Julian cemetery

really, I wanted to find my picture of the Julian cemetery but I couldn’t find it in flipping through my folders of photos. instead you get this sign that’s on the road between downtown Julian and Menghini & J.Jenkins on Wynola Road.

the cemetery sits atop a hill on the west edge of town. it overlooks the Julian Pie Company, as well as the fire house (put to use defending the town and surrounding area in October of 2007 as the Witch Fire burned through much of central San Diego County). the cemetery was established not long after the town; not surprisingly, the arduous trip west to the mountains of central San Diego county, and the hard life of a gold prospector beat many people and, as the Julian Historical Society puts it “For many pioneers, the toil of hard life ended on the hill above Julian.” for many years, however, the only access to the burial grounds was up the steep slope of the hill facing the main road through town. (here is where a photo would prove superlatively useful and illustrative. look here instead.) they’ve since built another road and parking lot, which access the cemetery some two-thirds of the way up the hill. when one notable resident died one winter, the burial had to be postponed until the ground thawed sufficiently to dig a space for her. there was still snow on the ground when they got her up the hill — something like eight men hauling the funeral sledge up the incline.

going back to an earlier Julian-related post about the sense of history of a place. I’ve uncovered some of the reason I feel so strongly that San Diego has less weight of history than anywhere else I’ve lived. although the state was established at nearly the same time as Wisconsin, that didn’t mean there was anything approaching population centers at the time. it was more a consequence of the Gold Rush, and less the need for governmental services to serve the population. Julian was settled in 1869 and San Diego wasn’t even chartered until 1886. one of the founders of Julian, Drue Bailey, is buried in the Julian cemetery. he arrived in the area at the age of 25 — he was only five years old when Wisconsin became a state, and six when California followed suit. beyond all of this, he died in the twentieth century (in 1921). if your headstone isn’t old enough to threaten toppling, isn’t so abused by the elements that you can barely read the inscription, then I have a hard time granting you any “weight of history.”

historic Julian

another reason I so enjoyed driving up to Julian is the sense of history the town possesses. even though California became a state immediately after Wisconsin (and was followed by Minnesota), and San Diego was incorporated the year the state was established, it always seemed to have a more limited sense of history. (I anticipate that at some point I’ll get into San Diego history, but today is for Julian.)

the unincorporated town is a California Historical Landmark, and the surrounding area is the Julian Historical district. it was established following the Civil War by soldiers who headed west to California. gold was discovered in the area by a former slave in 1869 and a minor gold rush began. the lode didn’t yield much, but during the period another settler brought some apple trees up into the mountains and discovered that the plants flourished. now Julian is well known for it’s apple pie. mmm, apple pie.

the town was home to some of the first settlers in San Diego County and, according to information from the 1880 census, the majority of blacks in the county lived in and around Julian. the first business to be owned and operated by blacks in the county was in Julian — the Robinson Hotel, owned by Albert and Margaret Tull Robinson. it’s now the Julian Gold Rush Hotel (pictured above). it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Julian wine

the mountains, the sunshine, the sense of escape that comes with traveling an hour away from somewhere — all reasons I’d drive up to Julian while I was living in San Diego. I don’t have the same inkling to head an hour away now that I’m back in Wisconsin. even gas edging towards $5 in Southern California didn’t deter me from my Julian sojourns when I needed them.

but beyond all of that, perhaps the biggest reason I’d escape to Julian: it served as an excuse to visit the Menghini Winery. I don’t even know what drove me to stop there the first time, if it was apple pie or wine tasting or just getting out of San Diego. (I remember my second visit quite clearly, with one Miss RLD.)

the winery is located in a valley and, in the winter the wind howls something terrible around the converted barn that hosts tastings. there are resident cats and dogs, tables and chairs out the back and in the front for leisurely tasting. I went up often enough that the woman who usually ran the tastings (and whose name now escapes me) recognized me. on my last visit before I moved, it was mid-week at the end of apple season and I was the only there. they were getting ready to drain and bottle one of the aging tanks. she let me try some of the unfiltered white wine. it was a most peculiar taste, and something that, while I can’t quite describe, has certainly stayed with me.

Menghini Winery

the sky goes on for days

yesterday I had a sudden and strong desire to be driving through the mountains on the way to/from Julian. whenever I needed to get away from San Diego for a while, I’d take to the hills. drive a loop that would take me up through Poway, and the fire-scorched land around Ramona, Santa Ysable and Wynola. sometimes I’d double back through Ramona, but more often I’d take the twisty turny mountainy road down through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. the land to the east and south of Julian is devoted to parklands — Cuyamaca, Cleveland National Forest, and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park/Wilderness. on days like the one when I took this picture, the sky is an amazing gradient of blues, from the whispy white-blue near the horizon to an incredible azure above your head. it’s also a drive that requires your attention — switchbacks, narrow roads, blind curves. one of my favorite places on that drive is a short stretch through real (Californian) forest (with actual trees and low scrub brush, much more reminiscent of forests I am used to), where there are two curves that turn back on themselves and you drop your speed down to near nothing. take them a little on the speedy side and it’s a thrill.


Cuyamaca State Park association

Mystery Spot!

one tourist trap that I long wanted to visit in Santa Cruz: the Mystery Spot.
managed to convince everyone to take the jaunt up into the hills for what proved a thoroughly entertaining visit to this nook of warped perspectives (and/or reality). whatever causes the place to do what it does … I enjoyed it. Gabrielle and I took our turns fudging with our heights with respect to one another. we all climbed a ladder on the wall of the shack like stairs. Tanya stood in a line up of tall people to short people, which then reversed and everyone appeared the same height. the experience was rather disorienting (as, I take, it ought to be) but lots of fun. the best $5 tourist trap I’ve ever visited, for sure.

for more info, visit the official Mystery Spot website

if you’re going to San Francisco…

and now for something completely different …

you all know that I can’t keep still and I’ll travel almost anywhere, given the opportunity.
in October, having returned from Ireland just four weeks previously, I flew out to Santa Cruz to visit with some college friends for our Fourth Annual Pi Phi Homecoming. on Saturday, we drove up to San Francisco with the intention of seeing Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghiardelli Square, Pier 39 and the Golden Gate Bridge.
of course, events did not proceed as envisioned and we spent a great deal more time in the car than planned. we drove through the heart of the Castro, which I was pretty excited about. no one else seemed particularly interested (not the least, I’d wager, because several of them hadn’t seen “Milk”), and while I would have enjoyed the opportunity to explore, I was satisfied for the time being with our driving tour.
things took a turn for the frustrating and colorfully-worded when we hit the Embarcadero. turns out, the Saturday we drove into San Francisco was the same day as the Air Show over the Bay. the same Air Show that visits San Diego every fall heads north the following weekend and we pulled up just as things were getting started.

ultimately, after devouring a much celebrated cafe lunch on Geary (in Central Richmond), we agreed that we ought not head back to Santa Cruz without visiting *anything* tourist in San Francisco, and headed back towards the Presidio and Golden Gate Bridge. we parked on top of the hill — the road back down under the Bridge to level with the bay was closed off in preparation for the air show. we walked to the Golden Gate Bridge welcome center and saw the tail end of the show, fighter jets flying around the Bridge, over the Bay, past Alcatraz.

before we left, we all climbed up onto a cross-section of cable to take pictures. the piece is 36.5 inches in diameter and contains 27,572 individual wires. these three-yard-thick cables are what holds the bridge up as millions of cars cross it every year. some other fun facts that I have uncovered: the Bridge has only been closed due to weather, namely wind gusts, three times in its history, all in December. in 1951 gusts reached 69mph, in 1982 they topped 70mph, and in 1983 they reached 75mph.
the Bridge is also the most popular place in the U.S. to commit suicide (as well as one of the most popular in the world). since it opened in 1937, there are no solid figures as to the number of people who have jumped, only 26 people are known to have survived the fall and fatality rates are estimated to be 98 percent. there are hotline numbers and phones posted along the span of the bridge (similar to the ones posted along the canals in Galway), and, in addition to the highway patrol, iron workers volunteer their time to talk to or wrestle down suicidal people. the introduction of a safety net or suicide prevention barrier hasn’t gotten far, however, because of cost and vehement public opposition as to how such an addition would change the aesthetic of the Bridge. a year ago, the Bridge’s Board of Directors voted to install a plastic-covered stainless steel net beneath the bridge, extending twenty feet outwards on each side, but funding remains an impediment.