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Orange County ITINERARY

Rockin' Rail Birds

Feisty stretch along the tracks boasts beers, bullets, burritos.

January 01, 1998|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Guns! Booze! Rock 'n' roll! There are definitely two sides of the tracks in Laguna Niguel--why not take a walk on the wild side?

AFTERNOON 1, 2

"I went to a town hall meeting and tried to have our area named Railside Shopping," said Jeanne Hitchman, who owns O'Shea Home Brew Supplies with her husband, Joe. "They scrub and shine all the other sections, but they'd rather forget about us."

Harrumph. What might have helped her cause was a giant keg of home brew, and O'Shea is just the place to get it. The town leaders could brew their own! O'Shea sells everything they'd need, including hops, grains, yeast, malts, bottles and CO2. They could make Coffee and Cream Stout, India "Pail" Ale or Belgian Biscuit. A starter kit runs $70.

Too snooty for brew? Winemaking kits are $95 and up. Or go components: The shop sells varietal grape juice concentrate, gummed labels and a winemaker's recipe book. Other books include "Making Vinegar at Home" and "Making Cheese, Butter and Yogurt." Let the whole neighborhood know how you feel: A beer mug flag for the front porch is $13.95.

Got beer? You're going to need music, and you can make that yourself too. Pro Music Exchange carries not only all sizes and shapes of guitars, but also 30 kinds of guitar picks and 13 styles of harmonica. You can buy, sell, trade or rent instruments including drums and mandolins.

"Come in here and buy a real instrument," beckons Betty Rawlins of Rawlins Piano Co. (next door in No. 109). A sign in the other direction says, "Water beds, open nightly." And holy Huckleberry hide-out! Also in the building is the Playground Warehouse, which sells clubhouses and other elaborate play equipment that could make yours the kid-friendliest house on the block ($624-$6,049).

MEALTIME 3

"Our specialty: good food." Inexpensive too. A's Burgers is basically American and Mexican fast food, and there's steak sauce and salsa picante on every table. Breakfast portions are especially generous: Steak and eggs are $4.95, huevos rancheros $3.49. Lunch items are served into the night: A bean-and-cheese burrito is $1.39; the A's burger is $1.69, and a hefty order of French fries runs $1.29. Don't forget to take your "I (Heart) A's Burgers" bumper sticker.

LATE AFTERNOON 4, 5

Order is important at this point. Remember: Guns before saloon.

Suffice it to say you may jump out of your skin with the first few rounds at On Target Indoor Range, a 25-yard shooting facility. And that's from the other guy's bullets, despite ear protection.

A dollar buys several paper targets; you control the distance. Lined up on the Bottles and Cans target are Bub Light, Old New Jersey (Smooth) and Instant Water ("just add water"). The Police Training Silhouette identifies body parts and assigns each a score, e.g., five points for small intestines, 10 for left ventricle or medulla oblongata.

When I was there, a postal worker was watching the action.

All handgun calibers up to .44 magnum can be rented for $3 per day (you can mix 'n' match). Fifty rounds of ammo ranges from $8.50 for .38 caliber to $14.50 for .45 Long Colt. (Factory .22-caliber bullets give a lot less bang for your buck-99, but they're good enough for 1998 U.S. Olympic shooting team member Bill Demarest, who uses them for his daily practice at the range.)

Range fees are $8 per hour weekdays until 5 p.m., $10 per hour Saturdays, Sundays and evenings, including eye and ear protection. The next beginner's firearms training course is scheduled for Jan. 8, 6:30-9 p.m. ($50 plus ammo).

You may want to unwind after your shooting spree--or celebrate if you hit that medulla oblongata. Mugs Away Saloon started out as a darts venue, but activities at the unabashed dive also center around pool and live entertainment. Each summer the bar stages an event called "Moon the Amtrak," at which participants go bottoms up in more ways than one.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

1) O'Shea Home Brew Supplies

28142 Camino Capistrano, (714) 364-4440.

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

2) Pro Music Exchange

28052 Camino Capistrano, (714) 364-9205.

11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday.

3) A's Burgers

28698 Camino Capistrano, (714) 364-2099.

6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday.

4) On Target Indoor Range

27692 Camino Capistrano, (714) 348-0352.

10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.

5) Mugs Away Saloon

27324 Camino Capistrano, No. 102, (714) 582-9716.

10 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-midnight Sunday and 10 a.m.-midnight Monday-Wednesday.

Parking: There is ample free parking in lots at each location.

Buses: OCTA buses No. 91 (Laguna Hills-San Clemente) and No. 397 (Mission Viejo-San Clemente) run along Marguerite Parkway with stops at Avery Parkway.

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