Salton Sea was the result of flooding from the Colorado River into irrigation canals along an area known as the Salton Sink, a dry lake bed high in salt deposits, so high that salt mining occurred in the area in the late 1800s. As the canals were breached, water poured in, and a singular lake, with no water source going in (after the flood was contained) or an outlet, meaning the only way for water to leave is through evaporation, a process that leaves behind more salt. After World War II, the California Department of Fish and Game released thousands of fish into the sea, and the fishermen quickly flocked to the area (as did many species of birds) and in the mid-twentieth century the area became a resort destination. Backs of postcards described a place where “the boating facilitates are the best and the modern motel, trailer park and cafe will add to your vacationing pleasure” However, many of the fish released could not tolerate the high salinity of the water combined with toxic chemical runoff, and began to die by the hundreds, washing up on shore, and within a few years, the great Salton Sea resort boom was over.

Today the Salton Sea looks like remnants of a war zone, with hollowed out buildings, trailers that appear as if they would fall over with a sneeze made too close to them. But the area is part of California’s unique history, which is something I continue to seek out, and capture before it completely disappears.

As we walked the shores and explored the area, we met other photographers, one who makes regular visits to the Salton Sea. He described how much has changed over the years, and whispers of a push to tear down what remains. It should be noted that while these images give a sense of complete and utter desolation, the area is not uninhabited, for there are still residents along the shores of the Salton Sea.

So much has disappeared over the last two decades, and the area is now rampant with graffiti. Patrick and I discussed revisiting later this year, as we still need to visit Salvation Mountain, another one of California’s oddities.

Stay tuned for a look at what I wore for our outing, and Patrick will be doing another guest post to discuss the North Shore Yacht Club.

A Return to the Orchid Tree Inn

In 2013 during a visit to Palm Springs I shared images of a vacant (and at the time, for sale) hotel and adjacent church. It was The Orchid Tree Inn and the Community Church of Palm Springs, and you can view the first visit here. When we returned to Palm Springs in 2014, the hotel we were staying at was actually right across the street from the Orchid Tree Inn, and it still was vacant and had suffered a major blow. In September of 2013, the church fell victim to a fire.

When we visited in spring of 2014, I snapped pictures, but couldn’t find the words to describe my feelings at the time, and thus didn’t blog about it. Earlier this week we visited Palm Springs once again for Patrick’s annual conference there and I found myself lured to the Orchid Tree Inn for a third time to check in on its state. Sadly, nothing had really changed, but I still snapped photos. I was also prompted to do some more research on the fire and the status of the hotel.

In doing in my research, I came across an article that discussed that the church and Orchid Tree Inn are to be renovated to what is described as a “luxury boutique hotel” and it prompted me to feel a need to share the photos from last year and the recent ones ones I took this week. It is difficult to get fresh photos of a property you can only take photos of from the perimeter, but I just wanted to share these images to help in telling the history and story of the Orchid Tree Inn, and in some way, aiding to its preservation. First let’s take a look at the photos from last year.


Gear up for a pretty picture heavy post!

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