Sunny California

Temecula, to be exact. Slightly to the east of the L.A./San Diego axis, but about halfway in between, maybe a wee bit closer to San Diego. The drive over from PHX on I-10 was mostly desert terrain. The area near Palm Springs is inundated with windmills.

windmills

Kind of hard to tell from the picture, but there must have been at least 50 windmills in sight when I snapped the pic, maybe more. Overall in the area: hundreds. Driving through Palm Springs you see signs for Bob Hope Road and Gene Autry Trail and Sonny Bono Freeway. It’s like sitting on Johnny Carson’s couch. “We’ll be right back with our next guest, the Lady from 29 Palms.”

After turning south off of I-10 the land turns more to the green rolling hills that I normally associate with California. There was still some snow in the high country at Big Bear Lake and Mt San Jacinto.

snowcaps

Temecula is a wine region, so it’s not a coincidence tht it became my destination. The environs at Temecula are very much California, but also very reminiscent of northern Italy. Tourism has boomed in the area in recent years due to the wine industry and a casino. There are over 40 wineries in the Temecula Valley AVA, many of which have very nice tasting rooms and restaurants or lodging attached. The area historically was devoted to citrus and avocados. Still a lot of orange trees.

My pal Natalie, ever the wine hobbyist, came in for the weekend. Saturday we met up with my former colleagues from JD Fields & Co., Mike and Chris Leone and their spouses and hit 4 or 5 wineries. They were all crowded but a good time was had by all. You can tell from looking at the tasting lists that they grow a bunch of different varietals in the area.

tEMECULA SCENES (3)

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Most of the wineries seem to sell their production through wine clubs and the tasting rooms. Not much seems to get into other distribution channels. Even the restaurants in the area don’t tout the local wines as much as you see in other wine regions.

It’s very pretty country, no doubt.

tEMECULA WINE (1)tEMECULA WINE (3)tEMECULA WINE (4)tEMECULA WINE (5)tEMECULA WINE (6)Temecula wine country

Ah, springtime in Cownifornia!

There are 2 Presidential Libraries in the vicinity: Nixon and Reagan. Nixon is in the middle of Yorba Linda. Took about an hour to drive over there one afternoon. Traffic was not especially heavy, but lots of turns and lights. The building itself is designed to look like the White House.

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The first thing you see is quite an impressive work of art.

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Nixon today might well be a Democrat. He ended the war in Vietnam, as promised, albeit in a manner perhaps not to everyone’s liking; made real progress toward completing the integration of southern schools; initiated significant outreach programs for minority businesses and self-determination for Native Americans; established EPA; launched the War on Cancer; signed Title IX. And he was perhaps the most accomplished President in terms of foreign policy, certainly in my lifetime. The Media was not his friend, mainly, I think, because he was not JFK (although his anti-communist activites in the 50s may have had something to do with it). Of course, his paranoia led to the Big Mistake of Watergate, and with the media not on his side, it was curtains. A very interesting character, though. In going through the Presidential Libraries I am always struck by the unique individual stories of the men who rose to be President. In every case I think: “only in America”!

Most all of the Presidential Libraries have some sort of exhibit of the gifts that were given by foreign states during the tenure of the subject. I was particularly struck by the disparity in the gifts given by the Brits and the Saudis. Herewith, the Brits:

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Autographed photos of Anne and Charles. Really? Now the Saudis brought the bling:

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There were some interesting displays of of the official daily diary.

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In the first one Nixon had an “interplanetary conversation” with Apollo 11 astronauts. The second one shows the Pres gettin’ his Elvis on. He also got a call from Mrs. Tommy Dorsey that day, but she ain’t no Elvis!

Ever noticed that famous people seem to hang out with other famous peeps?

Nixon peeps

Bob Hope on the left, Arnold Palmer on the right. Kissinger and Gerald Ford also in the mix.

My RV park is on the same property as the Pechanga Casino. Big place. Stays busy. Apparently very profitable. Owned by an Indian tribe that has only 1000 members. They are banking big time.

 

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Flashy, lots of slots, many of the 1 cent variety. Quite a few restaurants. They have some tech advancements I’ve never seen, such as electronic craps and roulette tables.IMG_4760

But even amidst glitz and glamor sometimes RV life makes you kick it down a notch.

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A couple days later I headed over to the Reagan Library, which was quite a trek: 135 miles and about 3 hours each way. Of the 6 PLs I’ve been to the Reagan struck me as the most “cheerleaderish” of them all. All of them deal with problem issues. Nixon started right off with Watergate. This is not meant as a criticism of the Reagan, just my gut feel. Perhaps his administration had fewer controversies than others. But the long drive was worth it. Definitely the most scenic setting of any of the other PLsIMG_4794IMG_4795IMG_4796

Several items caught my attention. Reagan was of course known as the Great Communicator. But at this speech there was at least one guy that was not spellbound.

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They represented this guy as being Reagan’s uncle.

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But if he is anybody’s uncle I say it’s Dr. Phil.

Overall, a nice stay in Temecula. They say it gets hot in the summer but spring is very pleasant. Now back to PHX for a few days and then to Alpine, AZ to look at some property.

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