Sunday, June 12, 2016

California, Here We Come!

What a surprise! Steiffgal is on the road with Steiffguy at a work meeting in California. And guess who decided to stow-away in her carry on bag... Bub and Ophelia! Silly cubs! But perhaps they noticed that the official state flag of this great state features a big brown bear and wanted to check out this part of the country firsthand. You can see this impressive flag here on the left. Whatever their reasons, these mischievous Teddy Babies have agreed to give you a guided tour of our event venue, La Quinta. This lovely desert hotel and resort is located about 120 miles east of Los Angeles in Palm Springs and has been in business since the mid-1920's.

This stunning destination, located at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains, is in the desert -  but you might not realize that except for the blazing hot temperatures.  There are lush gardens, foliage, palm trees, and flowering shrubs everywhere.  Bub and Ophelia were convinced that they would see camels, mirages, and perhaps even Lawrence of Arabia on this trip, so they were a little disappointed initially.  But the views and beauty of this place have helped to change their minds back to a happy place.  Here on the left you can see them against the mountain backdrop. The red flowering bush you see against the wall is called bougainvillea; it is a climbing shrub and is all over the hotel.  It looks especially lovely on arched gateways. 

Despite its arid location, water is a central landscaping and decorative focal point throughout La Quinta. There are waterfalls, fountains, and references to water all over the place. Right near the entrance to the hotel, there is a large water feature that twists and turns throughout an area housing a few restaurants, coffee shops, and stores.  Just looking at it cools you down a bit, and it also makes a lovely, constant sound which is quite soothing.  In the middle of this area is a shaded sitting area where visitors can meet, socialize, or just enjoy the environment. Sometimes, at night, a live band plays there.  Here you can see Bub and Ophelia hanging out by one really pretty element of this central water feature, a large fountain featuring the name of the hotel in tiles.  

The people who work here are all quite nice and seem to like bears as well - which was very helpful in putting this guided tour together.  Because the campus is so large, Steiffgal is certain that most of their time is used giving directions from here to there.  The guest quarters are more like small condos  or small freestanding houses arranged in groups. Everyone always says hello, and asks if you need help with anything.  The staff seem to get around on small golf carts which are just about everywhere.  Visitors are welcome to hitch a ride on these anytime they would like.  The cubs wanted to try this, but the carts did not have small enough seat belts for them.  Oh well!  Here on the left you can see Ophelia and Bub visiting at the bell captain's desk with one of the great guys who makes sure visitors have a pleasant, seamless visit from the moment they step foot at the hotel. 

The hotel has a grand history and has been welcoming guests since 1926.  Of course, Ophelia and Bub were excited to hear that, as their Teddy Baby pattern debuted in 1929, and they both love things "born" during the roaring 20's.  La Quinta features bits and pieces of its history throughout the campus. These take the form of plaques, statues, and small exhibits. Many of the buildings feature adobe bricks as key construction elements, and apparently this was the case from the very beginning.  Here on the left you can see the cubs checking out a display showcasing these bricks; apparently 100,000 were made in 1926 to build the first dwellings on the property at a total cost of $150,000.  According to the US Inflation Calculator, that would translate into $2,027,635.59 dollars today.

There is so much to do at La Quinta, and the cubs have no trouble passing the time.  There are 41 pools in total; they are all distributed throughout the campus. Some are more private than others, and there are a few central ones where families with kids congregate.  These "community" ones also have a bar and restaurant nearby for convenience. La Quinta also has many tennis courts, an exercise facility, a spa, golf courses, and other fitness, wellness, and vacation-type offerings. Ophelia was very interested in seeing the spa. Bub, not so much.  In protest he decided to take a tumble into the fountain outside the spa to distract her.  Steiffgal feared for many reasons that this was a terrible idea, but thankfully he dried quickly in the hot desert sun without damage. You can see the two cubs (post dive) here on the left clowning around the early and original tiled fountain at the entrance to the spa.  

Everything on this campus seems to be big.  And that's just not relative to our cub friends. Perhaps that's to keep things in scale with the big blue sky, huge mountain range, and generous culture of the area.  There also seems to be a trend for all things handmade, or at least handmade looking.  Lovely tiles, stucco walls, ceramic roof tiles, and craftsman-style detailing really bring La Quinta to life, and give it a warm and welcoming feeling. The photo on the left truly illustrates both concepts!  Here you can see Bub and Ophelia trying to crash a party behind these giant, hand carved doors. Just the handles are three times their size! In case you were wondering, the naughty cubs were not successful!

The rooms at La Quinta are lovely. Each has a private or semiprivate sitting area. It is glorious to be outside in the early morning in these shaded patio areas. The bathrooms are also very nice, and include hand painted tiles, double sinks, a huge walk in shower, a vanity, lots of lights, and an abundance of soaps, creams, and hair care products. It is easy to feel like a starlet getting ready for a night on the town with these little luxuries. Ophelia is particularly enamored with the bathroom's glamorous facets. She feels they look like Genie bottles.  As such, she was very disappointed that when she gave them a cub-rub, only water came out.  You can see her here on the left hoping for a little magic to happen.  Needless to say, because of his fountain antics, Bub is forbidden to have anything to do with water on this trip.  That is why he is not in this picture.  

This brings us to the end of our tour, as the cubs are tired, and Bub is requiring another time out.  Perhaps the heat is making him cranky.  Good thing that Ophelia remains on her best behavior.  Clearly she wants to be invited on future travel adventures! Here you can see the super team resting in the shade with a little branch of bougainvillea. We all hope you have enjoyed this guided tour through this wonderful desert Eden!

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