Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sober Temecula

My day trip buddy, Jenn, was in town from Florida for 10 days. We couldn’t let her go home without another adventure. So today we loaded up the rental car and headed for Temecula, CA about 50 miles south east from Rancho Santa Margarita.

Now Temecula is known as Southern California’s wine capital. But since I can’t drink, due to the diabetes and a covenant I signed at work, we didn’t do any tasting.

Although if you do partake I highly recommend it. Make sure you sample the Riesling at Baily Winery and the almond champagne, served in chocolate glasses at Wilson Creek Winery. Maurice Carrie is also great for the baked brie. Get your name on the list, it is so delicious and worth the wait. I think the Temecula Valley is best known for its whites, not the reds. But that's just my opinion.

But we went to Old Town to go shopping, get some lunch and see the historic sites. We wandered up and down Front Street checking out the antique stores, boutiques and eclectic shops. We settled on Sweet Lumpy’s for lunch. We had the most delicious pulled pork. Very tasty.

Also located on Front Street is The Temecula Olive Oil Company with a tasting bar. I got to try the most delicious vanilla and fig balsamic vinegar. It was a young vinegar so it was tart and tangy. Who knew you could taste vinegar and olive oil like wine. I learned that the longer a vinegar sits it becomes sweeter. So check the year on your bottle.

Ooh a perfect snack would be to get some gourmet dipping oil from the Olive Company and head to Maurice Carrie for the baked brie with your favorite vintage or sparkling water.

Now this is not the most scenic time to visit Temecula. In January it’s pretty brown. But the rolling hills dotted with working ranches are gorgeous. The whole valley is beautiful in March during bud break or in the fall for a wedding.

The great thing about Temecula is that it is both sophisticated and casual. You can find top-class chefs and mom-n-pop restaurants. It doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Very little snobbery to be found, just good food, shopping and wine.

It’s a fun half day trip. Next time we hope to go check out one of the new spas and then head to Palm Springs, only another 60 miles east.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Rose Parade

I have lived in Southern California for 14 years and decided it was about time see the Rose Parade.

I wasn't however prepared to sleep on the street overnight. I am beyond the age where that is fun, and I'm not a camper. So Ty, Steve and I decided to get tickets to in November. The best seats were taken so we got seats for 1880 E. Colorado, which is about 2/3 of the way through the parade route.

We got there really early and were shocked to see all of the RVs, campers and trash. People had air mattresses, fire pits, tables and tables full of food and were very bundled up.

I was happy to have my ticket to the grandstands. We got to our seats at 6:30 a.m. The parade started at 8 a.m. and would not be by our area of the route until 9 a.m. It was freezing. We were shoe horned into our seats, bonded with the total strangers that were forced to invade our personal space bubble and had a fantastic time.

It is amazing, nothing like watching it on tv at all. The energy of the crowd. Seeing those beautiful floats up close is unreal. They are so much more colorful and beautiful in person.
One thing I did miss were the commentators, there were so many people on the floats and we had no clue who they were. I'm sure they were important but their presence went unnoticed.

To fill in the gap our very hilarious neighbor Dave read from the program and gave us the history on each float. Then we added our own color commentary making it very fun. However, we had no trouble recognizing George Lucas. The crowd went crazy when he went by.

Unfortunately, our seats were located right after the band performing area so we got them on the down beat. It was funny most of the people around us had been band geeks, including me, we were looking for solid marching skills since there weren't playing. Some bands were amazing but many others were out of step. As a member of the peanut gallery we were giving them scores. But we were at about mile 3 of 5.5 I'm sure they were very tired.

I had such a good time with Ty and Steve. We laughed a lot. Clapped a lot. Yelled a lot. If you decide to go I recommend that you buy your tickets early and get a seat close to the beginning or near the television cameras so you can see more of the performances.