Western Traveler

Southern California, USA

To date I’ve only had one chance to travel to southern California.  That came in 2001, right after the 9-1-1 attacks on the World Trade Center & Pentagon.  I flew out only two days after that fateful day to Orange County where I landed at Santa Ana’s John Wayne International Airport.  My friends Jeff & Rachelle Campbell had moved there for work, but were getting ready to head back to their beloved Utah.

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They invited me out for a visit and as this could very well be my only opportunity to see somewhere incredible that I’d never been, I took them up on it.  It was a very good decision.

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After picking me up at the airport, Jeff drove me to his hometown of Fallbrook, a very cool desert town just north of San Diego.  As my visit was pretty much last-minute he wasn’t able to take off work, but I did have free run of the house and had plenty of time to explore the area, which was a ton of fun.

The house they were renting was very cool in many ways, but in particular I enjoyed Rachelle’s “smelling tour” of their yard, which had an amazing abundance of various herbs and spices.  It was the perfect way to start off my California experience.

I had a particularly good time hiking through the 46 acre Los Jilgueros Nature Preserve on a daily basis as I headed into downtown for my explorations.  This preserve had a very nice 1.5 mile loop trail, native plant & wildflower project, ponds and wetlands.  I spent many an hour there lounging around enjoying the sun, ocean breezes and beautiful weather.

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Fallbrook is known as the “Avocado Capital of the World” because of the numerous groves in the area.  With a population of just over 30,500 (2010 Census) it’s a very pleasant mid-sized town.  One interesting note; there are over 60 wholesale and retail nurseries in the area, a testament to agriculture being a primary industry.

When the weekend rolled around it was time for a road trip.  We ended up in San Diego, checking out the beachfront, Aviation Museum, Balboa Park and other areas of interest.  I can’t tell you how much fun it was “cruising” along the boardwalk seeing historic places I’d only seen in movies.  We stopped at a seafood restaurant on Sunday morning and it’s there that I had the absolute best fish sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

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Our journey also took us out to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the Mt. Palomar Observatory, a lifelong dream of mine to see.  We saw so many places in just a couple of days it was a dizzying blur of fun in the sun.  As we left the mountains to return to the desert we stopped at a roadside bar called The Hog Hideout, easily identified by the large number of Harley-Davidson motorcycles lined up neatly in front.  It was a wonderful atmosphere to cool down, have a cold one and reflect on the things we’d just seen.

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Near the end of the tour we ended up at the world-famous Julian Pie Company where we picked up one the best apple pies on Earth, no kidding.  One interesting side note (to me anyway) was the surprise I got on one of my birthdays.  My daughter-in-law, Rocky (Roxanna) had ordered me a Julian Apple Pie and had it shipped to me.  It is to date one of my favorite birthday presents of all time, talk about a great and considerate gift.  If you’d like to try one of these wonderful pies for yourself, check out their website at Julian Pie Company.

As is always the case, I really hated leaving but had to go home.  I will forever cherish the memories of this vacation to one of the most interesting and enjoyable places I’ve ever been.

Last modified on: June 24th 2013.
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