Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner

Not exactly a retreat

We are leaving for home today, from Desert Hot Springs. We had envisioned loafing around and only doing one thing: the windmill tour. As it turned out, we won't be doing the windmill tour because we have done so much else. But willingly!

We arrived on Wednesday at about five p.m., after stopping by the Garcia house and getting the tour from the superintendent on the job. Highway 10 was heavy as always, and there was an accident near Cabazon that slowed traffic for several miles. Then Karol got mixed up, ended up heading back to Cabazon and going through the traffic jam all over again.

The motel was welcoming as always. Fresh fruit on the counter, food and drinks in the fridge and on the shelves, and of course the quiet and beauty of the place. I called Steve, who said he was at the Beat Hotel and was available if we wanted to do dinner that night.

Karol hooked up with the daughter of a long-time friend, who now lives here. Kelly, the daughther, wrote a note in the Lautner Foundation on-line guestbook and I printed the note in the newsletter, and this started the chain that connected Karol to Susan, her long-lost friend. Susan was not able to meet us that evening because of early hours on the job, but Kelly was, and did. Kelly, Karol, Steve, Dorothy, and I went out to dinner at a place called Sidewinders, where they offer steaks for $6.95 and where I had a veggie sandwich that was surprisingly good.

Steve told us he had gotten in touch with the new owner of the Elrod house and had arranged for us to visit the following morning if we wanted to do so. Of course we all did. OUr dinner went until fairly late, and finally we were in bed, having barely spent any time in the motel.

And so it went, really. Yesterday morning I was up early. I went on a little bike ride, bought batteries for my camera, came back, showered, dressed, then we all met and went to the Elrod house. That is, Steve, Karol, Dorothy, and I. We had a great visit there with the new owner, who is amazingly generous with his time and his fantastic home. He invited our family (and friends) to visit, to spend a week if we want, whenever it is handy for us! So we are trying to work out some plan for doing that. Mike, the owner, gave us a detailed tour of the house, during which time we realized that this unassuming younger man - maybe early forties - is very knowledgeable about architecture and knows his new house almost as well as if he had built it himself. We started our tour at about 10:45, and didn't leave until about 2:20. I took tons of pix but they are not magazine-perfect. Some may be suitable for the web site.

Steve was embroiled in politics. The town of Desert Hot Springs has suddenly become a developer's dream. Two years ago Steve bought lots for $4,000 each, adn many were to be had. Now a lot is a bargain at $30,000 and over five hundred homes have been built here in the last year. It is horrifying to watch the desert be taken over by rows and rows of the same house, each with septic systems. Even worse, these systems may spell disaster for the amazing water underground. Desert Hot Springs has been named the city with the best water in the nation. It is so pure that it does not need to be chlorinated. The hot springs do not smell, the water is clear and wonderful. Extraordinary. And yet the development of all of these homes threatens the existence of the best part of this town, these springs.

Steve has gotten involved in local politics to gain recognition for the small spas and motels that make up most of the town's business. With others, he arranged for a tour of many of these small businesses, by the city council, planning commission, and various local dignitaries. His Beat Hotel was on the list, to be visited yesterday afternoon, about 5;30.

So we were there, at the Beat, when the crowd arrived. Steve gave them a brief introduction to the Burroughs materials and the origin of the motel, they looked around and left. We stayed, drinking our wine, until we all decided it was time for dinner.

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