Orange Getaway

The last post dealt with the mechanics (and electricals) of getting to and from our weekend in Riverside without going into a lot of the details of perhaps its biggest question: why the heck would you ever spend a getaway weekend in Riverside?

If you’re not a Californian, Riverside sits near the eastern edge of the Inland Empire – the giant sprawl of towns and suburbs east of Los Angeles. There’s a lot of concrete. And houses. And highways. And airborne particulates. Pretty romantic, right?

Of all the places in California that I’ve been to, Riverside most reminds me of the Rust Belt in the northeastern US. A once-great area that has lost its influence because of shifts in the national and global economies in the 20th century. And like those places, you could see the remnants of it in the gorgeous buildings and arcades of downtown.

Arcade

Arcade

One of those great landmarks is The Mission Inn, which I learned is the centerpiece of the Mission Revival Architectural Movement at the end of the 19th century.  And really, even without anything else, The Mission Inn is a good enough reason to make Riverside a stop. It’s a gorgeous property that’s a lot like an MC Escher painting: Lots of hidden courtyards, stairways, and balconies that all seem to intersect one another in surprising ways.

The Mission Inn

The Mission Inn

Mission Inn Interior

Mission Inn Interior

Rotunda

Rotunda

Bride in Mission Inn Chapel Courtyard

Bride in Mission Inn Chapel Courtyard

We spent a good part of our first afternoon just exploring it. Dinner in one of the courtyard restaurants didn’t have a bad view, either.

Hers & His Dinner Cocktails

Hers & His Dinner Cocktails

Dinnertime ceiling

Dinnertime ceiling

But when did Riverside enjoy its moment in the sun? (Actually with only 10 inches or rain per year, most of its moments are in the sun, but you know what I mean…) You might be as surprised as I was to find out that in the 1890s, Riverside had the highest per capita income of any city in the nation. And the engine behind those riches? Oranges.

Great California Ladies: Beloved & Tibbets

Great California Ladies: Beloved & Tibbets

In the 1870s, Eliza Tibbets received the first navel orange plants and within a decade, the area became covered with acres and acres of citrus groves. Citrus remained a vital force in the area until the end of WWII when suburbanization made houses more valuable than trees.

Orange Stand

Orange Stand

And while the groves are nearly completely gone, the State Parks system has its own testament to it: California Citrus State Historic Park. The park has nearly 400 acres and over 75 different kinds of trees for you to walk around in. Besides, how can you not go into a park that has a giant orange as its gateway? We managed to go there on a day the museum and shop were closed, but it was still a great place to walk around and get a little sense of the boom-times a century before.

Groves

Groves

Fruit

Fruit

And a good excuse to go back some time.

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20 thoughts on “Orange Getaway

  1. I’ve been to Riverside, not a very sexy place. But I must say next time I wander out to the 909 I will have to visit the mission, it’s quite lovely. I’ve actually been to the citrus park for a wedding, it was nice.

    • Real — no, it’s not the most beautiful of destinations. But I like to think you can have a good time anywhere. As we walked around the park, we thought it’d look great for a wedding. :)

  2. Beautiful photos, Steve. I’ll have to stop at the Mission the next time I make to the south end of the state.

    Before I moved to CA, I was thinking of applying to UC Riverside, which has a pretty good PhD program in English literature. A colleague dissuaded me however, saying “Riverside is an armpit.” It doesn’t look so in your pictures; I’m actually a little sorry I didn’t apply, though nowadays a PhD in English is like having a gold albatross tied to your neck: very expensive, and mostly a curse in this economic climate.

    Is there some significance to Her cocktail being a lot bigger than His?

    • Thanks HG! The Mission Inn is well worth an excuse for a stay — and since it’s in Riverside, it’s really not that expensive.

      I actually stayed at the Inn in the mid-1990s when I was a candidate for a job at the UCR department of Biochemistry. Boy, was that a bad interview. We mutually disliked each other. Though, during this trip I tracked down the room that they’d put me in before and it was one of the fanciest suites — so there was that.

      Check the caption on that photo again! :)

  3. I remember the first time I drove through orange groves in Florida. The scent from the trees…here in Rome I’m amazed at the number of orange trees growing on people’s balconies. Some of them are huge and I can’t imagine building inspectors in North American giving approval for plantings like these.

    I like the size of your glass, Signore.

    • BD – yes, the aroma there, with so many of the trees in blossom, was wonderful!! We have both a lemon and a lime here at The Aerie — and the lime smells fantastic this week. Their pots, however, are firmly on terra firma. :)

      • They used to play the Bacchanal in San Diego (Kearney Mesa) quite a bit. I never had the pleasure but I do have their album. They were led by a dude named Country Dick Montana.

        The Bacchanal is where I saw Ricky Skaggs and Mary Chapin Carpenter (twice).

          • No, but I did for almost two decades. Meet me at the nearest Alberto’s and we can catch up on San Diego living. I lived all over the place, too. From El Cajon to Old Town. From Emerald Hills to Scripps Ranch. Tierrasanta and Serra Mesa, just up the hill from Jack Murphy Stadium. (Sorry, I can’t get into calling it the Q.)

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