travel

Joshua Tree Weekend

I recently returned from a weekend up at Joshua Tree National Park.  I initially went searching for beautiful landscapes and fun hikes.  I not only got that, but also discovered off-roading trails for my Jeep and bouldering on rock faces.  It made me feel like a little kid again.

Joshua Tree is a great local escape for people who live in the SoCal area.  We were able to go on a last minute trip during the high season (October to May) with some careful planning.

We knew we wouldn’t be able to leave earlier than noon on Friday so we booked our first night through recreation.gov.  We would have booked both nights online, but the 4 campsites in Joshua Tree that allow online reservations were completely full for Saturday.  We booked Friday at Black Rock Campground at $20 a night.  This campsite was on the north end of the park outside of the normal entrance.  It had running water and bathrooms.  There was also a 4.4 mile West Loop trail right next to our campsite.  Since we arrived at sunset we walked that trail for a few minutes before turning back to the campsite.

Black Rock Campground had a fire pit and table at each campsite.  We could have bought hot dogs and burgers at the local Walmart, but we had some left over food from our Zion trip that we decided to cook on our MSR Whisperlite Stove.  This stove is mainly used for backcountry camping, but was still useful in this vicinity.  

The next day we went into the actual park and went off roading and bouldering.  Before we started the fun activities we went to find a campsite to use.  We left Black Rock around 830 am and went to the Jumbo Rock Campground.  We figured that would be our best bet with over 100 camp grounds.  There is no running water in this part of the park so make sure to bring plenty.  There is some water at the entrance visitor center if you are desperate for water.  

We found a campsite in the very back and put our first come, first serve pass on it.  These are the yellow tags that you can get when entering these campsites.  The night cost $15.

From there we moved over to Geology Trail Road for an off roading adventure that all go into more details about later.  The rest of our activities we found my looking at articles on pinterest and the newspaper that we got from the visitors center.  There was more than enough to see and do in weekend, and I’ll definitely go back to hike more trails at a future date.

The two nights of camping only cost us $35 which is less than what a dinner out would cost.  At this point we have a nice selection of camping gear because of our Zion Christmas trip, but if you owned no camping gear it could be expensive.

If you have ever been to Joshua Tree, what were your favorite parts?

travel

Temecula in a Day

     temecula-in-a-day-coverTemecula in a Day, I suppose is somewhat of a misnomer.  To date, I have been to Temecula three times now. The first, I was the designated driver.  The second, a very willing drinker, and most recently, on a private tour.  I am by no means an expert on Temecula Valley, and am excited to come back and go to more wineries, but as of now here are some of my recommendations for a first timer.

 

 

Hart Winery

Hart Winery was the first winery we went to.  They charge $12 for 6 tastings, which is very reasonable.  I really liked that they had an outside tasting area and an indoor facility. Like many other places in Temecula, when you pay for your tastings you are given a card with 6 tear away sheets (1 per tasting).  Once we would receive a pour we were able to walk around and look at all of the vineyards outside which was really nice.  They offered large pours, and were very friendly.  Check them out at www.hartfamilywinery.com.

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Baily Winery

Baily Winery was empty when we went Saturday morning, and we were not complaining.  The people who worked there were awesome and allowed us to try tastes of a few other wines besides our standard pours.  This tasting I believe was between $10-15 (I can’t remember) and included a free wine glass.  There is also a restaurant right next door which looked lovely.  The building was a simple stone building, but it was beautiful inside.  Check them out at www.bailywinery.com.

Europa Winery

We got to Europa Winery before it was really open, so we wandered around the gardens.  It is absolutely beautiful, and looks as if it is set right in Italy. I have not been to Italy (though I’ll be sure to go one day), but from the pictures I’ve seen it’s spot on. They were slightly more expensive than the other places we tasted at $15 for 6 during the week and $20 for 6 on the weekends, but they were very attentive.  Even when a large group came in on a tour, someone stayed back and talked to us.  Check them out at www.europavillage.com.

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Falkner Winery

I cannot speak to the regular tastings at Falkner since we did a private tour here, butimg_1345 it was absolutely splendid.  The private tour included 6 tastings for $35 with a cheese platter (shown below). We were allowed additional taste samples to before just being poured what was “next on the list”.  At the end we got to try the Hot Lips, which is a mulled wine. I didn’t even realize that existed, and they showed us the process of how the wine is made.  Check them out at www.falknerwinery.com.
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$35 is much more than many of the other wineries, but for a private tasting it wasimg_1350 well worth it.  I spent a little time in Napa when visiting my boyfriends family, and found the prices to be much higher. Starting in the $20-30 range for 3-4 tastings.  I should be heading back to Napa in the next few weeks, so I’m sure I’ll do a review.  I think that Temecula is a great place to visit.  You will certainly be “feeling” how much you drank after 3-4 wineries so pace yourself and stop into the town or at a place to eat.  

I only spent a few minutes in the town on the way out, but next time I’ll stay longer. They had adorable shops and restaurants all decked out for Christmas.  It’s funny to see Christmas decorations when its 80 degrees in Sunny SoCal.img_1351

If you live in the SoCal area, or are visiting over the holidays. I highly recommend taking a day to check out Temecula.  To be honest you could make an entire weekend of it, but if you don’t have that kind of time, a day is plenty!img_1349

Let me know the next place you’d like me to review. Have you been to Temecula? Any tips for next time?