Thursday, April 22, 2010

welcome to san juan capistrano!

Welcome to my world BlogTrotters. What is a BlogTrotter? Click on this button and you learn all about it. I am sharing my post with them today.

If you are anything like me then you like learning about the world around you. Reading, researching, and planning where I want to go next, to me, is almost as good as actually going there and when I first came across BlogTrotting I thought, "What a great idea!"

Well, now it is my turn. All aboard! Next stop, San Juan Capistrano, CA

I am an Orange County native having spent most of my childhood in the neighboring beach town San Clemente. My husband and I settled in San Juan Capistrano (SJC) about 11 years ago and we love it.

Our town has roughly 35,000 people. Orange County has a little over 3 million.
SJC has a unique and old history that includes Native American Indians, Spanish, Rancheros, European settlers, outlaws, and pirates. Yes, you heard me right, pirates. They raided the mission after landing their ship in Dana Point.

If you visit San Juan Capistrano you should visit our Historic Downtown, which includes the Los Rios Historic District which is the oldest neighborhood in California. It is a combination of quaint restaurants in old houses, some of them adobe dating back to the 1700's and residential houses. The Los Rios District has a small, but really nice, petting zoo, park, nursery, Tea House, and several great cafes. Dividing Los Rios with the rest of downtown is the old train depot, which also houses several restaurants, and was built in 1894. Buildings made of wood, adobe, and old brick give San Juan Capistrano an old Spanish-Western feel.

The downtown district is small and easy to walk around. In fact, get on the Pacific Surfliner train and head on down for the day. Have lunch!

Other highlights include a year round farmers market, a community theatre with a yearly old-west style melodrama, many patio cafes and the town highlight... Mission San Juan Capistrano the "Jewel of the Missions". The mission was founded by Padre Junipero Serra on November 1, 1776 and is seventh in the chain of 21 missions across the state. Multiple events take place at the mission yearly, including, but not limited to:
  • Battle of the Mariachis Bands
  • Music under the stars

  • Christmas at the Mission

  • Return of the Swallows to San Juan Capistrano (this is a two-month event and our biggest of the year.) There is also a famous song about this yearly event.

Unique tidbits:

  • The El Adobe Restaurant is comprised of two separate adobes, the Yorba adobes from the early 1800's. The stagecoach used to stop in between the two adobes, which is now the lobby of the restaurant. One adobe was used as a residence and the other as an early courthouse and jail or juzgado. Here is the "neat" part. The old jail cell is still underneath the restaurant. It now serves as the wine cellar, but it still has the original jail cell door and the walls. Next time you eat there ask the waiter or waitress to take you down there. The kids will get a kick out of it!

  • Michael Graves designed our library and architecture buffs come from all over to visit it. It is nice! (Pictures at the link below)

  • San Juan Capistrano historical society gives a spooky tour, at night on Los Rios, near Halloween. Many ghosts story and creepy tales of the area are told.

  • San Juan is considered the Equestrian Capital of the West Coast. There are many stables and equestrian estates in town and all the trails are open to horses. It is not uncommon to see horses downtown or anywhere for that manner. The Olympic trials for Dressage were held in SJC in 2008.

  • San Juan Capistrano residents voted, in the 1970s, to keep much of our space "open". Much of this open space has been turned into a trail system that is now extensive. The trails are open to hikers, bikers, and horses.

Click here to read some of my other posts that are tagged in SJC.

What? You need more information? Well there is a ton of it out there. Visit these links and have fun:

San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Los Rios Street

lions, tigers and hams, oh my!

Here kitty, kitty.

Okay, so this one is not a tiger, but he or she is exotic.

Here is the "ham" as promised. The pose was her idea. Notice the hand under the sign to enhance it. Not sure why there is a hand on her head. Feeling faint, my dear?

All in a days visit at the Wild Animal Park.

sitton peak update: mini movie

Here is the mini movie I promised of the hike I took with my sister up Sitton Peak. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

we love arts and crafts

Who doesn't love to paint and make it your own?

Julia chose a plate this time. Last time she painted a little robot. All this fun happens in a little Ole Hansen house in San Clemente called Fired Up. I love that place. Great owner, great parties, great everything.

At Julia's school they have a kiln and all year she comes home with little pieces of painted, glazed, and fired art. The students each design and paint a tile for their school wall. She has brought home a pretty little carrot for Spring and so many more cute little items.

I like this plate. It is very practical since she can eat on it too. Woo hoo!

before it is glazed and fired

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

my first peak,Sitton

Happy 100th post.

Kristi and I hiked to the top of Sitton Peak in the San Mateo Wilderness of the Cleveland National Forest last Saturday. It was a very fun hike as the trails varied in vegetation and elevation. We made it to the Bear Canyon Loop Trail about 9 in the morning and we headed out. The trails are nicely maintained and the trail signs are easy to find.

Sitton Peak is sits at an elevation of 3273ft, but feels much higher once on top since the views are spectacular. We took Bear Canyon Trail to the Bear Ridge Trail to the four corners area and then followed the marker towards Sitton Peak. On the way back we took the Bear Canyon Trail from the four corners area back to Ortega Hwy. Round trip the hike was 10.3 miles with an elevation gain of 2100' and it took us 6 hours total.

The last part of the leg up to the Peak is a killer. Straight up we had to climb. It took us 40 minutes since we had to wait for other people to pass us coming down. I need to find out how much elevation gain is on the last part, because it was steep and strenuous. My legs were on fire!

Lunch at the top was awesome. My cool sister brought me lunch and the views were great all the way around. We stayed on top for about 30 minutes or so. Hiking down that incline Kristi and I found ourselves scooting on our behinds more than once since it was so slippery and steep. I could barely squat at the end. Even my toes hurt.

The hike back was warmer and Kristi and I were both walking a bit funny near the end. Kristi did a 10 miler the weekend before and she said this one was a bit more strenuous. We also realized there are many little uphill portions on the way back which we did not like. Doh!

As far as nature goes, it was just beautiful and peaceful out in the wilderness. We saw oaks, sycamores, a hawk, heard lots of birds, many lizards, a horned lizard, and a RATTLESNAKE! We were about a half mile to the end of our hike and on a single track. Kristi was in front and I was behind her. All of sudden a massively huge snake rattled his rattle at us in warning. We were about 10 feet away. Kristi jumped and we backed up slowly as those suckers can be fast. He was on a slope next to the trail and he had to be old because, again, he was HUGE. We let him saunter off and slowly approached, made sure he was gone, and took off. I think we kept expecting another snake to jump out at any minute since this part of the trail has slopes on each side so they could be close!

We made it out and treated ourselves to ice cream and candy at the candy store before heading home. Thanks to Brian and Ashley and their Hiking Blog! We read your posts to find a hike to do. Thanks for the information.

It was an awesome hike and I would do it again! I have a video in the works and will post soon.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

a litte movie i made

Hi. I have been gone for a while taking care of business. I spent a week as a juror in a civil trial and I actually enjoyed myself. I just love doing new things and even with the process being a bit painfully slow it was a great learning experience.

The girls have been out of school for spring break and on Friday we headed to the park for the day with Aunt Lori and Kayli. Here is a video of our day.

Please excuse the music credit at the end. I originally picked a different song, but I was unable to use it on you tube so I edited in another. Enjoy!