Yard Wildlife...

Fortunately, we don't have to go far to experience wonderful nature. These are the treasures we discovered in our yard.


 "Nature poets can't walk across the backyard
without tripping over an epiphany."
-Christian Wiman

 "There is nothing quite so delightfully mysterious
as a secret in your own backyard."
-Patrick Rothfuss
"You can journey to the ends of the earth in search of success,
but if you’re lucky,
you will discover happiness in your own backyard."
-Russell Conwell

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Road Trip in 3 Parts: The Finale

This post encapsulates the remainder of our fun drive on Monday. We delighted in so much: art; gorgeous scenery; the promise of amazing dessert; the juiciest of oranges; and diverse history lessons. Who knew one road trip could be so rewarding?






When we departed on this adventure, we had no idea we were destined for pie but heck, we were so close. For those who don't know, the little mountain town of Julian is known for its crusted treats and it beckoned us.
Pie goddess Liz Smothers opened the Julian Pie Company in 1986. It all started when she and a neighbor began peeling apples for a local pie shop, where she was soon employed to bake and sell pies. Recognizing her expertise, two other pie shops hired her to bake for them. While Liz enjoyed the activity of baking for the pie shops, she had a desire to be creative on her own, and to not merely bake for someone else.

With the assistance of a friend, and emphasis on quality-control and clean, neat surroundings, the Julian Pie Company began.
And it is so much more than just apple pie. Steve picked this scrumptious creation which is a blend of apples, raspberries, boysenberries and strawberries... oh my.

Our next purchase was more healthy but just as delicious. We snagged a bag of these navels when we went to Borrego last month. Every one of them was make-a-mess juicy. And how can you beat 10 pounds for $4? So worth the drive!
Now on CA-76 for our loop road home, we came across a huge tract of land, littered with discarded structures and buildings. I am always intrigued with "what came before us" and had to know more.
This was the site of Pete Verboom's dairy, built in 1966. The 100-acre farm, straddling the San Luis Rey River, was his home and workplace. A dairy here? Wild. Turns out, there once were over 100 dairies in the San Diego area. Pete's was one of the last to go.

In 2000, he sold for several reasons: restrictions over the protected least Bell's vireo bird; the traffic generated by Indian casinos along this corridor; Caltrans having an easement right through his milking barns (the plan 20 years ago was to straighten out and widen the road); and a controversial landfill was to be built near by.

Pete sold his dream dairy to the Gregory Canyon Landfill who were going to use his land as a buffer.
So why are these 100 acres and their houses still rotting slowly into the fertile ground, neither farm nor housing development? Why no straightened Highway 76? No landfill? For starters, this is part of a 100-year flood plain. Then there’s the locals. They have fought to stop their bucolic settlement around the Pala Mission from becoming urbanized and they defeated the landfill, too. So this valley stays in a state of suspended animation, in some ways less developed than when Pete Verboom lived here.
Our 120 mile adventure was incredibly rewarding and there certainly is no better cure for what ails us than new experiences and horizons (oh and pie).


"Look at life through the windshield,
not the rearview mirror."
-Byrd Baggett

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Road Trip in 3 Parts: History

Another roadside surprise was the Chapel of Saint Francis of Assisi.

This adobe chapel was founded in 1830, under the direction of the Varona Fathers at Santa Ysabel Mission. It was here the Cupeño Indian village of Kúpa thrived for many generations. The history is sadly the same as most of California's native people. Spaniards entered Cupeño lands in 1795 and took control by the 19th century. After Mexico achieved independence, its government granted Juan Jose Warner, a naturalized American-Mexican citizen, nearly 45,000 acres of the land (1844).


The wood and adobe was brought in from the hills nearby and built with the labor of the Cupeños who considered the area to be of great medicinal and spiritual value.  There is still a mass conducted weekly at the chapel, and the nearby cemetery still conducts burials.

In 1903, the Cupeño people lost their home. The United States Supreme Court ruled that they had no right to the land that had been their home for centuries. Ordered by the government to a reservation at Pala, the Cupeño were forced to make a new home. This eviction was the last of Indian “removals” in the United States, ending a federal policy of forced relocations that had begun 75 years earlier, and is best-remembered in the Cherokee trail of tears.
The cemetery was established in 1830 as a burial ground for the Cupeño Indians.  A total of 62 markers were counted. Most of them are wooden crosses with no inscriptions.
This was a surprise discovery of long ago injustices. A sad but welcomed history lesson.


"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy
of this period of social transition
was not the strident clamor of the bad people,
but the appalling silence of the good people."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Road Trip in 3 Parts: Art

We wanted to expand our horizons and headed out onto State Route 79. We were on a mission to get some delicious farm grown naval oranges and a berry pie- both essential items we just had to have. I'm sharing our day in three different posts, as not to overwhelm. I hope you enjoy the ride.

After only 16.2 miles from leaving home, we were awed by the creatures lurking along the roadside. A loud, "Stop the car!" ensued. What a find.
We became fans of Ricardo Breceda's while we were in Borrego and had no idea his Gallery was here and so welcoming.
An artist for all ages, Ricardo has opened his vision and artwork to all who wish to enjoy it. His transformative art mesmerizes.




Originating with a metal Tyrannosaurus Rex for his daughter’s birthday many years ago, Ricardo’s work has grown in both skill and complexity. With a craving for an art experience, meandering in this garden of creativity is exactly what we needed. Wow.







Physical distancing was easy to do in this sprawling setting. Next time, we want to bring a picnic lunch and stay longer.

I appreciate Ricardo's nod to the historical road we were on- The Butterfield Overland Mail Route. It is here that a stagecoach service operated from 1858 to 1861. It carried passengers and U.S. Mail from two eastern termini, Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, to San Francisco, right along where SR 79 is today. So dang cool.. Art in History!
Remember me saying this place was welcoming? I thought this request was more than fair for the amount of artistic enjoyment we received. What a delight.
“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness.
It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind.
As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.”
~John Lubbock

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Getting Political about the USPS...

Most who know me know that I'm pretty apolitical. However, I am very passionate about the United States Postal Service. So today, I did my part (which wasn't a difficult task since it was writing letters).

Starting tomorrow, Monday, April 27, 2020, thousands of Americans are sending letters through the mail to tell their Senators to fully fund the United States Postal Service.
WHY THIS CAMPAIGN MATTERS By sending a letter to our Senators, we can send a clear message to Congress and the White House that bankrupting the United States Postal Service is NOT an option.

The Goal? Getting Congress and the White House to fund the United States Postal Service in the next stimulus bill. The Postal Service delivers life-saving medications and food, enables voting by mail, supports other services necessary for our nation to operate during the COVID-19 crisis, and is obligated to serve all Americans regardless of where they live, rural and urban alike.

Not to mention how wonderful it is to receive fun in our mailboxes. USPS is an entity that links us in times of celebration, sorrow and everyday life.  We need this American institution now more than ever.
And if you haven't had the chance to Thank your mail carrier, now's a good time to express gratitude. By the way, I appreciate you reading this.

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