Escondido CA Wednesday Nov. 19
Wednesday was our “food” day, out and about to visit some local food establishments. Of course, everything is a drive away. This area of Southern California is still a learning experience for us. Our drives take us through a variety of locales and topography, yet some items are a constant, although hard to fathom, experience.
We can be driving through steep hills on twisting, two lane roads and suddenly, in what seems the middle of nowhere, we come upon a valley with a town of 50,000 or 70,000 or even 100,000 people. There are 6 lane roads full of traffic, not interstates, with no housing anywhere in sight. Where are these people coming and going to? We can be driving through arid hillsides with only scrub brush and suddenly there are acres of nurseries, or orchards, or tree farms. Some of the plots are small, some are quite large. What distinguished the decision to plant on this hillside and not on another?
How does the water get allocated to certain plots? How are they irrigating these acres of plants and trees? How are the towns getting the water supply? I had read that Palm Springs and Palm Desert are sitting on a large aquifer of water and certainly there are some impounded bodies of water used for reservoirs. We know Colorado River water comes over here. We know snow from the Sierra Nevada Mountains is used for water in Southern California. The whole engineering, pricing, and allocation system must be complex.
We drove to Julian CA, about an hour away. The drive takes us from just under 700 feet in elevation to 4500 feet. Our first stop is at Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center. Bates is somewhat misnamed as while it started out raising walnuts in 1921; weather issues forced their switching to buying nuts from all over the world, roasting and re-packing them here. Still it was an opportunity to drive through some of the agricultural areas.
Our next stop is Santa Ysabel, home to Dudley Baking Company. We pick up an apple walnut strudel loaf for breakfast over the next few days. Lunch is at the Apple Country Restaurant, next to a Julian Pie Bakery. We had a piece of Julian’s apple pie for desert and wandered over to the pie shop itself to watch the baking process. A whole apple pie was crying out to us, and asking us to take it back to the Welk resort. Well, who can say no to an apple pie? So now it sits in our refrigerator, waiting for desert time tonight, and tomorrow, and the next night. We also picked up a small bag of cooked pie dough covered with cinnamon and sugar.
Julian Pies began in 1986 when Liz Smothers began working for a local pie shop. Then two others asked her to bake for them. Soon she set out on her own and bought an apple farm, planting 17,000 apple trees. They now have two locations and deliver pies to San Diego and Riverside counties.
We did drive into Julian but it was sort of a let-down after the other stops. Julian began as a gold rush town in 1869. The gold petered out but apple trees had also been planted around this time and apple growing is still a major economic engine in the area. The historic Miner’s Diner and Soda Fountain, building dates back to 1886 and was the first brick building in town, sits on the main intersection of town (population 1500) so we stopped in and had ourselves a vanilla soda and a chocolate malt.
All in all, a fun drive in the country, exploring topography, food, and CA drivers.
Ed and Chris Thursday Nov. 20