Autumn in California – Not Another Cheesy Movie

Apple Hill and Coloma

Early in October, Steve and I made a pilgrimage up to Gold Country and to Apple Hill for fall festivities. We began the weekend by driving through Placerville into Apple Hill. Picture the Napa wine country, but instead of grapes and wineries, you drive from apple orchard to apple orchard eating fresh fruit and drinking fresh cider as you go. Of course, fall is the best time to visit Apple Hill for the harvest. In addition to buying a bushel of apples, Steve and I thought this would be a great opportunity to hunt down the wily pumpkins that would become Halloween decorations. There are farms in the area that will actually let you wander the pumpkin fields in search of the Great Pumpkin.

So, we took off into the wild unknown of the pumpkin field, fighting our way through hostile territory.

Steve in the corn field

We searched high and low for the perfect pumpkins. You know, ones that weren’t getting squishy. I found mine first, brimming with pride.

Anne with pumpkin

Steve took a bit longer to locate his ideal jack-o-lantern wannabe.

Steve searching the pumpkin field

Finally, after much trudging through the field, he found one he could call his own.

Steve with pumpkin

Then, we just needed to haul them back up the hill to the barn to pay for them. We really need to get in shape.

We spent the night in Placerville in the Historic Old Cary House Hotel. Supposedly, there’s a ghost that walks the halls, but we weren’t disturbed by anyone. The next morning, we headed up to Coloma where they were having their 49er Days. Volunteers were dressed in traditional garb, musicians were playing, and vendors were selling their wares. They were going to have a gold panning contest that Steve surely would have won, but he didn’t feel right about competing against kids. So, we just went off and did some freestyle panning instead.

Steve gold panning

Anne gold panning

Here I am with my little bottles brimming with treasure.

Anne with bottles of treasure

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival

Later in the month, Steve and I joined our friends Aaron and Vera for a trip to the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. It was a very successful day of consumerism. The festival leans very heavily towards the art portion, with craft vendors lining the streets. I found a lot of very nice things, some of which I was able to get for Christmas presents. However, we all agreed that the festival needs to find a way to incorporate more pumpkin-related activities. I’m not sure exactly what else they can. They already have pumpkin pie eating contests, pumpkin carving, giant pumpkin weighing and judging, and bunches of pumpkin-y food. Somehow, though, there just doesn’t seem to be much at all to do with pumpkins. At any rate, here is this year’s winning giant pumpkin.

giant pumpkin

We all had a pleasant day, although it was unseasonable hot and we were dressed pretty warmly. Only Steve was comfortable in a T-shirt. Here Steve and I are sitting off of Main Street.

Steve and Anne with statue

Thanksgiving Dinner

Continuing with our annual tradition, Steve and I again hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for our friends who were not able to be with their families. Of course, the fact that we each get a huge Lucas bird helps us in this venture. In addition to Tom, we had a plethora of side dishes, pies, and whisky sours. Here we all are at our fabulous new dinner table.

Steve, Rich, and Erica

John, Vera, Aaron, and Steve

It really was a wonderful dinner, but I’m starting to think that maybe 5 hours of cooking for a meal that lasts 20-30 minutes max, may not be the smartest thing. I’m thinking that next year we might just make spaghetti. Even after all the food we ate at dinner, shortly afterward, I was lying on the floor popping jellybeans into my mouth.

Anne the Glutton

The Mighty Hunters Strike Again!

Finally, the time was upon us! After months of anticipation, we were again faced with the challenge of a great Christmas tree hunt. As you may recall, the last 2 years we went to the Frosty Mountain Christmas Tree Farm to search for our tree. Both years, we were incredibly frustrated by the selection policy which stated that you could only cut down a tree that had a tag on it. Of course, all the best trees were tagless. This year, we decided to find a new hunting ground. So the call went out to our co-workers for suggestions. There were several options, but Moon Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in Sonoma had rave reviews. So we decided to go East instead of North. I was a little concerned when we got there and were told to choose a tree that had a tag on it. However, there were plenty of very nice looking trees that had tags.

Anne gazing at the field of Christmas trees

In fact, we took home the first tree we found. We spent some time looking around the field, but really liked our first tree.

Anne with Christmas tree

Now we just needed to kill it. Steve managed the job quite admirably, with a little help from some young workers.

Steve cutting down tree

I was also very impressed with the youths who were working at the farm. They were very nice and courteous. Having lived for 2 years in Berkeley, walking past Berkeley High School every day, I almost didn’t recognize these people as teenagers. I was stunned. Really, I have nothing but good things to say about Moon Mountain Tree Farm. The people were nice, the view off the mountain was spectacular, and they had complimentary tea, coffee, and hot apple cider. You can even go to the farm early in the season to pick out your tree. You can go weeks before you want your tree, pick it out and buy it, and they will hold it there for you until you want to pick it up. This way, you get your choice of tree early on but it will remain in the ground and not be all dried out in your house before Christmas even arrives. I highly recommend this place for all of your Northern California tree hunting experiences.

Well here we are! I’ve covered an entire year at this point in my web page. Trips back to the Midwest are always helpful in this regard. For our familial Christmas visits, you’ll need to tune in next time, whenever that may be, for all the latest news.