History of Carson Valley comes alive at Dangberg Ranch

The Dangberg estate started as a cabin and grew as the family increased in size. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

As a gentle breeze blew it was as though the secrets of days gone by were being carried in the wind. Several of the secrets about the Dangberg clan are revealed in an hourlong guided tour of the family’s old homestead on the outskirts of Minden, Nevada.

Patriarch Heinrich Friedrich Dangberg came to the area in 1856. He was 18 when he left Germany, having stopped in other locales in the United States before putting down roots in the Carson Valley. The ranch grew to 48,000 acres. While some descendants are still alive, four generations lived in the family home from 1857 to 1995. Today the site contains eight structures built between 1857 and 1917. On the adjacent parcel, which is private land, is the Dangberg barn built in 1875, a corral, and deteriorating brick slaughterhouse from 1918. All the meat the family and workers consumed was processed at the ranch. This included beef, pork, sheep and poultry.

Clothing worn by the family and other items fill one of the bedrooms. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Dangberg served three terms in the Nevada Legislature, in the House and state Senate. (His son, Fred, served two terms in the Legislature.) The elder Dangberg died in 1904 at the age of 73. He was buried at the Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City. Two years before his death the family formed the Dangberg Land and Livestock Co.

The Carson Valley might look much different if the Dangberg family had decided to settle somewhere else. They successfully diverted the Carson River to irrigate their fields, ensuring there was hay year round. The Dangbergs were some of the first ranchers in Nevada to grow alfalfa. The family developed the town of Minden in 1905; it became the county seat in 1918. The old flour mill that was founded by the Dangbergs is now part of the Bently Heritage Estate Distillery. They had a role in getting electricity to the valley in the early part of the 20th century.

In 1866, Dangberg married Margaret Ferris. (It was her brother who invented the Ferris wheel.) The lineage of Clarence Dangberg, the youngest of their five children, is the only surviving clan. He started the C.O.D. Garage in Minden, which today is the C.O.D. Casino.

Fred Dangberg, the oldest son, was an entrepreneur and risk taker. He allowed the V&T railroad in Carson City to lay down tracks across their land, with the terminus being Minden. The Dangbergs weren’t friendly with the folks in Gardnerville, and were able to keep the train from going that far south. He developed a gambling problem, used the company checkbook to pay off his debt, and was eventually kicked out of the company.

First the agriculture market collapsed, then the stock market, mix in family infighting and the Dangberg clan started to unravel. They were able to hold on, even recover and grow their land holdings after World War II.

The parlor is filled with a slew of items that once belonged to the Dangbergs. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The ranch was sold in 1978 to ranchers in the area. A life estate allowed three remaining Dangberg women to live out their lives at the house. The last woman died in 1995.

In 2007, the Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park opened to the public. Tours started that same year. It encompasses 5½ acres. More than 43,000 original items belonging to the family remain. More items continue to be added to the estate. In 2019, a freight wagon that belonged to the family was obtained from the Dayton Valley Historical Society. Restoration is ongoing, with a grant recently secured to restore the columns that were once the entrance to the ranch. Today the park is owned by Douglas County, with the site run by the nonprofit Friends of Dangberg Home Ranch. In non-COVID times events are scheduled seasonally.

Tours now are limited because of the pandemic. Mark Jensen takes people around the outside, telling stories about various members of the Dangberg clan. Photos of who he is talking about are in the barn, with more in the screened in porch. It’s easy to imagine a lazy afternoon of sitting there with a spiked lemonade or something else cool to drink. While the three upstairs bedrooms are off limits to visitors, it’s possible to tour the main house. In all, there are five bedrooms, two parlors and the kitchen in the main house. The north wing includes the ranch kitchen and workers’ dinging room. Jensen stands outside regaling guests with stories about the 4,000-square-foot home, the old grand piano, the Persian rug and all that the home contains.

The cellar and workers’ dining hall are open to self-guided tours. This is home to the oldest refrigerator in the valley and so many more artifacts from an era that seems so long ago.

Equipment left over from the ranching days sits idle along the fence. (Image: Kathryn Reed)



  • Address: 1450 Highway 88, Minden, Nevada.
  • Website
  • Call for tour reservations: 775.783.9417.
  • Tour cost: $10 per person.

Tourism officials in overdrive to get people back to Tahoe

Updated June 25.

Road trips. That is what most tourism bureaus are banking on to salvage the summer season. Tahoe is no different.

“Travel will be more regional. The drive market will be expanded,” Carol Chaplin, CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, said June 19. Tourism on the South Shore was the focus of that day’s webinar hosted by Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce.

Advertising dollars are being redirected from those who would fly here to those within 600 miles from Tahoe or about a 10-hour drive away. The thinking is Tahoe will be a stop on many people’s road trip itineraries. The other focus for ads will be on Southern California and Las Vegas. With LTVA’s website traffic “skyrocketing” from Las Vegas, officials are confident in having that area be a target. Starting July 13 there will be a regional ad campaign in Los Angeles that will layer on top of the LTVA campaign. This will be all digital for six weeks.

Although the Reno-Tahoe International Airport lost about 95 percent of its passenger load since the world shutdown in mid-March, the numbers are starting to come back. Chaplin, who is wrapping up her year as president of the Airport Authority, said one day there were only 270 passengers. Normally, there are thousands.

People line up for ice cream June 20 in Camp Rich. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

LTVA has partnered with the Tahoe Fund to purchase two digital billboards; one on the West Slope and the other on Spooner Summit, talking about safe distancing and wearing masks.

When COVID-19 hit LTVA canceled all paid media, then changed the message to shelter in place and Tahoe will be here when it’s appropriate. Then came the rebound phase. This week begins the launch phase, meaning the agency wants as many people here as possible. Being responsible is part of the message. The messaging to potential visitors will be to adventure lovers, those wanting to relax and recharge, and to those with and without kids. Realizing there is plenty of space to recreate in the outdoors is a draw for people living in more confined locations like cities. Still, there is only so much sand to sprawl out on at the beaches. Social distancing has not been taking place on Tahoe beaches.

With California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week mandating masks be worn indoors and sometimes outdoors, that is part of the responsibility component marketers are stressing. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak implement a mask-wearing policy effective June 26.

This past weekend the Camp Richardson area looked like a typical summer weekend with traffic congested, people milling about, and a line out the ice cream store. Even so, the California tourism bureau expects tourism spending to be about $72 billion for 2020, half of what it was in 2019. Half the jobs in tourism (613,000) could be lost. No local jobs numbers or revenue figures were provided during last week’s talk.

I know my family won’t be contributing to the local economy like we expected to. This week I was supposed to be hosting about 40 people from all over the country. We have delayed the gathering for one year. I have to say the folks running the MS Dixie in Zephyr Cove were super easy to deal with. I wish I could say the same for Lakeland Village in South Lake Tahoe. I still haven’t received my deposit—which is more than $1,200. (I’m not rebooking until I get this money back.) While we are going to stay there in 2021, it was anything but easy to get all the condos canceled, then secure the same pricing level as this year for next. The fact that Vail Resorts, which now manages the condos, made me deal with the former management company and some third party I had never heard of was absurd. Fingers are crossed things go more smoothly in a year and that I actually get this year’s deposit refunded.

Oddly, on June 17, Aramark, which runs the MS Dixie paddle-wheeler, sent out a press release about its Fourth of July fireworks cruises. When asked how such a thing could be possible when there won’t be any fireworks this year, the company sent a response saying, “This has now been canceled.” But they didn’t send a press release to all media saying as much, just to this writer who inquired about it.

While the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament is still being played July 8-12, there won’t be any spectators. The 80 or so celebs will be featured in about 18 hours of live TV between NBC and the Golf Channel. Chaplin said at Hole 17—the party hole where all the boats are—will be different this year. People won’t be allowed to get off their boats. This event has always been a boon for area nonprofits. About $600,000 has been committed this year to charities, with locals to receive about $200,000. It’s not known if there will be parameters like health care and racial equality being where the money is spent.

Other notes:

  • Heavenly’s gondola will open July 3.
  • LTVA’s Nevada visitors center will open before July 4.
  • The Stateline events center at MontBleu will break ground July 9, with NBC televising it. Utilities will be put underground this year and waterlines rerouted. It will not go vertical this building season as had originally been planned.
  • The chamber bought 500 “care” signs for businesses to use; the 9 x 12 adhesive signs have messages about distancing.

History of Todos Santos comes alive on walking tour

Hotel Guaycura on the far left, with the Todos Santos Inn to the right. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

If only the walls could talk. So much history is hidden inside the brick buildings of Todos Santos, Mexico. Fortunately, every other year many of these buildings are open to the public during the Historic Home Tour.

Wood isn’t often used in this tropical climate. Termites are one of the concerns. In several of the structures on the tour it was pointed out that beams were black palm. Docents spoke of how these palms are insect resistance, but are no longer used because they are endangered. For the wealthy, wood floors were a sign of status even though they weren’t practical in that climate.

Interior photos of private homes are not allowed. In the back of this house is the wall used as the screen for the original movie theater. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Todos Santos, which is an hour north of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific Ocean side of Baja California Sur, has had an up and down history. By 1773, the mission was on its third religious order. According the literature handed out at this year’s tour, “In 1890, botanist T.S. Brandgee described Todos Santos as a pretty place of 30 to 40 houses overlooking fields of sugar cane. Its prosperity during the last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th was based on sugar production. The austerely handsome brick homes in the historic district and many of the public works were largely financed with sugar money.”

The sugar cane industry evaporated in the 1950s when the aquifer dried up. Still, that sugar cane history was part of the historic walking tour earlier this year. Today Todos Santos is a thriving town of about 6,000 residents, boasting a large ex-pat community full of artists, surfers and retirees. The culinary experience is outstanding.

The ticket to the 27 locations was a fundraiser for the Palapa Society, a nonprofit education enterprise. Participants could go at their own pace in any order they wanted. Volunteers at each site dispensed information, though the brochure that came with the ticket was extensive.

Some of the locations are possible to visit without being part of the biennial event, such as Centro Cultural, Hotel Casa Tota, Todos Santos Inn, Hotel Guaycura, Hotel California and Teatro Marquez De Leon. However, it was the private homes that were the most captivating.

Todos Santos’ present-day theater first opened in 1944. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

A 30-foot high cement wall at the back of one property used to be the screen for the old movie theater that operated there from 1935-44. Viewing would have been great from ground level or the second story. An indoor theater was built on the town plaza in 1944, which has since been restored and is used for films, lectures and other productions.

The old Todos Santos Inn used to be next door to the theater. For a time, it was the only place to stay in town. Originally, the two properties were owned by the same family when they were built in the late 1800s.

The current Todos Santos Inn had been a school. By the early 1900s the first cantina in Todos Santos opened where La Copa bar now exists, along with a store. During the Mexican revolution of 1910 someone threw dynamite at the building in protest of the owner’s ties to dictator Porfirio Diaz. The property fell into disrepair until it was bought in 1988 and later refurbished.

Ramon Wong, who became secretary of Defense for Mexico, has his name tied to several properties in town. People believe he came to the area at the height of the railroad building near the U.S. border. His descendants now live in La Paz. Wong was a soap maker when he lived in Todos Santos. The soap factory was located where Café Todos Santos is today.

Many of the homes in downtown Todos Santos are upstairs while stores are below; often with both being owned by the same person.

Not all of the buildings on the tour are open to visitors. Still, their stories are interesting. The next Historic Home Tour of Todos Santos will be in March 2022.

A relationship solidified in sand – Lovers and Divorce Beaches

Looking from Divorce Beach to Lovers Beach and beyond to Cabo San Lucas. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Tales of romance and infidelity filled the boat as it bounced along at a steady pace toward the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas.

Each captain has his own story about how Lovers and Divorce beaches got their names. Playa del Amor always gets a mention as people motor by. Playa del Divorcio, even though it is five times bigger, isn’t always able to be seen because it can be too rough to even get a peek, let alone access it.

The “attitude” of the two beaches is more likely how they got their names. Lovers Beach is on the Sea of Cortez side; tranquil, inviting, even swimmable. It’s the turbulent Pacific Ocean that tumbles onto Divorce Beach. It is uninviting, has a potentially deadly undertow, and is not recommended for swimming. A vast swath of sand connects the two.

A heart shaped rock breaks from the others on Divorce Beach. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While “drive bys” are the norm for most people when it comes to these two beaches, they are worth spending a little time at because they are so beautiful and different.

Most of the people were clustered on the Lovers side. Does it sound better to want to hang out there? Divorce Beach is much more wide-open. If sand is your thing, that’s the place to be. If water if what you are after, stick with Lovers. Rock formations on both sides are worth gawking at, or snapping a few pictures of.

Lovers Beach is on the Sea of Cortez. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Don’t expect any amenities, so bring what you need/want for however long you intend to stay. Sometimes people will be hawking overpriced beers.

Both beaches are accessible by panga for about $12 (U.S.) a person from the Cabo San Lucas Marina or Médano Beach. The drop off and pick up is at Lovers Beach. This trip is for the able bodied; even excursion peddlers who say there is a ladder might not be telling the truth. And those who help you in or out of the boat expect a tip.

Industry experts trying to figure out the future of travel

Today, snow quality doesn’t even register as a concern for mountain destinations. This is a dramatic change considering it has been at the top of the list for decades. A pandemic has altered priorities for travelers as well as the destinations they want to visit.

Mountain Travel Symposium on May 13 hosted a webinar titled Mountain Tourism in the Age of COVID-19: What the Data Tells Us. At the start participants were asked: As a business, what is your biggest concern? The answers:

  • 36 percent—customers’ fear of travel
  • 34 percent—health and safety of staff and guests
  • 19 percent—reoccurrence of government-required shutdown
  • 7 percent—my bottom line
  • 4 percent—marketing and communications to guests
  • 0 percent—snow quality during winter 2020/2021.

Over the course of a couple weeks starting in mid-March travel came to a screeching halt throughout the world. Luxury and upper scale hotels in the United States hit single-digit occupancy. It is the 18- to 34-year-old sector that was slowest to cancel trips, according to data provided during the webinar.

“You could get younger millennials with deals. That’s why target messaging is important,” said Pete Comeau with Phocuswright. Pre-COVID-19 deals were the way to stimulate travel for all consumers. Not so anymore. In this new world most people want to feel safe; and that’s assuming they want to travel or have the money to do so.

A sign in Bijou Community Park in South Lake Tahoe is likely to remain for several months. (Image: Susan Wood)

Occupancy is incrementally increasing across all hotel categories, but has a long way to go to recover. Fifteen percent of hotels are completely closed, including most throughout the Lake Tahoe-Truckee region. Experts don’t expect 2021 numbers to reach 2019 stats. Ali Hoyt with STR said 1 million room nights are still being sold each night. Occupants include first responders, homeless, airline personnel, other business travelers, and a few on the road for fun. (STR provides premium data benchmarking, analytics and marketplace insights for global hospitality sectors.)

Hoyt said this time of closure or minimal occupancy is an opportunity for properties to rethink how they want to serve customers, and their business operations as a whole.

More encouraging for destinations is that people are tending to postpone trips as opposed to outright cancellations. Tom Foley with Inntopia said, “In the last two weeks it is nudging into the positive to more bookings than cancellations. We are on a knife-edge right now.”

As the arrival date gets closer, people are canceling. People who were planning to travel in May, June and July have rebooked for June, July and August. Many who were once planning a summer trip have rescheduled for the fall. Foley said new bookings are coming for July, with the second most popular time frame being September through December.

From a May 3 survey by Destination Analysts it looked at what months people in the U.S. have plans to take a leisure trip:

  • May—5.4 percent
  • June—12.7 percent
  • July—20.7 percent
  • August—20.8 percent
  • September—23.5 percent
  • October—19.7 percent
  • November—15.5 percent
  • December—14.5 percent
  • No plans to travel in 2020—21.8 percent
  • Sometime in 2021—8 percent.

Flexibility isn’t something the hospitality industry has always been known for. Foley said 10 weeks ago concessions were made in about 33 percent of cases, whereas today it is 100 percent. He said 90 percent of properties are offering full refunds.

Dave Belin with RRC Associates said, “It now feels like resorts, hotels and airlines are taking on more of the risks.” It was noted how ski resorts are offering guarantees on 2020-21 season passes; something that has never been offered before.

Increased consumer confidence is what will move the needle for travel. It’s not there today. Boston Consulting Group took a survey April 24-27 about consumer sentiment. The question—Would you be concerned about doing any of the following in the near future?:

  • 67 percent—traveling internationally
  • 66 percent—taking a cruise
  • 62 percent—taking a domestic flight
  • 61 percent—taking a bus, subway or train
  • 60 percent—visiting a theme park
  • 58 percent—going to a restaurant
  • 58 percent—visiting a casino
  • 56 percent—staying at a hotel
  • 50 percent—taking Uber/Lyft
  • 47 percent—staying at an Airbnb
  • 34 percent—going to a local store
  • 23 percent—cooking at a friend’s house
  • 20 percent—ordering food for delivery
  • 12 percent—shopping online.

Marketing is going to be a huge component going forward. The panel suggested messages be customer centric, realizing everyone is struggling. Consumers should expect to see ads less focused on what a destination has to offer and more with a moral compass as a barometer, including health and safety being selling factors, and empathy being part of the message.

The participants were later asked: As a business, what is your biggest opportunity? The results:

  • 44 percent—pent up demand to travel
  • 19 percent—becoming more locally focused
  • 16 percent—a chance to differentiate
  • 9 percent—improvement of health and safety standards
  • 7 percent—capturing new clients
  • 5 percent—relieving overcrowding
  • 1 percent—changing DMO and town tax/funding mechanisms.

There was mixed sentiment as to whether experts believe consumers will want to stay at traditional hotels or a private home in the future. Already larger hotel brands like Hilton and Marriott are touting how they have certain cleaning protocols in place. On the flip side, travelers might want the intimacy of a home knowing they won’t run into masses of people. Cleaning, though, could be a concern for some.

“Safety and security will be really big and will be until we see a vaccine,” Comeau said. “Property managers will be challenged.”

With one-fifth of the U.S. population out of work, discretionary income is lacking. Travel is one of the first things to get cut. That reality is something destinations are going to have to contend with. It could be a while before people have the money to travel even if they feel safe to do so.

Another thing that was brought up in the webinar is that people are going to want the destination to be fully open. This means restaurants to eat at, stores to shop in, and entertainment venues operating. Cities and counties, though, are likely to open in stages as is being seen now. Capacity at restaurants, hotels, on boats and other tourist destinations are going to be lower going forward based on regulations, let alone on who actually shows up. There won’t be jobs for everyone who lost them. These are economic realities for everyone.

Baja Sur ranch community celebrates artisanal work

An array of bowls from Baja Woods Cookware at the Ranchero Festival. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Tradition. That is what El Mercado Ranchero in Todos Santos is selling.

For the last four years, ranchers and artisans have gathered in front of the store on Calle Morelos to celebrate their culture, share with locals and expats what they have made, and demonstrate their crafts. It started with 12 artisans, and included 48 this year.

Fresh meat is grilled during the festival in Todos Santos. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Much of what is sold in the ranchero store comes from people living in the surrounding mountains of Todos Santos and over in La Paz. One never knows what might be on the shelves. Pottery is often there, as are skulls from bulls. People like to paint them or display them in some decorative form. Food includes cheeses, honey, butter and organic eggs. All from the ranches, not mass produced in some factory.

At the street festival Doña Mari demonstrated how to make a sugar cane candy that resembled taffy; a process that is 100 years old. The concoction was spread on what looked like a slab of granite. Then she took the substance and began working it on a wooden knob resembling a hook on a coat rack. This kneading of sorts thickened the candy and changed the color to a light brown.

Knives are like art; each is unique. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Across the way was a man heating coals in order to turn metal into knives. The blades as well as the handles are works of art; so are the sheaths. They are often a regular item at the store.

Furniture and food were for sale, as well as pottery. Marcos Agúndez, who doesn’t use a wheel for his pottery, but instead crafts it by hand, sold out of his goods in the first 20 minutes.

Baja Woods Cookware in La Paz makes items out of neems, pine, hibiscus and mesquite. With each being one of a kind, those who dawdled in their decision-making lost out to more decisive shoppers.

While the festival is once a year, the store is open year round.

Ranch store deets:

Punta Chivato — a remote enclave of expats in Baja

Shells line the beach at Punta Chivato for as far as the eye can see. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Isolated, tranquil, welcoming and devoid of native Mexicans is what Punta Chivato is all about.

Located on the Sea of Cortez in Baja California Sur, Mulegé is to the south and Santa Rosalía to the north. It’s about eight hours from Todos Santos. For the expats who call Punta Chivato home it’s paradise.

Normally the water is calm enough to kayak, with fishing another popular pastime. Garages are built tall to fit people’s boats.

Commercial fishing is not allowed in the bay there, known as Bahía Santa Inés. In high seas the week before Christmas three commercial shrimp boats were in the bay. Even though a Mexican navy vessel anchored nearby, it did not give chase to the boats when they headed out toward Punta Concepción. Had the boats gone north, they would have been near San Marcos Island, where gypsum is mined.

A tower of seafood at Palapa la Abuela, a restaurant on the south side of Santa Rosalía. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The lights of Punta Concepción are visible at night from Punta Chivato. It’s located at the tip of Bahía Concepción. Mostly, though, the sky is so incredibly dark in this part of Baja that the stars are the main attraction. Looking up is a reminder of how we are a tiny speck in this galaxy.

In the daylight it is seashells that will capture one’s attention. Scattered as far as the eye could see are shells of various sizes and colors.

Moon’s “Baja” guidebook says, “Punta Chivato has built up as an American housing community over the past few decades with residences ranging from modest structures to million-dollar beach mansions.”

This isn’t the only place in Baja (or the world) where people from the United States have made their own community. Turning off Highway 1 travelers first drive through Palo Verde. It’s clearly a poor Mexican village with not much in the way of amenities. A school and tiny market are visible.

Plenty of sand exists on the beach at Punta Chivato; it’s not all shells. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The expat community of Punta Chivato is 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) from Palo Verde down a dirt road. The two, like so many areas, are linked by the gringos hiring the locals to do various jobs, and the gringos giving back in charitable ways.

Roughly a couple hundred people call Punta Chivato home, though a fraction live there year round. Together they’ve built a community center, which hosts events and acts as a gathering spot for the expats. A kitchen allows for food to be made there. A housing area within the town has a pool for residents, which can be a nice change from the salt water.

Making it easy to get to Punta Chivato is the private dirt runway; assuming one has a private plane or friends who fly. This can be more convenient than driving the peninsula or flying into Loreto, the closest commercial airport.

Priceless views, expensive drinks at The Rooftop

The sunset from The Rooftop in Cabo San Lucas is stunning. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Sometimes you have to splurge. That’s what going to The Rooftop in Cabo San Lucas was all about. Oh, and the view.

It’s the iconic arch that Cabo is known for that is the big draw. The rugged rocks protrude from the coast like a border of sorts. Which they are. At the point is where the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean meet. It’s magical to watch the sunset from here as that big globe settles behind the mountains of rocks. Soon the lights of Cabo begin to twinkle and the whole area looks more like a little city than a beach oasis.

The outside bar overlooks the Sea of Cortez, which at times can look more like the Pacific at this location. Waves were big enough people were surfing below.

In 2018, Condé Nast Traveler named The Rooftop one of the 10 best rooftop bars in the world. It sits on the sixth floor, which is the top floor, of The Cape hotel. The hotel opened in summer 2015.

The Sixth Floor is one of several specialty cocktails on the drink menu. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The vibe is young and hip; we definitely were in the minority that night with our group of six ranging in age from 50s to 80s. It didn’t stop us from enjoying the people watching as well as the natural scenery.

A disc jockey was spinning tunes at a level that allowed for conversations. Mixologists were working their magic in a circular bar about a third of the way in from the front entrance. Walking in there is a Champagne station with multiple choices; all served by the glass.

Various seating areas line the perimeter, with Plexiglas in place to not obstruct the expansive views. Farther back are cushy seats that open to the hills behind town. It’s designed so nearly everyone has a view.

The bill came to $133 for six cocktails and four bottles of water. Specialty cocktails come with a price like one would find in the U.S., ranging from $13 to $17. Even so, based on flavor I can recommend the Sixth Floor ($16) – whiskey, yuzu, lemon, mint and raspberry syrup.

Reservations are encouraged if you want to eat or be guaranteed a table. (Image: Kathryn Reed)



A mountain of fun despite never finding our destination

Marilyn, from left, Pat and Judy point to where we should go. No one knew for sure. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Some of the best adventures are misadventures.

“I’ve seen this before.” We all said it more than once. We were wrong each time. Another U-turn.

Our destination was Marco the pottery guy who lives and works in the mountains near Todos Santos. Two of the four of us had been there before. They were our driver and navigator. Our directions were to make all lefts except the one right at the sign. We never saw a sign. We never saw Marco. We all should take an orienteering class.

Arroyos look the same after a while. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It didn’t matter. It turned out to be an incredibly fun day driving around the Sierra de la Laguna mountains. It was a bit disconcerting that one dirt road looked like another, as did other markers like buildings, retaining walls and the flora. Everything looked different and the same.

We asked more than one person we stumbled upon to direct us to Marco. No luck. Some had no idea who he was, some tried to help. These are ranchers who live in the mountains. Cow bells alerted us to the livestock not far off the road. Other times we slowed down to let them move along.

The meaning of a saddle hanging in the middle of what seems like nowhere remains a mystery. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I never felt truly lost, though it was alarming that the two in the front seats thought they saw the Sea of Cortez when it was the Pacific Ocean. When they first said this I thought they were joking because I knew we hadn’t traversed across the mountains, we hadn’t gone that far east. The fact they were this disoriented meant they thought we were going north when we were going south and vice versa.

These two were also the fluent Spanish speakers – adding more intrigue to the sojourn.

With an eye on the gas gauge, it was time to ask how best to get back to the highway. We made it – just not the way we came in.

A couple ranchers help direct the gringas back to the highway. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

We had worked up an appetite, so off to lunch we went at Hierbabuena in Pescadero. A bottle of wine was necessary to toast to a fun day, even though our original intent got thwarted.

After lunch we decided to head to the ranchero store in Todos Santos to see if any of Marco’s work was for sale. Nope. All gone. We also learned Marco wasn’t at home that day so it really didn’t matter that we never found him. We were told we could come back the second Saturday in February for the festival at the ranchero store that would feature several local artisans. I got there too late. Marco’s work was sold-out in the first 20 minutes. I just might not be destined to own any of his pottery.

Art walk in San Jose del Cabo like a treasure hunt

Even the old doors at a store are like art. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Art was in every direction while meandering along the cobblestones of downtown San Jose del Cabo, including inside the stores.

Every Thursday during the busy season several streets in the art district are closed to vehicle traffic so people can more easily stroll through the galleries, stores, restaurants and other businesses.

Those without a shop peddle their wares along the sidewalks, with the bulk being in Plaza Mijares. (The main plaza is named after Manuel Mijares, who was a war hero.)

One doesn’t have to know much about a specific art form to appreciate the work. There is something for everyone – from photography to painting, jewelry, baskets, sculpture, blown glass and so much more.

The art walk is Thursdays in downtown San Jose del Cabo. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

An advantage to an evening like this is often being able to meet the maker of the art. This is an opportunity to delve into the backstory of a piece of art, to understand better how an idea became reality, and the work involved to create it. Photographer Bruce Herman had an array of photographs for sale on the far side of the plaza away from the church. An incredible shot of a baby Baja turtle captured several people’s attention. Asked if he had more turtles, he said he stopped shooting when he got the best one. So, no, would be the short answer. It’s stunning.

The concept of this walk is the brainchild of the 12-member Gallery District Association. It started more than a decade ago.

Allowing only pedestrian traffic on several streets gives it a more intimate feel.

It’s not just the art galleries that are eager to have people visit. All the shops throw open their doors, benefiting from the people sauntering by. Often musicians are playing, with traditional Mexican dancers known to put on a show as well. Restaurants are crowded. It would be wise to have a reservation on Thursdays.

A woman surrounded by traditional Mexican fabric goods looks down on the streets of San Jose. (Image: Kathryn Reed)



  • Every Thursday from November-June, 5-9pm.
  • Start at the main square and walk from there.
  • Part of the main street, Obregon, is closed as well as a few side streets. Parking can be difficult, so arrive early.

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