Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival ~ La Connor, WA

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in La Connor, Washington is an incredible explosion of color in the local fields of the valley. This isn’t just a display of tulips in vases set out to view, this is fields of tulips of color that goes on forever! It is a delight to see and enjoy.

Washington Windmill

The Skagit Valley shows a lot of Dutch influence with many windmills in this area. I don’t think it is a mistake that there are tulips growing here, too. The windmill charm spreads to many towns in this part of Washington State.

Tulip Festival in La Connor, WA

There is a map of the fields for viewing in the area that can be printed, just click onto this page and see this map. No matter where you drive in the area, in April you are likely to see some tulips. The colors are so vibrant and our visit was on a dull day. There are several vendors to offer opportunities to purchase a bouquet of tulips for that special person.

Tulip fields of color in La Connor, WA

There is a wide assortment of events planned around the Tulip Festival including the many things listed on this page, click here to see what else is there to enjoy. There are also helicoptor rides available to get a great view of all the fields of tulips.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The festival began when the garden club realized that La Connor was receiving so many visitors to view the fields of tulips. They organized the first festival in 1984 which was three days long to become the whole month of April today, this makes sure they cover the blooming time and have added special events that fill the month.

Field of tulips in La Connor, WA

La Connor, Washington is about 75 miles north of Seattle following 1-5 or a shorter distance south of Bellingham, Wa. Take I-5 and then follow signs that will take you to Anacortes but turn left onto La Connor and Whitney Rd. where Farmhouse Inn sits.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in La Connor, Wa

La Connor is a very small town of under 800 people and full of the neatest little shops on First St. We have visited there on several occasions to shop and have enjoyed lunch on the patio overlooking the canal or have a delicious seafood dinner further down the street.

Fields of color at Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley, WA

Two of the communities major industries are agriculture and tourism and they have combined the two of these to create a great yearly attraction that draws zillions of people to the area.
If you're fortunate enough to be living in this part of the world, you may be able to enjoy many of the planned activities. This is an easy day trip from Vancouver, BC or Seattle, WA so if you're visiting or passing through, allow yourself enough time to spend here when the tulips are in bloom and enjoy the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Temecula Car Show ~ Temecula, CA

Old Town Temecula, California is a neat old town that we’d been told we should visit by several people who had been there. It has a collection of historic buildings that house boutiques, antiques and collectible shops that are fun to visit. We're going to follow the scenic State highways 74 and 371 to get there rather than the freeways, we make an early start and away we go!

Old Town Temecula, CA

Temecula is the heart of the Temecula Valley on I-15 and has grown a lot over the past years to a population of about 105,000 people. It is centrally located and only about an hours drive to San Diego, in the south, north to Orange County or to the Palm Springs area. Temecula is considered the ‘jewel’ of Riverside County and we are going to see why.

'72 GMC pick-up at Temecula Car Show
Today our main reason to go to Temecula was to visit friends participating in the car show which takes place in ‘Old Town Temecula’.  As we approach we realize that parking may be at a premium too close to downtown, so we chose to park and walk the next couple of blocks.

Crowds and vendors at Old Town Temecula, CA

Our parking choice turned out to be a good idea as the crowds had already arrived, and we saw thousands of people at the Temecula Car Show as we wandered the streets. Streets lined with vendors, bands and entertainment scattered throughout the old town. The crowds were so large that it was difficult to see many of the cars up close let alone get a clear picture of them!

Old Woodie at Temecula Car Show

There were cars of all kinds and descriptions and all proudly displayed by their owners.  The shiny and beautiful cars line the entire main street of Temecula then spill out onto both sides of the side streets, as well.

English Morris Minor in Temecula Car Show

We heard that there were over 700 cars in the show this year, which was well over last year’s participation. They included racers, show cars, antiques, street cars and trucks. Some may not be as pretty as others, but they were all worthy of being in the show, including this little beauty.

Old Dog Catcher in Temecula
Some vehicles were here strictly for the entertainment it offered, I am sure!  This old dog catcher’s truck had added several touches that showed the owners sense of humor and made for a great chuckle for those of us checking it out.

'57 Chevy Belair ~ Temecula Car Show
The day couldn’t have been better for participants as well as the spectators who all came to see the car show.  I am sure there were some great stories told and memories shared about ones own car history as they wandered and enjoyed these that lined the streets.  One like this ’57 Chevy was a special car for us many years ago.

Old cars and old buildings in Old Town Temecula
We had a great day but the crowds make it difficult to see all the charm of the old buildings so we will make another trip to Old Town Temecula when it is quieter so we can wander the streets and visit the old shops that are there.

Visit Idyllwild with us as we make our way back to Palm Springs, CA on this beautiful day.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Idyllwild, CA ~ San Jacinto Mountains

Some days are just chock full of travel treasures but we just don’t have time to see it all!  We had one of those days when we planned a day visit to Temecula to visit friends involved in the car show there. I will share more of that on another blog page but on that same day, we decided that if we drove back another way, we would also be able to visit Idyllwild, CA.
Idyllwild, California
Idyllwild is in the San Jacinto Mountains in southern California and the elevation is 1600 meters (5303 ft) so is much cooler than the heat of the desert in the Coachella Valley on the other side of the mountains.  This mountain resort was once where the Cahuilla Indians made their summer homes to escape the heat of the desert.

Ponderosa Pines lines streets of Idyllwild, CA
We followed Interstate 15 from Temecula then took State highway 74 to 243 before we arrived in Idyllwild about an hour later.  We saw some great scenery as we wound our way up to see more big ponderosa pine trees and these are very big trees.

Views from State Hwy 74
There is no downhill ski hill on this mountain but there are many activities to keep you busy.  There is camping, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and horseback riding.  There could be some limits on these when the snow blankets the mountains but there are many things to spend time enjoying including shops and the arts.

Artspresso Gallery in Idyllwild, CA
We spent a bit of time wandering through some of the shops there.  One stop was at the Artspresso Gallery, where we had a chance meeting with the artist Gerry High, well known local artist here as well as in the Coachella Valley and beyond.  I have more information on Gerry High on another blog page.

Prairie Cove Boutique in Idyllwild, CA
Another quaint shop on North Circle Drive in Idyllwild is Prairie Dove.  A small shop that was once no doubt a home but converted to a store that carries beautiful clothes and accessories.   Shopping is made more tempting when clothes are unique and are not going to be found in a local department or chain store so stop by to shop and visit with Phyllis and enjoy her talent for buying great merchandise.

Largest pine cones at sunset
We wanted to get back down the winding road to I-10 before dark but we made a stop at Indian Vista to enjoy the view from there.  The ponderosa pine shown here had the largest cones I had ever seen.  I would guess that these were at least a foot long !

Indian Vista on Hwy 74 to Banning, CA

The San Jacinto Mountains have vistas to enjoy at every turn of the road. The setting sun showed the smog from the big cities in the west lying low in the valleys but it only added to the beauty of the view. Learn more about this neat little hamlet here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gerry High, the Artist ~ Idyllwild ~ Cathedral City, CA

We had spent most of the day enjoying the car show in Temecula, CA before we drove up into the San Jacinto Mountains to have a look at Idyllwild on our way back home to Palm Springs
.  The drive on the windy mountain roads of State Highway 74 had us taking some great switchbacks and because the traffic isn’t heavy along this part of the road, it allows you time to enjoy the view.

State highway 74 in San Jacinto Mountains
We didn’t have much daylight left and wanted to see as much as we could so we made a short stop so I could get some photographs and to have a look through a few shops.  This visit turned out to be a happenstance encounter that connected some dots for me.

Gerry High Gallery in Idyllwild, CA
At the very first quaint shop we stopped at, we were greeted at the door by the shopkeeper who stepped back inside as I took my storefront photo.  As we got nearer, we were chatting with this same friendly chap discussing the art on the wall just outside the door, which as it turned out, was his work.

Gerry High art at Artspresso Gallery
As we browsed around this little shop we enjoyed the candles, gifts and art but one small piece of art caught my eye.  I wasn’t sure so asked, “Is this a photo of the mural from Cathedral City?” and he responded, “Yes, I did that, it is mine”. I was surprised but thrilled to meet this artist and had to shake his hand and introduce myself as a fan of that mural!

'Old Firehouse' mural in Cathedral City, CA

There was more than once that I had watched Gerry High on tv while he refurbished the same mural he had originally painted in 1999. Cathedral City had made it part of the public art collection and it has been a treasure ever since. I watched the art, not the artist and hadn’t recognized him from the tv show, click here to watch this video to see more.
'Old Firehouse' mural by Gerry High
The “Old Firehouse” mural had been showing some wear from the weather and was needing some work to brighten it up again and bring it back to its’ original beauty so who better to do that but the original artist.  Gerry High was commissioned by the Cathedral City Public Arts Commission to do that and the  process was taped as a short film.    

Gerry High mural of 'Old Firehouse' in Cathedral City, CA
It wasn’t until after we left the shop that I had the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” thoughts. I didn’t ask for a photo of Gerry High, nor did I ask questions. I must make note to ‘self, ‘take advantage of those happenstance gems and take those pictures and ask those questions!’
Idyllwild has a reputation for the arts and even has a music and art school there. We will definitly be back and will take more time for our next visit so we can enjoy more of what Idyllwild has to offer. To learn more, click here to see my other blog page on Idyllwild, CA.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Desert Shadows RV Park ~ Cathedral City, CA ~ Coachella Valley, CA

We love rv’ing for lots of different reasons. We get to see the country, we get to visit old friends and make new ones and we also get to stay in different parks on these travels. We have stayed in so many that I couldn’t possibly remember every one of them but there are some that just would not be forgotten.
RV'ing in Cathedral City, CA
There is one RV park that we have stayed in for extended visits that is likely one of the nicest parks you will find.  It is Desert Shadows RV park in the heart of Cathedral City, CA. which is an adult park for those over 55 years.  Although we have stayed in several others in this area, this is our favorite park.

Desert Shadows RV Park in Cathedral City, CA
The amenities in the park are wonderful and open to all those in here, renters or owners.  There are two large clubhouses in the park that host socials of all kinds and three satellites that can be used for smaller private gatherings. 

Visitors in yard in Desert Shadows RV park
There are six swimming pools, spas or hot tubs as we call them, a fitness center, billiard room,  dance studio, craft room, tennis courts; I think you get the idea, the list goes on and on.

                                                                        Photo by Linda

Linda G's little hummingbird stops by often for some food.  He's been such a regular visitor that he earned himself a gift so received a swing for his Christmas present and loves to use it when he stops by.  He has several hummingbird relatives in the park but he is very possessive of his swing.

San Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs, CA
The view of the mountains is spectacular. There are a zillion hiking trails in the area and the Palm Springs Tram is a must-see, and that is on our list of things to do.

Street in Desert Shadows RV park
The location is very convenient for the whole Coachella Valley. Shopping is endless, no matter what your needs may be; lots of golf courses for all, whether beginners or better; the entertainment is top notch in the several casinos in the area. It is all here in the Coachella Valley.
There are live as well as cinema theaters close by including an Imax. The Forest Lawn Cemetery is right down the street from the park and they ring chapel bells daily. They also have some famous residents in their ‘park’,  Frank Sinatra and Sonny Bono.
We may all have preferences in our search for the right RV park and where it is located is a major part of that, but we think we have found the perfect one ! To see other reasons why this is so great, click here and learn more about Palm Springs, too.


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