Taking advantage of my work trip to California, I extended my stay by a few days, and my friend Sarah Lynn flew out and joined me. It worked out perfectly, because she was planning to fly to Los Angeles the following week for her husband's grandmother's 90th birthday gathering, so she came out early so we could explore southern California together.
Neither of us had been to San Diego before, so we focused our four days there. We chose to take an inland, scenic route from Newport Beach to San Diego, which took us through Temecula.
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It was a beautiful, winding drive through Cleveland National Forest. It really hit home for me how susceptible to wildfires this landscape is. The whole area of southern California I saw was much more arid than I expected, especially around San Diego. I didn't expect to see cacti unless I were to drive inland toward Death Valley, but they were really all over the place.
While the altitude of this particular "national forest" wasn't very high, the quantity of trees were far from my idea of a forest, and the landscape was populated more by scrub-type vegetation.
Temecula is a town of about 100,000, but it was the local wine country that encouraged us to make a stop there. Last summer, on my trip to Traverse City, Mich. with Mom, I did my first wine-tasting—so I was interested to see how it compared to a California experience.
The area promotes at least 35 wineries—we stopped at four. That was all we could handle! The four we visited:
- Leonesse Cellars: This one was personally recommended by one of my clients, so we went there first.
- Danza del Sol Winery
- Ponte Family Estate Winery
- South Coast Winery: It was chosen Best California State Winery of the Year for the last two years, so we were definitely curious to see if it lived up to the award.
After a day of sweating and sampling wine, we continued our journey south, toward our hotel near Escondido. We'd heard from friends that roadside fruit and nut stands and avocado groves were plentiful outside Escondido, and since we both are big fans of fresh, local food, we really wanted to see this for ourselves.
I didn't get to see any avocado groves—and I was curious to see avocados in their element—but I certainly saw the plentiful evidence: Sarah Lynn and I were shocked to see roadside stand after stand advertising 25 avocados for $5.00. That's $0.20 each! I'm excited when we can find avocados for $1.00 each in Indiana, so this was unbelievable. Neither of us had a way to really transport or consume dozens of avocados back to Indiana, but we certainly laughed about the possibilities for selling them at a profit!
And let me tell you, we had fresh avocado on everything. Omelettes were topped with it. Salads featured it. Even Subway, which in some Indiana locations offers an avocado spread as a sandwich topping, in southern California had fresh, whole avocado on hand to slice individually for your order. I definitely enjoyed that!
Up next: La Jolla, which boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the country.