Nethercutt Museum and Nethercutt Collection

3/23/17 Thursday in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

We spent a wonderful time visiting the Nethercutt Museum and Nethercutt Collection with Len/Gloria today. Wow. These are located outside of LA in Sylmar, CA. The Museum is where you park and get to browse among many antique cars and see the trail. If you reserved a spot to see the Collection then you are directed across the street to that building. (Mr. Nethercutt, whose aunt was Merle Norman, was a Chemistry major. After attending CIT, he joined his aunt in her cosmetic business. It is completely American, with the product and the containers all made in the US. They’ve been very successful. Though Merle died in 1972 and JB Nethercutt died in 2004, this is still a family run business. It seems to be a family with a generous heart, when their employees receive dental care for 10% of 1960 prices ($2.70 for X rays and exam) and 3 chef prepared meals and snacks each day for $.25. JB and Dorothy loved to entertain in their Louis XIV room and give gifts to their guests. Built just like the original it includes a crystal chandelier with mirrors where you see it repeated to infinity.  Clicking on images will show their caption.

They also loved to collect “functional fine art”, beginning with luxury antique cars, continuing with very old musical machines, many from the 1800’s. JB once said: “The recognition and preservation of beauty has been a major focus of my life. It would suit me well if what people remembered of me was, ‘Where he went, he left beauty behind’.”

Thus all these gorgeous machines are available to us for free. Plus we could get as close as we wanted to them all, with the firm reminder not to touch and to put away any hanging keys, to put purses in front of bodies. Not only that, they played those really old music machines. I was thrilled hearing that lovely music all the while we looked at the care, then overwhelmed when we listened to the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ (made to accompany silent movies) play (due to modern retrofitting so it will play back what was played on it once) music from “Phantom of the Opera”. Such rich sound – it was incredible. Remember those antique cars (many pre 1940) are taken out onto the city streets (and freeways to run at 110 mph like the Duesenberg) yearly. They even drove one to a Del Taco fast food drive thru. Needless to say John and I would love to return. I’d especially love to see when they show silent movies and accompany them with the Wurlitzer Organ. The 5,000 pipes on that machine are amazing.

The luxury antique cars, many of which have one Best of Show (1st place) in world renowned restoration contests, some of which are shown below. By 1992 his cars have won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 6 times, more than any other individual. Most of the parts needed are built here near the “Collection”, by employees.

cars 3

1933 Duesenberg. One of a kind. Worth over 25 million dollars. Runs up to 110 mph.

cars 4

Another view of the Duesenberg. Guess where the phrase “it’s a doozy” came from.

The musical instrument machines:

music 1

Player piano playing “Rhapsody in Blue”-as it was played by Gershwin himself.

music 2

Bosendorfer piano – unique in that it has 97 keys instead of the typical 88 keys. Thus it’s also VERY heavy. Placed on the keys is an external player that, using player piano roll would play that music when then this piano recorded this old music electronically.

music 3

Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ: 5,000 pipes, 2 men can fit inside the largest, the longest is 32′ long, the smallest is 1/4″ in diameter. The sound is incredible.

music 4

SOME of the Wurlitzer pipes

Then we got to walk through a 1937 Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson Locomotive and 1912 Pullman private car:

Late afternoon we watched “our” basketball team, Gonzaga win a hard fought battle with West Virginia Mountaineers. You can’t believe how excited we were when they won (61-58). Even though Gonzaga has made it to the NCAA for 18 years straight, it’s been a long time since they made it to the Elite Eight.

PS: For lunch one of the restaurant suggestions given us at the Nethercutt Museum was Cas Torres (Mexican). It’s closed.

Posted in California | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area

3/19/17 Sunday in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

We, along with Len/Gloria, traveled to Vasquez Rocks Natural Area. This place is amazing and only a few miles from the campground. They were having a lecture on this area at the Women’s Club in Acton at 1pm, so that’s why the early meal. The Women’s Club was selling articles for their new building fund there. I took this opportunity to ask them about a dead beetle nearby that looked JUST like one that I’d encountered in the bathroom at Soledad Canyon. They explained that they have lots of those black beetles, that they’re stink bugs. They will spray a stink when they lift their rear ends as well as when you squash them dead. Ah…. The particular critter I saw happened to follow me to my stall and come very close. Let’s just say I sped up my process to get away from him.

Lecture 1

Stink Bug

The presenter, Sarah, was a home town gal who works at Vasquez Rocks. She was so much fun to listen to, we laughed a lot.

I want to share a couple of her stories.

The Yucca moth and Yucca plant. This image is of her slide in the presentation. It really explains the symbiotic process very well. People rarely see this moth because it lives borrowed in the ground.

Lecture 2

Something else I managed to remember from that story is that the Yucca will send up one tall shoot that blooms. That shoot is called a “peduncle”. When it dies, the whole plant dies. This area is covered with Juniper trees, Yucca plants and chemise plants. You’ll see some in my Vasquez Rocks photos.

Lichens: a love story between algae and fungi. This is another symbiotic relationship. The algae (think slimy stuff in stagnant water) can make food (via photosynthesis), but needs shade (a house) to survive. They are like the lady in the relationship. Fungi is a builder and can survive in very sunny or shady situations but it can’t make its food. It’s like the guy in the relationship. They “fall in love” creating their own genetic group/colony, evidenced by their unique color. Because of this relationship lichens are NOT parasitic, they do NOT take anything from the plant, rock or tree they are growing on. Spanish moss is one example. Here at Vasquez Rocks they cover lots of the rocks. I didn’t take any close ups of the lichen this time, but you can see those in my prior blog entry for Oct 31, 2016.

Those rocks were formed in a basin that had accumulated layers of sediment that had fallen down into the valley. Over millions of years this sediment accumulated in varying thicknesses. The area is filled with faults, enduring many earthquakes which push the sediment/rock up on one side, lowering it on the other. Only a small portion of that sediment shows above ground, as it happens with icebergs.

It was fun sharing this special place with Len/Gloria, especially with Len taking photos of us and sharing his pictures with me. Those with dates imprinted are his.

Posted in California | Tagged | Leave a comment

Moving on – to Acton, CA

3/14/17 Tuesday in Acton, CA (Soledad Canyon-TT)

On our way by 8:35. Smooth getaway, with the temps in the 70’s already. Our route from Palm Springs-TT: L>Varner, R> I-10W, R>I-215N (exit 72), Continue as it becomes I-15N, R>SR 138 (exit 131), L>Pearblossom Hwy, L> Sierra Hwy, L>Soledad Canyon Rd, L>Crown Valley Rd. There was some construction at our exit on to Hwy 138. After several miles we enjoyed lovely new pavement. We’ve taken Hwy 138 to CA14 all the way to Crown Valley Rd before but that entails climbing more mountain, only to go steeply down at Crown Valley Rd. It’s also a longer path. Note: we went from the desert to the canyons/mountains so our elevation increased, lowering our MPG but the good news is the temperatures are also lower! It would be 100 degrees in Palm Springs today, but 82 degrees in Soledad.

We arrived by 11:15, this time we were directed to the Welcome Center parking lot. Here we were given a keycard to pass by the receptor at the gatehouse, so that was fun. It’ll be much better than having to punch digits on a box to make the gate rise, allowing entrance.

We’ve been here in 2012, 2015, 2016, and now 2017. REALLY run down when we were here the first time. They say that ELS has put over $1 million dollars into this park. They certainly have improved the looks: NEW Landscaping, Welcome Center, Family Center, Adult Center, pool (heated) and spa (hot). Once we even saw wildlife (a coyote in the campground on our way to the Welcome Center). Note: I think we hear the coyotes calling/barking at night. Plus there used to be people living here permanently that left lots of crud in their sites. Those are cleaned up, with empty sites available along that section (overlooking the canyon). They are currently working on the power issues, slowly adding 50 amp pedestals. We lucked into a new 50 amp site (free), up the hill in “N” section (N 162), with open skies for satellite reception, along with the FHU. There are trenches they’ve dug. We’re not sure what they’re doing (water? Electricity?). Very large place with over 700 campsites (most are weak 30 amp), with fairly spacious sites. LOTS of great things to see/do in the area that we never had a chance for last time, even a train (Metrolink) that leaves about 6 miles away from Acton for Los Angeles. Great, friendly, helpful staff. Section N is recommended (FHU, cell phone, 50 amp & TV satellite), across a creek, for big rigs

Once we got set up we had lunch and settled in for the afternoon: John watched TV while I worked on the blog and sending messages of our whereabouts.

Posted in California | Leave a comment

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Desert Spring Flowers and Galleta Meadows Estate

3/11/17 Saturday in Palm Desert, CA (Palm Springs-TT)

We heard that a rare 10 year “Super bloom” was happening now in the desert. I even read somewhere that this was better than the last 10 year Super bloom. So we took off for Anza-Borrego SP with our good friends Jack/Jackie, leaving by 7:45am. Unfortunately a whole lot of other people had heard this great news too (plus it was Saturday). We did stop in Henderson Canyon, on the way to take lots of great photos of those flowers.  (When you click on each image it will show the caption)

flowers 7

Arizona Lupine

By the time we reached Borrego Springs (heading for the Visitor Center) we were stuck in major congestion. The a park ranger directed us away from the Visitor Center: no parking available. We sure were glad we’d stopped for those great photos earlier. The guys suggested we visit the sculptures we hadn’t been able to see on our last trip, so here are more sculpture images, along with some more great flower photos from this area.   (When you click on each image it will show the caption)

Sunday afternoon I helped Jackie with her Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 program, then we celebrated her birthday by taking her and Jack out to Red Robin (burgers). Yum! When we returned to the campground for the rest of our evening, we visited with the Lewis & Clark group outside. I loved the full moon that showed up then.


Posted in California | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Anza-Borrego State Park: Palm Canyon Trail and Galleta Meadows Estate

3/3/17 Friday in Palm Desert, CA (Palm Springs-TT)

Our big day of adventures began when we (Jack/Jackie, Betty/Dale and John and I) left the campground at 8. It took over an hour to get to the town Borrego Springs. From Christmas Circle we drove on Palm Canyon Drive to the ABDSP Visitor Center. There we enjoyed lovely wildlife gardens and got our maps for the Palm Canyon Trail (to an Oasis) and for Galleta Meadows. The last is a 2,000 acre plot of land that the owner of Avery labels bought. He wondered what to do with it, then saw sculptures by Ricardo Breceda in Temecula, CA. The sculptures Breceda created in Galleta Meadows are huge, many based on renditions in “Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert. We saw a movie at the Visitor Center where we learned that 2/3rds of the Big Horned sheep in this country live in this desert. They are doing well, with about 200 new lambs born each year.  Amazingly we got to see many of these special animals as we traversed to the Oasis.  Something else special about our hiking today was the profusion of flowers in the desert.

Visitor Center


White-winged Dove on a Century Plant


Betty, Dale, Jackie, and Jack all ready to hike with us.

Palm Canyon Trail which leads to an oasis (if you click within, then hover your cursor over multiple images you’ll see their captions)


Big Horned sheep with nursing lamb


Big Horned sheep sunning.  When it gets really hot in the summer they are among the few creatures that are out and about


Two young bucks butting heads

Jackie also decided to just walk through the water.  I’m proud to share that I managed to cross along the log.  The guys made it clear that the log was the easiest path for them.

Dale traversed this stream across rocks, but also in the water to reach the other side.  He got closer to the Oasis but was blocked by one huge boulder so he returned to alert us.  We happily decided to turn back at this point.

We had snacks and drank lots of water along that trail. I’d bring at least 2 water bottles’ worth. At one point Jackie got light headed, needing calories and water to recover and later I had the same experience.

Galleta Meadows sculptures


Desert Lily

There were long shadows – we got home around 5:30, very tired. John and I managed to soak in the hot tub before bedtime.

I thought Saturday would be relaxing but it didn’t work out that way. I got the wash going (7 loads took all day), then we dashed to the College of the Desert Street Faire for dates, fresh raisins, tomatoes, strawberries, an avocado, broccoli and a loaf of bread. After lunch we shopped at Ralph’s grocery store, getting back in time for Candy Bar Bingo. We scored, each getting 2 candy bars. Then is was time to get ready for the Augustine Casino Seafood Buffet. It was pricey ($30 each) but really good. We joined up with Betty/Dale, Len/Gloria, Jack/Jackie and their friends Candy/Bill to get super stuffed! Once home from that delicious experience we watched Gonzaga play against Pacific. Boy the first ½ was concerning – our guys were close to tied most of the time. Ah, but they showed up at the second half with Gonzaga winning 82-50. Whew! What a day.

Sunday was far more quiet: Church, light lunch, nap (John watched golf) pretty well summed it up.

Posted in California | Leave a comment

Moving on – to Palm Desert, CA

2/28/17 Tuesday in Palm Desert, CA (Palm Springs-TT)

Correction to a previous entry regarding a woodpecker I saw here. He came around again and I looked him up in my bird book. He was actually a Red Breasted Sapsucker. That was a first. His whole head plus into his breast was red.

We were on our way by 8:45, but got held up for over 10 minutes at a construction stop on our mountain road. All went pretty smoothly from then on. We took Lytle Creek/Sierra Rd to R>I-210E, to R>I-215S, to R>I-10E, then R>Exit 120 (for Pilot to fuel). Exit 130 gets you to Flying J as well. Then R>Exit 134/Cook St.

I’ve been relying on Sygic (an app I put on my phone) for my GPS, since the old one won’t work with my new computer. It’s better than Waze in that you download the maps you’ll need (each state) when you have free WiFi, then when you’re on the road using it, you aren’t using data from your data plan like you do in Waze. I think Waze is MUCH more user friendly, but you just can’t have everything. Note: Sygic also gobbles your power, so it’s best to have your phone/tablet plugged in when using that program/app. In the above route scenerio all of our GPS plans (MSST, John’s Rand McNally and my Sygic) wanted us to take I-210 all the way to I-10 but the map showed a smoother route in our estimation and it turned out that way, shaving 5 minutes off the trip as well. I’m finding that using Sygic along with our little note showing the route choices is helping wean me from my dependence on MSST (Microsoft Streets and Trips), which is old (2010) and not supported by Microsoft now.

We arrived around 11. The awning guy (Shade Pro) called while we were at Pilot wondering if we were set up. Nope. He waited for us at the pool, which is right where we unhook our toad, so that worked out well for him to do his estimate right there! We have a small pinprick hole that had grown into about ½ inch diameter, so we covered it with sealing tape to hold off the leaking onto our slide top. That led to leaking in Miss Journey. John figures it would be better to replace the whole awning than just repair it. That hole had lots of “children” pinprick holes occurring along a fold line.

I won’t describe this fun filled campground because I just did when we arrived January 10th. I will say it is SO NICE to be in the warmth again. Every day at Mountain Lakes we were in jeans and sweatshirts over our t-shirts. Most evenings John had to bring in our water filter for it would freeze by morning. In fact this morning he needed to get on our roof to clear our toppers/awnings and it had a thin film of ice. We had 2 heaters running all day long, except for mealtimes because we only had 30 amps to work with. NOW we are basking in such warm sunshine that we’ve taken off our sweatshirts and have shorts instead of jeans on. Ahhh.

After lunch we started to enjoy that sunshine with a walk around the campground. Right off the bat we ran into Marilyn, learning they were going to pick up their grandchildren at the airport. They have 3 day passes to Disneyland to enjoy with those sweet grandchildren, as we moved on we saw Jerry and Ying. They encouraged us to come to Candy Bar Bingo, with them. We did. It wasn’t as easy to win here, but Ying and I both managed 2 candy bars each while the guys got zilch. 😦

The great part of this bingo was seeing Betty/Dale there too, along with Len and Gloria. We haven’t seen them for about 2 years when we were on the East coast. So we got to talking, eventually walking to Betty/Dale’s site and visiting until time for supper. After supper we met them and Jack/Jackie at Karaoke to enjoy a number of beautiful singers. Like Betty said, it was like going to a show.

Palm Springs: life in the fast lane.

A photo from our previous stay at Palm Springs – right after a big rain. They’d experienced such a rain the day before we arrived this time, but most of the water was gone.


Posted in California | Leave a comment

Front Country Ranger Station and Bonita Falls near Lytle Creek

2/22/17 Wednesday in Lytle Creek, CA (Mountain Lakes-ROD)

The day after we arrived here we took advantage of the good weather which we could see would be leaving by Friday. So last Wednesday we drove down to the Front Country Ranger Station on Lytle Creek Road to see how to find the elusive Bonita Falls we’d heard about. Unfortunately, the station was closed that day but we did enjoy hiking on a couple nature trails; one a garden trail, the other in the hill nearby. The garden trail was sweet, but there were no worthy photo opportunities. I did get a nice picture coming back from our nature trail trek:


On Thursday we returned to an open Ranger Station, getting maps and instructions for finding Bonita Falls. You park near the “Hidden Acres” sign on Lytle Creek road, cross the creek there and walk up the wash, looking to the left of the wash for a small, unmarked path. My lesson: I should have brought my walking stick because our way was riddled with good sized rocks, not the sand I was imagining from the washes in Palm Springs. Sadly, there was a great deal of graffiti along our way in the wash as well as on the trail to the Falls. It took us over ½ hour to reach the falls, so recognize this wasn’t a simple hike. We sure enjoyed the Falls just the same and were amazed at how many people we met along the way, when it was a cloudy and cool day. There even was a sweet young couple on a large rock looking up at the Falls when we arrived who offered us a strawberry. Sweet!


The wash we walked up, at least a pretty part of it.


Bonita Falls, including graffiti.


Bonita Falls, well worth the effort.


We learned, at the Ranger Station, some interesting information regarding Lytle Creek and this campground. The early inhabitants were Serrano Indians, the Mormons arrived, establishing a permanent settlement. They were sent to help with the Mexican war but it had ended by the time they’d arrived. The creek is named after their Captain Andrew Lytle. Gold fever hit in the 1800’s, yielding mostly small nuggets. There is also evidence that horse thieves used the area to hide their stolen horses. Mountain Lakes Resort began when Silas Glenn the original owner planted an orchard, raised livestock and entertained traveling families beginning in 1865. Silas Glenn turned over his ranch to his son-in-law, James Applewhite, instead of his sons. One of the sons called Applewhite out about the matter that he’d take over the resort, but Applewhite won the argument: both brothers were shot and killed. Forty years later, the bullet holes could still be seen in the front door.

Friday, as predicted, the rains came. Heavy rain for most of the day and all of the night. We spent that day doing all our week’s wash as well as our tax returns. Due to the loud noise of the rain on our Miss Journey, the squealing sounds of our dryer, the dark of the storm along with the stress of getting our tax return right, I was getting a headache and we both were sniping at each other. SO glad that day is over. Neither of us slept that night because of the constant loud rain on our roof. All. Night. Long.

Saturday being another cool (temps in the 40’s) rainy day we were happy to just laze inside our rig.

Sunday John got a sore throat, the beginning of a “heavy cold” or the flu. We went to church, then got groceries, then came home to make our favorite comfort meal: Chicken ala King. The weather continued to be miserable so we happily laid low again.

Monday it was still raining and cold so I skipped my normal house cleaning hoping that the next day would include warmer weather. We did manage to spend that day figuring out our travel plans until the end of 2017. Thursday we’d called Val Vista to secure a site for our RV in Oct-Dec. That’s when we learned they increased the price from $650 for Sept. to Dec. to $995 for Oct-Dec. By Monday we decided that such a large increase was not worthwhile in our opinion, since we have access to Thousand Trails and ROD, having paid a lot for that privilege. So we called Val Vista to cancel. I’ll miss all they had available (hiking, computer club, exercise classes, and line dance classes) and John will miss his golf and the bands. We’ll get along enjoying the activities available wherever we camp, just like we have before this year.

Tuesday I cleaned house and even scrubbed and waxed Miss Journey’s headlamps. Then I rested, along with John.

Wednesday, today, we’re still relaxing to TV and reading in our RV, although we did take a stroll in the campground to where the fire had reached last summer. They only lost one cabin, so that was good luck.  John is still suffering, not sleeping well, so we’re relaxing still.

Posted in California | Tagged | Leave a comment