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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Julian Apple Days Festival

I went online last night and found that the Julian Apple Days Festival is going on this weekend and decided I wanted to go check it out.  It had been a while since my last trip to Julian and I was anxious to go back and to check out the festival.  The only problem was going to be the weather.  Normally Southern California flatlanders are not used to getting rain between May and December, but yesterday I was sitting at work in front of full length floor to ceiling windows being treated to a little bit of one of mother nature's pyrotechnic displays.  We don't get thunder and lightning very often, so I do enjoy it when I can.  But, being out in the rain for the festival didn't sound like a lot of fun.  So when I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was peek outside.  Hmmmmm, overcast.  Should I or should I not go . . . 

I decided to go ahead and get my breakfast and get ready to go and see what things looked like then.  When I was ready to leave, it looked like it was at least thinking about clearing up, so I decided to go ahead and make the 3 hour drive up the mountain, hoping I was making the right decision.  I got on the freeway at 9am and within a few minutes it began to sprinkle. . .  And then it began to rain. . .  And then it began to pelt the windows so hard it sounded like rocks hitting the windshield. . .  And that's when I started to get the idea that I had made the wrong decision.  But, I like driving, so I thought I might as well see it through, enjoy the ride and hope for the best.  And as it turned out, I'm sure glad I didn't turn back.  By the time I got to Oceanside, it had stopped raining.  And by the time I got up the hill, the sun was out and the sky was a beautiful blue with big gorgeous puffy white clouds.

The hills were covered with straw-colored vegetation that has been baked in the summer heat until it was completely dried out, and here and there were bits of green that somehow managed to survive all these months without water.  There were broad swashes of a rust color that looked like someone had taken a giant brush full of water-color and swished it over some portions of the hills.  There were orchards and vineyards, oaks and evergreens, chicken ranches and horse ranches and sheep and cows.  And I might have been dreaming, but I thought I saw a sign that said Oasis Camel Dairy.  Hunh?

Anyway, along the way, in the distance I saw a big, big balloon in the sky, but it didn't seem like it was really going anywhere.  It didn't look like the typical hot air balloons we are used to seeing floating around so peacefully, so I was curious to get up there to see what it was.  When I got close enough I saw it was tethered at the entrance to the San Diego Wild Animal Park and stopped to snap a picture.

It looks like holly leaves, but the berries are blue?
Do they start out blue and then just turn red for Christmas?
Once you are off the freeway, it is mostly just a 2-lane winding road with very few places to pull over.  I kept trying to stop to get some photos of the clouds, but could never find anywhere it would be safe to pull over and where I wouldn't have phone or power lines in the way of the shot.  But, fortunately, there were still some great cloud shots to be had once I got to the Menghini Winery where the festival was being held.

Tink was soooo cute, I had to snap a pic!

There were several vendors at the festival offering everything from decorative items to food and pumpkins, pony rides to jumpers, jugglers to face-painters, panning for gold to bands and musical entertainment and tug-o-war contests to pie eating contests.  I got a chance to taste hard cider for the first time.  I thought it was like a cross between beer and wine.  It was very refreshing and the vendor was extremely nice.  He pointed out that Julian Hard Cider had just been featured in the latest issue of Sunset magazine.  I picked up a local apple recipe book that looks like it has quite a few tasty treasures to try.  While there, I also managed to score a piece of apricot apple pie and it was delicious!  It looked like everyone was having a great time!

After I had made the rounds at the festival, I headed into town to wander around the streets there for a couple of hours, window shopping and trying to chose a place to eat.  It looks like Mom's is THE place to go for apple pie and apple dumplings.  Every time I walked by, there was a long, long line to get in.  Since I had already had a piece of pie at the festival, I didn't want to wait in line for another piece of pie, but I definitely peeked in the windows every time I walked by and did a little drooling each time.  It sure looked delicious and now I am really wishing I had gotten in line anyway and brought some pie home . . . sounds heavenly with with the vanilla ice cream I have sitting in the freezer.  Darn! ! !

Mom's always has a line.  Next time,
no matter what, I'm stopping here for a treat!

Delicious meal at Soups and Such Cafe.

I finally decided to try Soups and Such Cafe for my late lunch/early dinner and I think it was exactly what I was looking for.  It was a nice, clean little place, the service was extremely friendly and helpful and I liked that they also ran a little bit of a flower shop in there as well.  Made it seem especially cheerful with all the brightly colored flowers around.  I chose the half-sandwich/soup/salad combo and got the roasted red pepper sandwich and broccoli brie soup.  The soup had little slices of almonds in it also.  The salad was a mixed greens with a very tasty vinaigrette.  Yum!

The town cemetery is just a block or so from the main part of town and I thought I had seen something about some of the older tombstones from the beginning of the town, so I decided to take a stroll over there.  I didn't find the headstones, but I didn't search very hard for them either. 

On the way back down the mountain, I stopped at a little, and I mean little roadside stand to pick up a few apples.  He was down to the last bit for the day and it was pretty picked over.  I selected 3 apples that didn't look too bad and he just said enjoy and didn't charge me for them!  Thanks! 

As I got further down the mountain, I realized that I should have stocked up on . . . well, . . . something.  I mean, how could I have gone all the way to Julian without picking up some fresh something.  So, I also stopped at the Wynola Valley Orchard Peaches stand and picked up several more peaches to eat and to dry.  I do wish I had picked up more apples while I was there!  But, I think I was afraid to because I knew I wasn't going to have any extra time over the next few days to do anything with them and didn't want to waste them.

So, finally, I am ready to head home for sure and I am driving along and look over to my left and then have to do a double take.  Remember on the way up I said I thought I was seeing things when I thought I saw a sign that said Oasis Camel Dairy . . .  well, I now think I must have really seen that sign, because there were camels grazing along side the horses over there to the left!  Yes, camels, with their big humps mixed in with all those horses.

I got back to the freeway just as the sun was going down.  And just as I got to San Clemente, I found myself driving under some very thick cloud cover that extinguished the last dredges of sunlight that had just been grazing the horizon.  It was a very pleasant end to a very pleasant day.  I had the sunroof open and the air felt deliciously cool.  The cloud cover seemed to help concentrate the scent of the ocean and the residual heat from the sun on the dried vegetation was causing their scent to rise into the night air as things started cooling down and it all mingled with the scent of the bonfires on the beaches.  Awwwww . . . .

Well, I need to scoot for now!  I have an early morning planned.  I need to harvest some seed and baby basil plants for my cousin and her little 9 acre farm before I head down to the Newport Beach Sandcastle Contest tomorrow.  Stop by her place and check it out if you get a chance!  And, hopefully we won't get rained out and I'll be able to share some photos from the Sandcastle Contest soon!  Stay tuned!

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