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Monday, March 7, 2016

Tasting History in the Inland Empire

I see a lot of people take the Route 66 vacation, marvel and write about all the neat attractions they see...until they come over the Cajon Pass near San Bernardino, California. Then it's 'there's not much to see along the last stretch until Santa Monica."

As someone who lives along that section of the Route, I tend to take exception. We've got plenty to see on or near the route as is passes through the Inland Empire and the San Gabriel Valley before it begins the last leg to the ocean.

We've highlighted California's Most Endangered Wine Country (and recently updated with a pub crawl)...which is neatly bisected by Route 66...taken a day trip to the wonderful village of Claremont, did an entire series on the plethora of ethnic foods in the San Gabriel Valley, and a focus on this section of Route 66 itself.

OK, let me get off my rant here so we can get on with today's post.

Watch the Video!

We don't have a lot of travel planned yet this year but we are trying to focus on things near us.  I hate the word 'staycation.' I guess I'm old fashioned so I'll still call them 'day trips' or even just 'outings.'

It seems like we've seen everything in our neck of the woods but every now and again, we come across some is one of those days.

A completely free day to ourselves is kind of rare but we have one today so we're heading into the Inland Empire to see a little history, first in Ontario then up to Route 66 for an old restaurant we've never been to.

Graber Olives has been in business since the 19th Century. The urban sprawl has closed in around it's location near the center of town but it still a leafy, residential area as opposed to the giant warehouses that are eating up land at an alarming rate in this area east of Los Angeles.

It's another patented Time Stands Still Inland Empire spot (much like Galleano Winery) where you enter a different world.

True, the olive processing barn was modernized...almost a hundred years ago...but has essentially not been changed since.

"Well, the wood burner on the can sterilizers were upgraded to gas but it's still the same equipment," our tourguide tells us.

The grandmotherly ladies in the office still do not have computers to help them with and use old-fashioned hand cranked check imprinters and adding machines to do their bookeeping chores.

The Olives are grown up north near Tulare and we're told how they're picked completely by hand when ripe, not by machines when green, then sent here to Ontario for canning in the fall. The olive oil is pressed the same day as picking up north.

A tiny museum here houses some of the original implements and, of course, the gift shop will supply all your olive needs.

After our visit and tour, we head past a very vintage and historic ball park (Littleton Field), then north to Route 66.  Two sterling examples of Route 66 roadhouses...the Sycamore Inn and the Magic Lamp...beckon us but instead we try Vince's Spaghetti House, next to the Magic Lamp, for lunch.

Vince's has also been around for a long time here. This is their second location, the original is not far from the olive ranch but we were headed this way and decided to try it.

It has a basic menu of red sauce pasta and a selection of sandwiches at unbelievably cheap prices.  They're also known for the French dip sandwiches that were the original item on the menu, even before the spaghetti.

The dining room is comfortable but the food is pretty bland. When I ask for mustard for my sandwich, I'm told they don't have any. Ever.

OK, we'll just finish up and cross that one off our 'to do' list.  Next time, it's the Magic Lamp for us.

Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
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