Look Up

Trees By Casey Grimley

Trees By Casey Grimley                                                               Picture Used With Permission

I was a kid who followed my Dad around like a puppy wanting to play.  This was particularly true when he was going to do anything outdoors, from yard work to deer hunting.  Dad was different outside.  All the cares and worries of the world evaporated, and he was like a kid himself.

On one particular hunting trip, I believe I was about 12 or 13 years old, Dad and I were walking through some amazingly beautiful country.  I don’t know that I really appreciated what I was seeing, and my wise father apparently guessed as much.

We came to a grove of trees, and Dad stopped.  He said, “Lie down on your back under that tree.”  I didn’t know why he asked me to do that, but I was an obedient child, and I did as I was told.  He laid down beside me and said, “Look up.”  We looked up in complete silence for several minutes.  Then Dad said, “Don’t ever forget how you feel right now.”  I never will.  Looking up through the leaves on those gorgeous trees, I knew (and Dad knew that I knew) that the kind of beauty we were experiencing didn’t happen by accident.

What I felt at that moment was the whispering of the Holy Ghost testifying to me that there is a God.  I’m not a scientist; nor am I a theologian.  I don’t need to be either.  When I need to know what is truth, all I need do is find a grove of trees, an ocean beach, a pristine snow-covered mountain, a waterfall, a rainbow, or the roar of a mountain stream to find it.  The whispering of the Spirit tells my heart that no “big bang” could create such majesty — and that’s good enough for me.

Thanks, Dad.  Thanks for sharing God’s gifts.  Thanks for showing me how to receive inspiration.  Thanks for being you.  I’m looking forward to a sweet reunion in heaven.

Many thanks to Casey Grimley for letting me use his picture.

Find Tudie Rose on Brand Yourself at:  http://tudierose.brandyourself.com/

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Apple Hill Wonder

UPDATE:  Cameron Park is about 10 miles west of the Apple Hill ranches, which are actually located in Camino, Placerville and Pollock Pines.  (Apple Hill Growers Association gives these directions — sorry, I’m “directionally challenged.”)

We live in Sacramento, California.  It is a great blessing to live a very short distance from many different beautiful places.  We are literally 90 minutes from the ocean to the west and 90 minutes from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east.  What more could a person ask? About 50 miles from our home is a wonderful treasure called Apple Hill, which is a place that brings me great joy.  It is a gorgeous day trip any time of the year, but autumn brings absolute wonder to this place.  Last year about this same time, I posted some Apple Hill pictures on my old blog.  This morning we returned to Apple Hill for our annual breath of autumn.  It just doesn’t seem like autumn without a trip to Apple Hill, Cameron Park, near Placerville, California.

Years ago, the apple orchards on the hill decided to band together, cut out the middle man, and sell their apples right on the orchards.  It has been more than a little successful.  As a matter of fact, they have had phenomenal success.   There are many ways to visit Apple Hill depending on what type of experience you are looking to have.  Each of the orchard farms is different, and each has its own unique flavor — and I chose the word “flavor” purposefully.

Some orchards sell pre-boxed apples to take home, and then there are “pick your own” orchards.  Many of the orchards sell wonderful apple products — pies, fritters, cider, apple butter, turnovers, jams, jellies, and a myriad of other yummies.  The fragrance alone will put weight on the bones.  If you don’t like apples, try the blueberry, elderberry, and pumpkin yummies — just to name a few.

There are kid friendly orchards with pumpkin patches, hay rides, baked goods, animals to pet, ponies to ride, and even a train.  You can have your face painted, walk through a hay bale maze, walk a nature trail, go fishing, decorate pumpkins, watch a pottery making demonstration, go on a scavenger hunt, learn how to make an apple wreath, or walk a crooked mile.  My kids always loved “walking pies” and apple fritters from Kids Inc. (Orchard #5 on the Apple Hill map).

Today we stopped at Bodhaine Ranch (Orchard #68 on the Apple Hill map).  We found some cool craft booths, but the most fun for us was the interaction with some animals.

Animals at Bodhaine Ranch

Animals at Bodhaine Ranch

Animals at Bodhaine Ranch

Bodhaine Ranch

If you love crafts, there are craft booths that can keep you busy all day.  I’d recommend going on a weekend if you’re going for the crafts, but even during the week, you can find some crafts.  However, if you go on a weekend in October, you should seriously consider taking the shuttle bus from Placerville.  It will save you parking headaches and assure a pleasurable experience.

Now that my children are grown, I enjoy Apple Hill in a whole new dimension.  The last two years, we have seen parts of Apple Hill that we’ve never seen before, and in a whole new way. We are at that quiet stage of our lives where we love to be out in the sunshine and fresh air enjoying nature, but one of us (me) has some artificial parts and can’t walk very far.  A bad back and a steel plate and screws in my right ankle are sometimes a challenge — but Apple Hill provides wonderful areas that I can enjoy pain free and without three days of recuperation time.

O’Hallorans Apple Trail Ranch (Orchard #18 on the Apple Hill map), is a cute place which sells apples and crafts, and they have a nice pumpkin patch for the kids.  A cleverly crafted Tin Man greeted us at the door.  Tall pink, purple, and white wild flowers grace the front of the building, which just made me smile.  It’s a happy little place, and we found the owners quite pleasant and helpful too.  As we left their driveway, a herd of deer crossed in front of our vehicle.  Unfortunately, it took me a minute to stop and get my camera out, but I did manage to get a few pictures (while not the best) after they crossed the road.

O'Hallorans Apple Trail Ranch

O’Hallorans Apple Trail Ranch

Tin Man

Tin Man

Wild Flowers

Wild Flowers

Flower

Flower

Deer

Deer

Deer

Bill’s Apples/Felice’s Dolls (Orchard #35 on the Apple Hill map) is a beautiful spot on the Apple Hill tour.  Massive flower gardens surround the apple and craft building.  Everyone who enters receives a cored and spiral sliced apple free of charge — and they are the best darned apples I’ve ever tasted!  This place is heaven if you enjoy flowers!  You’ll also find bird houses, doll houses, yard display items, and many other fun things.  I was quite saddened to learn that Felice passed away just three months ago in July.  I express my sincere condolences to Bill.  I hope you’ll find comfort in knowing how much happiness you both have given people over the years.

Bill's Apples/Felice's Dolls

Bill’s Apples/Felice’s Dolls

Garden

Flower Garden

Flower Garden at Bill’s Apples/Felice’s Dolls

Yellow Flowers

Pink Flowers

Yellow Flowers

Orange Flowers

Boa Vista Orchards (Orchard #3 on the Apple Hill Map) is by far the largest grower.  It is like going to a farmer’s market.  On the weekends, they also provide a huge number of craft booths.  While Boa Vista provides pretty much something for everyone, please don’t just stop there and think you’ve seen the totality of Apple Hill, because you will have missed some of the best parts of the experience.  Sit back, enjoy the ride, soak in the sunshine, and truly make it a day to remember.  Isn’t that what day trips are all about?

Boa Vista Orchards

Boa Vista Orchards

Boa Vista Orchards

Boa Vista Orchards

Boa Vista Orchards

Boa Vista Orchards

For more information about Apple Hill, see the Apple Hill Growers Association website. If you have children, you will definitely want to know in advance where the kid stuff is so that you can plan your attack on the hill.  For those of us who are “kid free” (empty nest syndrome is a myth) and want a leisurely stroll through the orchards, I suggest attacking the hill on a weekday when the crowds are working and in school.  One final note:  If you are addicted to “Pink Lady” apples, you’ll want to wait until the end of October or the first of November to plan your day trip, as they aren’t ready until later.

AUTHOR RECEIVED NO COMPENSATION (OR FREE APPLES OR APPLE PRODUCTS) FOR WRITING THIS POST.  ALL OPINIONS AND PHOTOS (SUCH AS THEY ARE) ARE MY OWN.

A New Way of Learning

The first weekend of April and the first weekend of October is special to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon).  On those weekends General Conference is held in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The conference can be seen via satellite at many of our chapels throughout the world.  It can also be seen via cable television, and satellite TV, and via the internet.  The conference talks are also published in the “Ensign,” which is our church magazine.  We all look forward to each conference with anticipation and excitement.  It is a way to “fill our spiritual cup.”

A couple of weeks ago, I was challenged by friends to view the talks from last April’s conference as a way of preparing for the upcoming October conference.  I took the challenge. It was suggested that we view one talk a day until conference.  I think there were a total of 37 talks included in the Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, Priesthood session, Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, and Young Women’s conference sessions.  I knew that I would not be disciplined enough to do it that way, so I spent several evenings last week viewing five or six talks at a time.  I learned something from the experience.

I usually take notes during conference and then read the conference talks when they are published the next month to further instill important points in my mind and soak in anything that I may have missed.  In the coming months, I will occasionally re-read a conference talk or two.

I love a good challenge, and when I was challenged to watch the conference talks from April in preparation for the October conference, I jumped at the opportunity, but I didn’t really understand how beneficial it would be until I had completed the challenge.  Six months ago when I originally watched conference (and even five months ago as I read the talks), I was in a different place mentally and spiritually than I am currently.  As I watched the conference talks the last few days, it was like I was hearing some things for the first time.  After completing the challenge, I went back and read my notes from last April.  I was amazed at what I had written.  This time the “important points” in my mind seemed different from what I wrote in those notes six months ago.  I wish I had taken notes the last few days as I watched those talks again.

I’m excited for General Conference this coming weekend.  I definitely think that it helped me to spiritually prepare for conference by watching the talks from six months ago.  I plan to do that again next March to prepare for April’s conference — and next time, I will take notes and compare with the notes that I will take this weekend.

Women’s Conference was this weekend, and I was on a spiritual high after watching it.  If you missed it, it can be viewed here.  If you’d like to watch conference this weekend, this link provides the information on how to watch it.  This site gives some wonderful suggestions about how to prepare yourself and your family for General Conference.

I invite all who read this post to share in the experience of hearing testimony and words of wisdom from modern-day prophets and apostles.