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!

Among the Giants

(April 2 & 3, 2018)

It’s hard to believe that a week ago, we were still enjoying the wide open desert spaces, and now we are strolling, driving, and camping among the giant redwoods. They are so massive that they block the sun and you must drive with your headlights on. We camped at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We arrived early enough, but it felt like early evening since the sun couldn’t get through the dense forest. The scent was exhilarating. We also got to hear the campground sounds that we long to hear: chopping wood (thunk thunk thunk), crackling fires, children giggling, tent zippers zipping. We’ve always thought that someone should make a sound track of these summer sounds.

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Avenue of Giants

Of course, dogs can’t go on hiking trails, but they can walk in the campgrounds, so that’s where we photographed them. The campground is mostly second growth, but there are still some stumps of the old-growth trees.

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We wanted to walk in the old-growth forest, so we took the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, which was approximately 1.5 miles. There are old-growth redwoods, Douglas fir, and tanoak trees in this section of the forest. The trees were far too immense to capture in my basic camera lens.

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Where’s Paul?

 

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Scorched trunk

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Find Paul

There is nothing that can compare to a walk among the giants.

We spent the second night at a casino in Crescent City, CA. At first, it seemed like a good find. We registered, and they sent us to a grassy area away from the main parking lot. That was a nice change from the usual paved lot. There was a bush on one side and a pasture on another. Poppy sniffed around for a bit and came inside. All seemed well. And then the dogs came — yes, a pack of agitated barking dogs. They were not happy that we were there. Paul had read a review online that a camper had been accosted by the dogs, but Paul neglected to share this tidbit. Eventually, the dogs went away, and a little fox came by the Chinook. We carefully surveyed the area before the girls did their bedtime business.

Two April Fools!

(April 1, 2018)

The morning started off so nicely.  We made it to the coast, got a great parking spot, and walked along the ocean in Santa Cruz.

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We even found some California poppies:

What could possibly go wrong? We were just on a quest for Indonesian food. There are no more Indonesian restaurants in Canada (we’ve looked far and wide). Any time we hit a new city, we search for Indonesian food. Well, today was our lucky day: San Fransisco has 3! We chose one right off the highway. That should be easy. WRONG!

Problem 1: no parking

Problem 2: one-way streets

Problem 3: hills

Problem 4: motorhome

Result: No rijsttafel for you!

We must have looked like Laurel and Hardy trying to get back to the highway. We first went down down down; then, up up up. Then, imagine the Chinook at a stoplight looking like the shuttle ready for liftoff and Paul flooring it when the light turned green. I think some pedestrians’ faces turned green. I almost spewed green.  I only have pictures from the gentler hills.  For the intense ones, I was holding on for dear life!

It all seemed so tame heading in:

Where is that bridge?!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

But wait! It got wilder! We decided to stay on the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s scenic. It conjures up images of carefree people in convertibles and sweeping vistas. What could possibly go wrong? Oh dear! The highway hugs the Pacific coast. You see, it’s in the name. There is no deception. Coasts aren’t straight. We went up and down and around. There were many hairpin turns. Dishes were rattling; drawers were sliding open; I kept running back to pick up items that fell; Poppy was shaking; Paul had white knuckles; Daisy slept. We had to finally stop in Olema so that my stomach could settle and we could ask how to get back to the 101. Phew! After all that fun, we camped for the night at The Home Depot in Santa Rosa. Serenity now!

Would we do it again? Heck yeah, but in something a great deal smaller!

Fantastico!

Casa de Fantastico!
(March 30, 2018)

We never know what we are going to find when we search for free camping. As we headed into wine country, free camping became pretty slim. We found that Casa de Fruta (a fruit stand near Hollister, CA) allows overnight parking for truckers, so we slipped in with them. Then, we realized that Casa de Fruta is actually a huge complex with a fruit stand, yes, but also a wine shop, coffee shop, restaurant, amusement park, . . . and a campground! Uh-oh, would we get kicked out? Nope. We enjoyed a quiet night in a lovely park-like setting. Case de Fantastico!

 

Garlic Capital – Gilroy!
(March 31, 2018)

The drive to Gilroy is one for the senses! The air is more humid and we could smell garlic wafting. It reminded me so much of my grandma Moore’s yard. Our mouths were watering.

We spent the full day at Christmas Hill Park just relaxing and letting the girls solar charge. Poppy still doesn’t enjoy travelling, so she needs days where she can stretch out and people-watch.

We stayed overnight at a truck stop. As I described earlier, California doesn’t have much for free camping. Part of the problem is the homeless situation. Rent is outrageous, even in a small town like Gilroy because it isn’t too far from the Silicon Valley. A local told us that a basic house is over $3000/month to rent. People are forced to live in their vehicles. We witnessed this at the truck stop. We moved closer to the truckers and further from the homeless. They had been piling garbage outside their vehicles and making a mess. It really makes it bad for everyone.