25. April 2011

In March of 1981, I was 26 years old and had never traveled outside the Midwest. That was about to change. I’d just accepted a job offer at Channel 10 News in San Diego. Excited about the career move, I was also scared to death about making the move all alone. Fortunately, my best friend, Julie, offered to help drive me AND my stuff halfway across the country. We packed up my Oldsmobile Omega in Peoria, Illinois and headed west. It was a fabulous trip that cemented our friendship for a lifetime.

Through marriage, children, careers and crisis, Julie has always been there… just not geographically. We’ve had plenty of “visits” over the years, but hadn’t hit the road together for nearly three decades. We decided it was finally time for a girl-friend getaway… our 30-year anniversary “road trip!”

Julie’s plane arrived at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field from Denver right on time. After stopping for bottled water, peanut M&M’s and Red Vines (basic road trip rations!) we left San Diego in the rear view mirror, heading north and west toward the California mountain community of Idyllwild.

Unlike the power-trip we took together in the 80’s… the goal this time was a power-“visit” and a little R&R in the mountains. With perfect traveling weather, light traffic and Elton John’s Greatest Hits providing the musical backdrop, we wound our way up the steep grade to Idyllwild.

As we made the turn into the quaint village, we knew we’d picked the perfect place for our get-away. Peaceful and yes, “idyllic,” Idyllwild is nestled in the San Jacinto mountains (about 2 hours 15 minutes from San Diego.) Set among tall pines, sweet-smelling cedars and legendary rocks, it’s like taking a step back in time. We could literally feel our blood pressure dropping. The tiny town has completely maintained its “small town” atmosphere over the years. No Vons. No Starbucks. No kidding! We found only locally owned shops and restaurants.

No Holiday Inn, either. But we’d reserved a small cabin through Jim at the “Quiet Creek Inn” weeks earlier. Jim got us squared away with good directions and great suggestions. We followed his advice and stopped at the Mountain Harvest Market for groceries. The prepared food selections were so fresh and yummy, we decided to eat “in” that night. (I recommend their homemade soups. But the chicken salad is amazing, too!)

Our cabin was comfortably furnished and stocked with everything we needed… including a new TV and cozy throws. From a veritable library of movie favorites, Julie chose a Jane Austen “chick flick” while I made a pot of tea. We talked till we dropped, then slept till mid-morning.

We found the best local French roast at “Higher Grounds” Coffee Shop in the village. After shopping the local boutiques and galleries, we enjoyed a delicious (homemade!) lunch at the “Idyllwild Café,” took an easy hike and made dinner reservations at “Gastrognome,” a favorite local eatery known for it’s seafood, steak and pleasant patio seating. We both agreed it’s a great place to “people watch!”

The next day… de-stressed and talked out we left our mountain retreat and followed the signs back to San Diego. My friend boarded a plane home and “Julie and Carol’s anniversary road trip” officially came to an end. But there was no sadness, because while we may not know when and where just yet, these two old friends made a promise not to wait 30 more years to hit the road again.

**If you’d like to know more about “getting away” to Idyllwild, visit to

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