This last weekend we wanted to see some fall foliage, grab an apple pie, wander around a lake in autumn air and for Cohan: take a tour of an abandoned gold mine.
All I wanted was to get some pictures that captured the fall feel (well fall as we Californians know it).
We left Friday night around 8 and drove to Oceanside, CA to stay for the night and to be a bit closer to our destination in the morning. There are a ton of motels, hotels and inns in Oceanside thanks to its proximity to the nearby Camp Pendleton so depending on your budget or need for a jacuzzi tub you can take your pick.
I wanted clean.
Room enough for the 5 of us.
A gym if I was feeling ambitious (which would have been ambitious after working at the office all day, getting three kids to school, making sure chores were done, packing for 3 making sure the other two were packed and confirming our animals would be cared for….gee why were we taking a mini vacation? I ended up passing on the gym).
Last but not least: free breakfast. Not stale bagels and boxed juice breakfast but a something for everyone breakfast.
We found this at the Ramada on Mission. We were going to be there for literally 12 hours and it met the above requirements.
The kids were excited as they always are when we’re in a new space and I have the word adventure on my tongue (as long as it’s not a hike, they tend to look at me speculatively if I mention the H word).
We got up the next morning, had a “let’s save $30 by eating the Ramadas free breakfast offerings”
and then stopped by a grocery store, got stuff for lunch (a massive deli sandwich Brayden and Co would split, salad and the fixins for Kap, George and I and a massive loaf of vegan garlic sourdough with hummus because it looked good).
We then jumped on the 78 to the town of Julian http://www.julianca.com aka hell on earth if you detest a large number of people in a small place, I don’t know how the locals deal with it.
It took about an hour and a half to get there thanks to a pack of bikers that we were stuck behind until Ramona. I think even they realized that their attempt to be cool was slowing everyone up and they gracefully bowed out of the way.
Background: George and I had been through Julian before on one of our rare kid free weekends. We did the aforementioned gold mine and went to the California Wolf Center (an amazing facility if you would like to learn about wolves, not necessarily to get chummy with them http://www.californiawolfcenter.org/about/). We knew that Julian gets stupidly busy on weekends so we wanted to get there early, walk around, stretch our legs, refresh and then get out.
We walked up one side of Main Street and down the other by 11 am, acquiring two bottles of our favorite hard cider from the witch creek winery tasting room (we did not stop to “taste” due to having the family in tow) http://www.witchcreekwinery.com Kap was positively charmed by the gentleman working the counter and we left smiling.
Next we picked up scented soy wax from a place that we adore but one I can never recall the name of (it’s a cute little blue cottage on the corner of C street and Main) the proprietor is a wonderful and welcoming gal that doesn’t try to trap you into purchasing and because of her awesome spirit you want to buy everything.
Kap and I love that place…
We decided against picking up a pie from Mom’s in favor of grabbing one from their other location conveniently placed down the mountain a bit and with less of a crowd to contend with. Main Street starts to get busy at noon http://www.momspiesjulian.com/ and headed to Eagle Mine http://m.yelp.com/biz/eagle-and-high-peak-mine-tour-julian.
Now Co had been looking forward to Eagle Mine ever since I opened up my big mouth about it. I LOVED our tour there before and the kids all really loved it too. Well except Kap. She discovered she’s claustrophobic. Like mother like daughter…
She powered through though and their amazing tour guide told us all about the awesome history, method of accumulation and instructs the guided tour of the old mine. He’s a wonderful guide and incredibly knowledgable. The prices are 13+ $10 and $5 for kids under 13.
After the tour we were shown how to pan for gold (“the easy way the northern Californians had it”). We couldn’t keep the gold (“because it’s expensive”) but the thrill of seeing it shimmer on the pan was enough for the kids.
The Eagle and High Peak location has a few picnic benches scattered around so we hunkered down and had our picnic.
Next on the list: fall foliage.
We headed to Lake Cuyamaca http://www.lakecuyamaca.org where for a small fee you can park and hike and even eat and fish (if you wish). We opted for hiking and in our usual fashion turned a small trek into a 3 mile hike around the lake, feeding the ducks before we got into the car.
We left exhilarated and ready for home. I got my fall-ish shots and we got to be out in the brisk autumn air.
We stopped and got our pie at Mom’s other location. Hit the road and only stopped for dinner at a kitschy diner called The Money Pit in San Marcos.
It was quite the perfect little overnight trip filled with adventure, history, frivolity, indulgence and togetherness.
As we went to bed Saturday night though I couldn’t help but hear more than a few happy sighs to be in our own beds.
Be it ever so humble…