Friday, March 15, 2013

Eldorado Polo Club ~ Polo Games ~ Palm Springs, California

When I think of the game of polo, I see British royalty playing but the origin goes back to Persia in the fifth century BC.  It was originally a war-training exercise for soldiers then the “Sport of Kings” made its’ way around the world but didn’t arrive in North America until the 1870’s.  So our day at the Polo games in Indio, neighboring Palm Springs, brings me to learn something about polo.
A lake covers part of the grounds between polo fields
Eldorado Polo grounds in Indio, CA
We’ve been to two polo grounds on our visit to this area and they’re both expansive green manicured areas with a quiet and impressive atmosphere and the San Jacinto Mountains as a perfect background.  The one we will be visiting today is Eldorado Polo Club which has a pond with ducks and geese looking right at home.
A large tent covers the dining room at the clubhouse
Clubhouse at gametime at Eldorado Polo Club
The spectators are invited to watch the game free of charge and the clubhouse offers a menu for those who wish to eat lunch and enjoy cold drinks here.  Many in the crowd tend to dress up and hats are a common sight, much like we have seen in the movies. It is nice to see the old custom of dressing up still part of the game.

Chairs lined up behind the trucks for good view of the games
Friends and Maggie watching the polo match
Another crowd, this one includes us, has parked for a tailgate party on the knoll of the grassy area overlooking the polo field, also free of charge and enjoying the day in the sunshine, having a picnic lunch and watching the games of the day.  This is our kind of fun!

Both man and his horse are true athletes for this game
Athletes of the polo game
A polo match is made up of two teams with four players each and carrying a mallet to hit a small white ball (8.3 cm or 3 ¼ in.) between the goalposts.  The teams change ends after each goal.  There are two horseback riding umpires on the field during the games with a referee on the sidelines should a third opinion be needed in case of a disagreement on a penalty decision.  

The ball brings the riders to the boards which is not far from the viewers
Polo action at the boards
The game consists of 4,6 or 8 chukkers (periods), which last 7.5 minutes each and the players have four minutes between each chukker to change horses, who usually only play one chukker per game on the 275x165 metres (300 x 180 yd) playing field. 
Divot repairs at half-time
At half-time for each game, the crowd is invited to walk out into the playing field and put the divots back in place to make it better for the ball to travel over.  The crowd is much larger when the half-time comes in the big game of the day and a glass of champagne is offered to all who participate in the divot job.
Players race by one another as the referee watches closely
Referee with close eye on the game
They do have Women’s Polo leagues but on this day, the games consist of both men and women together on some of the teams.  Just seeing the skills and strength that is needed to play this game make it pretty impressive to watch these athletes which including the polo ponies.

Great action shot just after the ball was hit with the mallet
Horse is airborne and the ball's been hit
The horses are incredible to see; how they maneuver and thunder down the field at full speed before coming to a quick stop or twist is something else. Their lower legs are covered to protect them from injuries. The pony’s mane and tail are braided to avoid getting tangled with the mallet.

Ponies leave dust behind them as they race by
Polo ponies race down the field
Thoroughbreds are the most common polo pony, although thoroughbred crosses are also used.  The ‘polo pony’, the common name rather than ‘horse’, usually stands about 15 (132 cm, 52”) to 16 hands tall. These are all very tall and beautiful horses.

Then the Canadian team accepts the winners trophy
The Sofonio Polo Classic opening and closing ceremonies
The Sofonio Polo Classic was the big game of the day with the Canadian team Highwood and the competing team being led onto the field by the sponsor and flags flying in the breeze for the anthem. The Highwood team fared well coming out the winner of the Classic game. Lots of cheers from our Canadian Snowbird group were surely a contributing factor!

We enjoyed ourselves and plan on coming back to see more polo games. Now that we understand the game better, I am sure we will enjoy it even more. We were lucky to have seen the Canadian team today, GO TEAM!! Watching them win was even better.

It is always great to see, do and learn about new things so let’s go find some more fun!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Salvation Mountain ~ Slab City ~ California

We've seen many sights on our RV travels but I don't think we have seen one that could compare to Salvation Mountain.  This is a sight to behold and words cannot easily describe what I am about to share with you!  Salvation Mountain is located east of Niland, California by the Salton Sea, off Highway 111.

There are messages painted on the side of Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain at Slab City, CA
The big attraction in the area is Salvation Mountain, the colorful mountain that can be seen as you approach Slab City and lets you know you are getting close.  This was the idea of Leonard Knight who moved here and began his project in 1984.

The sign cannot be missed as we approach Slab City.
Entrance road to Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain is about three stories high and as wide as a football field.  There were some failed attempts in the early days that collapsed but it now seems to sit solid and is built with concrete and adobe then painted with acrylic paint.

colorful objects that can be seen include a mailbox and table
Creative folk art at Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain has been an ongoing project and is not only the mountain but many other objects as well, including this mailbox.  There are several vehicles that are covered with paint and the same message as the mountain. They have been sitting here for awhile.  The table top covers a bale of hay.

This old truck couldn't move and must weigh plenty with everything on it.
Decorated truck at Salvation Mountain
Window putty is used to make the small details such as the flowers on the grill.  There are very few spaces left bare when you begin looking closely.

A mishmash of branches and trees create this colorful structure
Colorful construction on Salvation Mountain
Twigs, poles, branches and any found objects that will do the job are used in this creation.  They are held together with twine in some places, making us wonder how safe it is to be inside one of these alcoves, some of it just seems to be held together with paint!

This unfinished stairway is a work in progress
Ongoing construction at Salvation Mountain
The bales of hay are used in many places to build the structure, too, held in place with adobe then painted.  Many of the supplies are donated and the project appears to be an ongoing work, although it is hard to tell and is possible it has been like this for awhile.  The old saying "build it and they shall come" seems to be working here, there are many people here when we stop for our visit.

No matter what this exhibit may be considered as, whether it is art, a project or a temple, it was the dream of one man and it is amazing what one man can build when he is inspired to do so. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Slab City ~ California

We love RVing but must admit, most of our stays and visits are done in nice RV parks that one can find almost anywhere you go.  There are other RV’ers that are quite willing to stay out in the middle of nowhere or in this case the desert, without amenities and the term often used for that is ‘boondocking’ or ‘dry camping’.

The welcome sign is painted on an old concrete guard station
Welcome to Slab City in California
One recent adventure took us to see Slab City. We have been hearing about this for several years and I have even had requests to do a blog on it so that definitely peaked my interest and it went on the list of places to visit this year.  Slab City is located southeast of Palm Springs near Niland, CA, on Hwy 111 by the Salton Sea.
A bicycle and metal frame hold a creative bulletin board
Slab City Bulletin Board
The history of Slab City begins as Camp Dunlap when it was built to house the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 but was no longer needed and dismantled in 1956.  All buildings were taken down so that all that was left was the concrete slab they sat on.  
Creative use of rubber tires on entrance to a trailer home
Rubber tire entrance at Slab City, CA
In 1961 the Department of Defence issued the land to the State of California and later it was deemed through legislation that any revenues gained from this land would go to the State Teacher Retirement system.  Some time later, there were workers harvesting the creosote leaves in the area and parked their small trailers on the nearby slabs so as to be closer to work, and so began Slab City.
Many RV's can be seen in the distance
Slab City neighborhood
There are many RV’ers that come here for the winter months who are willing to do without water, power and sewer but might get their power from their own generators or solar panels.  The big problem that happens is the dumping of the sewer and many are working to get the problem cleaned up so that it can be a nicer place to be.
The truck is covered with recycled pieces for interest or art?
Creative artwork in Slab City,CA
Then there are the squatters, who might live here year round enjoying the “last free place”.  This is their home and I was trying to be careful not to invade their privacy but I did have to take photos of some very interesting places.  There are some very artistic residents with imaginations who use the recyclables to decorate their properties. 

All kinds of shoes are hanging from a tree on the road leading into Slab City
Shoe tree of Slab City, CA
A shoe tree sits alongside the road with quite a selection of shoes on it. Across the road there is an open air nightclub in the heart of Slab City called the Range. This private home opens their doors to the locals and visitors at dusk on Saturdays. Those who wish to entertain on Talent Night or play music for the others to enjoy on this stage with lights and sound equipment are welcomed to do so.  

Horse and cowboy were seen at local store down the road from Slab City
Horse in Niland, CA
As we left to head south to finish our circle tour of the Salton Sea, there were a couple of horses tied up to the posts at the store in Niland so I took a photo of the horse; out the truck window. I knew the horse wouldn’t mind but it seems the ‘Slab City cowboy’ walked into the picture, and he did mind. He yelled something at me. I’m not sure what he said but he I know he wasn’t wishing me a great day. (:
He was some mad at me! I have covered his painted face and his friend’s, as well.

While it might be interesting to know what brought some of the Slab City squatters to live in the “last free part” of the world, I sure wasn’t going to stop and ask any questions. I don’t need to know and they’re entitled to their privacy. I just know that boondocking in Slab City is not for us! On to other adventures!  Click here to see Salvation Mountain that sits nearby.


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