En route to summer home

Ray and his beast
Ray setting out for northern California

| My friend Ray passed through over the weekend on his annual migration between Florida and a house in the mountains near Mendocino.

I've known Ray for a very long time, since HP days, when he was part of our posse of friends who did things together outside work: holidays, concerts, and numerous camping trips to Big Sur, Big Basin, and Little Basin, and so on. Since then we've kept in touch through his Geezer Traveler journal (nearly two dozen trips hither and yon) and these stopovers when switching from his winter house to his summer house. While he is here we solve all the pressing problems of the world and lament the state of the union, often over glasses of find "sippin' whiskey."

This time was no different. On Saturday Ray joined the Bunch at the weekly dinner, then on Sunday Ray wanted to eat at a deli so we went to lunch at Manhattan in the Desert.

After lunch we took a short drive out to the Coachella Valley Preserve, an oasis on the San Andreas fault. There, water comes up to the surface through the fissue of the fault. It's quite an amazing place to see palm trees standing in pools of water rising from the aquifer far below.

oasis
Palm trees growing in pools of water rising to the surface through the San Andreas fault
Ray was intrigued by the whole place
Ray capturing his own photos of the phenomenon

Alas, it being summer, we were unable to get into the visitor center, which is actually a house built in the 1930s and 1940s by an early owner of the oasis. It is essentially a log cabin, but what makes it unique is that the logs are the trunks of palm trees and they stand vertically instead of being laid horizontally. Thus, it is referred to as the "palm house."

dried palm fronds
Dried palm frond of the Washingtonia filifera, or California fan palm, the only indigenous palm tree in California.
 

The fronds of the Washingtonia filifera sometimes fall or are blown off the tree, but they naturally droop down after they have become dried, forming "skirts" for the palm tree. In nature the skirts reach all the way to the ground, but are sometimes trimmed or, in settled areas, cut off entirely when the palms are given their annual "haircuts."

 

Last updated on Jun 28, 2016

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