Greetings from Santa Barbara!
We’re seeing sunny days and crisp temperatures here in our city known as the American Riviera. It’s a lovely change from all the much needed rain we’ve been having, and even though there’s more rain in the forecast, these breaks in the inclement weather bring locals out to picnic in the parks, stroll down State Street, and meet friends for a leisurely coffee or happy hour on outdoor patios.
In the meantime, I feel like I should be making apple pies and setting them out on a windowsill to cool. Alas, I’m not much of a baker, but I do have the recipe for my mom’s apple pie that she used to make. “The secret is in the crust!” she used to say. Of course, the McIntosh apples, the best in North America, in my estimation, are perfect for cooking into pies. I’ll share the recipe someday when I can locate it.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my sister Sandra and her husband Fred’s visit to Santa Barbara and the good times we had. Well, shortly afterwards, we headed out to Desert Hot Springs where we stayed in an eclectic Airbnb. None of the photos I took gave it justice, but the view from the three-bedroom house was a sight to behold. Ahhh! Serenity.
One of our first outings was to the Cabot Museum nestled in the hills of Desert Hot Springs. According to the museum’s website, the home was built beginning in 1941 and was always intended to be a museum in addition to the residence for Cabot and Portia Yerxa. The Hopi-inspired building is hand-made and created from reclaimed and found materials from throughout the Coachella Valley. Cabot used recovered lumber from his original homestead built in 1925 on the other end of Miracle Hill. Additionally, he purchased abandoned cabins and dismantled them to use the materials for the Pueblo, going so far as to straighten out used nails. Much of the Pueblo is made from adobe-style and sun-dried bricks Cabot made himself in the courtyard. Filled with Native American art and artifacts, souvenirs of Cabot’s travels around the world, displays on Native American Rights, and Cabot’s own works of art, the Pueblo Museum officially opened to the public in 1949. The Pueblo has four stories, is 5,000 square feet and includes 35 rooms, 150 windows, 30 rooflines, and 65 doors. We took a tour of the museum, which was well worth it!
We were lucky to have chosen a day where they had artisans from Oaxaca on the premises displaying their wares and demonstrating their techniques. If you’ve ever been to Oaxaca, Mexico, and walked around the streets off the exquisite town square, then you know how Oaxaca can excite your senses with her cobblestone roads, brightly colored architecture, amazing cuisine, and most of all her art.
Porfirio’s rugs nearly knocked my socks off (if I was wearing any!). He comes from a long line of traditional Zapotec weavers, and the family still is dedicated to this art. In particular he promotes the use of natural dyes, which his sister Juana specializes in. Gutierrez divides his time between Oaxaca and California, not only to sell his family’s wares but also to speak and research about weaving and Zapotec culture. We felt truly blessed to have met this special man and artist.
After our tour of the museum, we walked around the grounds and came upon the Ancient Weather Rock. Someone had a good sense of humor when they installed this!
Sign translation time: When rock is wet, it’s raining; when rock is white, it’s snowing; when rock is hard to see, it’s foggy; when rock is moving, it’s windy or there’s an earthquake; rock is never wrong!
Also on the property of Cabot’s Pueblo Museum stands one of the ubiquitous carved wooden Indian heads by Peter Toth. The Hungarian-born artist, now residing in Florida, put one of his “Whispering Giants” in every state in the union and Canada since he started carving them in 1972.
No visit to the Desert Hot Springs area is complete without a visit to Pioneertown and Joshua Tree National Park. We managed both of these, as well as spending an afternoon at a natural hot springs spa and enjoying our last evening in Palm Springs at Woody’s listening to some fine music!
All in all, it was a great respite, albeit short. Trip endings are always bittersweet, but just knowing how much more there is to explore in our neck of the woods and beyond raises my spirits and gets me thinking about where I want my next adventure to take me.
Dear readers, we truly hope you are enjoying our bicontinental blog posts! If so, please let us know what you enjoy most in the comments here.
Until next time, be well and we look forward to hearing from you!
Gail, Denise and Lindsey