Desert Bound

Cherry Blossoms on the Altamont Pass which brings you from the Bay Area into the Central Valley of California where much of the food in our country is grown. It happened to be quite green at the time.

Cherry Blossoms on the Altamont Pass which brings you from the Bay Area into the Central Valley of California where much of the food in our country is grown. It happened to be quite green at the time.

First road trip of the year...Scottsdale arts Festival, high season in the desert. Spread out over two days, it was an easy drive. Starting out over the altamont pass, the windmills waved us on through trickles of drizzle. the cherry blossoms and green grass were intense with vibrant color against the grey sky. The drizzle stayed with us through the central valley as we passed blossoms from a variety of thirsty orchards, drinking in the moisture in order to soak the dry earth. 

Windmills in the Palms Springs area with the San Jacinto Mountains peaking out with sparse snow.  

Windmills in the Palms Springs area with the San Jacinto Mountains peaking out with sparse snow.

 

The Best Vietnamese Pho in the Desert...who knew?  

The Best Vietnamese Pho in the Desert...who knew?

 

A favorite pitstop along the way, is the Vista Del Lago at Pyramid Lake, a visitor center with displays and information about California's water aqueduct system complete with three-dimensional displays including models of pipelines, there are basic explanations of the 29 facilities that make up the complicated state water project and a museum-like setting to explain flora and fauna in the region. An added benefit, the visitor center has really clean bathrooms and great views outside, it's the perfect rest area before descending into the 'grapevine' which brings you up out of the central valley, over and down into the Los Angeles basin, where you're sure to sit into traffic for a while no matter the direction. Heading west toward Pasadena, we skirted Los Angeles to the East and watched our car thermometer ascend. From Pasadena through to Riverside and on into the desert towns near Palm Springs, there's always some traffic and no real rest stops, so that chunk of time is usually a straight haul and more tense driving compared to the ease of the less frantic, Central valley. Meeting up with highway 10 traffic gave way as clusters of windmills competed for the stage with tall skinny palm trees. An early dinner brought us to Pho Vu, a delicious Vietnamese Pho joint in the desert. You would never expect such great broth in a strip mall in La Quinta, a discovery from a craft show some years ago. This is a really clean place with delicious and inexpensive food..what more could the traveler want? Very clean bathrooms too...I advise getting the small bowl, which is Huge...unless you are super duper hungry. They bring out the Pho with all of the side accoutrements: jalapeño, limes, bean sprouts, basil and then there are the variety of chili pastes, make sure to ask for them all. Tasty and nourishing, the road traveler is happy and ready to move on...We push to the border town of Blythe, leaving very little driving for our next day which is when we set up for the Scottsdale Craft Fair. 

In my booth at the Scottsdale Arts Festival..with jewelry banners larger than life.  

In my booth at the Scottsdale Arts Festival..with jewelry banners larger than life.

 

Great coffee in Scottsdale, they roast their own beans, make their own pastries...a wonderful combination.

Great coffee in Scottsdale, they roast their own beans, make their own pastries...a wonderful combination.

Waking to a crystal clear sky, it was a dry 80 degrees with a light wind, after less than two hours of driving East, the empty desert started to fill in with homes and businesses, Saguaro cactus sprinkled in between. We dropped our bags off at our lodging and drove into downtown Scottsdale to check in for the show. I love the mood of set-up, full of promise and hope as artists put up their tents, fitting parts together and sprouting up mini galleries on the sumptuous grounds of the Scottsdale Performing Arts Center. The show was a set in quintessential paradise with fountains and ponds, meandering paths, palm trees and places to get cool in the shade. The show used the grounds well by sprinkling little cafe and bar areas around the grounds for lingering, shaded paths to peruse art, food trucks and the most delicious Mexican ice pops at just the right juncture, when you really wanted one. 

Craft shows are very hard work, laborious-it can be hot/cold, windy/threatening to safety, people get sick, weather can close a show and sometimes it's perfect. There are a lot of what-ifs in this business and artists are among the most resourceful people I know, especially when disaster hits. If you forgot anything, there is someone among the crowd of exhibitors who has it.  Then there is the camaraderie among the artists, seeing each other for the first time since the last season of shows, visiting with past customers and catching up, meeting new patrons who appreciate your work, take it in and savor it. Personal connections are being made throughout the weekend which is what art of any medium is all about. I wouldn't trade it!

Flowering Barrel Cactus...colors are so bright against the dry dusty land, as if in technicolor!

Flowering Barrel Cactus...colors are so bright against the dry dusty land, as if in technicolor!