Sunday, April 6, 2014

Desert Center: What Happened Here? (Part 2 of 3)

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

Desert Center, California: February, 15, 2014:

I walked up to the closed Desert Center Cafe, in ghostly Desert Center, expecting to see cobwebs, a few pieces of paper on the floor, and broken up furniture; signs of a long-closed business.

I looked in the window and was shocked and surprised.

The cafe looks like it was temporarily closed while the owner ran out to run an errand; maybe to the closed post office across the street.

The tables were spotless.  Sugar, salt, and pepper holders remained on the tables as if there was no time to attract bugs or rats.



Rooster Pepper Sauce looking a little old.

"Closed Temporarily"

OK: There is food to the east and west...Menu looked Good!
Sign looks not that old...
And when was the last time you saw a phone booth, no less a row of three of them?

The ATM machine was the only thing seemingly packed up for the closure.. 

A nice man that I met in front of the closed post office told me the cafe had closed "last year."

According to the Cafe's Yelp Site, the Cafe was at least open on April 13, 2013, when the visitor had the "Best Ortega burger ever!" and gave the place 5 stars.  In January, 2013, Kathy from France visited and said it was like a time warp (though she does not actually mention whether it was open).  A Four-Square reporter said that on March 29, 2013 that the place was closed.

A far less favorable review, was from a April 2012 visitor:
On a road trip a couple of years ago, I stopped here to eat. It's the only structure in this "town" that shows any hint of life. I tried the patty melt. It was very greasy, which is not unforgivable for a patty melt. The real problem with it was that the meat tasted old...and also a bit like freezer burn. On a more recent trip I stopped again, this time due to kids who were crying out in desperation for a bathroom break. Upon pulling up in front, I noticed a sign in the window that said something about not having a trash can available for you to use, ending with "take your trash with you!" I've never been a fan of businesses that choose to assail their potential customers with signs admonishing them of all of the things they will NOT be allowed to do while patronizing the place, but nature was evidently calling. As we approached the door, I saw another sign. "Restroom Use $1.00 Service Fee For Non Customers!"

Sigh...that was enough for me. It's only 19 miles to Chiriaco Summit...skip this place.

According to Yelp, the Cafe was closed for some time between July and October 2012.   Furthermore, when fellow explorer and former New Yorker, Sandi Hemmerlein of the Avoiding Regret blog was there in 2012, it looks like the cafe was closed.

While there are many reports about older visits to the cafe, there is little on the web, including the cafe's semi official/unofficial site as to when the staff will step back in and start the grill and friers again...

However, I did receive an email on April 4, 2014, from "Suzanne", saying the Cafe can open "at any time now".


Friday, April 4, 2014

Comes With Personal Observatory?

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

I heard about having your own telescope, even elaborate scopes with motors that follow the sky.  

However, I have never heard about "personal observatories".  I guess building them is common enough that someone felt it important to point out what mistakes to avoid during construction of your own domed home observatory

I found this observatory while cruising north on CA-49 from Mariposa to Sonora.  This property was very close to where I saw the cock-roach posing horse.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Want Chips With that Dip?

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

Highway dips are usually worth a stop and look.

This big one, known as "The Texas Dip" , is located outside Borrego Springs near the CA-78/Borrego Springs Road junction..  The San Felipe Wash "flows" through here.

This dip is located in the Sierras, just west of Coulterville on CA-132.


Know of any good dips?

Opium Bar in Tiny Coulterville, CA

by Steve Reiss (Dalmdad Landscape Photography - and

Coulterville, CA is a small town in the western Sierra Mountains, between Mariposa and Sonora.

Coulterville was known for its very large "Chinatown" on the outskirts of the town.  That Chinatown is thought to have included its very own opium bar.

On the Sun Sun Wo Store:

The Sun Sun Wo Store is the lone remnant of one of the Mother Lode’s largest Chinatowns. Built in 1851, the store’s adobe walls were formed of soil which came from its basement excavation. Several inches of dirt were placed over the beamed ceiling which helped insulate those inside from winter cold and summer heat. It also made the ceiling fire resistant which accounts for the structure being one of the few buildings in Coulterville to survive the 1899 fire intact. The store is named after its original owners, Mow Da Sun and his son Sun Kow. It was the largest store in Coulterville under Chinese ownership, filling extensive orders from the surrounding mines and ranches, not just the local Chinatown. The store remained in continuous operation from 1851 to 1926 and the original shelves and counters are still inside. At the rear of the building are storerooms, a blacksmith shop and the store’s office. Strong evidence points to part of the office being used as an opium den.  It is located on the corner of Kow and Main, across from the goats.

The above is mostly drawn from the historical marker nearby. 

There are some older pictures of the place here.

These are my pictures of the Sun Sun Wo.

October 2013

November 2007

November 2007
Now, did you see that little comment about the Sun Sun Wo store being across from the goats?  That is a timeless reference.

Here is one of the goats back in 2007:

And, here is one of the goats in 2013 along with its noisy cheerleaders.