A Doug's Life: Sittin' 'Round the Campfire

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play...

So I've been in town almost a month now and I'm starting to get what the old cowboy song is talking about.

OK, so I was a bit too late to check out the buffalo. The bison that used to entertain visitors to city councilman Tom Fuhrman's ranch passed on a few months before I got here. And although I've discovered the relatively traffic-free route along Antelope Road, I have seen neither deer nor antelope here, playing or otherwise.

Even so, in just the few weeks I have been a Menifee resident, I have begun to feel a sense of peace in a "new housing development, old-time rural atmosphere" kind of way.

Remember those episodes from the last season of "I Love Lucy," when the Ricardos and Mertzes moved out of New York City and into a ranch house in the country? That's kind of what it feels like. Country living, but with modern conveniences when you need them.

Sure, we had some open fields and a few horses in the San Gabriel Valley, where I come from, but you had to drive at least a few miles to find them. Otherwise, it was pretty much wall-to-wall homes that cost a mint and had relatively little space. Out here, you can find a modern, affordable, five-bedroom house in a development less than 10 years old -- and have to walk maybe two blocks to find the nearest cow pasture.

I envy those of you who are retired here or who work in town. Fortunately, I get to work at home a few days a week. The rest of the time, I make the 50-minute drive to Cal Poly Pomona, where I teach journalism.

Believe me, it's worth the drive to live out here. Any stress I have accumulated during the drive into the "big city" evaporates on the way home, about the time I cruise past the wooly mammoth -- or whatever that thing is -- at the top of that hill overlooking the 60 Freeway at the Pyrite Street exit.

(By the way, is that place worth visiting? I love roadside attractions).

The rural atmosphere really begins to soak in as I head south on the 215, past open fields toward Menifee. Then comes the really enjoyable part: I can exit the freeway, pull through Wendy's for a quick bite, pick up any supplies I need from one of several modern shopping centers, and still be within walking distance of the prairie.

(OK, so maybe it's a desert prairie, but I find it relaxing).

I know, I know. I haven't yet experienced the cold of winter here, nor the sizzling heat of summer. Maybe it won't end up being the paradise I see and feel now. But don't burst my bubble just yet.

Let me find out for myself if I've really found the "country home" I've always dreamed about.

During one of my several trips to rural North Carolina to research my family history, I discovered an old farm house on 300 acres of land, owned by distant relatives since the early 1800s. The place has no central air or heat, an old hand water pump at the kitchen sink and a model T Ford sitting in the barn. Now that's what I call a country home.

But considering that it would cost me a divorce to move there, I am happy to settle in Menifee with the little woman, the dog, our daughter and granddaughter. Maybe a horse in the back 40.

OK, maybe a rental horse down the street. I'll take that.

It would've been nice to see the buffalo, though.


  1. "I know, I know. I haven't yet experienced the cold of winter here, nor the sizzling heat of summer."

    OK, so it is about 10 to 15 degrees colder here in winter than in LA/Orange counties. However, we have heaters and blankets.

    And sure, it is 10 to 15 degrees hotter here in summer than in LA/Orange counties. However, we all have air conditioning.

    You're going to do just fine!!! I've been here for about 15 years and have no desire to move back to Orange County (where I was born and lived for 30+ years). Just driving on the freeway there now when I visit my sisters gives me heart palpitations!

  2. We moved here 23yrs ago so our kids could grow up in a small town atmosphere and have never regretted it. My husband has commuted to an aerospace company near LAX this whole time.. Since the kids are now grown I've mentioned moving back to the city and my husband won't hear of it...HE LOVES IT HERE. He says it's his get away from the craziness of the city.

  3. If you'd like to see some buffalo...drive up Murrieta rd.toward Scott rd...there is a small ranch that has buffalo you can see from the road....the ranch is just past Auto Air Pro, on the right hand side......there is a herd of 5 or 6 and I think we saw a baby too....fun!

  4. Thanks for the tip, Dani. I will definitely check that out!

  5. you have another daughter coming soon ya know don't leave her out

  6. We moved to Menifee from OC about 10 years ago. Even though I work in OC and deal with the 91 or Ortega every day, I would not move back. I enjoy Menifee and the life my family can have here. Even though I'm on the road 2 to 3 hours a day to get to and from work, I don't mind it. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks while driving, so I avoid the inane radio programming during drive times.