Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rancho Guajome Adobe- Continued

I ended the last posting with a mention of Samuel Clemens.  There is another connection which the house has with a famous author.  Helen Hunt Jackson stayed in the guest bedroom which has been referred to as the "Ramona Room".  She had been a guest at the ranch several times over the years and it has been reported that she based the hacienda in her novel Ramona on this adobe.  Rumor has it that she did not get along with Ysidora because of her belief in the rights of Native Americans.  
Cave Jr. added two end sun rooms in the 1920's.  One of them is pictured below and opens into what once was the teacher's bedroom.  Next to that room is the children's schoolroom.  The steps in the foreground lead up to what became the sewing room, the only second floor room in the hacienda.
On this veranda is a Mason and Hamlin reed pump organ which Cave Jr. gave to his wife Lily Bell in 1890.  It has a three manual keyboard and two octaves of bass notes played by the feet, so someone besides the organist is needed to pump a hand lever on the side of it for the bellows.  Today the wind is furnished by a vacum motor in the next room which is connected to the organ by a flexible tube.  Our tour guide Jerry is an organist so he played "La Cucaracha" for us on the organ.  What a great sound from an old lady!
In Cave Couts Senior's office is his diploma from West Point.  Jerry informed us that it is written on sheepskin.  We did not know that diplomas actually were once written on sheepskin!  Outside of the house is located the chapel which was rebuilt in 1920 by Cave Jr., it is pictured below.  Next to it, on the right, is a cistern which was built using  bricks from the old mission.  A lot of the building material for the house was taken from the Mission San Luis Rey, including several religious relics.  When the mission was once again in use Mrs.Couts returned the religious items.
This is pretty much some of the highlights of this 7,000 square-foot hacienda and surrounding grounds.  In its day it was a city unto itself and lots of southern California history happened on this ranch!   Generations of Couts heirs lived there until 1973 when the County of San Diego acquired the property. 
Tomorrow John and I are leaving by train to spend Thanksgiving with our daughter Melissa and her husband Spencer in Illinois.  I will be taking a writing hiatus from this blog site for several weeks.

Rancho Guajome Adobe County Park

Our first visit to this park was on Tuesday when we discovered that we could not tour the hacienda until Wednesday.  However, we were able to take a hiking trail around the ranch where, from the hills behind it, we could get a fairly good view of the home.
Our path took us through quite a large patch of dried fennel which gave off a nice scent.  Fennel smells like anise and licorice, so that should give you an idea of what we were smelling.  We also heard a loud creaky sound from the marsh.   The only creature we figured that could make that sound would be a frog.  What a surprise the next day when we returned and discovered that Guajome in the Uto-Aztec word wakhavumi  means "frog pond".   When we returned on Wednesday we had a guide, Jerry, to give us a tour of the home.  We learned from him that the ranch of 2,219 acres had been a Mexican land grant given to two native American brothers from the Mission San Luis Rey (this happened at the time of the secularization of the missions).  The brothers sold the land to a prominent wealthy San Diego man, who gave the land as a gift to his sister-in-law Ysidora at the time of her wedding to Colonel Cave Johnson Couts in 1851.  From 1852-53 they constructed a large residence on the property which has inner and outer courtyards.

The couple would eventually have 10 children, and over the years wings were added to the home.  The home has 28 rooms, which includes the ranch store and office,a living room and dining room, kitchen, pantry and bakery, servant's quarters, as well as 8 bedrooms.   Some of the furnishings of the home have been returned by descendants of the family, as well as by the descendants of the servants who worked at the ranch.  There are twos room dedicated to the Native American artifacts which includes their tools and baskets.  Some of the articles have been made by the Native Americans in recent years for the sole purpose of displaying their important connection with the ranch's history.  Servants on the ranch numbered about 200 in the 19th century.
I will continue the story of this ranch and our tour of it in my next posting.  Before ending this I will leave you with the picture of the front formal entrance of the hacienda.   The one room on the second level of the home use to be a guardhouse.  It was later converted into a sewing room by Cave Johnson Couts Junior for his wife Lily Bell Clemens (cousin of author Samuel Clemens) when he married her in 1887.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Gardens of the Carrillo Ranch

Leo Carrillo had a couple different names for his ranch.  On our tour we saw the "Flying LC" painted or carved in many places on the ranch, and that symbol he branded on his cattle.  You can see the symbol on the chimney of the house in the picture below.

 Another name was Rancho de los Quiotes (Ranch of the Spainish Daggers).  Quiotes is believed to mean an agave or century plant sometimes known as the "Spanish Dagger".  Many of those plants are on the ranch.
Before our guide Pam even started showing us the buildings of the ranch she first pointed out many plants along the path which led us to the adobe hacienda. She showed us some white dots on a prickly pear cactus and quickly wiped them on her hand.
The white substance from the plant became a red dye- commonly known as cochineal.  When it is mixed with calcium or aluminum salts the dye is used in food colorings and cosmetics.  Pam also pointed out a spineless cactus plant to us.  It is a hybrid cactus developed  by Luther Burbank and is a cross between an Indian fig and Mexican prickly pear.  This particular cactus was once fed raw to cattle as there are no prickly spines on the pads (properly called thalli) of the cactus.
In keeping with the theme of his Spanish California heritage Leo Carrillo wanted peacocks on his ranch.  He remembered them wandering around his uncle's ranch, so he started a peafowl collection of 6 birds.  By the way, a peacock is the male peafowl.  Today there are about two dozen peafowl roaming around on the ranch grounds.  In 2004 one of the peahens had a clutch that included one white baby chick.  According to Pam this variation in peafowl occurs rarely but with some regular frequency due to a recessive gene.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Carrillo Ranch- Carlsbad, California

Today John and I got to know the man behind the character of Pancho in the 1950s television series The Cisco Kid, which starred Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo.  Carrillo played the role as Cisco’s sidekick, Pancho.  Pancho was kind to everyone; dogs, cats or kids- anyone in distress.  While rescuing that person or animal he usually got his partner into trouble.  That was the gist of the series as I recall them- the characters  being a bit like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza who fought the windmills of mankind's woes.  An interesting side note here, which we learned while touring Carrillo’s ranch, is that the tale of The Cisco Kid came from O.Henry’s short story "The Caballero’s Way".  Carrillo acted as Pancho in 1950 at the age of 70 years.  At that time of his life Leo Carrillo had been on Broadway and in 90 films.
In 1937 Leo Carrillo and his wife Edith (Deedie) wanted a retreat away from Hollywood, and he wanted that home to reflect his Californian history. Carrillo came from a long line of prominent, wealthy Spanish- Americans, a descendant of one of the twelve original families of San Diego.  He found the land he wanted in Carlsbad, and on that land he constructed many farm and ranch structures.  By 1940 he had cattle herds and horses.  He was also growing crops of citrus, avocados, beans, corn and hay.  His hacienda is L-shaped, with the main wing having a living room, dining room and a large commercial-style kitchen.  In the other wing is two bedrooms.  He had only one guestroom where his friends from Hollywood (as Clark Gable, Will Rogers, Carol Lombard, Walt Disney) would stay.  As he had only one guest room, many of his friends came in their Airstream trailers and parked them on the ranch grounds.  On the entry way threshold of Carrillo’s home is carved the words “SUCASAMIGO".  Carrillo threw lavish parties and not only wanted his guest to have fun, but to also experience the life of a vaquero, or cowboy. For that purpose he had his guests assist him with branding his cattle and calf roping.  Pictured below is the pool and cabana.  Around the deck chairs is white sand- apparently Carrillo wanted his guests to also have the beach experience!
Another feature of the ranch is Carrillo's man cave in the barn and stable complex, which we found quite interesting.  Also on our tour we saw the small building which Carrillo constructed for his wife to pursue her artistic talents.  It was known that she was at times shy and reclusive and would escape to her hideway.  
On the side of this building there are restored pictographs etched by Carrillo.  Before he got into acting he worked for the San Francisco Examiner as a cartoon artist.  He was a poet and lyricist for California's official centennial song,as well as an influential environmentalist and conservationist for the state.   My next posting will spot-light some of the plants and animals we saw on our tour.  I had not expected the tour of the ranch to be as interesting as it turned out to be! 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Batiqiotos Lagoon

Before I begin this posting I would like to share with you the great beauty we have right outside our door everyday- when the sun is shining.  This daisy-like flower opens up only when there is a lot of sunshine, otherwise its bloom is closed.  Another wonderful surprise near our home is a magnolia tree which is starting to bloom.  Since we have been in southern California, for some strange reason John and I have felt no desire to explore museums or art galleries.  Guess we are getting to be like the citizens of this state, it is all about the great outdoors and the sunshine.  A couple of days ago John and I biked the San Luis River Trail and Wednesday we did some hiking in Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center as well as Batiqiotos Lagoon.

Along the path in the picture above is a strand of Eucalyptus, a tree native to Australia.  It has naturalized in California, invading native plant habitats.  The leaves and seed pods have pungent oils in them which prevent native plants from growing underneath the trees.  We had first stopped at the Audubon Nature Center before Batiquiotos Lagoon hoping to see some birds.  This area is along the Pacific Flyway, the annual migratory route for millions of birds passing through en route to winter or summer destinations.  However, we saw very little bird activity at the nature center in Oceanside (probably it is too soon for the migratory birds to be flying through), so we drove over to Carlsbad were the lagoon is located.  The lagoon is one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the southern California coast.  There have been many attempts to develop it into an amusement park or home development, fortunately not of them panned out.
There was a lot of bird activity going on in the lagoon, and we more heard the birds than saw them.  Frequently some sort of yellow warbler swooped in front of us- always moving too fast for us to identify him, but we did see the bright splash of yellow feathers.  Bush tits were twittering among the scrub, and we did see large numbers of them when they flew out from the brush.  The gurgling konk-la-reee sound of the red-winged blackbird could be heard in the marsh among the cattails where they were hanging out.  I was also pleased to hear the mewing of gnatcatchers, and we did see them too.  Hardly a day passes when we see hummingbirds, Anna's hummingbird stays in southern California all year.  Along the trail we saw the tobacco tree which blooms all year.  Hummingbirds love its long yellow flowers.
In case you are wondering how I came by this information, we had a self-guided trail guide for the lagoon.  Had we not had that brochure we would have missed seeing a wood rat's nest, nor would we have thought to look up in the trees to see a heron's nest!  Another interesting feature of the lagoon is a man-made sand nesting site of the least tern and snowy plover- unfortunately it is only in the spring when they are here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oceanside, California

We are now parked in Vista, California.  It is east of Oceanside, and Oceanside is where our son Mike lives.  He works in Carlsbad, which is south of Oceanside.  We have plans to stay in this area for at least two months, so I felt it necessary to orient you, our readers, to the three towns which I am sure will be referred to my postings in the near future.  I do need to add another city into this mix, which is San Diego.  We made a trip into San Diego Saturday evening to watch our son Mike perform in an improvisation show.  Oceanside is considered the gateway between metropolitan San Diego and Los Angeles.  On Sunday we joined Mike to explore downtown Oceanside and its beach.  The picture below was taken from the pier at Oceanside,  it is West Coast's longest wooden pier.  The town is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.  Part of its rich history are the pink cottages which can be seen in the picture, they date from the 1920s.
As we started to walk onto the pier we had a welcoming committee of sorts.  One man offered free rosaries and prayers to us, and another lady clasping a clipboard warmly welcomed us to the pier.  Turned out that she wanted to give us a tour of a nearby hotel!  Walking further onto the pier we noticed a special bench for Mike.  Unfortunately the bench was facing the sun and Mike was forced to squint.
Looking down on the beach from that point we saw Mike's name again, this time with other names.
That was quite some decorative sand art, but our Mike had nothing to do with it.  Downtown Oceanside was quite busy for a Sunday evening, besides the beach, stores and restaurants were bustling with activity.  Even a couple of barber shops had customers lined up for their cuts.  On Monday John and I drove to California's 18th mission, San Luis Rey de Francia, located in Oceanside.  The mission's name is Spanish and honors St.Louis the King of France who ruled in the 13th century.
The church has impressive architecture, a composite of Spanish, Moorish and Mexican.  Inside, on the walls, are painted Spanish and Native American designs and symbols.  They are the original drawings, but it has been necessary to repaint them over the years. Outside of the mission there is a rather extensive cemetery with Franciscan burial crypts, as well as rose gardens with pepper and olive trees.  Speaking of the latter, San Luis Rey has one very old pepper tree grown from seeds brought to the mission in 1830 from Peru.