Friday, June 27, 2014

Oak Glen, California

Last fall Kimberly and John invited us to share their special day as they tied the knot under a full moon on Friday the 13th. Both of their birthdays fall on the 13th of their months (not this one) and they wanted to get all of their "bad luck" out of the way at once.

The wedding was beautiful. The bride was stunning. The groom's eyes were filled with love as he looked at his new wife. It could not have been a more perfect evening. The found subtle ways to tie the moon into their night.

As is only possible in few places, the wedding and reception were held outdoors at The Homestead in a town called Oak Glen, California. Where is Oak Glen? you ask. It is in the mountains of California about an hour north of Anaheim (home of Disneyland).

At first the timing of the wedding was pretty ideal. Given our NJ weather the past few years, we would not use any snow days and get out on June 11th. Umm, did you hear about this winter? We used all three snow days and then some. (This winter was so relentless, I never did blog about it, I just wanted to forget it.) Then I took a librarian job, with a last day of school date pushed back to June 19th because of snow. I was up front at the interview -- my last day (it was a one day a week job) would be on June 5th.

 It all worked out in the end. We enjoyed a wonderful family vacation out west. We went to places other than Disneyland (*gasp*) and spent time together as a family.

Back to Beaumont. We flew in on Thursday night and had most of Friday to ourselves. What to do? Fortunately the hotel lobby had a flyer about Apple Country: Oak Glen, CA, and a list of all of their tourist destinations. 

Oak Glen is about a mile above sea level. They get snow in the winter. It is about 10 degrees cooler there than it is in Beaumont (where our hotel was located 15 minutes away). The ten degrees is just a guess.

Our goal was to find someplace for light hiking. I only brought sandals on this trip, but after flying in from the East Coast I wanted to stretch my legs. The first stop we tried was the Oak Glen School House Museum and Park. It was closed.

We continued on the path to The Wildlands Conservancy. They just opened Phase I of their trails that Spring:

Just call us tree huggers! This part of the
trail also had giant pine cones.
Phase I of the Botanic Garden is on 220 acres of wild lands that include oak woodland, conifer forest, chaparral, grasslands, wetlands, springs, ponds and two year-round streams with riparian corridors. Initially, more than 100 native species have been signed and many new signs are in development. New native plantings are being added monthly.

The place was beautiful! Just what we wanted and needed. There were a few parts of the 4.8 mile trail, though, that were marked "Caution Steep Trail." We probably did not have on the best footwear for those sections of trail. As you can see in our pictures, the terrain varied a lot -- from wetlands to mountains to forests to streams it was a microcosm of California terrains. It was also free.

After hiking we were hungry, so we heeded the advice of the clerk at our hotel and went to Apple Annie's Restaurant and Bakery. The food was delicious. I had the Ultimate Grilled Cheese: 
The Ultimate Grilled Cheese
A delicious 3 cheese grilled sandwich stuffed with grilled onions and tomatoes served on golden grilled sourdough bread.

It was a good attempt at eating vegetarian on vacation.

Annie's is best known for their mile-high apple pie. We did get one to share. Though huge, it didn't seem quite as big as we were led to believe.

This birdie kept a lookout for scraps. I got the impression he is a regular. Fortunately we were able to finish our meal without his help!

All too soon it was time to hightail it to the hotel room to look presentable for the wedding. I think we were successful, though Ashley wanted me to curl her hair the way our hairdresser did the week before. I tried, but that is not my talent. Besides, that hairstyle makes her look at least three years older.

We will probably never return to Oak Glen, California, but we are very glad we did get to go there and would recommend it to friends looking for a quiet get-away.

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