At one point—while repacking yet again—I said to Eric, “I traveled in this country for a year with just a backpack, a backpacking tent, and a sleeping bag. I did the same in Europe a year later with the same minimal amount of belongings. What happened?” He said something to the effect of, “You’re spoiled.” It’s true. RV travel spoils you for any other kind of travel. I like my stuff. I like having a variety of clothing (including clothing that’s not just for hiking), my pillow, my special tea blends, my herbs and spices, my favorite omelet pan and Santoku knife, my Kindle, my laptop, my guitar. It’s a little embarrassing to my minimalist self. But it certainly makes life comfortable.
Anyway, enough about that. On to another chapter of our adventures in and around San Diego. Via Airbnb, we booked a week in a tiny studio on an avocado farm near Temecula. It was a very sweet place, about twice the size of our trailer, and in truth, not quite as well laid-out. We enjoyed a wealth of homegrown avocados, grapefruit, and blood oranges during our stay, courtesy of our hosts. Our little patio overlooked I-15, something I didn’t realize when I booked the accommodation. All of the reviews said, “Peaceful retreat…so wonderful to be in the country….” I said to Eric, “How can anyone think that listening to a background hum of traffic is peaceful?” He said, “They’re coming from LA. To them, this is the countryside.” Of course. I rummaged through one of our boxes and dug out the white noise machine.
We decided that for each place we stayed, we would concentrate on activities in the immediate vicinity so that we could avoid as much as possible the infamous and gnarly southern California traffic. It was a good plan. (For those of you who want to visit the area with your RV, Lake Skinner Recreation Area is just a few miles away.)
Temecula and the surrounding countryside are beautiful—in the Mediterranean-type climate, avocados, citrus, grapes, lavender, and olives thrive, and the hillsides are a pretty patchwork quilt of farms, orchards, and vineyards. Here, the fun things we discovered during our stay near Temecula:
• Old Town Temecula: The downtown area is very attractive, with lots of great shops for browsing. Don’t miss the Temecula Olive Oil Company and the complimentary olive oil tasting, all made from their locally grown olives. We ended up buying several bottles of gourmet olive oils and vinegars (just what we needed to add to the stuff we were hauling around). I must admit, their blood orange infused olive oil is amazing. I’m going to be very sad when it’s all gone.
• Temecula Farmers’ Market: Old Town hosts a terrific farmers’ market on Saturday mornings. Everything is locally grown and mostly organic, including pastured meats, eggs, beautiful vegetables and fruits, and handmade cheeses. We found everything we needed to stock our little kitchen for the week, including a delicious assortment of gourmet mushrooms from “Chef Fun Guy,” AKA Chef Fungi.
• Temecula Wineries: The cool mornings and hot, dry days of Temecula are perfect for growing grapes, and the countryside is blanketed with dozens of picturesque vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms. Stop by the Visitor Center in the Town Square Plaza and ask for a book of coupons for discounts on wine tastings—many of the wineries offer 2-for-1 tastings. While you’re there, admire the gorgeous mosaic fountain in the center of the plaza. It was inspired by the design of an ancient Luiseno woven grass basket (the Indian tribe native to Temecula) and represents the net used to cast the sun into the sky.
• San Luis Rey River Trail: This nine-mile multi-use paved path winds through a peaceful landscape and ends up at Oceanside Beach. We biked to the beach and back, stopping for a picnic on the beach and adding on a couple of miles to explore a bit of Oceanside, including a stop for iced tea at the lovely open air Succulent Café.
• Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve: This gorgeous 9,000-acre preserve protects a variety of unique ecosystems and the plants and creatures that live there. The 4-mile loop trail that meanders past the vernal pools to two old adobe houses is especially lovely—the picturesque structures were built in 1846 as bunkhouses for cowboys and are the two oldest buildings in Riverside County.
• Wilderness Gardens Preserve: Known as a great place for birding, the preserve is in the San Luis Rey River watershed, and offers four miles of hiking trails through a mixture of meadows, riparian areas, and oak woodlands.
Next up: Adventures in cool and colorful North Park, San Diego![portfolio_slideshow]