Fun in the sun for less than a bill |

Fun in the sun for less than a bill

Sharlene Irete

I squeezed a full work week into four days to take a Friday off to do something outside on a beautiful day. Fishing was supposed to be crummy because the flow was way down so I suggested to My Very Best Friend that we should go to Apple Hill. He said we spent too much money the last time we went.

“We can’t go to Apple Hill without spending $100,” he said.

It could be an expensive day trip if you first stop in Pollock Pines for lunch at Los Hermanos Mexican restaurant, buy trinkets, baubles and candy at the High Hill Ranch, sample beer at Jack Russell Brewery and buy gourmet mustard to take home, buy different kinds of apples from every apple orchard and stop at a place like Bodhaine Ranch to pick up several frozen pies to take home.

I’ve done all of that before and besides spending a lot of money, you need to keep to a schedule to make sure you do all of the things you have listed on your dance card. It defeats the purpose of a relaxing day.

I gassed up the Subaru at Costco – this was way back a couple weeks ago when gas was $3 a gallon – and made it my mission to have a relaxing, yet inexpensive, day trip. I made a bet with MVBF that we could accomplish this for less than $100.

We brought water bottles, a Pepsi and a half bag of chips and hit the road for Apple Hill. Traffic was at a minimum on a weekday so it was a nice day for a drive. When we got to the Sly Park Road exit in Pollock Pines, we skipped Los Hermanos and went to Safeway where we got a sandwich with chicken, roasted red pepper and some fancy cheese on ciabatta bread for $4.99.

Next stop was the Jack Russell Brewery on Larsen Drive in Camino, Calif., where they make beers and lagers that have names that begin with “English-style” and “Big Ass.” I settled on an all-American lager for $5, including tip.

Like the sandwich, the beer was big enough to share, but MVBF skipped it so he could be the DD. We sat out in the yard of the no-frills brewery, alone except for a young father with two preschool-age kids who bummed chips from us. It was 70 degrees and we could have stayed in those genuine imitation plastic Adirondack chairs all day.

With no schedule and no frozen pies to rush home, we took our time taking in the vitamin D. When we were good and ready, we moseyed to the Boa Vista Orchards’ on Carson Road where we bought about 30 pounds of Fuji and pink lady apples, some Asian pears, a party-sized sweet potato, a bag of red peppers and a caramel apple with peanuts for $17.68.

Next stop was the Boeger Winery on Carson Road. The original Fossati-Lombaro homestead was built in 1872 and was used as a tasting room until a new one was built in 2002. We bought two bottles of Hangtown Red – cost, $21.68.

I drove a total of 170 miles and so I figured gas cost less than $18. (Really, $18. Remember those days when you drove a vehicle that got more than 9 mpg?) Lunch, beer, produce and wine was less than $50.

We’ve made two Apple Hill apple cakes since our trip. We had plans for apple pies on Thanksgiving and the smell of apples greets us as we walk into the garage from the apples that are still left. We still haven’t cracked one of those bottles of wine. No schedule on a beautiful day with MVBF, priceless.

Apple Hill is about 80 miles away off, Highway 50 West. Several exits starting at Pollock Pines lead to apple orchards, Christmas tree farms, fruit and vegetable markets and wineries. Information at

— Sharlene Irete is People Editor of The R-C and can be reached at or

782-5121, ext. 210.