Sunday, March 30, 2014

Vintage Vacation...Death Valley Days!

Greetings from Death Valley!
The first time George and I visited Death Valley was in the middle of summer...what were we thinking?  The temperature that day at the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center...elevation -196 ft...was 114 degrees.   Since we spend a lot of time in the Vegas area, how much hotter could it be, right?  It was brutal!  But we were going to see the sights!  We had a lot of water and a packed we were long as we stayed in the car.

Vintage travel ad...encouraging a trip to Hell.
The brochure reads..."It has all the advantages of Hell without the inconveniences!"

The Indians called it Tomesha...the "Ground Afire."  The heat of midsummer shows how perfect that name turned out to be.  In July and August, temperatures of 120 degrees are not uncommon.  The record hot day was in July 1913...134 degrees Fahrenheit.  It makes me wonder if Hell might be a tad more pleasant on a summer's day.  We visited the park this year on Valentine's weekend and the temps were in the pleasant 70's.

Twenty Mule Team Borax!
As a child I watched "Death Valley Days" on TV,  while sitting on my father's lap.  I remember handsome Ronald Reagan was the host and the sponsor was "Twenty Mule Team Borax."  I still buy that borax to make homemade laundry detergent. 

Not far from the visitors center are the ruins of the Harmony Borax works.  Part of the interpretive trail passes by some enormous wagons left from the days of the mule teams.  It is little wonder that the 20 mule team borax outfits of the late 1800's became world famous...they hauled 46,000 pounds of borax, their own water and hay through Death Valley over a 165 mile, ten day trip to Mojave by way of Wingate Pass.  I was just happy our car had air conditioning! 

The next time we visited Death Valley, it was in the spring.  We were hoping to see the wild flowers, but were a bit too early.  We did come across a strange...and colorful...sight at Zabriskie Point...a British pop group making a music video.  Their 12 man bicycle had broken in half and there was a lot of scurrying to and fro trying to make do, while their seamstress toiled over a sewing machine sitting in the middle of!

Scotty's Castle...
1940s Postcard of Scotty's Castle.
I found this old card in Aunt Jane's scrapbook...the one she filled with valentines, postcards and pictures of cute dogs.

A trip to Death Valley without a visit to Scotty's Castle would be like going to Disneyland and just peering through the gates...substituting Scotty's Castle for Sleeping Beauty's.

Death Valley Scotty and His Castle.

Death Valley Scotty did not own Scotty's Castle.  It was built by a Chicago businessman named Albert Johnson in the 1930's.  Scotty was a charming "flim flam man"...a con man and fortune hunter who was the Johnson's constant houseguest.  How he beguiled the Johnsons and managed to keep his exploits alive in the press for over 50 years can be found here...

I bought this in the Castle gift shop, but it is available on

Death Valley Scotty...
Walter Scott in his trademark hat and red tie.

Scotty's Room!
Scotty's Room at the Castle is filled with his personal belongings.  His clothes still hang in the wardrobe...his hats and trademark red ties are on a rack above the dresser.  On one wall hangs an autographed picture of Buffalo Bill.  In 1890, Scotty was discovered by a talent scout who signed him as a cowboy performer with the Wild West Show.  He did daredevil riding and roping stunts, branding exhibitions and the grand spectacle of the "Custers Last Stand" re-enactment.  This was only one piece of the puzzle that makes up the story of this fascinating scoundrel. 

A Quick Tour of the Premises... 
Scotty's Castle as it looks today.
California Mission is one of my favorite styles of architecture.

Tour Guides in Period Costume.
The man represents a CCC worker who helped build the castle.
The girl is standing in the Music Room.
Each guide tells you the story from the viewpoint of his or her character.

Living Room...
Scotty told his tall tales to the Johnsons and their guests while sitting in one of those leather armchairs. 

40's Postcard View of Music Room.
The rooms look as if the owners just stepped out.
The clothing and personal affects are still in their bedrooms.
I loved the vintage dishes and kitchenware.

Architectural Details...
I do the same thing at Disneyland...capture all the unique details of a place I love.

I am in love with these Mission-style shutters!

Courtyard View.

Unfinished Swimming Pool.
There is a small spring that waters this oasis...
But how could they ever justify filling this pool with precious water?
The blue tiles for the pool are still stored in an underground storage area.

This was only a short tour...too many pictures!
But I am so glad you joined us on this Vintage Vacation!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Lucky Charms...Secret Leprechaun Swap!

Secret Leprechaun Swap!
This lad is just a little too happy!
I think I know why Padraig the Leprechaun is so happy...he got to play Secret Leprechaun Swap with us!  Vivian from Viv Out on a Whim was the hostess.  She assigned us each a secret friend to bless with Leprechaun treasures.  My secret partner was Chris of  Perfectly Printed.  I have one of Chris's friendship banners for my garland of blogland friends...she makes lovely cards and tags!  And she knows how to make a secret pal feel special!
Chris...My Secret Leprechaun!
Packages of Leprechaun treasure tied up in lovely laces!

Funny little Leprechaun with his pipe and bag-full o'gold!
He is my first ever St. Patrick's Day decoration.
A fine top hat embellished with "lucky charms."

What could be in this pretty candy box? 

Treasures galore!
One day I'll get the knack of making beautiful tags and cards like this!

Tag back...even the backsides are pretty!
Kitty Luna thinks the writing on the back of this tag should say "Purrrfectly Printed."

Kitty Luna thinks these socks are the "cat's meow!"
She was NOT parting with them without a fight!
For Swap Partner Kim K.
I wanted to see if I could fit everything in this box...almost made it!
I got to be Secret Leprechaun to Kim of Musings From Kim K.
A little Irish lass (or colleen) on a shamrock card.

I made a matching "boyo" for friend Tammy.

Little garland tags clip to rick-rack with matching glitter clothes pins.
Bag o' Truffles

Funny chenille Leprechauns hoarding their precious gold coins.
Another Fun Holiday Swap!
Thank you Chris, Viv and Kim!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Erin Go Bragh...a Visit with Saint Patrick!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Welcome to Ireland
A few years ago, my daughter Sascha and I took a trip to Ireland with the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.  We went there to discover our Irish heritage.  It was an amazingly beautiful place...I couldn't believe how beautiful!

How Green is Ireland?
This is on the West Coast on top of the Cliffs of Moher...the Cliffs of Insanity featured on "The Princess Bride." 

There is a reason I fell in love with this postcard...

I saw this on the front stoop of a small first glimpse of shamrocks.

Saint Patrick...
Saint Patrick...
Patrick was a North Briton who was captured by a party of raiding Irishmen and brought to Ireland as a slave.  During his time in slavery he spent much time in prayer...praying as often as 100 times a day.  He tells in his "Confession" that he was able to escape after six years of slavery and hardship.  He boarded a ship and was soon reunited with his family.  One night he dreamed that a man named Victoricus handed him a letter headed "The Cry of the Irish."  He imagined that he heard voices calling him to return to Ireland and walk again among the people.

The Village of Downpatrick in County Down, Northern Ireland.
"Downpatrick" is from the Gaelic "Dun Padraig" which means Patrick's Stronghold or Fort.

In Downpatrick, at the base of the hill where the Down Cathedral is located, we visited the Saint Patrick Center.  In the center...interactive displays and diaramas with life-like human figures tell the story of Saint Patrick.  I was very impressed with the presentation...which made Patrick seem like a real person who did heroic things, rather than some otherworldly superhero.

Down Cathedral...Burial Place of St. Patrick

St. Patrick is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D.  Muirchu...a biographer of St. Patrick...wrote this about the burial site:  "Let two untamed oxen be chosen and let them go wherever they will with the cart that carries your body and wherever they stand still, there a church in honour of your body shall be erected...untamed oxen were chosen and they steadily drew the cart containing the holy body placed on their necks and guided by the will of God, they went out to Dun Lethglaisse (Down) where Patrick lies buried."

Saint Patrick's Stone...a slab of granite from the Mourne Mountains.
Barely visible is one word...Patrick.

This plaque states that St. Brigid and St. Columba were reinterred there as well by John de Courcy in the 12th Century...fulfilling a prophecy that the three saints would be buried in the same place.

View of Downpatrick from the Cathedral

I hope you enjoyed this little visit with St. Patrick...I don't know why I never thought to write about this sooner.

Erin Go Bragh!
Some Pretty Travel Posters for a Vintage Irish Vacation!