May 21, 2013

Leo Carillo House

This is a pretty picture heavy post!

My mom is awesome. She really is. She's also a total homebody these days. So when Mother's Day rolled around and we asked if there was anything she wanted to do to celebrate, she shrugged and said "not really." -_- . So my dad gave me the task of finding something to do. (lately I've been planning most of our family outings and they have all been incredibly successful  so now he just asks me to plan everything.) I found three options all within a few miles of each other in Carlsbad. So we decided to pack a picnic, head down there and see how many spots we could hit.

Well along the way my mom's car overheated (as I was driving it), and after pulling off the freeway and into a parking lot we discovered that the radiator had some problem and couldn't keep coolant in it. -_- . It took us about an hour, and a few bags of M&M's, to figure the problem out (and by us I mean Michael and my dad). In the meantime we hung out, talked, hid in the shade, some of us grew 9 feet tall, and generally had a pretty swell time making the best of a crappy situation. Grace has a minor meltdown about our car troubles ruing Mother's Day, but after a trip to the bathroom to wash our face, breathe, and sip some water, all was well. We found an auto parts store, patched the radiator, and decided to head to the closest destination. Which happened to be the Leo Carrillo House.

Of the other options I had found, I figured Leo Carrillo Ranch would be the least interesting. I was very wrong. Leo Carrillo was the actor who played Pancho on the Cisco Kid TV show. Beginning in the 30's he bought, and began building up, and old Rancho. He felt that the Ranchero History of California was disappearing and wanted to have a personal hand in preserving it. Eventually he purchased over 2,500 acres of land and built a working Ranch. As time wore on the property fell into disrepair until the city bought the main portion of the old ranch ad began restoring it. There originally bought 10 acres, but they have 27 now. The area surrounding the Ranch is now mostly made up of tract homes, but hidden away amid the stucco and matching front yards is an incredibly charming piece of history. The Leo Carrillo house captures both the romance of the old Rancheros who built this part of the state, and the nostalgia of the Golden Age of Hollywood and western revival. 

Yeah, I could hang here.

Gracie of course made haste to dive in. It's actually rather shallow (no lifeguard/gate means no real pool, so it was filled. It's about 2-3 ft deep.), but she did not care. This girl sees water, and she is in it.

The offending room full of vintage bits and bobs and clothes.

There are 10 main buildings left on the property, in various stages of restoration. There was one building that had some vintage clothes just chilling in a pile in the window. A brown satin gown, cream satin western shirt some sort of novelty cotton... I died. I seriously considered vandalism. The property features a beautiful Hacienda with plenty of charm and details. The buildings weren't open while we were there but peeking in through the windows gave us a taste of the glorious insides (there are guided tours you can take that let you inside, so I definitely want to go back!). I could write many a post on the fireplaces. I feel a bit like Mr. Collins in that regard. I actually felt overwhelmed because there was just so much I wanted to see. Beyond the Hacienda was a beautiful patio area which led to the pool and Cabaña. The Cabaña had a fireplace guys. And a built in Bar. Did I mention it also had a white sand beach next to it? All of this surrounded by native plants and blooming succulents.  It was seriously the coolest place. 

Near the Hacienda was what was once the Cantina where the Ranch hands could stop in for a drink at the end of the day. Or where Leo's film star buddies would chill with a glass of whiskey. No big deal. Leo held branding parties where his Hollywood friends could come and help. There was a photo of Leo, Clark Gable, Buddy Ebson, and Bob Hope branding a cow. NO. BIG. DEAL. There was eve a pigeon Fowlry. Some of the buildings are still waiting on their turn for renovation, including the stables, which were actually one of my favourite parts. They're covered in cobwebs, peeling paint, and incredibly dusty. I guess I find that charming. They are also HUGE!  When I was little I always dreamed of having a huge ranch like this place and I can safely say that I still want one. The adobe walls, open layout, rolling hills, historic details, le sigh. 

If all that weren't enough, the entire property is full of roaming Peafowl. Including a white Peacock (which isn't actually albino). There's a sign in the Hacienda about the birds, and warnings not to harass them, but they seem to be used to visitors stalking them and snapping some pictures. I am not exactly an animal person, but these guys would walk right up to me and politely pose as I played paparazzi. Sometimes they hung out in trees, and every sew seconds would let out their bizarre sounding warble, which luckily for us, Eric learned to imitate right away. A Peacock also chased Chelsea, tail spread wide, and she was incredibly worried it was attempting to mate with her. The beautiful picnic area seemed to be the favourite spot for these guys to hang and we did not mind the company as we ate.

How beautiful is this guy?

The grounds around the buildings are also in various states of neglect. There are a couple of hiking trails, which I assume are more maintained, and the grounds around the Hacienda are beautiful, but some other areas are a bit more wild. Which I'm not sure is a bad thing. There were some beautiful (and this is coming from someone who dislikes them greatly) succulents growing, including this black one I'd never seen before. The barn has been turned into a theatre (it closed by the time I got there so I am not sure what exactly they show) and gift shop (who needs a better marketing team...) that actually sells cuttings of the succulents, which I thought was a pretty cool and unique souvenir. My mom bought one of the cool black ones.

The thing about the Leo Carrillo house is that it blends two of my favourite parts of Californian History, and has that Living History vibe to it (I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!). If you enjoy Old West Californian History and/or Old Hollywood, I can guarantee you will love this place!

Just to the left of this photo you can see the dorsal fin sticking up!

This one is a bit better!

After we left, we headed down to the beach in an effort to escape the heat (97!). A crazy thick fog had rolled into the coast and it was much cooler (67!)! Some ice cream later, we waded in the surf and got to watch about 5 dolphins off playing in the water! Including a baby one! I could never get a picture of the dolphins, but I did try to catch it on film. It's hard to see, but regardless this little video is pretty relaxing.

Despite the rough start, this was an absolutely wonderful day celebrating my mama! And by the way yes, she apparently has wanted to go there for years, and absolutely loved exploring. I'm pretty sure she is plotting a way to build her own replica now. (of course her version would have houses for each of her children's families one day. Yes, her dream is pretty much to set up a commune.) Love you mama!

1 comment:

  1. Excuse me while I go find a billion dollars and move here. Such wonderful pictures!