I guess I might have been a desert-rat in a past life.
I love the heat. At the time of writing this blog I could’ve been inside a cool, air-conditioned room. Instead I sat outside with a big, silly grin on the patio of my little garden view Casita clacking away on my MacBook Air in 98 degrees at 8.24 in the evening. Drinking a glass of icy Chardonnay and watching the bats do acrobatic fly-by’s. Granted, it’s not something I’d do everyday, but I was in southern California on a working vacation in the little desert resort town of La Quinta, which means ‘the fifth’ in Spanish.
The town, nestled in a cove against the spectacular Santa Rosa Mountains, was named by the Spanish conquistador, Juan Bautista D’Anza in the 16th century. To those unfamiliar, he lead 240 people on an epic trail from New Spain (Mexico) approximately 1800 miles north to a settlement in the San Francisco Bay. La Quinta was the fifth base established along the way.
Also known as the jewel of the desert, it has an interesting history that involves not only Spanish conquistadors but movie stars, screen-writers and producers who considered it a retreat from the madness of Hollywood. Situated two hours by car east of Los Angeles, The La Quinta Resort where I wrote this blog, was the vision of Walter Morgan, the youngest son of a wealthy businessman from San Francisco. In 1926 he purchased 1400 acres of land and built adobe cottages (known as casitas) with the idea of attracting Hollywood’s elite. It worked. During the thirties stars such as Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Frank Capra, among others flocked to the resort. Capra, famous for writing Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and You Can’t Take It With You, called it his ‘Shangri-La’ and returned frequently to write.
During the Second World War times were difficult and because of gas and tire rationing the guests stayed away. This resulted in the resort locking its doors and draining the pool. However after the war, the Hollywood elite returned in droves, no doubt aided by a boom in air travel and a convenient airstrip installed on the grounds. It has since grown and is still popular today, maintaining its distinct Spanish style and charm. Lets hope some of Mr. Capra’s good luck continues to rub off on me.
Most exciting as an animal enthusiast, not all of residents are of the human kind. I came across a roadrunner literally road-running in Old Town La Quinta. I’d never seen a real live one and it was quite a treat. A larger variety of non-humans, the big horn sheep graze on exquisitely well-manicured golf courses and trespass on the locals often partaking in a drink from their swimming pools.
In the second book of The Bridge Series, The Debt (to be released in the summer of 2018) my heroine Terra Miller, a feisty lingerie sales-associate and lead singer of a cover band spends a little time in La Quinta while recovering from the the death of her mother. She’s also hiding from ruthless members of the Russian mafia whose ties reach deep into the California State Government. What better excuse to come to the place where a little research is required. The more I learn about this gorgeous little palm treed gem of an oasis, the more I love.
If you’re ever in the desert in SoCal, I highly recommend stopping by and enjoy a cocktail while watching natures magnificent display of the mountains turning pink as the sun sets behind them.
So, where is your favorite place to be when you’re not at home?