Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Green and Orange Christmas at Arroyo Vista Inn

While most people are dreaming of a White Christmas we here at the Arroyo Vista Inn are thinking of green and orange.  Mainly because right now our tangerines are ripe and delicious. You can enjoy them fresh off the tree.  One of the joys of living in Southern California is that much of our citrus ripens during the winter and brightens everything with colorful, great tasting fruit.

Russ picked some tangerines today and put them in the living room for our guests to enjoy.  He trims the tree of dead branches and fertilizes it several times each year, so he is happy when harvest time comes and he can enjoy and share the fruits of his labor.

Farmer Russ, being inquisitive by nature, also researched the tangerine and found it is closely related to the Mandarin orange and has been cultivated in China for over 3,000 years.  There tangerines are eaten out of hand but are also used in salads, desserts and main dishes.  We were surprised to find that the peel is dried and used in Sichuan (often spelled Szechuan or Szechwan in North America) cuisine. The tangerine is smaller than most oranges, easier to peel and break in segments and the taste is usually sweeter than an orange.  Some have a lot of seeds but not ours, so they are fun and easy to eat.  In the Northern Hemisphere tangerines ripen from October to April.  Ours started turning bright orange earlier this month.

Our oranges are also ripening and will soon be ready for juicing and served fresh with your breakfast here at the Arroyo Vista Inn.  We have ten citrus trees including six oranges and the tangerine and a lemon, lime and grapefruit.  In all, we have 22 fruit trees on the grounds, and since the Inn opened almost five years ago Farmer Russ has planted twenty of them.  He has promised to provide more in the future on all his farming exploits. 

So, if you are staying with us for the holidays, be sure to try some of our tangerines.  Even though we have already had a dusting of snow on the San Gabriel Mountains, you will be thinking of orange and green and asking for another tangerine.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lunar Eclipse Over the Arroyo Vista Inn

Arroyo Vista Inn guests know that we have some fantastic views.  Many rooms face the San Gabriel Mountains and our several balconies and terraces provide great vistas of the mountains and surrounding communities.  The sky is also part of our view shed and this morning we had some very unusual views that aren’t often seen, and Russ got up at 5:30 to take them in. 
Those views were of the moon and the lunar eclipse.  On the west coast we were able to see the entire eclipse.  Russ got some great views leading up to the total eclipse but then some cloud cover moved in.  However, he found a web site that provided more views.  You can view Slooh, the online Space Camera at http://events.slooh.com/.  According to Wikipedia, the name Slooh comes from the word “slew” to indicate a movement of a telescope, modified to “ooh” to express pleasure and surprise.
Of course Pasadena and the Los Angeles area is a great place to explore space if that is your interest.  From the Inn you can see Mount Wilson and a short drive will take you through the Angeles National Forest, http://www.fs.usda.gov/angeles, to the observatory which was founded in 1904 by George Ellery Hale in cooperation with the Carnegie Institution.  Tours are available certain times of the year and more information can be found at http://www.mtwilson.edu/ .  Another interesting place to visit is the Carnegie Institution for Science in Pasadena, http://obs.carnegiescience.edu/ which offers colloquia, lunch talks and morning tea with scientists.
Russ alternated from going out on the porch with his binoculars to look at the actual eclipse to coming back in and watching the eclipse around the world on the Slooh Space Camera with real time views from Hawaii, Singapore and Australia.  The event was narrated by scientists who were taking questions from callers.
By the time the moon was covered totally by the earth’s shadow, clouds had obscured it, so Russ had to enjoy the rest of the experience on the Space Camera.  However, in the next few minutes he was treated to the wonderful views of the sunrise.  First it brought up the outline of the San Gabriel Mountains, then color began to return to trees and buildings, city lights began to dim, windows of homes and buildings across the valley began to reflect bright beams of sunlight and suddenly, there it was, our sun, illuminating and warming another glorious day here at the Arroyo Vista Inn.
We invite you to book a room and come and enjoy the sunrise with us, and of course, we will provide you with a great breakfast and lots of hot coffee, tea or chocolate.  Be sure to visit our web site at http://www.arroyovistainn.com/ to make your reservation for your weekend of space exploration or just plain relaxation.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recent Wind Storm over Arroyo Vista Inn

On the night of Wednesday, November 30 and the early morning hours of Thursday, December 1, 2011 strong winds rocked Los Angeles County hitting particularly hard in the western San Gabriel Valley communities of Pasadena, South Pasadena, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, and Monrovia.

Wind gusts stronger than 140 mph which would be equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane were measured on ridge tops and 80 mph winds in the valley areas were common.  Before it was over more than 400,000 people were without power, flights in and out of local airports were delayed and thousands of trees were toppled along with damage to many roofs, signs, fences and other infrastructure.

Here at the Arroyo Vista Inn we were lucky.  A patch of shingles blew off the roof, windows in our house next to the Inn flew open in the night, trash cans were tossed about and the screens on our air conditioning units bounced around the yard.  Miraculously, not one of our 100 oak trees was toppled although many branches were broken or had to be trimmed back.  Russ and I were up a couple of times in the night checking on things to make sure everyone was alright.  

Our nighttime view of the lights of Pasadena and Altadena, nestled against the San Gabriel Mountains, was altered significantly as over 500 power lines were downed and lights all over town went out.  Fortunately, for us our power was only out for eight hours and came back on in time to serve our guests their normal breakfast.  In fact the Inn was so snug during the wind storm that one guest said she slept through the entire event.

Many of our neighbors were not so lucky with some in South Pasadena being off the power grid for four days and others in surrounding communities for almost a week.  As the days wore on we took in refugees who tired of no light or heat, offering those in distress special emergency rate.

Things are getting back to normal and the Inn is operating as usual which means we have a great place for you to escape to in order to rest up for the coming holidays.  You don’t have to be refugee to get a good rate in the next two weeks, so give us a call to get a little peace and quiet before things really get hopping, which they will do for us very soon.  We are completely booked for Christmas and New Years.

Speaking of which, Russ and I and all the staff here at the Arroyo Vista Inn wish you and yours the very best at this holiday season and hope that 2012 will be a good year for you.  Thank you for your support and patronage in 2011.  Come visit us soon!