Santa Monica, California

Part of the travel I do allows me to be near so many different places to sightsee. I get to take a weekend and just get away to see all the places near me. I would never be able to see so many awesome places if I didn’t live some place for 6 months to a year and then go some place else. I love seeing and exploring new places! One weekend I can see one place and then the next weekend go in a total different direction.

Since I’m living in California right now I get to see all that Southern California has to offer. Part of visiting places is learning about them. One of the things I learned about the Santa Monica Pier is that is where Route 66 ends. Sure, if I had have “Googled” it I would have known, but why “Google” when I can see for myself.

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I had a great time visiting the pier this past weekend. I’m sharing some pictures so you can see for yourself how awesome the place was. One of the craziest things was a man feeding pigeons. He wasn’t just feeding them out of this hands, they were all over him.

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When we had seen everything we thought we could see we went to get something to eat. Not too far from the pier was a restaurant called Ye Olde King’s Head at 116 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 . This place was British and had the biggest pieces of Beer Battered Fish with chips. I definitely recommend going there even if it’s just for the atmosphere. Next door to the restaurant is there gift shop. I saw the cutest bobble head of the Queen of England in the window (I’ve placed a picture of it below) and so many British desserts and treats.

After eating we headed toward a Rodeo Drive. I had always wanted to drive down Rodeo drive, so we headed toward the iconic street. On the way we stopped and took pictures of the Beverly Hills Hotel (9641 Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.)  The iconic, LA hideaway, famous for playing host to Hollywood royalty over the years. From the deals made in the Polo Lounge to the romances conducted in the secluded bungalows, this has been Tinsel Town’s playground since Beverly Hills was born.

We jumped back in the truck and continued to make our way down Rodeo Drive. We didn’t stop to shop, but did have fun seeing all the shops. There was no shopping involved, not this time, but it was just fun to look at all the shops as we traveled down the street.

I hope you enjoyed my photo tour of Santa Monica, California. Please stay tuned for more of my travels with hints, pictures and recommendations.

 

 

La Jolla, California

Today our adventure was to explore the affluent community of La Jolla in San Diego, California. La Jolla, in Spanish means “The Jewel” and is considered to be the jewel of some of America’s Finest Cities. What a great time we had and the views were spectacular! Before you go though, you may want to have a little history lesson right here on Our Talk of the Town.

HISTORY LESSON

La Jolla, known as home by the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and other learning institutes, occupies 7 miles (11 km) of curving coastline along the Pacific Ocean within the northern city limits of San Diego County. Since the 1880s La Jolla has been a favorite vacation destination because of its exceptional weather and wide variety of hotels, shopping, dining, events, and attractions. There is such a diverse list of things to do that it hasn’t lost any of its appeal over the years. The climate is mild, with an average daily temperature of 70.5 °F (21.4 °C).

SUNNY JIM CAVE

One of the main features we wanted to see was the Sunny Jim Cave. The cave, is the only land-accessible sea cave on the California coastline and the only way to get in the cave is through a door that’s located inside The Cave Store. To get to The Cave Store plug this address in your GPS and head out (325 Cave St, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037-3684.) When you have reach your destination head into The Cave Store and purchase your tickets. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Once you’ve purchased your tickets you’re all set, just head through the door to your left. I would suggest sturdy shoes (not flip flops) since the stairs can get very slippery between the sand and water that gets on them.

THE BEGINNINGS OF SUNNY JIM CAVE

The cave was the endeavor of Gustave Schulz, a German engineer. Gustav hired two Chinese laborers to dig the cave. Because the laborers only had picks and shovels, the cave took 2 years to complete. After its completion visitors could go into (and climb back out of) the cave by rope for the cost of 50¢. The descent by rope didn’t seem to be a deterrent though since there were 200 visitors a day at that time. Don’t let the rope scare you, since not too long after its completion 145 steps were installed and they’re still used today. That’s right, there are 145 steps to use when descending into the cave and yes, the same number of steps when climbing back out. Yep, you are allowed to stop for a breather. Of course most of won’t stop since competing with the others in our group seems to be the theme. (Ok, this was me… I couldn’t stop because no one else did.) I just walked around The Cave Store trying to catch my breath. After the climb out of the cave and while catching my breath, I visited The Cave Store. The store unique jewelers designers, vintage clothing and local vendors.

HOW THE CAVE GOT ITS NAME

The Sunny Jim Cave was named by Frank Baum who wrote ‘The Wizard Oz’. The opening of the cave bears a resemblance to a cartoon character Sunny Jim, who was a mascot for the British Force Wheat cereal products in the 1920’s.

Images found on the Gustav Schulz page

Sunny Jim comparison

The first picture is a drawing of “Sunny Jim”, a cartoon character created by the artist Dorothy Ficken in 1902 as part of an advertising campaign for “FORCE”, the first commercially successful wheat flake cereal. From 1903, the “Sunny Jim” cartoon character appeared on “FORCE” breakfast cereal boxes and on advertising boards across the United States. The second is a picture of the cave opening with a cutout of Sunny Jim to show why the cave is named after the fictional character.

A STROLL DOWN CAVE STREET

When leaving The Cave Store we took a walk out on the cliff at Gold Fish Point and then strolled down Cave Street towards the La Jolla Cove where penguin and other sea life seem to thrive. Something to keep in mind, Cave Street is a one-way street that circles around past the cove and the Ellen Browning Scripps Park. On the opposite side of the street you will have your choice of several tucked-away restaurants. So, if you’re there around meal time you may want to plan for a picnic in the park or take advantage of someone cooking for you at one of the quaint little restaurants.

At the bottom of the hill is a nice facility to take care of the personal necessities. When I was there a few street vendors were set up so maybe you could do a little shopping while there. Shopping? My favorite!

Speaking of shopping, on your way out of town there are many shops on your way out of town. So, after you’ve eaten, swam or snorkeled you should go shopping!

I hope you have enjoyed learning about La Jolla. If you have any questions, comments or shares, please leave a comment below.

 

 

Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival

This weekend’s adventure was very close to home. It was the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival. I had heard about the event from people that knew we had moved to Temecula, but I didn’t realize how big it was.

The Beginning

The Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, first known as the Rancho California Balloon and Wine Festival was started in 1983 by Walt Darren, a commercial airline pilot and avid balloonist and by Evelyn Harker a veteran event organizer and fund raiser. Evelyn immediately suggested it might “fly” even better if it involved some of the area’s other natural attractions such as wine tasting, culinary presentations, and entertainment. She had other helpers to get the event “off the ground” so the following year, the spring of 1984, the first event began. At the time of the first Balloon and Wine festival there were only 6 wineries in the Temecula Valley. However, the attendance for festival was 4,000 people. This meant that over half of Temecula’s population (9,000) was in attendance. The very first year there were 35 balloons launched the first year.

The Balloons

The hot air balloons were launched at sunrise on Saturday and Sunday. We made it an early morning to see these magnificent and colorful rides on Sunday. It was pretty spectacular to see up to 10 balloons at a time spreading out the canvas, tying the basket down and finally adding the hot air to get the balloon off the ground. Hot air balloons, use the theory that hot air rises. Hot air is created from the burner above the pilot’s head. The heated air fills the balloon and it rises in the cool morning air. Winds need to be gentle, not tornado level. Under 7 mph is preferred.

Most of the balloons you see in movies, fly across the desert in the middle of the day in a hot air balloon. This is fictional because most of the morning flights in Temecula are finished by 8:30 am. Tethered balloons that are used for rides are finished by 9 – 10 a.m. when the winds and heat pick up.

Worth mentioning is the Evening Balloon Glow that is held both Friday and Saturday after sundown. We chose Friday evening to watch the event. There were about 6 balloons participating Friday’s Balloon Glow. The weather has to be just right for the Balloon Glow, but Temecula usually has the perfect weather for this event. The balloons were set up in the launch area and were inflated as if they going to take off, but instead of being allowed to ascend, they are held down by the ground crew. The propane burners are ignited periodically to keep the balloons inflated with hot air. The periodic flash of the propane burners causes the balloon to glow as well. The announcer had the pilots light in sync with music or as if in a code.

The Wineries

Today there are over 40 wineries in the Temecula Valley and a plan has been approved for an additional 120 wineries. There is a long list wines grown here in the Temecula Valley. Temecula wineries produce award winning Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc along with small quantities of Zinfandel, Viognier, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Pinot Gris, sparkling and dessert wines. Temecula attributes the for such Temecula’s light, sandy loam soil, comprised mostly of decomposing granite, permits water to drain easily. This forces the roots to grow deeper to find water. The result is stronger vines and smaller grapes. This is ideal for highly concentrated flavor.

The elevation here in Temecula is 1,500 feet above sea level. This provides cool summer nights and afternoon breezes following relatively hot days. You can taste this in the best Temecula wines as bold fruit forward flavors and silky mouth-feel. There were wine and beer booths (be sure and purchase your beverage tickets at the ticket booth before standing in line to get your adult beverages.)

The Food

There were so many great food booths that one wouldn’t have trouble trying to decide what to eat. There are so many choices that everyone in the family can choose something different to eat. In total, there were 28 food and beverage vendors. From nachos to deli and a steakhouse, there is no shortage of varieties of food booths.

The Entertainment

We loved the entertainment. We saw The Spin Doctors on Friday night. I wasn’t familiar with their songs, but the crowd went wild when they played for their early 1990s hits, “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong.”

My favorites played on Sunday! I’m a country girl through and through. We waited around until 1:00 p.m. when the first country music show begin. It was a long day after getting there to see the balloons launch at sunrise, but it was worth waiting for. There were 4 groups that afternoon. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the 90s, so there were more than a few people walking around sporting a sunburn. This first up was Country Music singer Raelynn. Raelynn was a contestant on Season 2 (2012) of The Voice. Although she was not a finalist, she was signed to Republic Nashville the same year.

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Raelynn

Up next was Luci, an all-lady band from Los Angeles. I really like their energy and sound. You can see their web page at http://www.lovelucimusic.com.

 

The third and final opening Country Artist was Tyler Farr, who sings “A Guy Walks into a Bar,” “Redneck Crazy,” and “Chicks, Trucks, and Beer.” Tyler gave a great performance in spite of the hot temperatures and sun.

The Grand Finale was Justin Moore. He went above and beyond, coming out for at least 3 encores. Justin is best known for songs such as “If Heaven wasn’t so far away,” “You look like I need a drink,” and “Bait a Hook.” Justin Moore actually played until he closed the place down. Seriously, everyone was closing up when Justin did his final encore.

We left there happy we had gone and happy to get into the air conditioned truck. I would highly recommend going if not the weekend, at least for a day.

 

Contact Information and location

The Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is held at Lake Skinner Regional Park (37701 Warren Road, Winchester, California 92596.) Website: https://www.tvbwf.com/