Trends in Writing, The Arts, Regional Events, and High Desert Living

Posts in category So Cal

Check Your Calendar for Bugs, Soldiers, Pirates, and Dickens

Some up-coming events in the High Desert of California will include history, family outings, and my favorite, “bugology” open house. So please read on and check your calendar.


Although the historical day of love and commitment is Feb 14th, if the weather is compromising your plans you can always do more on the weekend with alternative outings.

Restaurants can be too full and any day near the holiday is just fine. Married couples tend to delay such a holiday to avoid crowds. It’s not the day  — it’s the intension that counts. Candy and a card or dinner out can be planned before or after the date.

Head to the Internet and find some awesome places to eat. Too many to post here.


Calico Regional Park

Civil War Ladies stroll down Calico


Civil War Re-enactment at Calico Ghost Town is coming soon President’s Weekend – February 17-19. Union troops battle the Confederates in the hills of the Calico Mountain

civil War at Calico

Smoke is in the air during battle scene

during the President’s Day holiday in February. It’s awesome to watch the battle and smell the black powder in the air. Volunteer reenactors dress in costume and you can watch President Lincoln give his speech to the troops.

General Admission: $10 adults, $5 ages 4-11, under 3 Free!



Have you ever joined in to build a community caterpillar? Don’t miss your chance at “Arthropolooza,” at the San Bernardino County Museum on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17 and 18, 12 to 4 p.m. The community caterpillar, butterfly demonstrations, bug pendants, and butterflies and mosquitoes, crafty comparisons are among the family activities you’ll enjoy at this popular annual event.


Cricket with a shiny head — Jerusalem Cricket

The San Bernardino County Museum is at 2024 Orange Tree Lane, at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $10 (adult), $8 (military or senior), $7 (student), and $5 (child aged 5 to 12). Children under five and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free. For more information, visit The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities.


The Riverside Dickens Festival
Silver Jubilee —  Feb. 24th 7 25th
25 Years of Wit & Wisdom

Dickens Faire

Dickens Ladies on Parade

Now celebrating its 25  years in Riverside, the FAIRE is full of engaging programs, costumes, and reenactments to fulfill the Victorian era interests of all who attend. Check out the details at the website for maps, dates, prices, and venue presentations.

Dickens Festival Homepage



So you can jump from Civil War reenactments to Pirates on the  Pond at the Hesperia Lakes Park. The Pirate Faire will be held on March 17 – 18 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day at  Hesperia Lake Park, 7500 Arrowhead Lake Rd.,  Hesperia, CA 92345.

Ticket prices range from General, military, and two-day package. Children age 7 and  under are free. For more info please check their website.




Visit High Desert With Eyes Wide Open

Visiting the High Desert of Southern California — PART ONE

When new visitors arrive in the High Desert they are often surprised by how stunning the wide vistas are, they wonder where the real desert is, and seemed confused by the abundant wildlife and scenic beauty of field flowers.

Summer Thunderstorm graces the desert with a pink cotton candy sky

Summer Thunderstorm graces the desert with a pink cotton candy sky

That’s the real High Desert. The other is Hollywood generalizing the desolate sand dunes, the miles of waterless expanses, and those “dead cow heads” scattered across trails once traveled by wagon trains.

Come and Visit the Desert with Eyes Wide Open

Among the lies and twisted history that film often portrays, lays the foundation of a countryside that is endangered and often under attack by development companies who think that these dry desolate places can accommodate a new housing sub-development, a strip mall, or a flood of solar and wind projects.

Goldenrod in High Desert

Goldenrod in High Desert

If they don’t live here and know the desert, then it’s okay to rummage about for a place to use and abuse. So, as more visitors arrive and see the entirely different picture of the High Desert, they wonder if other stories they’ve heard are also lies. You could call us a “melting pot of diverse uses” and you’d be right. The desert can accommodate quite a bit — but not abuse.


Cannon High on the Canyon Bluff

As a desert dweller for over 40 years, I can attest that, yes, we do have sand dunes, we have artesian springs, we have areas where you can find skulls bleaching in the sun, snakes, scorpions, and other scary critters, and bugs wandering day and night. We also have defendable tracts of land that are preserved, protected, and being studied. Other tracts are open to development to bring economic variety to a long list of “bedroom communities” with potential growth in their populations.

Visitors should assume that all open land is not public land. We have large expanses that are privately owned or controlled. Areas of critical concern are quilt-patched all across the desert. So a visit to the High Desert should be a time for learning and respecting what is and isn’t here.


A desert sunset holds its own magic

A desert sunset holds its own magic

One lady I ran into said to me that she didn’t know there were different growing regions that accept willows, barrel cactus, and pine trees all in one. Another lady said she decided to live here because the LA area was too crazy and dangerous for her family. Another one found out that we have snow almost every year. Other visitors, who have dropped their tailgates to offload their ATCs, were shocked to find that we had rules for destroying private property that had no fences or posted signs.

With all these many views of the High Desert, you can see why some folks have said, “The desert: you either love it or hate it.” And in resort cities like Palm Springs, they once campaigned against visitors unless they took a hotel room. An old bumper sticker once said: We love Palm Springs, now go home.” Yet, years later another one was: “PS — We love you.”

Hedgehog Cactus with lemony blooms

Hedgehog Cactus with lemony blooms

So, what is my point? Come visit and take in the sights, bring a camera, learn about the area through its people and places, events, dive into its history through museums and one-day road trips, sample our food, go hiking but wear a hat and bring plenty of water, enjoy your visit.

A roadrunner attacks a snake for lunch

A roadrunner attacks a snake for lunch

Then, once you get home, unpack, and begin to relive some of those special moments, vivid pumpkin-colored sunsets, fields of purple Desert Lupine, seeing a roadrunner really running across the road — only then will you know whether the High Desert is a place you loved or hated. If you loved it, then you’ll understand why residents are fearless defenders of its right to be respected.

Rusty LaGrange

“Palms to Pines” Ride Not Far Away

Tram leaves canyon station

Tram leaves canyon station







Where can you go when the temperature is getting so hot that you feel your skin dripping off? Palm Springs, California, of course. What? Yes, that is a destination with an unique twist. Just when you think it can’t get any hotter, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway can take you to a cool place — over 8500 feet to crisp and breezy San Jacinto Peak.


Visitors come from around the world, their voices excited and familiar

Visitors come from around the world, their voices excited and familiar

One of Palm Springs signature amusements is the breathtaking ride up craggy canyons, over pinnacles, and across deep tree-filled ravines. It’s managed nicely by letting you and dozens of other visitors stand onboard a round gondola with 365 degree views. It’s the world’s largest rotating tramcar. Really.

The initial climb is enchanting

The initial climb is enchanting

Recently updated, the gondola ride is smooth and now rotates around its core control port still manned by a tram driver. As the ride lifts you up above the arid desert floor of Chino Canyon, you can easily spot the Palm Springs Airport, the wind farms, and other large features. The detailed rock faces can be just as impressive as the height. Soaring over the deep canyons, and hearing everyone onboard chattering in different languages about their feelings as we passed cable towers, is part of the experience.

Breathtaking view of the valley floor

Breathtaking view of the valley floor

Riders hold their cameras continually as everyone takes photos of their family, their friends, their best canyon shots, and even the gondola driver. Each tower we passed caused a bit of excitement due to the slight swing the gondola took to level back out as it continued skyward.

The air is clear and crisp. At over 8500 feet, the heat of the desert dissipates. Pine trees provide the aroma, while rock swallows and ground squirrels provide some entertainment. Be warned — the air is much thinner at this

View of trailhead facing the peak hiking paths

View of trailhead facing the peak hiking paths

elevation so you might feel a bit light-headed or find yourself breathing harder to get more air. But that’s all part of the experience of the sudden climb from the base station at 2,643 feet above sea level, crossing five bio-transition zones to pristine alpine habitat.

Shear canyon walls

Shear canyon walls

Our goal was the top building perched high on San Jacinto Mountain filled with two large restaurants, shops, a museum, and the doorway to “top of the world” hiking trails. For the intrepid, this is the trailhead to over 80 miles of rated trails — easy, moderate, and skilled. Rain or shine, snow-capped or clear, the mountain is always open.

Your appetite is enhanced by the climb and view

Your appetite is enhanced by the climb and view

Our purpose that day was to enjoy one of the visitors’ packages: Ride and Dine. For one price you get a tasty dinner to go along with that incredible ride. The complete experience is truly a “Palms to Pines” adventure. And for us, our 34th anniversary celebration.



To find out more about the PS Tram’s ride packages, its history, its trails, and hours of operation, you can phone: (760) 325-1391 or go to:


Preserving Western History One Plaque at a Time

E Clampus Vitus is a fraternal historical society that erects monuments to remind us of little known — and well-known — historical sites and events. The chapter to which one of our readers belong is Billy Holcomb 1069, (see Chapter 1069) and they claim to be the Kings of the mountains and the desert.

If you’ve ever been driving out on Route 66 or I-40 or State Route 62 or points in between you have probably seen their ‘monuments’.  From Lake Hemet to Goffs, from Needles to Desert Center, the society has many plaques dedicated to Western history and to the many troops who trained under General Patton in preparation for battle with the Axis Powers of WWII. The tank tracks can still be seen in our Eastern Mojave regions.

Many monuments have to do with the mining of this country’s wealth from this very region we call home, to the hard- scrabble miners and pioneers who heeded the call to ‘Go West, young man.’ They pay tribute to these and others who have played a role in Western history.

There are over 40 chapters in the Western USA: California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico … ALL with a keen interest in honoring our past.

E Clampus Vitus encourages everyone to look up ECV Monuments/markers on a Google search  — or to this link — and read more about the many plaques in your home area and also along the roadside of any trip you may be planning. The site will show locations. And these  monuments are EVERYWHERE!!

A challenge from our reader:  Now get out there and enjoy history!

We encourage your family to find out more about our history and roadside attractions that are free to see, and often just a few hours away.

Rusty LaGrange

Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques Latest Shop on 7th Street

At Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques Kelli, daughter of owners, admires the Green Room

At Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques Kelli, daughter of owners, admires the Green Room

Scott and Daughter Kelli greet shoppers on the weekends

Scott and daughter Kelli greet shoppers on the weekends

One of the newest antique and vintage shops is Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques. The odd name and the eclectic collections draw in curious vintage shoppers. There’s no disappointment at all. As you wander throughout, individual consignment rooms are filled by the whimsy of the booth renter, the collections become like night and day, antique and repurposed, tattered and loved, collectible and curious. 


Scott and Debra Pavone, and their daughters Kelli and Brandi, just hosted their Grand Opening of Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques to a crowd of eager shoppers last month. The owners’ daughters jumped right into the “up cycling” trend and crafts venture of their own, making personalized and themed coffee mugs and tile coasters.


Find Your Ps and Qs is also sponsoring our High Desert Blogging’s, first-ever, “Autumn Basket Give-away.” Their basket is full of useable and collectible items. Too many to list here. Stop by when you shop and sign-in to win. No purchase necessary. No tickets to buy. Three baskets will be given-away Nov. 15th and two more on Dec. 6th.


And why is all this happening? Because High Desert and their network of guest bloggers, have grown and helped advance the word of blogging into the communities for the past three years. We’re giving back to the communities that supported our efforts.Love pink? Step into the room that honors it.

Love pink? Step into the room that honors it.


Just sign up at any of the five vintage businesses listed below, and you could win one of five baskets brimming with antiques and collectibles, comfort foods and office supplies, and other personal lotions and potions from  many donors.

Scott and Debra’s shop is easy to find on downtown 7th street at the renovated Metropolitan Plaza in Victorville. Look for Gridiron Pizza, Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques is to the far right. The shop was formerly a doctor’s or dentist’s office many years ago, and now houses a variety of collections in small rooms and quaint alcoves managed by consignment booth renters or by the owners. Their shop is open 10-5 daily, except for Sundays, call (760) 951-2262 for more info or email

High Desert Blogging  “Autumn Basket Give-away” Victor Valley area sponsored shops:

1.      Vintage Gypsies, 21880 Hwy. 18 (across from Molly’s Country Kitchen in Old Town), Apple Valley, CA

2.      Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures, 19222 National Trails Hwy., Oro Grande,

3.      Salvaged & Tattered, 19248 National Trails Hwy., Oro Grande, CA

4.      Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques, 15080 7th Street, Suite 11, (near Gridiron Pizza) Victorville, CA

5.      The Desert Cottage, 15451 Bear Valley Road, Hesperia, CA


 More news coming…



Desert Writers Escape to Catalina Island

Guest Blogger: Brenda Hill, Newberry Springs


Catalina Island Writers Retreat

Brenda Hill at Catalina Island Retreat


What a fun time, and insightful learning experience for five California writers. Santa Catalina Island was the perfect choice for the first Writers Escape Weekend.

Writers hailed from different parts of the country. All authors shared many diverse genres. Workshop subjects included short story, fiction, creative non-fiction, character/plot development and blogging.

When we first arrived on the magical shores of Catalina, we could walk to our conveniently located weekend hide-away, The Catalina Lodge.

One of the advantages of Catalina is very few cars, only golf carts and bicycles. We explored the nooks and crannies of this magical island by foot from sunrise to sunset, then again in the evening to marvel at the nearly full hunter’s moon illuminating the boats in the bay. I took a refreshing swim at the local beach each day.

Brenda Hill's Catalina Harbor Photo

Catalina Harbor


Catalina Island, CA

Sunrise on Catalina Island

We feasted on gourmet coffee, authentic Mexican specialties, and fresh Mahi Mahi. The golden sun was warm. The ice cream was a cool refresher.

One night we enjoyed a starry night “at home” in our cozy courtyard. Cheese, nuts, fresh fruit, and wine was the perfect writers picnic under an almost full hunters moon.

Another highlight of our retreat was a  tour through the museum. The rich natural and social history of the island is fascinating.

Leaving this unique place is always bittersweet for me. All of us would have enjoyed at least one more day of sun, fun, fellowship and learning.  While dolphins danced near the deck of our ferry, our merry little group of writers planned our next writers retreat.

Avalon, CA Ferry

Catalina Ferry

Look for the details of the Spring Writers  Escape, perhaps to Big Bear, on this blog. We would enjoy hearing your comments, suggestions and ideas. 



Brenda Hill is the author of Success, Your Path to a Successful Book,
Our Love Affairs with Food and Travel, and blogger at

Catalina Island – So Cal Day Trip

Take a day trip from the High Desert to Avalon – Santa Catalina Island. Traveling I-15 from Victorville, go to Long Beach, park your car, and ride the boat to the island. If you leave Victorville by 6 am, you can be on the island in about three hours.

Catalina Island is a great place to go for a romantic getaway…

Catalina Island Vacation

Romantic Getaway













historical and museum excursion…


Catalina Museum

Walkway to the Catalina Museum

OSS History, Catalina Island

History of the OSS at the Catalina Island Museum


water sports…



sightseeing or shopping…


Catalina Island Shopping

Shopping at Catalina Island, CA


Catalina Island Sites

See the sites on Catalina Island

relaxing at the spa or a hair and nail salon…


Relaxing at a spa

Sara relaxing at a spa on Catalina Island, CA

Allow extra time for a little relaxation and people watching while being pampered at a Catalina Island hair and nail salon where I met Sara (without the “h”). My friend Ann and I had walked by and couldn’t resist walking in to meet the lovely Sara. Ann had noticed Sara at first and suggested that I take a picture. Little did Ann know that I would spend extra time in the shop getting to know Sara and Manicurist Emily so I could blog about them.

The two ladies, Sara the guest and Emily the manicurest, were gracious to allow me the privilege of posting their photos and videos v=Og4ekGNczkI&

When you visit the salon, let Emily or the owners know that you learned about them on Catalina Hair and Nail Salon is located at 205 Crescent Street,  #120A, Avalon, CA at the Metropole Marketplace.


The Diary of Anne Frank playing in Wrightwood, CA

The Diary of Anne Frank Play

Snowline Players Performs The Diary of Anne Frank in Wrightwood


The Diary of Anne Frank, performed by The Snowline Players in Wrightwood last night was amazing with a very powerful message.

There are still several more performances:

Sunday, April 21 at 7:30 PM

Friday April 26 at 8:00 PM

Saturday April 27th at 7:30 PM

Sunday Matinee on April 28th at 2:30 PM.

Playing at the Wrightwood Community Center off of Park Ave. and Hwy 2.

Only $6 for seniors and students and only $8 for adults. If you can arrange your schedule to go it will be well worth it!

Paddle Auction – April 6th in Wrightwood – Fundraiser for Snowline Players!

PaddleAuctionApril 6thauction.jpgCome enjoy appetizers,baked goods,beverages, and shopping, all while being entertained by our expert auctioneer as he puts the shoppers in a frenzy!Admission is free!

Wrightwood Community Center 1275 State Hwy 2, Wrightwood, CA 92397

View items from 5:00 pm -6:00 pm, Auction begins at 6:00 pm

All proceeds from the auction go to support the Snowline Players, a non profit community theatre group, and their productions.

The Diary of Anne Frank Play in Wrightwood – April 19 – April 28

If you love the theater and want to see an awesome performance, put this amazing Play on your calendar now!


The Snowline Players will present “The Diary of Anne Frank” adapted by Wendy Kesselman and written by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett. This is a drama based on the story of a young girl who lived during the Second World War and personally experienced the holocaust. Anne Frank and her parents and sister lived in Holland where her father had a factory. They were forced to live in the attic of the factory because they were Jewish and their lives were threatened by the Germans who occupied Holland during the war. Living with then was another family, the Van Daans and their son Peter and a dentist, Mr Dussel. They were also at risk because they were Jewish. Mr Kraler and Miep, a young woman, both worked in the factory and brought food and news to the attic residents for all the time they were living there.

This play has great character development as we see through Anne’s diary how each individual handled living in such a small environment, Anne wrote all their everyday happenings in her diary. She was a spunky girl of 13 in the beginning. She looked at their confinement as an adventure. The part of Anne is played by Emily Dieckman. Her sister Margot, a shy , retiring girl , is played by Anna Flynn. Ron Frank and Charlie Sorenson play Mr and Mrs Frank and the VanDaans are portrayed by Michelle Schneider and Ted Puffer. Peter, their son, is brought to life by Timothy Eaton. Miep is Kirstie Acosta, and Mr. Kraler is Dave Meyers.

Great cast, very moving, and with Ron Frank’s monologue at the end, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

Hint to general public: If you haven’t seen Ron Frank, Michelle Schnieder, Ted Puffer, or Emily Diekman perform, here is your chance. We have renown talent locally grown. Tickets are very reasonably priced.

Anne Frank will be performed in the Wrightwood Community Building behind the Blue Ridge Inn on Park Drive in Wrightwood CA.

The building stage is being transformed into an attic by Tom Westhoff, Bruce Mortimer, and Larry Wilson. Performances are Fridays, April 19 and 26 at 8 pm. Sat. April 27 at 7:30pm Sunday April 21 at 7:30pm and Sunday April 28 at 2:30pm

Admission is $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for seniors and youth.

For information on buying tickets in advance call the director Lora Steinmann at 760-249-3171. Tickets can also be bought at the door on the day of the performance if they are available.

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