Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns at Safari Park

Safari Sign

Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns

Unfortunately we went to this event on its last night so there is no chance of you seeing it this year. We do like to let you know about our experiences so you can try it yourself but with this being a seasonal attraction, there is no hope for 2015. However, there is always 2016!

The San Diego Safari Park offered an after-hours exhibit of over 5,000 hand-carved Jack O’Lanterns that were created by professional artists and sculptors.

The lighted pumpkins were stretched over a third of a mile on a pathway that led you through different themes. The pumpkins were carved and shaped together to create sea animals, land animals, cars, people, flowers, dragons, dinosaurs, etc.

The walkway
There was an area for video games, kid’s movies, Star Wars, and a few pumpkins were etched with the face of a famous person or an entertainer.

Taylor Swift

It was very interesting to see how they carve the pumpkins to achieve the masterful art. They are a far cry from my triangle eyes, triangle nose, and half circle mouth that is the norm for most of my Jack O’Lanterns.


It is an amazing exhibit. The price is separate from the admission as this is after the park closes. You do not have to pay park admission or parking but I do feel it was a little overpriced for what it was. I realize and respect the amount of work it took to get this together. The result was spectacular, but it only took us about 40 minutes to go through the whole thing and that has to be priced accordingly. We didn’t complain because we used our trusty Groupon. But I did hear complaints about how costly it was from a few other people.

So next year check out Groupon and go see the amazing art of the “Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns.




Off to Julian
We have adopted a motto for the times that we take off on a one-day staycation excursion and that motto is, ”Go where the wind blows.” Even with a set destination, every so often something can catch our eye and side track us off into a different direction or on a new adventure.
Such was the case as we decided to go to Julian for the day. Julian is a small mountain community in Southern California about 50 miles northeast of San Diego. I have only been there a few times and each time it is the same agenda, eat lunch and for desert… apple pie!

Julian is known for their delicious apple pie which is evidenced by the long lines of people that flock to this town to buy one or two of these culinary delights. The apples are grown locally and over 10,000 pies are baked in the month of October alone. Tourists are lured to this small city to enjoy the cold weather or snow, fall colors, the historical atmosphere, or to attend one of their many festivals. The most notable being the annual apple festival.

The small town offers cozy and comfortable restaurants as well as gift shops, boutiques, and horse carriage rides.

Julian street
Julian building 2

On our way into town we saw a sign that said Gold Mine Tours and in keeping with our motto of going where the wind blows, we decided to bypass town and check what this was all about.

The Gold Mine
The Eagle Mining Co. offers one hour tours of the old gold mine with an expert tour guide showing you the way through the 1870 mining operation. The guide will teach you about the original mining and take you through a series of tunnels before you exit higher up on the hill. Once outside, they give a demonstration and let you participate on how to actually pan for gold.
Although we didn’t take the tour on this visit, I am still glad we took the time to investigate this attraction. This is something I definitely would like to do in the future.

Eagle Mine

Apple Pies
The town of Julian was put on hold again for a few more minutes as we all decided that we had never seen a live and actual apple tree in person. With the help of a local citizen we were directed to the Menghini Winery about two miles away. We happily found our tree, in fact many of them! At first we couldn’t see any apples because we had it in our head that the trees would be covered with dozens of the bright red fruit. It took a closer inspection to finally see the apples on the trees as they were smaller and not quite the vibrant red we were expecting. At least we saw an apple tree! While walking around the winery, a few apples were on the ground and close to the road. One of our nutty and brave souls decided to taste it and reported back that it was actually quite good. Now, we are not sure if this was legal but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.

Apple tree
We finally saw an apple tree!

Back in town,  we sat down to lunch and enjoyed some comfort food and of course dessert featuring apple pie a la mode. The alluring aroma of apples and cinnamon in the restaurant was worth the drive alone.

As we explored more of the area around Julian, we were amazed on how pretty it was. In fact the drive up to Julian is beautiful with its trees and green meadows scattered about along the way. Old and unique farm houses dot the area as well as cabins hidden behind the tree tops. It is a relaxing drive in the country and provides some great photo opportunities.

Red barn
Juilian Country side
Juilan country side 2
Barn 2
The fog was coming so you can barely see the cabin in the hills near Julian.

Large tree

Surprisingly, there were quite a few wine tasting rooms on the way back from Julian. Grapevines could be seen sharing the land with the soon to be harvested apple trees.

Julian is a wonderful one day excursion if you need to just get away for the day. There are also hotels as well as bed and breakfasts for longer stays.
It can get crowded on the weekends and parking can be scarce but we found a big lot that wasn’t too far from the shops and restaurants.

Besides the beautiful drive itself, take a gold mine tour, check out the wineries and apple groves, have a yummy lunch, and if that isn’t enough, finish it all with a warm homemade slice of apple pie and vanilla ice cream.

Country side Julian

On that note, I am signing out. All this talk about pie has made me hungry.

Hunting Zombies on Camp Pendleton

Zombie sign

Zombies Aren’t Real, or Are They?
I have always been intrigued by zombies, don’t ask me why.   Zombies are gross, ugly, scary looking and their only purpose it seems is to kill us alive and well humans.   Although I don’t usually like gross or gory movies, I love a good zombie flick. Maybe it’s because I know Zombies aren’t real. Things that are real and that can actually happen will creep me out more than any slobbering flesh eating half-human.

Case in point is the movie Jaws.   Before that film came out, I was a young girl that surfed every single day in the summer.   Not once did I ever even think of a shark or sharks when I was out in the water.   My feet would dangle over the side of my board while waiting for a wave and I never felt any kind of fear.   After watching the movie Jaws one night, I bravely surfed the next day as I have done many times before.

However, this time, as I was sitting on my surfboard, I kept looking nervously around as if a giant jaw was going to chomp on me at any moment.   A piece of seaweed skimmed by my foot and I just about flew off my surfboard to walk on water towards shore.

That is the power of something that is real, but zombies aren’t real. Or are they?

Eight of us decided to try The Haunted Grounds at The Paintball Park on Camp Pendleton. The park has a pretty extensive area for paint ball games and just for a few weeks in October they have set it up for Zombie hunting.

There are three different runs you can choose between. Only one run had it where you were separated in two groups and one side was designated as zombies and the other side the hunters. So basically you were shooting at each other. We watched the action from a hill above and were impressed by the large area that the game was played. There were plenty of places to hide, obstacles, hills to climb, and an old abandoned tank to add to the realism.   If you made it to the hill, you could sneak over to shoot the other team from their flank or behind.

It looked like a lot of fun but most of us didn’t want anyone shooting at us, we wanted to do the shooting only.

This was the case with the other two games which featured real zombies chasing us but they will be unarmed. Their only mission was to eat our flesh!   This was an easy decision as we would rather face the flesh eating zombies then to face the dreaded and painful paint balls.

Darryl and Crew After the First Zombies
So off we go on the first hunt. It was a big area with lots of different structures and terrain.   It was fairly dark which added to the fun.   The instructor kept us close to each other which I didn’t like at first. I wanted to run free and shoot zombies!   Although, I finally understood it as they didn’t want the group running off and shooting at everything that moved which could have, of course, been each other.

Zombie 1
A quick cell phone shot was all we could get while running from the zombies.

There were also sixteen in the group which I thought was too much. A lot of times someone was in my way when the zombies were attacking.   We were also with a group of young boys who thought they were junior Rambos.   It was cute at first until they started killing the zombies before we could.

Drifting off from the group a little, I saw a head poke out from a structure which was sitting on this small hill. So I grabbed a friend and we set out to get him. Finally he jumped out and we proceeded to shoot him down. The instructor wasn’t too happy with us wandering off but we didn’t care because we snagged us one! Why was the zombie out there anyway?

Towards the end we entered what appeared to be a castle.   Our commanding officer told us that our mission was to clear out the rooms of zombies. I proceeded to go to the farthest and darkest room to get away from everyone else and find me some flesh eaters.

I signaled for the same friend to follow me and off we went. I was feeling cocky and ready to face the ugly things when sure enough a zombie jumped out right in front of me!   I did what every great soldier would do, I shot him down. Oh wait, that wasn’t me, that was my friend that shot him. I was the one standing there screaming like a little girl. So much for feeling cocky.

Soon everyone saw him and the junior Sylvester Stallone’s starting shooting our way regardless of me standing in the way. Yes I did get shot in the back. Now I know why they didn’t let us wander off… serves me right.

As we left the area, they were still chasing us and by chase I mean in that funny little shuffle they do. We had a seventy- year old woman in our group that is a fan of the TV show “The Walking Dead.” She was wearing a t-shirt that said, “What Would Darryl Do” which is a reference to a cross-bow welding, zombie hunter on the popular show.   She was taking care of the rest of the hoard like an expert while we were all out of ammo and running away. The seventy-year old Darryl ,I mean Joyce, was showing everyone including the miniature soldiers how it was done!!!!!

Zombies in the Back Woods
On the next hunt we were seated on a trailer with guns attached in front of every seat. We were going into the backwoods to hunt a group of wild half-deads.   I really liked this as we ended up in a back area with bushes and old buildings and it looked like the perfect place that zombies would hide.

As we were entering the area you could hear groans and in the background a woman screamed. Perfect. So out they came and we shot at them as best we could. We were told to shoot at their heads and the zombies started dropping like flies. I was sitting at the end of the open trailer and just as I thought we were out of the woods, a zombie appears at the back and only a few feet away from me!   From way back deep in my throat and as if I was in some alternate universe, that little girl scream came back!

However, this time I was going to be the one who shoots him dead. Unfortunately, my gun couldn’t turn that way. The troop commander finally had to hit him over the head with something and off he dropped. About seven others were shuffling after us but going two miles per hour, we were just too fast for them.

Zombie trailer
The 2015 Zombie Hunters

The only complaint I had about that hunt is it was too short. I understand they have a lot of people to get through but it could have lasted about five minutes longer and that would have been just enough. I do applaud that they had plenty of zombies and a lone scary clown.

We also felt that a smaller group would have been better on the first run but also realized that they have to get people coming through and it is probably not feasible to do it with small groups.

For me it was perfect. When I go on a scary ride or go to a haunted house, I want to be scared. I want to be startled. I want to scream like a little girl. It takes you away from reality just for a moment. It is just plain fun. So with that said, they delivered for me.

The Paintball Park on Camp Pendleton is open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They now have guns that shoot at half the speed of a regular paint ball gun so it is better for younger kids and/or people like us who don’t want to be in pain after we play.  We have played with the regular guns before and let’s just say we all have had a few bruises and welts afterwards.

Through October go out and shoot the zombies…it is great fun.

After all zombies aren’t real, or are they?

Shooting Zombies.

We are trying this on Friday. Will let you know how it goes!!!!

From their website:

The Zombies are back, and The Paintball Park at Camp Pendleton needs your help.  It’s year three, and this year we are calling all Zombie Hunters and fans to The Haunted Grounds at Camp Pendleton. Get equipped with top of the line zombie-hunting paintball gear and walk the haunted trails shooting zombies as you try and find an escape,  Ride our gigantic Zombie Hunting moving trailer to eliminate from the hoard from above.  Of course, there’s always a chance to play traditional paintball as well, we just added a Zombie twist for our Paintball Adventure.


Spooky or Mysterious Photo Challenge

With Halloween being synonymous  with spooky or mysterious. My take on a photo challenge this week is this mysterious sunset in Ventura, California. It was a gray evening as California sometimes gets. Right at sunset the sun poked out and had at least 8 different shapes over the course of the sunset. This one was very mysterious taking the shape of a mushroom cloud.

Sunset 6