Monday, October 18, 2010

California and Chocolate

Here's the scoopage on the trip to San Diego!  Thanks, Sorbet Sistah Sassy for hiring me!

As soon as I landed, I got my hands on a rental car and went to Cabrillo National Monument:

It's named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo - the first European to set foot on the west coast of what is now the United States.  (I'd never heard of him before. Sad, huh?)  Look at the gorgeous view of San Diego:
This is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse which is very cool because you can go in and see how the lighthouse keeper and his family lived back in the day.  I couldn't have handled it (so tiny inside and you had to be there all the time) and would have probably gone completely insane.

Now this lighthouse (the new one), I could handle!  Gorgeous.
After that I drove up to La Jolla and pretty much chilled to adjust to the jet lag.

But I was up bright and early the next day to drive out past Escondido to the nut farm!!  I mean, really, when I discovered there was a nut farm nearby and they were having a Fall Festival the weekend I was in Cally - well, it must be fate, right?

First thing I noted was that my GPS has made my brain turn to mush.  I didn't have one in the rental car and had to navigate for myself.  Wow - I was surprised how much I rely on that thing.  If you use one regularly, I bet you'd be surprised too.  It's kind of scary, actually.

But I did manage to find Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center, California - and the place was packed!  Look at all these pumpkins:

People were getting tons of huge pumpkins.  I didn't think Southwest Airlines would be too excited about that, so I didn't get one.  There were also hay wagon rides, a corn maze, a huge petting zoo, an arts and crafts fair, those blow up things kids jump around in, and loads of food vendors.  I didn't see any nuts growing anywhere.  I still am bitter about that.  But all the employees were swarmed in the massive retail outlet and I thought they might call security if I asked to see the nuts growing.  Here's the gift shop:
I spent a small fortune myself - check out this haul - barbecue and honey roasted almonds, mixed nuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, salted almonds, trail mix and butter toffee cashews:
And there's more - caramel balls, chocolate covered banana chips, peanut brittle, a giant pecan roll, toffee almonds, dark chocolate coated almond, dates (not pictured - I ate them all in CA and date rolls - not good - I pitched them in CA):

And these blocks of toffee were GIANT!  Think the size of a hamburger - and a good inch thick.  Wow!

Here's their peanut brittle:
It wasn't very peanutty.  Too brittley.  And get this - they had so-called Virginia peanuts and they were tiny!  True Virginia peanuts rock!  Those were impostors and the resulting peanut brittle was lame.

I had to get these because I'd never had them before - chocolate covered banana chips:
I thought I would hate them, but they were pretty good.  Tasted like chocolate (no real banana flavor - the chocolate overpowered it) with a nice crunch in the middle.  Good, but not great.  Would be better if you could taste banana.  The combination of textures was great though.

I bought so much stuff people in the parking lot commented on it.  And these people were using wheelbarrows to carry their pumpkins to their cars.  So, I had two huge bags of nuts and candy.  What's wrong with that?

After I navigated my way back to La Jolla with my loot, I decided to hike in Torrey Pines State Reserve.  (Yes, our hotel was right next to it AND on the 18th hole of the famous golf course.)  (Sassy - you rock!)
A famous Torrey pine - this pine exists no where else in the world.  Yes, I hiked EVERY tail (took three hours) and went to the ranger station and watched a cool video.  Yes, I am a geeky weirdo - but I wouldn't trade it for anything!  Look at the views:

What a perfect day!  What a gorgeous, gorgeous place!  FireStar (my company) always takes me to the greatest places.  I am so lucky!!!

I think when you find your calling, it's the greatest gift in the world.  Have you found yours?  Don't stop looking until you do - the world is waiting for you.


Kris, in New England said...

Oh man that looks just gorgeous; and so does the scenery. :-)

Finding my calling - I'm on that quest right now.

So - all that hiking... how was the bionic hip???

Denise Ryan said...

Ha, ha, ha!!! I want you to keep me posted on that quest.

The hip did all right (thanks for asking!) - a little sore at the end. Does that ever happen to you?