From The Ridiculous To The Sublime...
Photo ©2010 Helen Dawson
Southern California, where I live has a valley that is about 60 miles from east to west, and more than 100 miles from north to south. The specific area where I live is part of that valley.
There are incorporated cities with populations ranging from about 10,000 to well over 100,000 residents, but much of this county has remained unincorporated by choice.
The Lake Elsinore/Temecula Valley is riddled with earthquake faults and hot springs. There are mountains with Mountain Lions (Pumas), Coyotes and rattle snakes, as well as raccoons, and opossums, and even packs of wild dogs that have interbred with coyotes, producing another coyote appearing creature the size of a large German Shepherd.
The residents range from movie stars, rock stars and sports stars, to people who have to sleep under the stars, and everything in between.
Our valley has some wonderful scenery. There are mountains and lakes, places to hike in nature preserves, as well as places to ride dirt bikes, and trails to ride horses. The most popular place on earth for sky diving is almost within walking distance of my home. There is another sky diving facility only about fifteen miles away.
In our nearby mountain range are homes valued in the multi-millions of dollars, while others may not be quite so impressive, they are still roomy and well cared for. This area has everything from ranches where they breed and show handsome horses so beautiful that you just drool watching them float over the surface of the ground, to ranches that raise race horses. There are properties in this area where they grow wine grapes, as well as large commercial avocado groves and citrus orchards
Some of the estates in this area have much of their property landscaped in a very park-like style, while others appear to maintain the natural surroundings with huge well cared for oak trees, (a protected species). The properties in La Cresta are a minimum of five acres, though many are much larger. Many of the homes in the area are spectacular. Some have the appearance hotels, while others are spanish or ranch style.
In recent years many people have begun raising llamas, or alpacas for their wool, which is said to be rather lucrative, as their wool is said to be softer and of better quality than sheep's wool. Of course, one alpaca costs about $35,000, the last time I checked.
There are ranchers who raise bison (buffalo) and beefalo, for meat. Others raise and/or house exotic animals used in the movie industry. Some people have animal sanctuaries for homeless pets. There are even sanctuaries for livestock.
There is one one sanctuary I know of that has imported several mares along with their foals from Canada's Premarin production farms where they kept the mares in foal in order to use the urine of the pregnant mares in the production of Premarin. It seems that when they were finished with the horses, they are said to have removed them from their heated barn and released them, allowing them to starve to death in pastures without any additional food, even in winter when everything was covered with snow, when no grasses were available to eat.
There are residential communities where homes may have at least six bedrooms, while other communities only have two to three bedroom homes.
There are mobile home parks,as well as communities with private lots where there are also mobile homes, many of which are more than forty years old. Some are well maintained, while others are little more than a hovel.
We have everything from slim, trim and the strikingly attired, to prostitutes and filthy druggies. There are people who are exceedingly "buff" to the extremely bulging.
Most people here are just plain ordinary people, no matter their income. Vehicles in this area may be anything from a Rolls Royce, lots of Mercedes, Hummers, tons of SUVs and Harley Davidsons, as well as the usual Hondas and Fords, lots of pick ups, and complete wrecks that are abandoned alongside the road.
We have several lakes for fishing, boating, and pic-nicking, too. The closest to me is about five miles away. Around the lakes, there are many camp grounds, where some people live all year round, and others come for the weekends, or the month.
We are about an hours drive form the beaches, and maybe 60 to 90 minutes from the snow covered Big Bear and Mount Baldy, and San Jacinto Peak in winter. If any are still determined to visit south of the border, that's about a ninety minute to two hour drive.
We have many fashionable shopping malls, and streets that have practically nothing but restaurants, while others have nothing but new and used car lots.
I have lived in this are since 1984, and though I don't like the huge influx of people who have changed our lifestyle, with the additional homes and the fact that our little valley has changed from a very rural area with thousands of acres of natural untouched terrain, to what we have today.
Now we have six lane freeways, with 24/7 rumbling semis, and more crime than ever. I will most likely stay here, as my whole family, and extended family is also here.
Like many parts of the country, we have lots of people who are now wearing veils and scarves over their faces, many of whom run many of the local convenience stores.
The main downside of living here, is the fact that this valley is known as the drug capital of the United States. However, most people here are not involved in this grimy trade.
I still have the very best neighbor I have ever had, and I still have my very favorite places to eat, with the most reasonable prices in the entire valley, if not the whole county.