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Olive Oil, Mona & a Taste of the West in Temecula

© By Joei Carlton Hossack

  For a second RV month in California, I moved from Oceanside, about thirty-five miles north of San Diego, to a luxury RV resort in Hemet, about an hour and a half southwest of Palm Springs. During the entire month I left the Hemet area only once to meet my sister about thirty-five miles south on Highway 15.
     Less than a mile off the highway, I drove under the archway into Old Town, Temecula. The most popular translation for the name is 'where the sun breaks through the mist.' It would have been a fitting name had there been mist; however, it was bright and sunny and warm.
     The surrounding hillsides, a little brown from lack of rain, were the home of the Temecula Indians, the initial residents whose ancestors settled there in 900 AD. Little is known about Temecula during the early 1800's because records were destroyed in the fire that followed the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906. The first white man to visit was Franciscan padre, Father Juan Norberto de Santiago, in October 1797.
     I drove slowly down the main street to the corner of Front and Main Streets, parked my truck by all the stores on the side street and I called Mona. She was in the oldest Mexican restaurant in Temecula, "The Bank," on the corner, a short walk from where I had parked. I saw her sitting at a back booth reading a newspaper in the not-too-crowded restaurant. This place enjoyed a Mexican flavor even without sombreros, bullfighting posters or adobe pots hanging everywhere. The waiter and I approached her table at the same time. She was on her second bowl of nachos that I helped finish. Her coffee cup was refilled and I was brought a fresh cup. Although it had been two weeks since we had seen each other and we talked almost every night, the conversation flowed. It started with "I had no idea it would take only forty-five minutes to get here" ...we had met in the middle which suited us both.
     During a two hour lunch of more coffee, a plate of chili relleno (my very favorite), beans and rice, there was never a let up in the conversation. We left when we couldn't sit anymore.
     Our first stop was immediately across the street. A British Columbia writing friend, Julie Ferguson, e-mailed me about the olive oil store, and I had to see it. We went into the back room for tasting. I have been to wine tasting. I have been to chocolate factories for sampling. I have been to ice cream factories for tasting, so how could I resist an olive oil tasting. I should have resisted. It was served in a small, plastic cup. It needed something like bread or a soft cracker under the butter-flavored olive oil, not just my tongue. I then sampled a black, sour Kalamata olive that suited my palate to a tee and thankfully removed the taste of the oil.
     In addition to the many flavors of olive oil, the shelves were filled with artisan foods such as olives stuffed with almonds and garlic or how close to heaven do I have to get for olives stuffed with blue cheese? They had soaps and gift boxes and recipes and an Olive Oil Club that one might join and have a supply shipped every four months.
     We each left with a bottle. Mona preferred the butter-flavored, and I purchased one with balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley and chili flakes. The sign on the bottle suggested, "Just Dip It."
     My sister and I shared a long, relaxing day of lunch, a walk from one end of town to the other and back again, and a wander in and out of a few more shops even though neither of us is what you would call 'a shopper.'
     We relished an afternoon coffee break in a Starbucks, built in the old western style and just before wrapping it up for the day, we enjoyed dinner at Denny's with its easy access onto the highway, heading north for me and south for Mona. The day in a single word: "fabulous."

Joei Carlton Hossack is the author of (1) Everyone's Dream Everyone's Nightmare (2) Kiss This Florida, I'm Outta Here (3) A Million Miles from Home (4) Alaska Bound and Gagged (5) Free Spirit - Born to Wander and (6) Chasing the Lost Dream. She is an entertaining and inspirational speaker specializing in world travel and writing/publishing and promotion. She can be reached at JoeiCarlton@Hotmail.com & www.joeicarlton.com. Joei is extremely well known in the RV community. She lives and thrives in a 10-foot truck camper. When off the truck, it sits on 4 electric jacks (1 at each corner). The camper sits in the bed of an F-250, 3/4 ton diesel truck.

Photo Credits
Joei Carlton Hossack

If you go
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Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temecula,_California
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Temecula
Temecula County CVB: http://www.temeculacvb.com/

What's happening, money, distance, time?
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Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
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Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/



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