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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exeter, California

A beautiful rainbow marks the spot in Exeter, CA, the south San Joaquin Valley's own Pot O' Gold

 Headed to downtown Exeter, CA from Hwy 65 (just turn west at the water tower)
 Exeter, CA goes all out for patriotic days and events.
Friends enjoying a Friday night at The Wildflower Cafe

Fellow Travelers Ezine is pleased to be sharing events, musings, music, sites, shopping, local lore and more, with you, our fellow travelers.

What is it you are searching for? What is your heart’s desire?  

Join other fellow travelers on the road less taken.   Peruse our pages, towns and locales and reveal treasures unearthed by your fellow travelers, ripe and ready for your own discovery.   

What’s your pleasure fellow traveler, what’s your passion?  Not sure yet, time will tell?  Unravel the mysteries of half-whispered beckonings of long ago, perhaps a childhood memory.  All these possibilities await you in the pages to follow.  

"I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference".  The Road Not Taken...Robert Frost

In this issue we feature the charming town of Exeter, California.  Nestled at the base of the foothills, beneath the majesty of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, this town of just over 10,000 beckons travelers from far and wide.  Named after a local rail roadman's hometown of Exeter, England, travelers have been heard to say, "I feel like I am in Disneyland, the streets are so clean, the people are so friendly". But, Exeter is a very real town, with thriving businesses, high achieving local schools, and a community spirit rivaled by few. 

Exeter is flanked on the east by groves of navel oranges; navels are known as the sweetest oranges in the world. The west side of Exeter is bordered by many fruit including plums and pomegranates.  The local ranchers grow many other fruits and produce.

 "Picking oranges" at the site of the old Mixter Rexall Pharmacy; this is the first mural, courtesy of the City of Exeter.  This one mural, reminiscent of days gone by when entire families would work in the fields to bring in the crop, 
started the mural movement in Exeter and Tulare County.

Exeter has risen from the ashes, so to speak. The downtown area lost a favorite old 2 story brick building that served as a local drug store as well as the only soda fountain when it burned to the ground in the mid 1990's. In a tough economy (after a crop-damaging  freeze), the town was  suffering through a financial downturn,  and also a blight in their downtown area, not a welcome sight.

From those ashes and despair rose a rainbow of brilliant colors spanning the entire downtown area. Exeter is now home to 29 (and counting)  life size pieces of art (otherwise known as murals) that are painted by artists from all over the United States on the large brick buildings in the downtown area. These murals tell a story of the history and culture of the town and its surrounding area. They are a 'must see' when traveling through or even near this region of south central California. Exeter was named One of America's Prettiest Painted Places, by Paint Quality Institute in 2000, as well as One of the Fifty Best Reasons to Love California, by the Official California State Visitors Guide (2000-2001).

Exeter also boasts a downtown full of unique shops that entice you with treasures for almost every taste & genre. From stylish clothing, shoes & handbags (Main Street Exeter, A La Mode, Wish List Boutique), to antiques (Antiques by the Water Tower, Pine Street Relics, Rocky Hill Antique Collective) and collectibles, farm equipment, gourmet kitchenware (Exeter Mercantile), gift items (Hollyhocks, True Value), floral (Roots, Exeter Flower, Petals & Presents) and much more, the local merchants welcome you in to browse and shop. Don't forget to check out the Book Garden with wonderful books from near and far, the local Historian and Publisher is usually there, you won't be disappointed.

Locally owned restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and a couple of bakeries abound in the downtown area, easy walking distance for a hungry traveler. Capella's is large inside with comfy couches and overstuffed chairs as well as large tables and they specialize in fresh brewed coffees, teas, and grilled sandwiches & salads -serving breakfast, lunch & dinner; Hometown Emporium features fresh baked breads and roasted meats daily, more than ample sandwiches (that always include a pickle and a fresh baked cookie) and a hot special of the day-serving breakfast & lunch, Hometown also features a full service bakery; Monet's is a little French bistro with wonderful taste treats for the palette, as well as flavorful soups, wines & even Italian sodas serving lunch & dinner, as well as Sunday brunch, don't miss live music on Thursday nights; The Exeter Whistle Stop resembles a train car and is sweet with 2 trains running around the tracks high above head. They serve breakfast & lunch ‘til 2pm daily and you do not want to miss the Fish & Chips on Friday or the breakfast omelet, YUM; The Boxcar Bakery is in front of The Exeter Whistle Stop and features donuts.  Wildflower Cafe is not to be missed for sandwiches, salads & soups as well as sodas, coffees & teas; Friday nights are special because there is free live music. The newest addition to the downtown flair is the Rocky Hill Ice Cream & Candy Parlor which features Superior Dairy ice cream. Don’t forget Pete’s Fresh & Grill for great grilled creations as well as yummy desserts. Feeling like Mexican food? El Nuevo Mexicali serves up the traditional Mexican dishes for lunch and dinner, in the heart of downtown, and just a few doors down, Vallarta's, serves lunch and dinner with a lighter flare. I recommend the Pollo Suisso Tostada (with extra cabbage), not on the menu; the chicken is marinated in a tomatillo sauce and this is about the best I have ever had!   Mandarin House Chinese Restaurant is also located in downtown Exeter. And, for fine evening dining in a rustic atmosphere reminiscent of days gone by, try the Orange Blossom Junction, where Chef Quilty prepares scrumptious mouthwatering delights! Be sure to try the sweet potato fries and the Lemon Bomb!! OBJ also serves Sunday brunch.  You do not want to miss this!  East Meet West is an American-Thai restaurant, yum!!  Perkos just arrived in Exeter and they are serving breakfast and lunch. Exeter has plenty of pizza to go around too; you have your choice between Hole In The Wall Pizza, Kirkman’s VIP Pizza, Me n Ed’s Pizza, & Straw Hat Pizza.  Fortune Cookie Chinese Restaurant (located in Citrus Plaza Center) has the most scrumptious Chinese food; the fresh chopped veggies glisten and the taste is mouthwatering.  

You also want to be sure to stop by the local Chamber of Commerce; they have FREE mural guides detailing the hidden objects as well as mural locations. Feel like a guided tour of the murals? Call the Chamber and they will arrange for a personal guide to take you and your group of ten or more for a mere $2 each!  (559.592.2919) And don't forget the Mural Gift Shop filled to the brim with all things mural! Pack up your traveling bags and head to Exeter, you will have no regrets! Click here to go to the Chamber website

Have I enticed you, piqued your sense of adventure?  

Meet you at the next fork in the road.


 The latest mural in progress (now completed)
 2011, Exeter's 100th Anniversary
 ...more Poppies and Lupine (mural) around the corner (beside Rosemary & Thyme)
 ..hanging out with The Packing Ladies (behind the Wildflower Cafe)
The Sanchez and Meyers families... Emperor Grapes
Early labels for local brands...beautiful!

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