Palm Springs is surrounded by a chain of mountains that offer respite from the chill of winter and the merciless winds of spring. The San Jacinto’s, the San Bernardino’s and a host of other granite citadels run the length of the Coachella Valley. On the far west side of the San Bernardino mountain chain lies the small hamlet of Crestline. While it lacks the glamor of the more popular ski resorts like Big Bear and Arrowhead it’s a perfect example of California mountain life.
For years Palm Springs residents have been escaping the summer heat for their cabin in the clouds. Much like my fellow Minnesotans heading up north to the cabin, this exodus takes place on weekends for the most part and during the week for those fortunate retirees.
Not that long ago we ventured up to a friend’s cabin located in the small town of Crestline, California. Growing up, I’d been to friend’s cabins up north. This experience was nothing like that. A cabin in mountainous California is not synonymous with a cabin in the Midwest.
To get there, a driver must climb from about 1000 feet sea level to over 5000 feet in less than twenty minutes. The road twists and turns and seems more like a roller coaster or bucking Broncho than a CALTRAN express highway. The serpentine roadways don’t end at the top of the mountain. Instead they continue like blacktop fingers that weave and curl and snake their way through the woods. There is nary a flat spot anyplace.
Minnesota cabins tend to follow a pattern. They’re laid out in square or rectangular plots and often border a lake or stream or river. California cabins are just the opposite. There seems to be little rhyme or reason for their placement. Cabins are located next to the road, above the road, below the road or far away from the road.
Homes are generally smaller here in the mountains than back in Minnesota. ‘My little cabin’ back in Minnesota is often ‘code’ for huge lodges or estates that line pristine lakes or a chain of lakes.
In the California Mountains, a cabin is a cabin and a lodge is a lodge.
Our friend’s cabin was about a cute and comfortable and cozy as one could ever ask for.
There seems to be little difference between the mountain communities of the San Bernardino’s and the high desert hamlets of Joshua tree and Twenty-Nine Palms.
Both are rural enclaves with the same folksy charm, the same reservations for outsiders and natural suspicions about folks from the big cities.
Sharon can be very sophisticated yet has a rural sensibility about her. She felt right at home in the high mountain air and conifer surroundings of our friend’s cabin. I loved the peace and quiet and solitude.
Like Sharon, it spoke to me - but in a different way.