Historic Twin Palms Neighborhood: Tract Houses

February 18, 2019

At the lodge, I was given a map and addresses. Paul was going to just drop me off and leave, but because this was a self-guided tour throughout the neighborhood, we just parked the truck and Paul and Poppy followed me from house-to-house and waited outside for me. The bonus for Paul was that he got to talk to locals who pointed out unique houses that weren’t on the tour, and Poppy got lots of love from passersby. Paul learned that the neighborhood received its name because each lot came with 2 palm trees. Poppy learned that not all the grass was real.

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1070 E. Apache Rd (not on the tour)

There was a display inside the lodge with models of some of the houses in the tract. Each house was 1600 sq. ft. and designed as a perfect 40’x40’ square, and there was only 1 basic floor plan with 8 variations. This kept costs down because constructions materials were standardized at 10-foot widths. However, each house looks unique because of their roof lines, facades, and the open carports. Today, some of the houses have had modest additions.

1041 Twin Palms

As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by tall birch doors with no trim – exactly like our Saskatoon house! The owners are art collectors and poodle owners. They were so excited that I was so excited that their birch doors had survived all these years. They told me to go in the bathroom and shut the door to see the wonderful graining. Gorgeous! The natural birch doors match their lovely Heywood-Wakefield furniture. They love their house and it shows.

1042 Apache

The homeowner knew Krisel and understood his vision. This house had been inappropriately renovated in the past and then had fallen into disrepair. The homeowner respectfully restored it to its former glory. I was so impressed by the attention to detail. The kitchen is new, but the cabinets look original with their sliding doors. The flooring is all terrazzo seamless tiles. The green bathroom is new, but renovated to replicate the pink bathroom. What a fabulous restoration! And the best news is that it is for sale! For a cool $1.2 million it could all be yours!

991 La Jolla

The homeowner really embraced color in his decor.  He told me that he is an engineer and always preferred black, white, and grey in his previous houses, but once he moved to Palm Springs, his grandma’s love of orange took over. This is a really fun house with an equally fun homeowner.

985 La Jolla

This home had also been neglected for many years, so the homeowners had to do an extensive renovation.  It has one of the most fabulous breeze-block facades. The interior is very airy and bright. The final picture shows the rear of the house.  You can really see the square footprint of the house from this view.

Stay tuned for more Modernism Week adventures in Palm Springs!

Historic Twin Palms Neighborhood: Ocotillo Lodge

February 18, 2019

When I was choosing tours for Modernism Week, I had to choose carefully. The Canadian dollar is doing poorly, so I had to ensure I would get enough value. The only house tour I chose was the Historic Twin Palms Neighborhood tour. At $60 US, it was pricey, but well worth it. I got to see 7 homes (3 suites and 4 houses) and the Ocotillo Lodge clubhouse and pool. The homes and lodge were designed by architect William Krisel and built by developers George and Robert Alexander, starting in 1956. When you think of butterfly roofs, sun flaps, clerestory windows, and atriums, think of Krisel. This neighbourhood has it all! It was the first modern housing tract in Palm Springs.

First stop, Ocotillo Lodge. This was where I checked in and got my wristband and gift bag. Oooooh! In my gift bag were 3 breeze-block magnets! What fun! Breeze-blocks are a significant architectural element in the Twin Palms neighborhood, and throughout Palm Springs.

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Ocotillo Lodge champagne cork pool

The Ocotillo Lodge was originally an apartment hotel for prospective homebuyers to the neighborhood, but now each suite is privately owned. The suites came in only 2 sizes (525 sq. ft and 600 sq. ft.). Each suite is very secluded even though each one has 2 walls of doors and windows opening to a patio.

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Suites at the Ocotillo Lodge

Suite 376
This unit features the original kitchen range.

Suite 349
This unit is referred to as The Peggy Lee. The owners hired interior designer Laura Slipak to refresh it after its 1980s abominable renovation.

Suite 341
The original tongue and groove ceilings were kept during a recent renovation, but everything else was updated. This one felt most like home to me. The homeowner chose many of the elements and colors that I had in our house. There is even a toy Airstream on the patio.

Stay tuned for part 2, when we tour some houses in this historic neighborhood.

Modernism Week CAMP

Camp is Atomic Central during Modernism Week.

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Inside the big tent:

There are a few more vendor displays outside the tent. One of our favourites is Alpod.  This is a small aluminum pod house (410 sq ft). It is aluminum inside and out . . . remind you of anything?  It’s impressive.  The company is Chinese, and it has worked with the California and US governments to meet their standards; however, it does not have CSA approval from what we can tell.  There are actually 2 Alpods on display. We saw the first one behind The Rowan on our first day in Palm Springs.

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Alpod beside MW CAMP

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Alpod behind The Rowan (see the reflection?)

Inside:

Also near Camp is the Walker Guest House and the creepy babies by David Černý:

The cost to tour the house is $10. The terrifying babies are free for the viewing!

More Modernism Week fun-seeking to come! Stay tuned.

Palm Springs was a Wash!

February 11-17, 2019 (Week 1)

I tried and tried to get an RV site within Palm Springs, but this is prime time, and no one was cancelling. Since we have friends who own a site in a park in Desert Hot Springs, we were able to stay there. Sheila came along with us for a few days to see some of the sights. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we walked the strip (Palm Canyon Drive). We couldn’t help ourselves and had lunch both days at Sherman’s Deli. Oh man! Giant matzo ball soup! This restaurant is a landmark, and there is always a line-up, but it’s worth it.

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My new Palm Springs house! OK, it’s a tissue box.

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On Wednesday night, it started to rain.

On Thursday, we were awakened by the phone screaming and the words “Flash Flood Warning for your area.” OK. Stay out of the washes. No problem. We decided to tour some of the other cities in the Coachella Valley. It rained all day, but it didn’t seem too outrageous. While we were in one shop, two clerks were talking about how Palm Springs was shutting down. The roads were impassable, and it was too dangerous. People were being sent home. What? Come on. It wasn’t that bad. Well, as we made our way back to Desert Hot Springs, there were some flooded sections of road where the roads crossed washes. We drove through slowly. Then, we came across some closed roads, so we took detours. That was a good thing because cars had been swept away for not heeding the warnings!

On Friday, the rain had stopped. Sheila returned to Yuma while we returned to Palm Springs for the Modernism Week festivities. Oh my! Exciting, but not festive. We met road closure after road closure. It was madness! The washes were full and overflowing their banks, taking sections of roads with them.

Unbelievable! This storm was in the top 3 storms in recorded history (approximately 100 years). We also learned that the RV park that I kept pestering to get into had to be evacuated during the storm. We were very thankful that we had brought Poppy with us that day because it took us 2 hours to get back to Desert Hot Springs. Since then, we’ve taken her everyday, much to her dismay. The weather has been too unpredictable to leave her alone. Nevertheless, she gets lots of attention from strangers and shop clerks. Palm Springs is very pet friendly.

Here is the road leading to the tramway. There is helicopter there because it had just surveyed the road damage leading up there.

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Of course, Palm Springs was only a “wash” in the desert sense.  It rocks!

We found a perfect midcentury modern (MCM) cone lamp for the Airstream. Updates on that will come when we return to Canada. It will require some drilling and other fun, so Paul wants to have access to his tools.  This is the interior of the shop where we found the lamp.  I’m obsessed by the capsule shaped mirror on the far right (Hang 1 Capsule mirror by Blu Dot, but alas, it is too rich for my budget).  It would be perfect in the Airstream bathroom.  It resembles the shape of the window in there.  In front of the green dog is a water bowl.  Every shop has a water bowl for dogs, of course.

Now, let’s look at some far out architecture.

Tramway Gas Station (Albert Frey & Robson Chambers, 1965). It is now the visitors’ centre. Once you filled up there, you must have felt like you were ready to enter orbit. What a dramatic roofline!

Sante Fe Federal Savings & Loan (E. Stewart Williams, 1961).  It is now the Art Museum. I adore the metal screens.

Coachella Valley Savings & Loan (E. Stewart Williams, 1961). It is now a Chase bank. Can columns be more graceful?

The Rowan (November 2017).  OK, I’m obsessed with this building. It’s new, but it could be 60 years old! Look at the metal work and the yellow accents. I admire it every time I walk by.

BevMo! I don’t believe this building has any historical significance other than the fact that you’ve seen a building like this as some point. It is simple and lovely, but buildings like this were torn down long ago across North America. However, in Palm Springs, it has value. I love the way the roof mirrors the concrete blocks.

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From Fun to Fabulous on the Salton Sea

February 9, 2019

Fun at The Ski Inn at Bombay Beach

As we saw last year, when we visited the Salton Sea, it’s a deplorable situation. Really California? Where are the environmentalists? Nevertheless, we had a terrific time visiting the Ski Inn at Bombay Beach. At one time, people could waterski up to the Inn for lunch, but that was during a different era. Today, the Ski Inn is still a popular spot for lunch and a beer. As soon as we strolled in, Paul called out “Hey, Les!” What a small world! Les and Susan live in our RV park in B.C. I guess they can find the classy joints like we can! They were having lunch with a friend, so Paul, Sheila and I joined them, and then afterward went to visit them at Fountain of Youth RV park.

The Ski Inn has tasty sandwiches, but the best part is the staff. What a friendly bunch! We felt so welcome. Also, the décor is really fun! How much money is on the walls and ceiling?!

After lunch, we strolled along the beach and took picture of some of the derelict local RVs. Les and Susan explained that in the last few years, the town has really cleaned up the beach. There used to be abandoned and weathered trailers on the beach, but those are long gone. We didn’t see any last year either. My sister got some pictures a few years ago. Apparently, real estate has been slowly climbing as artists are moving in. However, by no means is this an expensive place to live. Lot prices were around $5000, but they are getting closer to $10,000 now. It’s still very cheap, but you take the risk of living on the shores of an environmental disaster. Don’t let its beauty fool you!

February 11, 2019

Fabulous Frey at North Shore

On our way to Palm Springs for Modernism Week, we had to stop to see our first building designed by the fabulous Albert Frey. It is the North Shore Beach & Yacht Club, built in 1958. North Shore is another mostly abandoned community, but this mid-century wonder has been preserved. What a magnificent structure!

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Back of building:

The front is where the fabulousness is:

Also on this site is one of the art exhibits from Desert X. Desert X is an annual art exhibition that is held on sites throughout the Coachella Valley. You can drive or take a bus to all the installations. It’s kind of like geocaching for art! We just chanced upon this one. You can download a map or app and travel the valley, seeking out contemporary art.

Then, back on the road to mid-century heaven — Palm Springs!

Slab City 2019

February 4-11, 2019

We had a wonderful time at Slab City last year, so we were excited to return again. Sheila had never been there before, so we wanted to visit all the attractions and more. Last year, we were in the Chinook, but this year, we are in the Airstream. It’s a good thing because we had 2 days of wind and sand storms. We could, at least, spread out in the Airstream while the wind buffeted the trailer.

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Salvation Mountain

Our camp (Can you see the Airstream Bambi behind us?):

Instead of repeating much of what I wrote last year, I’ll add hyperlinks to previous posts.

First, let’s look at the remarkable housing that the locals have created. Some are on the original slabs for which the area is now named.

 

Salvation Mountain

No trip to Slab City is complete without a visit to Salvation Mountain. In fact, people from around the world come just to see this masterpiece. This year, we could not climb the mountain due to damage from the rain. An artist was hard at work repairing the damage and repainting the repaired areas. If you look on the left side of the mountain, you’ll see where a large portion of the mountain has fallen.

East Jesus

East Jesus is registered with the California Museum Association. The artists are trying to purchase the land from the government to ensure its permanence. This year, they had t-shirts and bumper stickers for sale to raise funds. Paul got a t-shirt and I got a bumper sticker. I would have liked all four stickers, but I settled for:

DO BIG FUN
(First Church of the Chocolate Martini)

These were the 4 tenets of the founder:

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This artist greeted us and told us about the fundraising. He was quite the character.

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This sign really makes me laugh:

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I searched for the wheel, but I couldn’t find it. I’ll just have to come up with my own sources of debauchery. I’m imaginative.

Playground of Horror?

Hey, we found a new house. It’s a fixer-upper, but we’re handy. Debauchery lives here!

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Blooming fun!

Due to all the rain this winter, the desert is blooming.

The girls enjoyed their walks. Bunnah (Scottie) and Kenzie (Westie) tried to imagine that they were walking in Scottish heather:

The Coliseum

Slab City even has its own coliseum. Well, not really, but these old tanks are now referred to as the coliseum.

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Pet Cemetery

Actually, we found 2 pet cemeteries. This seems to be the first one.

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Just look at the care and attention given to these graves. One (Winnie) was only a few weeks old, and Poppy took a special interest in it.

Hot Spring and Shower

Yes, there is even a hot spring. It’s about 15 feet deep and you can see the bubbles coming up through the centre. Before a young guy disrobed, he said, “This is clothing optional, so I hope you won’t be offended.” No offence taken!

After jumping in, he told us where to look for the “shower”, so off we went.

Let’s play “Spot the Airstream” one more time!

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Hint: It’s in the middle

Once again, we had a fabulous time at Slab City.

Next stop: Palm Springs
Why? MODERNISM WEEK! The Atomic Pod will land at Atomic Central!

Boondocking: Lessons Learned, Successes & Failures

January 4-18, 2019

When we were at KOFA in December, our black tank filled far too quickly. After one week, we had to leave and dump the tanks. It didn’t seem reasonable since we didn’t dump any dishwater down the toilet like we often do. Therefore, we did a bit of research and discovered that the bathroom sink drains into the black tank, and I wash my hands often . . . very often. Well, that explained that. Lesson learned.

While we were camping on BLM land outside of Quartzsite, we managed to boondock for 15 days before our black tank filled. We left with 35% water in our fresh tank as well. What’s more, after 7 days, I also hand washed our socks and underwear and we still had water to spare. Additionally, we had a heavy rainstorm and collected 2 buckets of water, which I used to wash my hair, bathe, and do some dishes. Success.

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Early arrival at the RTR

We have more than enough solar and batteries to last, even when we had rain for over one day. We watched Canadian news every night and kept ours and Sheila’s electronic devices powered. Success.

However, not everything was rosy. After one week, our hot water heater died. Again. Even though this trailer is new, we’ve had to replace to circuit board twice already. It is an Atwood gas-electric heater (but Dometic now owns that company). The circuit boards are from China and they are garbage. These water heaters are installed in many RVs and the boards (made by Kunshan Zhongding) are faulty. Fail. Luckily, we are “campers” and know how to heat water for dishes and bathing, but it was disappointing.

Of course, Can-Am RV came to the rescue and had Airstream ship a new circuit board to an RV park in Yuma. By the time we got back to Yuma, we had a new circuit board by a different manufacturer (Channel Products). Let’s hope we don’t have to replace this one in 3 months. We are feeling optimistic. Success.

The biggest challenge when boondocking is water conservation. Here are our tips:

  • no showers (We wash daily with just a small bowl using approximately ½ liter of water) and then we toss that water outside (if you are not in an environmentally sensitive area) or use it to flush the toilet
  • pay for a hot shower (In towns near BLM land, there are often entrepreneurs that provide hot showers for a fee. We paid $5 each for a shower at Rose RV Park in Quartzsite).
  • if it’s yellow, let it mellow . . . Yes, we have to do that. It isn’t pleasant, but neither is hitching up and driving to the nearest town just to dump the tanks.
  • avoid putting toilet paper into the black tank for #1
  • put a bowl in the bathroom sink to capture hand washing water and reuse that water for more hand washing, and then toss it outside or use it to flush the toilet
  • use paper plates and bowls (I still do the washing up 3 times per day, but using paper plates and bowls conserves a lot of water.)
  • cook on the barbecue (This also cuts down on cookware to wash)
  • eliminate water-intensive cooking (no pasta when boondocking)
  • dilute the dish soap (That way you won’t need as much for rinsing)
  • give your dishes a shower, not a bath (I used to fill up 2 dishpans: one for soapy water and one for rinse water. Now, I just wet the dishcloth and apply some diluted dish soap and then rinse each dish. In the end, I only use about ½ a dishpan of water)
  • use potable water jugs (We have 2 large blue jugs that we fill with RO water. It is easier to refill these in town than it is to hitch up the trailer to fill the fresh tank)
  • collect rainwater (It rarely rains on the desert, but if it does, collect some)

Here are Bunnah and Kenzie showing their blue water jug:

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Boondocking is for the dogs. Freedom!

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Kenzie and Poppy

After the RTR, we moved into the town of Quartzsite to meet up with the Airstream club. We enjoyed their company and the full moon.

After 2 1/2 weeks of boondocking, we returned to Yuma to do laundry, restock our supplies, and visit family.