Horseback Riding

"Please don't let the giant sit on me."
By now, dear reader (I know who you are), you've realized that I heart animals. I love petting, cuddling, and asking them rhetorical questions ("Who's a handsome kitty?"). But no animal can bring me as much joy as the horse. Why? Because one can ride a horse (I tried riding my dog but she collapsed. Don't worry, I'm pretty sure she'll get up soon). Riding a horse is the closest one can get (in real life) to being an animal.

There's a little stable off the 57 freeway (fun fact: only Californians say 'the' before naming a freeway) in Anaheim named Rancho Del Rio. You know what you can do there? Huh? You know what? You can get horseback riding lessons there!
"OMG, fine. We'll turn right."
Ava has a business called Paramount Performance. She has a couple awesome trainers and a couple pretty horses. Lessons are private and affordable. If you've never ridden before, or if you (like me) just want a reason to ride, I recommend checking them out (they accommodate all ages).


Orange Flag Ceremony

Goodnight, Flag. Sleep well.

Papa Bear
Every Wednesday at 6pm in the center of the Orange Circle (AKA the Plaza (AAKA Chapman and Glassell)), Mark Wayland and his gang of military misfits say, "I love you" to America. How? They take down the flag in the center of town and give it all of its deserved pomp and circumstance - there is saluting, someone playing Taps, and the flag gets folded by like 20 guys into one of those little triangles you sometimes folded a piece of paper into to play football with in class.

The environment is filled with hats and t-shirts that say something cheeky about being a Marine. Plus about 40% of the people that come to this event are part of this Harley Davidson riding group called the Patriot Guard. They like to dress like they're in a scary motorcycle gang, but they're mostly ex-military grandpas.

"Then we use it play football, right?"
Before the main event, Mark stands in front of the group with special announcements. He will usually talk about someone who is over seas fighting, or is MIA, or list names of those that have been lost recently in the Iraq War. Then there's a moment of silence.

If you dig America, the military, or Taps, you would enjoy this half hour event in the Circle/Plaza.


Orange Farmer's Market

Okay, so no smoking and no terriers.
There's a new Farmers' Market (on Saturdays) in town so move over... other... farmers.

Okay, so there's not anything here that other Farmers' Markets don't have. Except if you get there early enough there may be free muffins and coffee! I heart 'free'.

Parking is easy and free.

Oh, and the cherries are AMAZING. There's a cherry guy. You'll know him when you see him. Buy the cherries. Buy ALL the cherries.

There are food trucks out front the market, too. In case you don't want to shop hungry, I guess.

Sometimes there are demos or movie screenings, so check the schedule if that's a thing you're into.

It's not particularly big or small. I like it because it's close to my house. The end.




Slater's 50/50 is a burger restaurant that is in a love affair with bacon. The burger patty is made of 50% beef and 50% bacon. Baconception.

The menu features some wacky burger creations, including the "Peanut butter and Jellousy." That sandwich is exactly what you guessed it is.

Fried chicken on flapjacks with bacon
Another (more popular) option is the "Design It" menu. One uses a golf pencil to select a burger patty, bun, and toppings on a paper menu. The highlight of this activity is naming your creation. Be warned, you may forget your clever burger name and force the server to become increasingly irritated as she has to yell out, "I'm a Jersey Shore fan," over and over again. The cleverest amongst us named his burger his own name. No confusion as to who this belongs to.

We had a large party (18 people) and they wouldn't take reservations. We waited an hour and 20 minutes to be seated (on a Saturday afternoon). There is a bar which is first come, first serve. We hung out there for a long time while we waited. The bar also has the full menu, so eating there is a good option if the wait is long.

They have a ton of beers. However, all of them are written in different colored chalk on a board suspended from the ceiling. I could not read half of them.

I ordered the "Eat Your Veggies" burger and found it tasted too much like vegetables (I know). Not good vegetables, but like, wheat grass. Shiver.

One in our party ordered this bacon brownie
I also tasted some of the fried pickles. They were good, but a novelty. I couldn't eat more than two (and an order contains one million). The sweet potato fries, however, come with a heavenly pumpkiny dipping sauce. I ate all of the sweet potato fries.

If you're going to Slater's 50/50, prepare for wacky, novelty food and don't try to create something 'normal.' You're better off diving head first into this bacon-infused experience (when in Rome (order bacon)).


Swap Meet

Affordable family fun! That's what the website for the Orange County Market Place describes itself as. I don't know about you, but when I was a child I was not begging to go shopping. I was like, "You're going where? And it's how early on a Saturday morning? Nope. Leave me with my cartoons and sugar-cereal, Lady." In hindsight, my dad probably didn't like me calling him that.

As a broke-ass college student (before torrents (man, I'm old)), buying bootlegged (probably) dvds on the cheap was worth getting my butt up at the crack of 11am on a Saturday. 'Beautie' products are also a popular less expensive alternative to the fancy 'beauty' products found at Target and other fine retailers.  

"Lemme in! Or, I'm gonna shoot stuff!"

Is Xmas coming (isn't it always... technically)? How about getting that special someone in your life an "I Love Lucy" tin thingy. Or a hat/stuffed animal. Maybe a leatherish car seat cover. Or any of the other millions of fine products made in China. A happy Xmas for everyone, I say!

SIGNS! Oh, F-Yes!
Also, while in college, I thought the fruit/veggies at the swap meet were a good alternative to having to actually grocery shop like an adult. It must all be local, right? This is like a Farmers' Market or something, isn't it? ISN'T IT?! Nope. Everything is from Chile. Don't buy the produce.

But you CAN (yes, I have the authority to tell you what to do)buy the jerky, the pickles, and the hand-made jewelry/art. That stuff is all made locally. Support your fellow Orangite (is that the thing that we're called?)!

Punctuation is important.
Another awesome thing about the swap meet, people watching! The "humans" that show up to this thing are s t r a n g e. People I have never seen the likes of in Fashion Island. Men with overalls and no shirts, teenagers pushing strollers with children holding pregnant babies inside, that couple that thinks that if they wear Ed Hardy T shirts and bedazzled baseball caps we'll mistake them for wealthy, and the only plastic surgery for miles is breast implants! No nose jobs, no face lips, no botox, no brow lifts, no lip implants... It's like an alternate OC.

"Kitchen supplies get me so hot."
It costs $2 to get in and it's located at the fair grounds. You've probably been to the swap meet before. If you haven't, WHAT? Who are you? Go, right now (if it's a Saturday or Sunday morning). You need to see this


Canyon Fireside Grill

"Let's all go out dancing in our blue dresses!"
Confirmation: there is no dancing in RSM.

Oh, no! Were you hoping to go out dancing with your girlfriends in Rancho Santa Margarita? Did you read on OC Weekly that the Canyon Fireside Grill has live music and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights? Well, they don't. Not really.

Yes, they do have a band. Is the music danceable? No. Even after drinking tequila all day? Yep. Was there ANYONE dancing? No. OMG, why don't you believe me, already? Go check it out for yourself, then. Sheesh. 

We had dinner and drinks as the restaurant was closing, assuming we'd go over to the bar (where the "live entertainment" was perched) to mingle afterward. Nope. No, thank you. Nothing but Cougars and 60-year-old men wearing gold chains.

You should put on your website that there is a band and old cronies sitting at the bar. Not that the whole place transforms into a nightclub at 9pm. You have clearly never been to a nightclub, Canyon Fireside Grill. Also, your promotional video is obnoxiously misleading.

This should be your video. Because this is what actually happened:


Serrano Creek Ranch Equestrian Center

I'm a little surprised at myself for sharing this information with you. It's sort of top secret. Shhh.

Do you like horses? You have to know a little bit about horses for this to be a fun adventure. Go read a book. Did you read a book about horses? Good, okay, let's continue.

There's a stable in Lake Forest that I used to get horseback riding lessons at. There are lots of pretty ponies there (I said you have to know about horses - and if you know about horses you call them pretty ponies. Okay?). 

Now, (COA) I do not recommend you actually do any of this. I'm just telling you how. Not that you should. Got it? Don't do this.

Get yourself some carrots. Bitches Horses love carrots. Go on into the stables (there's an easy entrance through the park off Serrano. And pet those horses!

Some of the horses don't get ridden every day. They (most of them) like the attention of humans (that's you!), especially when said humans have carrots.

Here are your instructions for properly socializing with horses:

1. Look for signs on the horse's bars. Horse-people have a special way of communicating what their horses are thinking through first person signs. Sometimes they say, "I bite," "Don't give me carrots, I'm horse-diabetic (seriously)," or "I'm a republican because I F-ing hate donkeys." Always obey the signs. 

2. Provide a hand for the horse to sniff (this is how you say "Hello! I am not a threat to you, you silly beast!")

3. Watch for ears pointed back sharply or sudden aggressive movements (just like people, some horses are jerks).

4. Give a nice pet on the nose or head, "Good horsie."

5. Break off a 3ish inch piece of carrot and lay it flat on your palm to feed to the creature (make sure to lay your thumb super flat or Horsie may take a bite out of it thinking it's carrot (their eyes are really far away from their mouths, okay?)).

6. Use your psychic powers to connect with animal and virtually ride it into the sunset, "Sweet freedom!"

Wasn't that fun? It's my favorite.

Photos by Shannon Leith.