February 7, 2016


“He who does not look ahead remains behind.”  Spanish proverb

Carol writes:  I was pleasantly impressed when we arrived at our next campground at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California.  The campground is a part of a beautiful large resort and casino complex owned and operated by the Pachenga band of the Luiseño Indians, who have called the Temecula Valley home for over 10,000 years.

We had heard from several fellow RVers that the campground at Pachenga was first rate.  Since Al’s thorough research online seemed to agree, we went ahead and booked two weeks.

As we drove around Temecula and took care of several errands, it was obvious past growth had been rapid and big.  Starting in the 1990s, affordable housing prices and a newly developed wine industry brought families in droves to Temecula.  As a result, even old-town Temecula

has been undergoing changes, some of them not so welcome locally.  As one shop owner we talked to said, all the antique stores are closing and becoming restaurants and nightclubs that attract huge, loud crowds on weekends.  She expressed sadness that the character of old Temecula was changing…

However, the night life was not what brought us to Temecula; it was the glorious warm and sunny January climate in the middle of winter! 


Following the  recommendation of the young man who checked us in at the campground, we spent a day hiking up on the Santa Rosa plateau, where we took in a bit of history at the Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve.

A couple of miles down the trail we came to the historic adobe structures that were a part of the ranch complex owned by the Dear family.  Sadly, the ranch house has since burned down, but the old barn

and a 400-year-old live oak beside an old adobe outbuilding

provided a framework for imagination of how ranch life used to be 120 years ago when Parker and Elena Dear used to give their famous May Day picnics.

The day we visited the old Dear ranch, the only hosts for our picnic lunch were a couple of very healthy-looking coyotes and several colorful acorn woodpeckers.


The entire state of California is dotted with many restored Franciscan mission complexes, and one of the loveliest is Mission San Luis Rey,

founded in 1798 and named after King Louis IX of France.

Southern California, the land of Hollywood, is awash in movie trivia sites… even at a mission.  Right here at Mission San Luis Rey the 1957 television show “Zorro” was filmed.  For filming, Disney replaced the doors of the mission with his Hollywood version, which now resides in the mission museum.


From our base in Temecula, the 200-inch Hale telescope at Mt. Palomar ranked right at the top of the list of things we wanted to see.  Both of us had “somewhat clear” memories of a past visit or two at Mt. Palomar, but it was only when we arrived in the observatory parking lot after a drive up 4000 ft. in elevation that we eventually realized old memories had been playing tricks on both of us.  Indeed, this was all very interesting and totally new!

Named after George Ellery Hale, the father of modern astrophysics, the Hale telescope has studied the nighttime skies every clear night since it opened in 1949.  She was a stunning beauty on the outside...

Inside, upon seeing the actual telescope with its 200-inch mirror situated horizontally in the circular structure in the pic below, the only reaction we had was, “Wow!”

It was at Mt. Palomar that Eleanor “Glo” Helin performed her pioneering research in the field of “near-Earth asteroids”—those asteroids that have the potential to become impact hazards to human civilization.  Pictured below at her work station, I was struck by how simple it was.

As a nod to Eleanor Helin, In Star Trek VI the USS Helin was listed in the starship status charts as a 23rd century Federation starship. 

Temecula wasn’t all that far from the beach, so we couldn’t resist a sneak peek of the ocean at Oceanside.

Instantly, all kinds of great memories of our early adult lives in San Diego came flooding back, along with all the activity at the beach that we knew and loved, such as…


strolling along the pier,

Navy ships honing skills at sea,

and watching what other people do for beach fun (in this case, blowing huge soap bubbles)

On the way back to the car we stumbled upon another piece of Hollywood trivia…

The Queen Anne cottage where Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis were filmed in the 1985 movie “Top Gun” sits awaiting restoration in an Oceanside parking lot, 

As we prepare to move on later this week to our first beachfront campground at Seal Beach in Orange County, we are keeping an eye out for the start of the so-called Godzilla El Niño.  Southern Californians have taken the warnings about this unprecedented weather event seriously and have been preparing for it.  The city of Temecula has cleared and stabilized Temecula Creek in preparation for the historic rains that have been predicted.                          

Al and I always feel that every sunny day we have is a blessing.  As the calendar page flips over to February, I hope we are not pressing our luck by heading to a campground on the Orange County coast.

“Get ready down in Malibu and all along the Orange County coast for a big battering from El Niño.”  William Patzert, climatologist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory


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