Archives for posts with tag: Southern California

…Slackjawed that these naive ladies had probably never seen unadulterated food in their lives, I couldn’t even manage a sarcastic response.  I muttered “It’s because the apples are real.  They’re not genetically modified like the bland softball-sized ones you see in the supermarket.”

“Oh!” before a bushel of giggles filled the fresh air.  They scampered away and disappeared into the orchard.

So the 2012 apple season in Julian, California has begun.  And it’s bringing all of the urbanites out of the concrete jungle.  Only about an hour or so outside of San Diego, Julian is a cozy little mountain town nestled in the Cuyamaca range.  It is a nice little getaway from the hustle of city life, especially in the fall.

There are some 10 apple orchards (about 5 are the u-pick style) in and around Julian.  We picked (get it, “picked”?) the Raven Hill Orchard (RHO) because of an article I saw on a San Diego Travels webpage here.  I read about Patrick Brady, orchard owner as well as sculpturist.  My  curiosity piqued at the article’s phrase “quite a character to behold”, and believing that artists infuse passion and joy into life, I figured his orchard would exhibit the same sentiment.  I love fascinating places and intriguing people, but memorable moments happen when both coincide.  I couldn’t wait to see what our first visit to an apple orchard would bring.

We arrive at the front gate at 10am.  Greeted by a sign bearing the politically correct translation of “Use your head for something other than a hat rack.  If you couldn’t tell, you’re not in your comfy, cozy padded cell where you can hurt nothing more than your own feelings.  It’s the outdoors.  Everything here is 3-dimensional and may bite.”, we enter.

How dangerous can picking apples be? Newton discovered gravity in a place like this…

Inside we see the man, the myth, the keeper of the apples, Patrick Brady.  Donning a black leather hat, camo pants, and a lion’s mane of hair, he waves us in.  All I can say is, if there is a ‘most interesting man in Julian’, we just found him.

“Health starts here!” as he points to the ground in front of us.

At $10 a bag, it’s definitely cheaper than a visit to the pharmacy.  With a smile, Steph asks for 3 bags of health.  That’s one bag for each of us!  (I don’t think Worm can eat a whole bag of apples by himself.  But since he is not typically known to share, I’ll probably snake an apple or two from his bag every day.  It’s not like he can count either!)

We wander down the gaps between the trees, stopping to inspect the apples and take in the warm breeze of the morning.

Steph, being the apple connoisseur, showed Worm and I how to pick the apples. Women just know these things!  It’s built into their DNA!  (She didn’t believe killing the apples with our bow and arrows set was necessary.)

Guys, be gentle. Ripe apples will easily detach from the tree. Don’t take the part with the leaves!

Pretty soon, Worm and I got into the spirit and gently plucked a few ripe ones for our respective stashes.  Since I have the luxury of being tall (extremely tall for Southern California), I was able to get to the apples that lesser mortals couldn’t reach.  Lucky for us, the orchard was chock full of fruit for everyone.  In fact, our whole family filled up our bags before we made it to some of the other apple varieties.  (The Raven Hill Orchard grows 7 apple types:  Empire, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Gravenstein, Jonathan, and Pippin)  Although the picking season runs from September to late October, it’s best to go before the apples have been totally picked through.  Otherwise, you’ll be doing your apple picking at one of the local markets.

It’s a Good Thing We Are Tall, Huh Dad?

After a nice half hour among the fruit trees, we head back to the entrance to pay for our apples.  We get a chance to talk a little bit with Patrick, the owner.  He’s definitely a straight-shooting, no-frills type of guy.  A gently forceful and honest type that will look you directly in the eyes when he speaks.  We chat on different topics centered around health in America, etc.  An hour later, his lovely wife comes down for a visit and we get to meet his 3 month old twin babies.  The entire day was enjoyable, interesting, and wonderful.  After a visit to downtown Julian for some pie and cider, I can’t say that we could have had a more perfect day.

Hanging Out With Patrick at Raven Hill Orchard

Support local farmers and growers!

Related Links:

Raven Hill Orchard Facebook Page

Picking Apples Raven Hill Orchard

Patrick Brady – Man of All Seasons

Julian, California Webpage

I finally got out of the house!  By myself!  As I said before, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been able to really mountain bike.  It used to be my favorite way to start the weekend.  For the first time in a long time, the opportunity presented itself.  My lovely wife told me that I could break away this Saturday morning to go ride as long as I was back before breakfast.  She didn’t have to tell me twice.

The View of the Grasslands From Above

I set my alarm for 5:30am and was out the door by 6.  The sun hadn’t even come up by the time I hit the trailhead and I was the second one there.  (The first guy looked like he slept in his car.  Awesome idea!)

There’s something about being on the MTB trails in the early morning…like the lack of people!  The air is fresh, crisp, and unadulterated.  If you’re lucky, you can see rabbits, coyotes, and even deer (like I did today!)  Although if luck broke my arm or leg, I could come across some wildlife I’d rather not see.  Falling lame in the middle of this terrain could quickly turn you from biker to breakfast for SoCal‘s largest land predator, the mountain lion.  I crossed my fingers that I was too skinny for any cougar to waste his time on.  I definitely wasn’t too fast for one.

Ahh, No One Around For Miles

As I rode today, I reminisced about my past.  Years ago, well before baby and wife, I would ride for hours on the weekends and do nothing more important than find my next meal.  Those were the days before I met responsibility.  Obviously, things have changed.   Responsibility and I have every meal together now.  Like the skin on my body, we know each other well.  But, this morning I left the house before responsibility arose.  My reward?  I got to reenact a portion of my previous life for a brief couple of hours.

2 hours alone on my bike was just the ticket for me to recharge and put things in perspective again.  I cleared my head as quickly as the trees blurred past.  Afterwards, I felt like myself again.  But, not like my old self sans responsibility.  Like my new self, complete with obligation and duty.  Because in truth, my previous life that I experienced this morning was a likeness in emotion only.  Nothing more.  I can’t turn back time, nor do I want to.  I love my wife.  I love my son.  I love my commitments and occupation as a husband and a new father.  And I couldn’t wait to get back to them and share a nice family breakfast together.

If you are in the San Diego area and you enjoy nature, the Mission Trails Regional Park is a nice place to visit.  There are tons of hiking, biking and horseback riding to do.  The visitor center is kid friendly and if you’re teaching your little one to mountain bike, the Grasslands part of the park is a great place to start!

For more information about the park, see the link below.

Mission Trails Regional Park

For more information about mountain biking in San Diego:

Mountain Bike Bill’s Website

San Diego Mountain Biking Association

I always knew Gavin was a chip off the old block.  We’ve got quite a few things in common:  similar haircuts; similar builds; we both love Steph and mangos; both our first names end in ‘n’.  Now, we both like bikes!

I loved biking ever since I moved to southern California (SoCal).  I started seriously mountain biking after getting laid off from my first job.  I did some fairly aggressive mountain biking back then and at one time, I owned a bike that was worth much more than my car.  I biked a lot until I got Steph pregnant.  Then, my trail time disappeared.  I haven’t really ridden my bike since then.

But recently, I was brainstorming about how I was going to find some extra time to start cycling again.  I ran across some cool baby bike trailers in the bike section of Craigslist.  They looked like fun.  I would do all the pedaling and Worm would get to sit back and watch the cars go by.  So, I did my research and found that these baby bike trailers are not cheap.  Not wanting to spend top dollar for something I didn’t know Worm would like, I found a used one for a good price and picked it up.

Enter the Burley D’Lite 2006 Edition.

Dad, do you know what you're doing?

So, I hooked up the D’Lite to my mountain bike to see how it all looked.  Worm seemed to approve.  It’s just that I have about 15 extra screws and I don’t know where they go…

Next, I had to figure out how to adjust the seatbelts.  It only took about 10 minutes for me to realize the instructions were stitched to the Burley and staring me in the face.  So, I figured I may as well take a lookie loo.

This is going to take some getting used to...for both of us.

The careful, responsible father in me thought it would be a bad idea to hop on the bike and fly down the hill at 25 mph.  (Ok, it’s because grandma was watching and she would have killed me.)  So, I walked the bike for a few minutes to gauge Worm’s reaction.


Forget about helmets!  Let’s ride!

Cruisin' With the Wind in Our Hair!

(Ok, don’t be stupid.  Always wear a helmet when you ride a bike unless you’re interested in brain damage or death from head trauma.  The pictures shown here have been staged and altered to look as if I am riding.  I’ve photoshopped out the guy wires and parachute pack to make me look daring and dangerous!

It’s Groundhog day!  And guess what else?  Gavin turned 10 months old today!  In the new custom of weather prediction California style, Gabrielino Gavin (Gabrielino was the only G named Indian Tribe in California…Come on, I had no other choice!) is going to tell us if we will be enduring 6 more weeks of frigid 60° temperatures.

We’re too far away for Pennsylvania to even think about Punxsutawney Phil.  And we don’t get any ice here other than the nice crescent-shaped ones found in our freezers.  So, I’ve taken the liberty of modifying the old groundhog weather device and replaced it with its west coast equivalent, Gabrielino Gavin!

Similarities between Phil and Gavin:

  1. Both walk on all fours
  2. Both have hair on their heads
  3. Both have two sharp front teeth
  4. Both have claws and scratch the crap out of your neck repeatedly, even if you scream in pain (Sorry, I’m just venting.)
  5. Both eat fruit, leaves, grass, dirt and insects

From the “town of the sandflies” to the “town of sand-als”, Gabrielino Gavin has seen his shadow on this very morning of February 2, 2012.

Winter will be upon us for 6 more weeks.  One should bundle up in a long-sleeved shirt or grow a mustache to stay warm in Southern California for a wee bit longer.  (Maybe think about wearing long pants too, if you own any.)

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