Bright Blue Sky and a Warm Sun

Snow and Sunshine in Idyllwild // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Much better! Bright blue sky and a warm sun. It’s up to 37° and there’s a constant drip, drip, drip as the snow melts off the tree branches.

My car is totally covered – if you didn’t know, you’d never guess there was a vehicle under that particular mound of snow.

They’re predicting rain or snow tonight, and then more snow tomorrow, so it’s not over yet, but I am definitely enjoying this little break and some bright pretty sun shining through. I love the way the light reflects off the snow – it’s so bright and beautiful! Reminds me of the beach…


Snowy Trees in Idyllwild // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Yes, it does indeed snow in Southern California – if you’re in the mountains!

It started snowing on Saturday night, and by yesterday morning there was a blanket several inches deep covering everything. I finally ventured out in the afternoon and scraping the snow off my windshield was sort of fun – it was soft and fluffy and light – and pretty! Then more snow last night, and lots more snow this morning. Judging by the snow on the roof of the house next door, it must be almost a foot deep at this point. And it’s not stopping. The forecast is for three more days of this. Will I even be able to see my car if it continues at this rate?

Last summer we got a hard thunderstorm that dumped more rain faster than Idyllwild had seen in 30 years. That was impressive! But I’m sort of thinking that was nothing compared to several feet of snow?

It’s going to be an interesting winter!

Idyllwild Snow // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Grandma Rose and Great-Grandma Rie

Grandma Rose and Great Grandma Rie // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

I shot my Great-Grandma Rie’s Christmas card today! Her name is Marie McBurney and she’s 91. She lives in a resort retirement home called Camelot, in Hemet, so we shot her portrait on her little patio – and my favorite shot of the day, was this one, when my Grandma, Virgina Rose joined her.

High School Senior Portrait, San Jacinto

Patrick is a musician and a high school senior. He’s also my nephew!

We did his senior portrait session in San Jacinto – both downtown and out in the countryside. It was a brilliantly sunny day – perfect for a session like this.

Patrick in San Jacinto // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Patrick // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsPatrick in San Jacinto // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Patrick in San Jacinto // Photo: Cheryl SpeltsPatrick in San Jacinto // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Patrick in San Jacinto // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Patrick in San Jacinto // Photo: Cheryl Spelts

Voting in a Small Town

Idyllwild Town Hall

In Fallbrook I used to love voting at the First Christian Church – a beautiful little Gothic-Revival church, constructed in 1887. How can you beat voting in a little white church with a tall steeple? It’s so American, and so patriotic, it just feels right.

But for me today, the election season ended at the Idyllwild Town Hall – and I have to admit it felt just as right.

I love small towns!

Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, California

When I lived in downtown Riverside in 1999, one of my neighbors mentioned that if you walked up our street – Ninth Street – you could walk all the way up Mount Rubidoux. And she told me they held Easter Services there. But I never actually walked the two blocks up to the entrance – I drove by it – but never made the walk.

Mount Rubidoux

The plaque in the gate at the entrance to the park. Frank Miller was the owner of the Mission Inn during it’s heydey – he took the Inn from a local boarding house, to a world-class hotel with eclectic architecture that hosted all the U.S. Presidents of the day. Mount Rubidoux was another one of his projects – he bought it with investors, planted vegetation, erected the cross, and then sold the plots at it’s base for houses. In other words, it was a housing development!

I didn’t climb all the way to the top today – I only went about half-way up – but I found some beautiful things to shoot!

Pale Pink Bogenvia

Just some bogenvia – but it’s one of my favorite versions – it’s pale cream or almost white with pale pink edges. It’s the most delicate looking of all the varieties of bogenvia.

Pale Pink Bogenvia

More pale pink bogenvia.

Bright Orange Bogenvia

This image just blows me away. I knew it was special as I shot it, but I like it even better now. The circle, the way the leaves glow, the soft light, the natural vignetting, the extremely shallow depth of field. It’s just beautiful.

Orange that turns to Pale Pink Bogenvia

This is my other favorite variety of bogenvia – pale orange that turns to pale pink on the edges. The image is fairly basic, but the flowers are magnificent!

Wonderful purples and greens

And this image was the second time that magic struck today. Look at the wonderful purples and greens in the blurred background. It’s amazing. I took half-a-dozen shots of this branch, and all the shots had that wonderful magical mess happening in the background.

white tree with no leaves, gorgeous rust stained rocks, and wildflowers

This was the image that I came to Mount Rubidoux to make. I was in love with the wonderful blue sky – thanks to the Northeast wind and 100° temperature today. And the white tree with no leaves, and the gorgeous rust stained rocks, and the wildflowers – it’s exactly what I envisioned and the best representational image for the day. Hot, bright blue, and beautiful!

Grape vines or ivy vines

Grape vines, or ivy vines – I’m not sure – but whatever it was, it was interesting. And with the sun directly behind, I liked it even better.

Wind Whipped Weeds

And then my very favorite image of the day, of the week, and maybe of the whole month. So simple and so flippin’ beautiful. The wind was blowing hard, and these weeds were whipping around, in a dance. The whole series is beautiful, but this one frame is the ONE. My favorite…

And I’ll finish this post with a couple of vintage postcards showing Mount Rubidoux.

This postcard was made sometime before 1920 – notice the cars parked below. The park was created right after the turn of the century, and the first Easter services were held in 1909, with 100 people attending. Generally acknowledged as the oldest large outdoor Easter service in the United States, the idea spread to other areas, and soon sunrise Easter services were happening all across the nation. In 1926, 20,000 people attended the Mount Rubidoux Easter Sunrise Service.

What amazes me about the photo above is not just the large number of people, but also the small number of cars – most of those people walked up, in their Easter Sunday clothes.

Historical postcard of Mount Rubidoux, 1947

And this is Mount Rubidoux in 1947 – still not much development in the valley below.

Edited to add: I went back to Mount Dubidoux in July of 2009 and made some gorgeous images of the bridge, the cross, and the valley below. They really are beautiful images, so you’re interested in Mount Rubidoux here’s the link!

Old Houses in Riverside

Craftsmen Houses in Riverside, California

I’ve had a thing for downtown Riverside for years. I’ve always loved little old houses, and streets with lots of old houses are just heaven for me. But I’d never seen so many old houses, in such good condition until I found Riverside.

In 1885, Riverside California had the highest per capita income of any city in the United States because of the orange groves. And a lot of the houses built in that era still exist – huge Victorians on tiny city lots, with no backyards, but big trees in front. The economy stayed strong into the next century, and the houses built reflected that – the Craftsmen Homes pictured above were probably built between 1900 and 1905. And a decade or so later, art deco bungalows started to appear. Nearly every house in the downtown area is charming and full of authentic period details – and the styles represented range from Victorians in the 1880’s through 1940’s modern.

But a funny thing happened after 1950. Riverside’s economy started to suffer, and the wealthier people started to move out of the downtown area. In downtown San Diego and Los Angeles lots of old houses were torn down in the 1950’s and 60’s – they were just old houses, and out of fashion, and the land was valuable, so the houses had to go. But in Riverside, the land was not in demand – so the houses stayed. And in many cases there was very little effort made to renovate or redecorate. The houses may have been old fashioned, and not as desirable, but they still made good homes for less wealthy families.

When I first discovered downtown Riverside, it was in 1995 at the very bottom of the market. Cute little Victorians that were completely authentic and totally untouched by misguided renovators were selling for very very little. I went to an auction and saw several go for less than $10,000 each – and they were livable homes.

That was the bottom. But the real estate boom of the early part of this decade changed everything. I spent six months living in the top story of a hundred-year-old house in 1998 and paid $450 a month in rent – it was great! And I looked at cute little bungalows selling for $90,000 and wondered where the $10,000 houses I’d seen three years before had gone? Then in 2005 I saw those same houses going for $350,000 and up. It was madness. But compared to Northern San Diego County, where the same house would go for $750,000, they were still a bargain.

The worst part for me though, is that all that money meant that almost all of those houses have had significant “improvements” made in the last ten years. Most people that like old houses, don’t reallllly like old houses – they want it to look old, but still have a modern kitchen and bathroom. Not me! I loved the original ceramic tile I had in one house, and the little drop leaf table. I love old plumbing fixtures, and doors that creak, and windows that let a draft in, around the edges. It makes me really sad to think about all those improvements.

The fact that Riverside suffered economically in the middle of the last century protected all those great old houses – and the fact that Riverside prospered more recently means that a lot of them have been gutted and renovated recently. It’s sad.

Even sadder is the fact that more old houses have been lost in the last two or three years, than in two or three decades before. There are way too many empty lots where old houses used to stand. They claim it’s progress, but it’s not even close to progress in my opinion – it’s short-sighted greed. And I remember those houses – they may be gone – but I remember.

I love Fallbrook, and it’s my home, but I also love downtown Riverside and the tree-lined streets and so many beautiful little houses. Streets like the one above call out to me…