Rancho California RV Resort that is, in Aguanga (Uh-waan-guh). That’s where we’ve been since December 1st and for the past three months (see our review). Until our departure from there on March 1st, we were residing on site #559 which we rented directly from an owner rather than through the on site rental office (Fairway Sales). It was a pretty good size, well shaded site located in the quieter back section of the resort with lots of privacy, a kitchen build out with a BBQ, a sink, a refrigerator, and table and chairs. It also had a sitting area with lovely views of the mountains to the west.
Wonderful spending time with the friends we made last February – Andy and George (and the famous Elizabeth Taylor), full timers who bought a beautiful lot here last year, Vickie and Bruce (and pooch, Gus) from British Columbia, Janice and Dave from Alberta and Lisa and Brent (and their two pups) from South Dakota! And we made several more new friends too! It didn’t take long after our arrival for the Happy Hours and Pot Luck suppers to begin. What a fun group!
Aguanga is located about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, approximately 75 miles northeast of San Diego and about 20 miles east of Temecula. To the south and west it sits in the foothills and shadow of the Palomar mountains and Palm Springs/Indio is across the San Jacinto mountains to the north. The area is generally referred to as part of the California “Inland Empire“. The climate here is transitional, that is, it’s not desert and it’s not coastal. However, being a transitional zone it feels the influences of both, creating a unique climate (hence the plethora of wineries in the area). In the winter, days are warm and nights are cool with no bugs and moderate humidity (not too dry, not to wet). Sometimes it does get a little chilly at night but that suits us just fine, great sleeping weather! We almost never needed to run the AC but did use the heat regularly. Nighttime temps were generally in the mid 50’s and it was rare to see the mid 40’s, although the last few days of our stay had a night or two that flirted with the freezing point (but never did).
Shortly after our arrival, the horrendous and devastating wildfires (that ended up being the worst ever in CA) broke out, mostly north of us. Fortunately we were upwind and weren’t in any immediate danger, but with the extreme drought conditions and the Santa Ana winds, a wildfire could have started anywhere at any moment. At one point from the back of our site, we could see plumes of smoke off in the distance.
In the first photo below, look at the terrain along CA60 east of Moreno Valley when we arrived here in February, 2017 when a rainy January turned everything a lush green. Compare that to the second photo below of the same stretch of CA60 on December 1, 2017, with so many shades of brown.
We thought that while we were here, we might take some short expeditions to see other parts of California, but between the wildfires and the mudslides, we had no desire to travel anywhere. The only excursion we took in the coach was to attend the Entegra Coach Owner’s Association (ECOA) rally in Quartzsite mid-January, but more about that in a later post.
Instead, our days and nights were filled with sightseeing in the van, lots of socializing, working on projects, catching up on blog posts, taking walks, biking, riding around in our rented golf cart, watching the very active hummingbirds, hanging out and just plain relaxing. And of course, there were weekly excursions into Temecula (over 30 minutes away) to stock up on supplies. Aguanga does not have any conveniences, only a small General Store and a Post Office so when you need something it turns into an all day excursion into town.
Sparky sure enjoyed being there. It was an easy task to enclose the entire sitting area in the back by installing some netting, posts and a makeshift gate. It gave him a lot of room and an opportunity to wander around out there, watching the birds, rabbits and other critters. But in doing so, I think we’ve created a monster because he wanted to be out there all the time.
On the warmer days, we would sit out there with him working on our PC’s which made him really happy. If we weren’t out there with him, he sat in a corner or by the makeshift gate and cried constantly. When we brought him inside he screamed because he wanted to be outside. Since Gizmo died, or maybe it’s just old age (he’ll be 14 in June), Sparky has become quite needy and doesn’t want to be by himself anymore.
A trip to Julian, a former mining town in the beautiful Cuyamaca mountains was one of our first excursions shortly after our arrival. Not so much because of the history of the town or to do any real exploring (we had done that last year) but for a visit to the Julian Pie Company (see this post about our last visit here). Before heading for the Pie Company though, we stopped for lunch at Jeremy’s On The Hill, which serves Farm to Table cuisine.
Based on the recommendation of our waitress, we ordered a half order ($6.95) of Jeremy’s Famous Brussels Sprouts which are served crispy in house Ponzu sauce made with red pepper flakes, brown sugar and ginger root and garnished with apple jicama slaw and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. OMG, these were soooo good, wish we had ordered the full order!
For our lunches, I ordered a California Sunshine Burger ($14.95) which was grass fed beef with chipotle aioli, avocado mousse, fresh pineapple pico de gallo and organic greens and Rob had the Juicy J Burger ($16.95) which was grass fed beef with cheddar & blue cheese, chipotle aioli, avocado mousse, topped with Heritage pork brisket and organic greens. Both were served with house cut garlic-herb fries. Everything was delicious!
Before it became Jeremy’s, this restaurant was the home to “Tom’s Chicken Shack” so on Fridays, Chef Jeremy plays tribute to Tom with Fried Chicken Fridays for just $14.95, including a pint of Nickel Beer. We had hoped to go there on a Friday but never made it. Chef Jeremy has posted a few recipes of his dishes on their website plus he has videos showing how he makes certain dishes including the Brussels Sprouts and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken.
Now that we were stuffed, after lunch we headed to the Julian Pie Company on Highway 79 in Santa Ysabel where we bought a freshly baked Apple Mountain Berry Crumb Pie and a frozen Dutch Apple Pie.
The last time we were with family during the holidays was back in 2012. Despite the fact that it has been a number of years, we still miss being away from everyone. But this year it was a lot easier because we had a new “family” of friends and we were very busy.
Holiday festivities kicked off with a delicious mid-December brunch at Andy and George’s site. Who needed food (trust me there was a lot of it) when we had Bloody Mary’s with bacon strips, shrimp, grape tomatoes, olives and celery! It was a meal in a glass!
That was followed by a Christmas Eve Day brunch at Vickie and Bruce’s site. Tons of delicious food at this event as well! I think (know) that once we leave here we’ll both need to go on a serious diet!
Being their first Christmas away from their family, Janice and Dave volunteered to host Christmas dinner. Janice prepared a turkey dinner with all the fixin’s and asked everyone to bring side dishes or desserts. Dinner was excellent with really delicious food and do I need to mention there was a lot of it?
Normally we have a very quiet New Year’s Eve by ourselves but not this year! When was the last time you participated in a scavenger hunt? For me, it was back when I was a kid at least until this year! Kudos to Vickie and Janice who organized a totally awesome scavenger hunt as a New Year’s Eve Day activity. Five teams comprised of four people (spouses weren’t allowed to be on the same team) raced around the resort in golf carts with a list of items to bring back, find and take pictures or group activities to do, all within a two hour time frame. Imagine trying to find a white thong, a Viagra pill or a cocktail umbrella plus a number of other items! Then be sure to take pictures of your team trick or treating at someone’s coach, take selfies with the 34th & 43rd US President, play leap frog by the restaurant or take a group photo with an inflatable Christmas decoration! Prizes were given to each team. Vickie and Janice have already been hired to do it again next year.
Following the hunt, there was a huge pot luck New Year’s Eve Party at John and Shelley’s site. We just met them this year. Not sure how many people were there but it was quite the party! What a blast everyone had playing the Ellen DeGeneres game, “Heads Up”! If you are not familiar with the game, it’s described as “from naming celebrities, to singing, to silly accents — guess the word on the card that’s on your head from your friends’ clues before the timer runs out!” This game is available on iTunes as well as the Google Play Store. What a great party game!
The Superbowl is always a good excuse to party and of course with this crowd, there was one planned at John and Shelley’s. Unfortunately I was sick with a miserable cold so we missed that one. Just as well since the Pats lost!
My cold lasted for well over a month, then Rob was sick for a few days as well. During our last two weeks prior to our departure we were pretty much in quarantine and not doing much of anything. Fortunately we recovered enough to be honored at a farewell party the Sunday prior to our departure! Although I was still recovering from my cold, we had such a fun time! Really tough saying goodbye to everyone, knowing we wouldn’t see these wonderful friends for a year.