California Dreamin’

If the saying goes, “a day late, and a dollar short” then I am a month late and $31 short…

Summer sure kicked into high speed after spring semester and when our week break before summer semester began. In that transition, I had the opportunity to fly to San Luis Obispo, California, to present about some research I am working on in graduate school at the National AAAE Annual Conference.

I am not sure what I thought California looked like, but in my head, it was not this… ocean1

On the first day, we had time before the conference so we took them up on the offer to explore the Pacific coast. First, we saw sea lions just hanging out on the coast. I had no idea they could get that big, and so many could fit in a small space on the beach! They can grow as large as 850+ pounds!

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Next, we visited the Hurst Castle that is tucked away in the mountains. The property is still in the Hurst family, and they even run about 2,000 head of black and red Angus cows. California also produces citrus, just like Florida, and there were a few citrus trees on the property. I have not seen too many castles in my day, but, wow! This property was certainly extravagant. Instead of me describing it, I will just let you checkout the pictures below.

Not only did we get to experience a real castle,  we also had the chance to try California wine. We stopped at the Nail & Tooth Winery. They provided samples of wine that paired with certain cheeses. My favorite was the chardonnay. California is home to tons of vineyards, and it was amazing to see just how many grape vines make up one vineyard.

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After our first day of exploring, it was time to get back to the conference. There, I presented a poster on if case studies about agricultural issues increased students’ self-perceived knowledge about those agricultural issues.

 

A part of the conference was the opportunity to explore more of California and California agriculture. We visited an avocado grove, and ate fresh guacamole in an avocado grove. Pretty cool if you love guac, huh? San Luis Obispo is about as far north as avocados can grow. In order to grow efficiently, the trees need warmer climates.

We also visited the Cal Poly meat lab. The university has a new processing plant providing students with the opportunity to experience every step of meat processing. Students also have the opportunity to work the storefront, selling meat harvested there.

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Finally, we visited the Cal Poly strawberry farm. While I have seen strawberries growing in action in Florida, it was really interesting to hear about the research being done at Cal Poly with strawberries. They even provided taste tests of the different varieties. Yes, they did have Florida strawberries to eat in California for us!

 

Not only did we experience California sightseeing and their agriculture, but we got to cross off a few bucket list items: pictures with a giant cow statue, put gum on bubble gum wall (yes, it was quite disgusting, but I still did it!), explore the farmers market, eat beef tips, see lots of cows, and, of course, touch the Pacific Ocean.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit California, I would highly recommend it. I am already planning my trip back!

Have a great rest of the week, and happy Flag Day!

Jess

 

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