Day Trip Daydreaming: Joshua Tree

Ok,  this is not a trip I’ve taken just yet, but one day I will. Despite its proximity to the City of Angels and its popularity, I know little about Joshua Tree other than that it’s too hot a destination for me in the summer months and that it’s named after a not-so-aethetically-pleasing plant.

Here are some beautiful shots of the locale:

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By reallyboring on Creative Commons

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By Jennie & Jacques on Creative Commons

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By Rennett Stowe on Creative Commons

Even though I don’t find the trees to be particulary pretty, there’s something unreal and captivating about them. Like you hopped into a Dr. Suess book for a weekend.

Also, did you know that there are actually interesting shops to frequent? And to think I thought JT was all about roughing it and bouldering! They had me at vintage and antiques.

In my unplanned future trip, I’ll be staying here. 🙂

A Foodie Day Trip With Two Pit Stops

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Photo of olives by Dan Shouse via Creative Commons

The weather gods are showing us their good side lately, and all this sunshine is making me daydream of possible quick trips to take with the fam. Our travels often revolve around food as much as sights, but in the case of this day trip, they’re one in the same.

I recently read about Graber Olive House while doing online research for Chow— the husband is such an olive fanatic (he will eat a whole can of black olives as a dinner appetizer) that I immediately got excited. An olive house?! That might even put a spring in that homebody’s step.

Graber Olive House is nearly 120 years old, and it’s basically an old-school (and still-running) olive operation from start to finish: orchards, curing tubs, size sorters, and canning machinery all in one spot. Their big press point is that all of their olives are tree-ripened, unlike so many of the fruits we eat nowadays that are picked long before they’re ripe so that they can age as they travel across oceans and continents. The argument is that tree-ripened produce tastes better, and lots of people think Graber olives are a prime example of this (of course they’re pricier to boot).

I also learned from their website that those canned olives we all played with on our fingertips as kids are oxidized to that deep and consistent black color. Unoxidized olives (like those cured at Graber Olive House) won’t all be the same color, but rather an array of red, green, and tan shades. Kinda cool!

The house is just 40 miles away from LA in Ontario, so it makes for an easy day trip. You can email to set up a tour of the entire grounds any time of year, but it sounds like fall is the best time. There are also various gift shops full of fancy food items. 315 E. Fourth Street, Ontario; 800-996-5483

Stop number two: The Donut Man, a stand on Route 66 that’s just 18 miles from Graber. I haven’t had one of these delicious looking treats myself, but from what I hear they are some of the best donuts in So Cal, and fresh strawberry donuts are available all of spring! 915 E Rte 66, Glendora; 626-335-9111

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Photo of Donut Man strawberry donut by Space Pirate Queen via Creative Commons

Seriously?! Take a look at this crazy photo menu. If that doesn’t get you drooling in about five seconds, you must be a robot.

The road is calling me to the Inland Empire.

Day Tripping: Possibilities in Palm Springs

ImageIt’s bound to happen. A few months staying put in town and I start to feel a tad stir crazy, a bunny rabbit in a pen too long. The tipping point is usually this: We’re having dinner with friends when our casual conversation sways to someone’s upcoming plans to travel. I later think to myself, “Hey! I deserve a vacation, too. Something beachy and breezy, perhaps, or something urban and raucous.” Then I check my savings account and start regretting that string of recent impulse buys that have made my balance dwindle to near zero.

Though I love L.A. more than I ever thought I would, all of us locals need a short respite from the beastly speed of city living every now and then. Just a day or two away helps us recharge, and makes me appreciate my neighborhood, my house, my bed. So when the dollar bills aren’t stacked as high as I’d like, I plan a day trip — the kind of vacation that happens sans airplane ticket, sans five nights of hotel fees, and sans mucho stress. L.A. has so many neighbors worth a visit. By The List’s first day trip spot: Palm Springs, baby.

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STAY:

The Ace Hotel hardly needs introducing: simple yet hip, comfortable and gorgeous without excruciatingly high prices. Highlights: 1) the pool area, complete with mod, circular sun shades (b/c we’re over 30 now and need to be more mindful of burning and wrinkles), ping pong tables, a cocktail bar, and mountain views, 2) the colorful, artsy grounds (particularly fond of the giant white wall painted in the vein of Jackson Pollack), 3) plenty of outdoor fireplaces (should you visit when it’s not 100 degrees), 4) in-room record players (Clapton? Don’t mind if I do), and 5) private patios if you’d like to bring Fido (small fee applies).

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