Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Devil's Playground Cave (The Alabama Hills Series)

(GPS: N36° 36.205 W118° 07.110)

I had thought I covered this one before early on when I started this blog. I did mention the location at one point with a picture which I will list below, but I don't think I have ever covered it by itself. I will now. The above coordinates are within range, but not exact. They get you close, and then you just look for the entrance to the cave to the east.

In the Hopalong Cassidy movie, The Devil's Playground, the section that is often called Gene Autry Rock, Lone Ranger Canyon, etc. is known as the Devil's Playground. In the movie they make it look like this mysterious rocky place that one could easy get lost in. The scene near the end deals with Hoppy and friends trying to find this cave where stolen gold has been hidden. The guy in the cave in the picture below, Curley Evans, was setup by a Judge Morton who was after the gold. So, he was not really the bad guy in this story, but Hoppy had to find a way to show Curley they are on the same side and get the gold out of there before Judge Morton eventually would show up. The video linked below has this scene and shows the trick Hoppy used.

It turns out the "cave" is not a cave at all. All they did was add a black backdrop or drape behind the rock you see. By doing that they made it look like a dark entrance to a cave. It sure fooled me the first time I saw the movie. They do show the outside of our cave from inside of it. Looking back out in my picture. You may notice the trailer camper. For some reason this area that leads to Lone Ranger Canyon, just past the camper on the right, tends to get a lot vehicles that park right in important spots. I cannot tell you how many times I have come here only to realize that I would have to come back later, or on another day because of this. After the rescue, they are out in front of the cave. They are just sitting down where that small rock is on the ground. The rock just behind that is the one you see in the above picture.
Lone Pine Peak and Mt. Langely show up rather nicely outside of the cave.

The Devil's Playground Cave (Youtube Version)

The Devil's Playground Cave (Vimeo Version)

Back in 2006, there was a Hallmark Christmas movie that used this perspective from the cave as the main character enters to spend the night. If I remember correctly, they used this shot, but combined the cave with another area.

Hallmark Christmas Blog from Dec. 2006

Important note: from now on if I have a new video of some area that I have covered in the blog before I am just going to link it in the old blog it is connected to. In the past, I was doing the temporary FYI blogs which announced them as they came out. I am not going to do that anymore, but I will announce each that I do via twitter, or if you are subscribed to or follow my video channels then you should see them as a new video. If not, then just check the channels once in a while for new videos. I just got tired of doing it the way I was doing. The only time I might create a new blog entry is if I have something new that I want to add, but a lot of the new videos I am doing I do not see the need to do that just yet.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Gaujome (Part 2)

In the last blog I noted that Cave Couts Jr. inherited the property. He is the one that claimed that Helen Hunt Jackson visited here over a period of weeks. He also reported that while she was here he was a partial invalid. Therefore, the adobe was not only the setting of the book, but Couts Jr. was the inspiration for Felipe in the novel. There is controversy over whether Ms. Jackson was actually here or not. However, this location has one advantage over the other rancho in making it fit as the setting in the book. I will mention this below.

From the carriage courtyard one can enter into the inner courtyard. The rooms surround the square-like courtyard. Like I stated in the last blog, the sewing room you see above was added on by Cave Couts Jr. for his wife. In the tour, they take you up there. Just imagine walking through the courtyard and into the room underneath it.This is the room under it. The stairway to the right was added on so one could get up there. The front door entrance they would have used is just past the stairway to the right.This is how it looks from up there looking down on the courtyard.Then looking over towards the chapel.Then turning around and looking out toward the field.Back down below. You can see where you can enter from the carriage courtyard toward the right side in the background.While the other rancho seems to fit the description of the book a little better, Rancho Gaujome does work too. The big advantage Rancho Gaujome has is it matches up better with the geography of the book. It makes more sense for it to be here near San Luis Rey than in Ventura due to the amount of time it would have taken to travel to the areas described in the novel. For example, to travel to Temecula to get the violin and then come back here a day later works. However, to travel from Ventura to Temecula and back in a day is a little more problematic when considering the horse travel for that time period on the routes they would have taken. There are other examples later on in the book like this.

Whether this is the rancho Ms. Jackson used, the other one, or a combination of both is not something I am too concerned with. It seems likely she took some ideas from some rancho and created her own for the book. In any case, this rancho does have a history for being considered a Ramona tourist spot and that is why I covered it.

In closing this one up let me mention a few things. When I went there I took a lot of pictures on that tour, but very little video. The reason being is that on the tour there were families with little kids and strollers. You can hear some of them in the video I did after the tour was over near the carriage courtyard. They were in the way a lot so it would not have worked out very well. Originally, because of this, the video was going to be a partial slide show. I decided against doing that.

Like the other rancho I covered, Rancho Guajome will be coming up again near the end of the series. At that point you will be seeing more of the rooms and other things I missed in this one. I did go back there again for a special occasion that was really fun.

Finally, the tour is good, and you get a lot more history about the place than what I explained here. The only thing I find odd at places like this is where they tell you that a $5 donation is needed to take the tour. It is not the money that bothers me, but the notion of a "forced donation". Just say "a fee" is needed for the tour and I would be okay with that . My guess is there is some loophole used by choosing the word "donation".

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Guajome (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Guajome (Vimeo Version)

A few other links about the rancho:

The County Of San Diego: Rancho Guajome Adobe

Rancho Guajome: A Legacy Preserved

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Gaujome (Part 1)

(GPS: N33 14.000 W117 15.225)

It is time to talk about Rancho Guajome which, like the other rancho I covered, is considered to be the basis of the one used in Helen Hunt Jackson's book. I decided to split this one up into two parts as well. I will cover some of the real history in this one, and in the next blog will cover some of the fictional basis for why it too is considered the home of Ramona.

Originally, the land belonged to the San Luis Rey Mission. The mission is less than a few miles away. During the secularization of the missions in the Mexican period of California history, the land was granted to two indians: Jose and Andres Manuel. They sold their land to Don Abel Sterns. Sterns married into the Bandini family.

Cave Johnson Couts, born in Tennessee, a graduate of West Point, served in the frontier until after the Mexican War. He arrived in California during the years of 1849-1851. He married Ysidora Bandini. As a wedding gift he was given the land from his brother-in-law Sterns. Couts is the one who started building the adobe rancho you will see.
What you see above is the front of the adobe. You do not enter the adobe on this side though. The parking and gift shop the public enters on is on the other side. Much like the other rancho I visited, you have to take a docent led tour. I should note that the little room you see above was added on much later by the son of Cave Couts. It is the sewing room. It is nice in that you can see all around from above.
Much like the other rancho I visited, Couts built a chapel which he dedicated to his mother in 1868. What you see to the right is the dug out well and the cistern, which you can barely see, is right next to the chapel. Below, I am looking into the chapel. It was rebuilt in 1924. In the video I will be showing, I have a picture that shows that it looks much different than it is now.
This is the carriage courtyard. It is really the first area you encounter on the tour. What you see in the background is the where the blacksmith room is. The tree is supposedly from a seed or a part of the famous tree at the San Luis Rey Mission. I have covered that tree before when I talked about that mission. I link the relevant San Luis Rey Mission blogs below.
This is more from the carriage courtyard looking back to where you enter the rancho on the tour. The entrance to the right is where you enter the main courtyard. You can see the chapel in the background.
One thing Cave Couts was able to do was hire 300 of the local Indians to help build the 22 room adobe rancho. One of the problems Couts had was he had a fiery temper. He was indicted twice for whipping two Indians. One did die. He ended up killing two Hispanics and was charged for murder twice. Oddly enough, one of these murders took place at another Ramona site I will be covering eventually.

Much like the other rancho I covered, livestock was very important early on, but the drought issue of the 1860's forced the rancho to turn to agricultural products. When Couts died in 1874, Ysidora took over ownership of the rancho. When she died her 4th son Cave Couts Jr. took over.

I think I will stop with the historical points for this one. I will continue more with Rancho Guajome next time. The video will be coming, and I will come back and edit some of the wording like I normally do once I have the next blog up.

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Guajome (Youtube Version)

Ramona Epic #11: Rancho Guajome (Vimeo Version)

This links to the San Luis Rey Mission blogs where the famous tree is covered:

San Luis Rey Mission Blogs

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Ramona Epic #10: Alessandro Plays for Felipe

Happy Mother's Day!
At this point in the play, there has been a lot of talk about Felipe, but this is the first time you get to see him. One of the downsides to the play is the role of Felipe is very small compared to what he does in the book. He is mostly sick at the beginning of the book and play which is what you see here. One thing that I should note is there was a different actor for Felipe in 2010 and 2011. You will notice it when I show some of the 2011 play videos that will be coming soon.

I am currently putting together my pictures for the next location for this series. So, I should have it up in a few days.

Ramona Epic #10: Alessandro Plays for Felipe (Vimeo Version)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ramona Epic #9: Alessandro Learns the Truth

In this part of the outdoor play Alessandro learns the secret about Ramona that not even she knows. Juan Canito, who works at the ranch and is also the narrator in the play, explains:

Of course, in the book, the reader is told early on that Angus Phail is Ramona's real father. He married an Indian woman that gave birth to Ramona. To make a long story short, the child was eventually given to Phail's lost love Ramona Gonzaga. When Ramona Gonzaga died her sister, Senora Moreno Gonzaga, was given the child. So, she is part Scottish through her father and part Indian through her mother.

We are in the Ramona Pageant season right now. There is one Saturday left to view the play for this year. I did not go on opening day last year so I thought I would see what that was like this year. Well, it turned out to be a very hot day, and a bunch of the senior citizens were dropping like flies throughout the performance. They have paramedics all set up for this sort of thing. Even I was feeling the heat zap my energy that day.

I had wanted to video some scenes over for what I have been doing on here, and one of the key scenes I was trying to get was marred by a person passing out nearby. So, while the scene was going on I had people standing up, getting in the way, and paramedics coming through. I did keep the video going, but knew it was not something I will probably use. Although I may put that up in a separate video I do later on about the Ramona Bowl.

Also, at this performance, a lot more of the crowd near me was talking during parts of the play. One of the annoying things was there was a woman in front of me that had just purchased this big hat for the occasion. Before the play I heard her say her husband was not too thrilled about it. Well, it was good for her to block out the sun, but it was also blocking some of my view. You will notice it at times in the videos I use from this year.

Most of the same cast was here again this year. There was only one change that I will have to note in one of the upcoming videos. So, for this series, I am using both videos I took in 2010 and 2011.

Finally, I was about ten minutes from doing this write up on Sunday night when I saw that the White House was about to make a major announcement about a certain shame filled individual that is no longer on the planet. So, I ended up delaying this a few days. I have a couple of these I hope to catchup on in the next week or two along with the next location for this series. Although I have been really busy over the past month, the pace I am doing this is about right as we go along this year. There are some locations I wish I could do right now, but with this series it is important I build toward them in a chronological way.

Ramona Epic #9: Alessandro Learns the Truth (Vimeo Version)