Archive | November 2019

Inner Inn (Pt. II)

The Mission Inn in Riverside California, built over a sixty year period beginning in 1876, is a living museum full of priceless art and antiquities. It has two onsite chapels, one is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi and has glass works designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1906 for a chapel in New York.

Many Della Robbia style ceramics from Italy,

are on stunning display throughout the property.

The Inn is a National Historic Landmark which you can tour on your own or with a docent. The art and artifacts overflow the spacious Inn and there is a museum with more art across the street that can also be toured.

Ten US presidents have visited The Inn,

and there is a presidential lounge dedicated to them.

The mission style interiors are comfortable and spacious, but the most amazing spaces for me are all the inner courtyards which are like beautiful outdoor rooms full of whimsical artwork and constant surprises.

Exploring is great fun as everywhere you look you find precious art and artifacts.

The clock tower has a glockenspiel with full size rotating figurines that is a replica of the original built in Nuremberg Germany in 1709.

The Inn has over 400 antique bells. One from Nanjing China dates from 1247 and is the oldest bell in Christendom.

Cheers to you from the fascinating and fun Mission Inn in Riverside California~

Death Valley’s Wild Burros~

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the lower ’48 consisting of 5,270 miĀ² s of barren, beautiful desert. It holds the world record for the hottest place on earth topping out at 134 F in 2013.

Burros (donkeys) were introduced to the park by gold miners in the 1800’s. Some escaped and wild burros have thrived in the park ever since. Burros dig holes to find water and these holes are often used by other desert creatures. Burros are a food source for resident mountain lions, taking pressure off big horn sheep populations.

Burros are not wanted by The National Park Service in Death Valley.

The front page of the 2019 National Park Summer Visitor Guide says burros are an “invasive species……they stomp around and make a mess…they over browse…..they can be mean and aggressive when defending young….they stand in roads and won’t budge.”

This sounds a lot like some of the human visitors I have seen in national parks over the years. But despite this, the park service has pursued a policy of rounding up wild burros by helicopter and horseback, shipping them off to rescue organizations. “Eliminating wild burros from the park has been the park service goal since 2002,” (Pahrump Valley Times).

Having read about the wild burros, and wanting to see the last remaining ones, I decided to go search for them. I started by asking locals where I could find them. Every local I spoke to told the same basic story, which amounted to, “I haven’t seen them in the park. I have seen them outside the boundaries of park.”

One person even said, “It seems they know they are not wanted in the park, so they tend to stay just outside it.”

Pretty clever critters, huh?

The road to Beatty Nevada, a town of 1010 people, just outside the park came up in lots of conversations as a place where wild burros congregate. So off to Beatty we went.

Sure enough, near the outskirts of town, we started to see signs of burro presence, not stomped up messes, but donkey scat. My husband Jim is a patient person, and he was willing to take all sorts of rocky dirt roads following donkey scat. We had no luck, and were about to give up when Jim decided to drive around the perimeter of town, and there they were! A small herd of eight burros, with one dominant male, three foals, and four females. One female was pregnant. Here was the male being protective when we first saw the herd:

After awhile of distant observation, the burros seemed to decide we were not a threat, and walked slowly over and approached us directly, showing no sign of aggression. Mindful of the park literature, I backed away from them, and retreated to the safety of the car.

This was the burros reaction to my retreat!

A Beatty local resident, observing my caution, walked over and introduced us to the burros.

You can see his hand here.

No one should ever approach wild donkeys. They can be aggressive and dangerous when threatened. But this nice local man showed us their other side as well. They can also be friendly, curious and affectionate.

You can almost see Jim here making friends!

Cheers to you from the beautiful burros of Death Valley~

For further discussion of the burros and park policy see:

https://undark.org/2019/10/14/death-valley-burros-fate/

Mission Inn~

The historic Mission Inn which occupies several blocks in downtown Riverside California is the largest Mission Revival building in the United States.

The Inn was built in 1902 by an engineer named Christopher Columbus Miller. His son Frank expanded his father’s original efforts, and added wings, rotundas, chapels, museums and galleries.

The building contains a mixture of Spanish Gothic, Moorish and Mediterranean revival architectural styles. There is a Spanish Wing, an Alhambra Wing, and flights of fancy everywhere you look.

Frank Miller traveled the world collecting museum quality treasures to fill the inn, including what some say is the oldest bell in in the new world dating from 1247.

There are two chapels on the property including the one pictured dedicated to St Francis of Assisi.

Louis Tiffany designed two of the mosaics in the chapel.

The Rotunda Wing features a five story open air staircase.

The rotunda tops a suite dedicated to the writer Anne Rice.

Presidents, world leaders, and many famous folk have stayed in the inn over its history and the inn has a presidential lounge dedicated to the many presidents who have stayed here.

The Inn began a period of slow decline in the 1960’s where ownership changed hands multiple times and bankruptcies occurred, eventually forcing the city of Riverside to purchase and close the property for eight and a half years. In 1992, The Historic Mission Inn Corporation purchased the property and reopened it in all its former glory.

I will show you more details and the interiors of this amazing building in my next post. Until then, cheers to you from The Mission Inn in Riverside California~