This Mother's Day I wanted to give my Mom something nice,
unlike some of the ugly, awful gifts I have given her in
the past - like those tacky candle holders that have been
hidden away in the bowels of the garage pantry for at least
5 years :) I was able to give Mom a nice Mother's Day this
I made her breakfast Saturday morning and brought it to her
as she read the morning paper (eggs sunny side up with
colby jack cheese melted on top, buttered english muffins,
sausage patties, and fresh cut tomatoes with the required
milk and OJ). See? I can cook! lol Kinda.
I told her that for her Mother's Day weekend I would love
to treat her to a movie, or a shopping trip in the thrift
shops she loves to much (she has a soft spot for antique
chrystalware), or something else she might like to do.
There is a florist kiosk in the parking lot of the small
down here that was open 24 hours a day from Friday through
Sunday - I checked ahead of time :). I had to wait until
she fell asleep to sneak out to pick up a nice floral
arrangement. I wanted her to wake up Mother's Day morning
and be surprised when she saw it on the kitchen table with
the giant 3 foot Mother's Day card I bought Friday (had it
hidden in the trunk of my car and prayed she didn't need to
get any cleaning supplies from my trunk).
We went for a beautiful, scenic drive through the mountains
into a small quaint town called Julian, which is world
famous for it's homemade apple pies (any pie really).
It broke my heart to see so many knarled, black, charred
trees protruding out from the new green brush that was
growing up under them. I took a photo from over 3000 feet
up of a forest that was entirely burned. I took some of the
charred bark from the trees closest to us, kinda as a
keepsake to go with the memories. The whole drive up was
bittersweet. Mother was scared to death driving on such
narrow, two lane roads with deadly drop offs and no curbs,
but she did really well.
There was a surreal moment when I was remembering the
panicked drive out of town for cleaner air and looking at
these roads that looked like something out of sleepy
hollow, completely lined with tall burned trees. I was
thinking what it must have been like for those people to
try to drive through that with the black, orange and brown-
red smoke so thick you couldn't see the very very sharp
blind corners that turn every few feet on that road. I
could see what it must have been like by the evidence, with
the fires so thick that the road was just an illusion of
escape. Part of that road had been renamed after one of the
many firemen who had burned to death on it when their truck
was consumed in the fire. Then I turned to see Mother's
face and I saw she had the same look on her face at that
moment that she did when I snapped her photo on the day of
our own "escape run". I could "see" both images (during the
fire, and after the fires) with equal clarity back and
forth. It felt like being in two different times at once.
That's such a "surreal" feeling!
But the trip was still breathtaking in most places,
especially in Cleveland National Forest and the Anza
Borrego desert state park, with Yellowstone looking
mountains that even the clouds could not climb over, and
vast rolling hills covered in wild flowers and lakes and on
and on. It was one amazing scene after another, but I never
got used to it the way I think some people who live there
have gotten accustomed to having scenery all around them
that makes most people pull over to gawk!
When we got within sight of Julian Mother was finally able
to take a breath :). I think she had been holding her
breath the entire time afraid of getting lost lol.
We were so so happy to finally PARK and get out of that car
lemme tell ya! We got a great parking spot right in the
heart of Julian on Main St. We immediately went looking for
the bathroom and then the shops. We were surprised to say
the least when we saw the bathrooms were those "quarter
bathrooms" where you have to pay to get in. But we cheated
and skipped out on the 50 cents lol, cheap I know, but
that's what we did. The way I figure it, if I'm going to
pay to use the toilet, it should flush properly! That one
We browsed the shops and ended up in a leather shop where
Mom found a nice new cigarette case that she could slide
onto her fanny pack instead of sticking it in her pack. She
asked for it and being Mother's Day I gave it to her. She
was giddy with delight until she realised this meant she
would have to say good bye to her ugly old beat up
cigarette case (which barely closed it was so broken up).
She mustered the strength to say good bye to her old friend
and rushed out of the shop to avoid having second thoughts
about tossing it.
Next we came upon the Witch Creek Winery, where I had
wanted to take in some wine tasting on their cabernet, but
at $5.00 a pop I thought I'd pass. We saw some great
antique shops, tried on various gypsie glothes, and saw the
worlds largest collection of lace (which Mom had to take a
photo of). Mom is still so stuck on Jurassic Park that when
we came to the gem and jewelery shop she of course asked if
they had any amber with mosquitos in it (like we could have
afforded it if they did lol).
We ate the packed sandwiches Mom had put in the car for the
trip in the shade surrounded by beautiful shops and ivy
under the trees (which smelled great!). Mom found the candy
shop and came running to me for a buck lol just like a
kid... She came out shoving chocolate into her mouth like a
kid would, too. It was too cute :)
Everything was so much better there! Even the sky was a
better shade of blue! I'm not making that up either, it's
even in their tourist book lol. NO air pollution at all.
We had great fun but then started to get hungry again after
a few hours so we went looking for that world famous Julian
apple pie :). Almost every shop, cafe, restaurant and
bakery sold "julian pie" but I wanted to go to the ORIGINAL
Julian Pie Company... the source of all the hoopla.
Now, this might need some context to understand the special
place this holds in the hearts of Californians.
Julian was originally a gold miners town that would have
evaporated if not for their apple pies. It is located at
4200 feet at the base of Volcan Mountain where the soil and
climate combine to produce some of the sweetest, juiciest,
best apples anywhere. Mouthwatering apples that are the
envy of orchards everywhere else. One family began a small
pie shop serving just apple pie and coffee. But their pie
was so GOOD that now they have become a phenomenon. Their
pies are all handmade by this one family, and this family
only, in the same small shop, and served fresh right befofe
your eyes. Some are shipped to farmers markets, but you
really need to have it fresh to appreciate just how good it
is. I don't even care for apple pie all that much, and I
was moaning at the taste!
We had a friendly local take a photo of us standing
together outside of this TINY shop, and took some postcards
and menus, etc as souveniers. Mother was so impressed that
the same people she saw on the menu were the same people in
the kitchen. In California (and most big cities) everything
is either outsourced, automated, or impersonal and mass
made by people hired to take over for the people who
established the business so they can go live in paradise.
But this was the same family in the kitchen making our pie
that had started this whole big deal in the first place, so
I took a photo of them in the kitchen lol. They thought it
was funny that they were famous enough to be taken pictures
of by a tourist lol, but hey, they ARE!
We saw another apple pie bakery that must have been very,
very brave, and very bold to take up shop just down the
street from the Julian Pie Co. It had a great name...
MOM'S. I figured, hey, It's Mother's Day, I've got Mom with
me, and it says MOM'S on the door... perfect! But I just
had to have the original :) We were going to share a piece
of pie from Julian Pie Co. and then a piece from MOM'S and
compare the two, but it was getting late and we just
We got to see a reinactment of an old west shoot out, which
was fun, and I picked her some sweet smelling wild flowers
(which kept falling out of her picket). After the show we
went to the last old fashioned original soda shop circa
1920's. Yup, there are still soda jerks alive in
California. She had a sasparilla float and I had the
sasparilla phosphate. It was so sickeningly sweet that I
felt like I had just swallowed a pound of brown sugar and
honey, but Mom had a sweet tooth and thought it was
great. :) I got up and Mom instructed me on the proper way
to finish off a soda fountain drink... by making this big
sluping sound with the straw gurgling the few remaining
contents on the bottom, for luck she said :) I think she
just wanted my last drink lol.
We reluctanly made our way to the car. We didn't want to
drive those roads with the sun in our eyes, and had to get
back to Mira Mesa before 5PM.
I had made dinner reservations for us at Stuart Anderson's
Black Angus. On special occasions I really enjoy treating
Mom to great food she doesn't have to cook or clean up
We both know that she would pick from the cheaper
items on the menu to save me money, despite my insistence
that she order anything her heart desires.
To prevent that I called them in advance to see if they
have a menu with no prices on it. They didn't. But by the
time we got there I was actually kinda glad because I had
spent more up in Julian than I had expected to :) I think
Mother picked up on that we both ordered reasonably priced
She had the butter garlic prawns, veggies, and baked potato
with the works, and I had the top sirloin with veggies and
fries. The silverware was dirty (gross) so I asked for
fresh clean silverware, but the next set was just as dirty
so I knew there was no point, and just wiped it off until
it was clean lol. Then they brought the food. Mother's
looked good... for something still in it's exoskeleton lol.
It reminded me of giant bugs, with it's insides bulging out
of it's outsides like that. My veggies were HARD, and the
steak was supposed to be medium rare but came out welldone
and tough as nails. I could hardly even chew it, so I sent
it back. When it came back the steak was different and the
veggies had disappeared replaced by rice pilaf. But since
the steak was so good I went ahead and kept it. lol I think
they gave me someone elses order or something. It was a
busy night, but this was a comedy of errors just the same.
The total price was $5 under budget, so I was a happy
We had a great day, and a great time all the way around. It
was so good to have a day like this with Mom. I miss days
like this when we are both working or tired or busy, etc.
These are the days that we will remember when we think back
on how much we love eachother :).
Now I have to top it with something even better for her
birthday! I can't wait, oh I just can't wait! I love these
holidays where I get to treat her the way I would like to
treat her every day.
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