Totem pole in the center of Idyllwild. Photo: Julie Pendray.

Monument in the center of Idyllwild.

Specials Not On The Menu is a Southern California magazine featuring travel, indie film, events, the arts, music, hiking, eateries and more. It was launched out of Idyllwild, a small art town in the mountains above Palm Springs, which is also a re-supply town for long distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Readers may remember the area for the Palm Springs aerial tramway on the other side of the mountain.

A welcome sign greets visitors to Idyllwild on Highway 243. Photo: Julie Pendray.

A welcome sign greets visitors to Idyllwild on Highway 243.

Idyllwild’s scenery, climate, wildlife, art, music, restaurants and occasional snow make it an ideal destination for day-trippers from Palm Springs, San Diego and Los Angeles. In the winter, the town welcomes snowbirds from Canada, the UK and other cold climates. Movie makers have been using the area for decades because the four-seasons climate and forest can represent a lot of locations around the United States. A two-hour drive will get you there from LA or San Diego. It takes about 45 minutes from the desert.

I’m Julie Pendray, the publisher. I’ve spent 36 years in California, 32  of those in San Diego county, working in news media. I came to Idyllwild on the invitation of a friend, to spend time alone in a cabin, with my cat and computer, while working on a book. I needed a sabbatical. I decided to stay in Idyllwild a while longer to take advantage of the crisp, clean air and smell of the pines, which reminded me of my homeland, New Zealand. Little could I have known the experiences and adventures that lay ahead!

Me profile shot 02-02-2017

One of the adventures was gradually launching this magazine, which started as a blog suggested by the owner of a well-known Idyllwild restaurant, Cafe Aroma. I was looking to publish a story about the Pacific Crest Trail, which I’d written simply out of curiosity. He suggested I start my own gig. How could we have foreseen at the time, that this blog would grow into a magazine that would fund my trip through many of the Pacific Crest Trail towns (with my cat) in my tiny car, all the way into British Columbia! I have begun a series about that trip (called Heart of the PCT Towns) on this web site. It’s the basis for a planned book. You can do the route too, in your car, or just vicariously by reading my stories, to see some of the remarkable scenery that the hikers enjoy. I’m available for presentations about the trip. It’s a story about trusting people along the way and traveling on a shoestring, like the hikers do. It will renew your faith in humanity. It will inspire you with the beauty of this wonderful country and make you smile all over again. It will encourage you to plan a trip of your own. It may even help you connect with a sense of something much bigger than yourself.

To read an interview with me about the trip, published by Times of San Diego, click here.

Michelle the Cat Facebook page screenshot

To learn more about Michelle the cat and her adventures, visit her Facebook page.

Thanks for reading SpecialsNotOnTheMenu.com I especially want to thank people who have advertised and supported my work in other ways, because it helped put food on my table during an important time in my life, as I found new direction. I have truly enjoyed the journey, literally and metaphorically. Of course, like many life-changing paths, it hasn’t always been easy but I have learned a lot and met many memorable people along the way. You will find them in these pages.

Happy trails.


1 Comment on "About"

  1. Great post. Spreading the word with a fun travel piece. Love it!

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