Oh my goodness! I am grateful for so many things staying at Angela and Donnie's house in Martinez, California. I took a hot shower that did not require me to wear flip flops. I used a real towel. I did two loads of laundry in a non-coin operated washer and dryer. I slept in an incredibly comfortable bed. It was a wonderful return to ~civilization~.
Angela, because she is fantastic, took the day off work to show me around Martinez. Our first stop was John Muir's house, which is a national historic site. The orchard is still in tact, more or less, and there was fruit on the trees even though the grass is brown. The house is flanked with large palm trees, which was fun because it really felt like I was in California even though I have been for a week or so. I am a doofus and forgot to put my memory card back in my camera...so these photos are from my phone or online. John Muir and his wife and family moved into this house after his wife's father died. The house passed on to several owners before being donated to the park service, so the furnishings are period pieces and not original to the house. What fascinated me was seeing an Albert Bierstadt print, a Thomas Moran print, and a Frederic Church print. Three of my four Admired Artists were also admired by John Muir. It was interesting to see how printmaking made copies of famous paintings readily available in homes across the country. There were several landscape paintings by artist William Blake...I hadn't heard of him before but the paintings were good. I guess he painted more abstractly later in his career and Muir didn't like it. Angela and I got a mini-tour of the house by a very knowledgable historian/volunteer. We went upstairs and saw Muir's "scribble den" where the literary magic happened. As effortless as his words seem, he wrote and rewrote draft after draft of all his essays and books, and papers always littered the floor of the room. Angela and I rang the bell above the attic which totally scared me because I didn't think it would be so loud.
When we finished in the house, we went into the orchard and I ate a peach from one of the many peach trees. It was amazing...eating a peach from John Muir's orchard. All because I happened to be on the same hike as Angela and Donnie on the Fourth of July! Next we went to a frame shop to frame the two paintings she bought. We found an awesome thin black frame with gold trim on the inside. Very elegant and perfectly enhanced both paintings. The framer at the store gave me an *awesome* suggestion for a television series called "Landscapes Through Time with David Dunlop," where he does something very similar to what I'm doing with a variety of artists. I can't wait to check out the series and already saw there's an episode on Frederic Church. Ah! I was so meant to come to Martinez! After our frame shop stop, Angela took me out to lunch at an amazing Thai restaurant.
It is crazy how big our country is. We would talk about different restaurants or stores and go "do you have those here? Do you have those there?" California is very eco-friendly. The local high school runs exclusively off power from solar panels, and many houses have solar panels too. To get your license renewed your car has to pass an emissions test. Just a different mentality than other parts of the country I think. There are lots of brown lawns due to the drought. They very rarely get snow here so summer is their "brown grass" month, where Cincinnati has brown grass all winter (most of the time).
For dinner, Donnie made amazing cheeseburgers with bacon and fruit salad. I haven't eaten much red meat this summer and it was so good. Angela and I stayed up and watched HGTV...probably should have worked more on my blog but it was really nice to relax and enjoy my brief return to civilization. I really, truly cannot say thank you enough to Anglea and Donnie for their hospitality. They immediately treated me like a longtime friend, going above and beyond to accommodate me. (Did I mention Angela cleaned my camelback and I washed all my dishes in an actual dishwasher?!) I am so appreciative. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
|Big tall palm trees in front of John Muir's House.|
|Me and Angela! Best host and new friend ever!!|
|Photo from NPS of the orchard. Different fruit trees were all over. You're allowed to take and eat peaches from the peach trees. The peach tasted amazing!|
|John Muir in the orchard, back in the day. He planted a giant sequoia here too. It's pretty incredible that it grew in this climate.|
|Great photo of Muir in his true home.|
|Muir's scribble den where he wrote many beautiful essays and books. His daughter was alive and saw the room when they first opened the site and said it had to be messier.|
|Another photo of the house.|