California Citrus State Historic Park

A few weeks ago on an unexpectedly sunny Sunday afternoon, (say that 3 times fast!) we decided to get outside and enjoy the day. We are not used to so many cloudy or rainy days around here.  We headed to Riverside to visit the Citrus  State Historic  Park. Having driven by this place a few times over the years, we really didn’t know much about it or what to expect.

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With only about a 30 minute drive we arrived in time for the (free) 12:00 tour. There were about 10 people in our group, consisting of all ages. Some were local and others were visiting from colder climates and enjoying the California sunshine. Bree was our volunteer docent / guide. She is a full time high school biology teacher by day. She was very knowledgeable and made the one hour walking tour very interesting.

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After giving us an empty  bag and a promise of free samples,  Bree gave us a brief history of the Citrus industry in Riverside, California. At one time this was the California Gold. Soon we headed off to the magnificent orange groves for a few citrus lessons up close and personal.

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Naturally there was one person there who just wanted to buck the system and seemed to perhaps think that because of her age the rules simply did not apply to her. Shockingly she was probably the oldest person in the group! Perhaps she felt her age entitled her to some special privileges such as picking up dropped fruit from the ground when we were specifically told not to. It is a state park after all, so we must know you are not allowed to take anything out of the park. I felt sympathy for our guide when she had to politely chastise this overzealous visitor.

Anyway, as we walked along a very smooth pathway we stopped at various trees for information about that specific type of tree. There were also many photo opportunities and since it was such a gorgeous day we took advantage of it.

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The palm trees were added to distinguish the dirt roads within the grove.

As we stopped at each tree she educated us on the type of fruit, its history, and other  citrus related information.  She  occasionally, but carefully (to not harm either the fruit or the tree), cut a piece of fruit for each of us to take home. We came home with lemons, grapefruit, navel oranges, tangelos, and blood oranges just to name a few. Who knew there was so many varieties? The grove works closely with the University of California at Riverside in the development and education  of new and existing varieties of citrus. This would include disease resistance as well as trees specifically for grafting to produce the new varieties. I did not know that a citrus tree does not generally grow from a seed but from a graft. Some trees are specifically grown just for this purpose.

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Not just dropped fruit-a tree specifically for grafting.

 We had a picturesque and easy walk  around the grove.

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Notice the smudge-pot in the lower left of the picture. These were heated with oil to keep fruit from freezing years ago. Now, water is used. Much more environmentally friendly.

All too soon we were taken back to the main building and gift shop. On the patio our education continued along with slices of the various fruits.

20170129_132221.jpgI grew up in Riverside and spent most of my life driving around orange groves. I really did not think beyond the beauty of the trees and the groves themselves. It was just the way it was. Sometimes we don’t miss something until it is gone.

There are almost 400 acres of citrus trees in the park.

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A small Museum, gift shop, and outbuildings which are available for rent to host events make up the remainder of the park. For a mere $5 entrance you are able to spend an enjoyable afternoon and actually have something to take home with you! Perfect for history buffs, the curious, or for a local outing.  With the Cara Cara oranges being our absolute favorite, we stopped at a roadside stand and purchased a bag.

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Sometimes when you take a moment to look around your own community it is  amazing what points of interest you might stumble across. I highly recommend this to Southern California locals or visitors. Although orange groves were very commonplace throughout the areas here, eventually it was decided that the real money was in the real estate and  many thousands of acres throughout Southern California were plowed over in the name of progress. Now, homes fill the landscape. I suppose this is something that happens all over as we get away from a more natural environment to a more commercial or industrial environment. I’m so grateful for state and national parks in that preserve uniqueness and beauty.

What are your favorite protected parks?

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More of ‘The Good Life’

We unexpectedly had the opportunity to go camping this past weekend. My daughter and her family had been camping since Friday. She sent me a text early Saturday morning and invited Thommmee and  I to come out and join them. Being a retired person who is developing a spontaneous attitude, I said yes! We grabbed out tent, sleeping bags, air mattress, and a few other essentials and headed out the door to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

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About 20 years ago we  made this 2  1/2 hour trip but were surprised to be reminded of this treasure so close to home. This is a great day trip as well as a camping place. (Reservations recommended). Anza-Borrego is California’s largest state park!

We arrived about noon, quickly set up our tent and begin enjoying this lovely afternoon in the desert.  After lunch we headed to the visitor center, drove around  a bit then headed back to camp for a game of Rumicube, some time with the kids, and relaxing. As we prepared dinner, we were dazzled by the sunset.

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(love those sunsets!)

After dinner we headed over for the ranger program to learn about the big cats in the area and some of the other desert inhabitants. We completed the day toasting marshmallows over a campfire and then off to bed. A few things about sleeping in the desert-it gets pretty cold at night and it is very quiet.

With the morning sun the temperatures rise fairly quickly so in no time at all we were back into out shorts and t-shirts. My daughter prepared a fabulous breakfast of pancakes, we took down the tent, packed the cars, and took off for some exploring before heading for home. They had hiked the Palm Canyon Trail to the palm oasis  before our arrival. If you decide to visit this park, you will not want to miss this 3 hour round trip hike.  The desert is so diverse and there really is so much to see if you take time to look.

Due to our drought conditions this year, the desert flowers  are few. Some years the spring trip to the desert are worth the flower viewing alone! This year we observed

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and

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(Both of these plants have some serious thorns!)

Our first stop was Slot Canyon. We headed down a dirt road to what seemed in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived, we saw we were not the only other visitors to this remote location. This slot canyon is a narrow wash and is a great place to explore.

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After some time in the canyons, we headed to The Village Site which was another dirt road and remote site.

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(Thommmee loves this stuff!)

Although we had a quick one night trip, we agreed that it seemed much longer. Something about getting away and enjoying God’s beauty is soothing to the soul. We really appreciated our daughter inviting us. I commented that had I not been retired I might not have gone. Surely I would have had some dusting or laundry that just could not wait. I am becoming more spontaneous these days!!!  Ahhhhhhh retirement! The good life!