Following a lovely sunny last Sunday in January day at Encinitas' Cardiff State Beach, I wound my way through the hills to Fallbrook, California, the place I would call "home" for the next two weeks. In more ways than one, my Airbnb at Equinox Farms was sure to be a different experience than my previous temporary residences.
First of all, I would be staying in a camper. Although I did a fair amount of tent camping as a kid, I haven't camped at all in years, and had never actually slept in a camper. When looking at Southern California Airbnb options, this was certainly one of the most reasonable arrangements, so I decided to see how I fared in one for a couple of weeks.
More interesting than staying in a camper, though, was the property on which it sits. My host Tricia and her husband reside in their home on the property, and have created a beautiful and peaceful oasis of a little farm here. The camper looks out on their menagerie of critters, which include an alpaca, a llama, two miniature horses, a full size horse, two goats, chickens, ducks, a pig, and a couple dogs.
The day after I arrived, I came down with either a tremendous migraine or a terrible 24-hour stomach bug. Being sick is pretty miserable, but being sick all alone is even worse. I'm not one to ask for help, but when Tricia learned I wasn't well, I eagerly accepted the Sprite, crackers, and rice she delivered to my door. It did, indeed, cure whatever it was that ailed me.
Fallbrook is a cute little town that is apparently known as the Avocado Capitol of the World, and I have definitely eaten my fair share of these delectable fruits over the course of the past two weeks. I also enjoyed some local flavor at area restaurants, chowing down on a hearty breakfast at Fallbrook's Main Street Cafe and devouring some seriously spicy Thai food at Thai Thai.
My day trips have included time to enjoy the rugged and beautiful coastline at La Jolla's Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, the retro vibe at Oceanside's pier and downtown, strolling the streets of Temecula, foggy trips to Carlsbad's Ponto Beach and to the top of Palomar Mountain, and the artsy streets and breathtaking oceanfront of Laguna Beach.
After months in more rural locales, it took me a bit to get used to the way people drive here, but outside their cars, I've found them to be incredibly, surprisingly friendly. Aside from a brief trip to San Diego years ago, I have mostly experienced the culture in northern California. I don't care to delve into negativity, but I'll just say that the demeanor around here seems markedly different from my previous impression of Californians.
I have enjoyed the places I've visited, their lush green scenery in stark contrast to the ruggedly beautiful Arizona desert. The hills are covered with boulders that look like they were sprinkled there by a hand from the sky, and the roads in the countryside boast orchards of avocados, oranges, and grapefruit. In other parts of the country, we forget how much of our food comes from this gargantuan state.
However, I truly think what I will miss more than anything is this lovely place I have called home. The camper, while small, really has everything I need. I can gaze out my window and see bunnies, a pig, chickens, and a miniature horse frolicking - all in the same unbelievable scene. I have also been quite productive, cranking out paintings at a relatively quick pace.
But most of all, my host Tricia has been an absolute delight. I have had little interaction with most of my other Airbnb hosts, and really didn't want or need to. They have certainly been responsive if I needed them - this is just a much different arrangement. A successful photographer and businesswoman with a whole lot on her plate, Tricia always had time for a few moments of lovely chitchat. She made great recommendations. She made me feel at home. I'm delighted to have met her and shared her space for a bit.
I'm not ready to take up residence in southern California anytime soon, but this place has definitely carved out a little boulder-shaped niche in my heart. Hasta la vista, Fallbrook!