SOCAL STRUCTURES: It's hard to think of a building in Southern California with more lore attached to it than the rancho. These busy spreads dominated the 19th-century landscape, and whether they served as cozy centers of community and industry or were more apart and unto themselves was a story as varied as what family oversaw the vast property and for how long. That several ranches around Southern California remain quite historic and open to the public, at least for weekend tours or special events (though sometimes more than that), is a true time-machine-y trove of past-rich facts and fables. Camarillo Ranch is one such spot, and while it puts on holiday events and music to-dos during the year, it also pauses to remember its beginnings. Adolfo Camarillo constructed the photographed-often Queen Anne that dominates the property, doyenne-like, though the ranch's roots extend further back than that, to its Mexican land grant of 1837. The history-minded mavens who oversee the ranch are celebrating the anniversary of Adolfo's 150th birthday, with mariachis, ballet folklorico, and a cameo -- call it a Camarillo cameo -- of the ranch's celebrated white horses.
DATE AND DETAILS: It's all happening, for free, on Sunday, Oct. 26, a most excellent fall day to nosh on some traditional Santa Maria BBQ, learn about the history of the house and its builder, and tour the grounds (look for exhibits in the barn). For sure, it is family-ready, and there shall be kid to-dos, which puts this in our mind: It's a field trip, of sorts, but with food and activities geared to an adult crowd. How long has it been since you boarded a bus with your teacher to learn more about the waybackness of your region? A few decades? Don't be blue -- info-rich field trips still exist, and you can still connect with the landmarks and timelines of California's rancho area. Plus, barbecue for sale, too. We rather think days that resemble grown-up field trips should happen more often.