A Travellerspoint blog

Day 196 - Point Reyes (Photo's Added)

We spent most of the day at Point Reyes, visiting the lighthouse, sea lions, sea elephants and spectacular, rugged coast.

sunny 60 °F

How did I fall so far behind on the Blog! It's mind boggling, I thought I was working on it almost every night? Anyway, back in the last century when we visited Point Reyes, CA...

Before we left Samual P. Taylor State Park, I figured I'd better take at least one shot of the redwoods. They were all over, quite tall, and stradled the road out from our campground.


I was going to just drive past Point Reyes National Seashore today and try to make some progress, but the visitors center was only 1/2 mile from Hwy 1 - so thought I'd at least stop by there. Unfortunately I didn't take my camera into the visitors center however - there was so much information and so many displays my brain quickly overloaded. One thing we did learn is that we were visiting during the peak of the grey whale migration season. It seems we've been pacing them as we've driven up the coast - have yet to spot one however.


Of course, after checking it out, the place looked just too interesting to skip, so we spent most of the day there... The place is too big to see it all in one day, so I prioritized. We headed to the Lighthouse first, then would decide what else to visit depending on how much time was left. The Lighthouse is a long drive from the visitors center. When we got there, the Park Ranger saw Mom's handicapped hanger and opened the gate for us so we could drive up almost to the top (most folks have to walk that last 1/2 mile or so). Even so, Mom decided not to get out of the RV, so I backed it up so she would have a nice view of the beach below while I walked around. This is the view she had, so don't feel too sorry for her.


As I walked on up the hill, I passed a small block of apartments for the Park Rangers, which were rather normal looking. However, I wouldn't mind living there for this view!


From there, it was an easy walk around the rocks to the top viewing platform. Because of the whale migration, volunteers were on hand to assist visitors. However they said it was too windy to spot whales today, so they would be leaving shortly (24 had been seen the previous day). It is always windy here, in fact Point Reyes is considered the foggiest and windest point in the United States (good arguement for needing a lighthouse). Today the winds were only about 30 - 35 mph, but they average between 25 and 40 (or more), so this was just business as usual for Point Reyes. We didn't see any whales while I was there (or we did see them, but couldn't tell the difference between whale spout and white caps because of the wind). We were probably 'in the presence of whales' as another tourist mused.

Anyway, the lighthouse is below the viewing platform. There are 308 steps to get to it and two fairly long, steep ramps (not counted in the steps). The sign at the top warns that it is the equivalent to climbing a 30 story building and not to attempt it if you're not up to the climb! Of course, I couldn't resist the challenge -


Although I'm not sure the climb was as challenging as the view - parts of the climb were straight down on both sides! At the bottom was just rocks and surf - no soft sand to cushion your fall here...


The wind was something else. I'd be climbing by a rock bank, then suddenly come out from it's protection to an unprotected stretch and just about be blown off the steps! It shapes the rocks more than any other force here. In fact, the unusual rock formations have helped scientists conclude that Point Reyes actually belongs to Los Angeles - not northern California. It has broken off the continent and moved north (over the last 20 million or so years along the San Andreas fault! The ranger suggested if I wanted a job there (so I could live in the apartments), just wait another 20 million years or so and it would be in Washington.


The wind is so bad at the point itself that very few plants will grow. One lighthouse keeper's wife tried to grow a garden, but as soon as her carrots started to sprout - the wind blew them away. One of the things that does grow is the red alga, called "rock violets". I saw it in several places. (Yes, this is considered a plant.)


But all this is just to get to the Lighthouse, so down the steps I went.


This was built in 1870 and remained in service until 1975. It has a first order Fresnel Lens with 1,032 pieces of hand cut crystal that weights 6,000 pounds. The light tower isn't very tall because it sits on a cliff well above the sea level (a recurring theme in west coast lighthouses, I'm finding).


It was quite cold and windy, but I spent as much time there as I could taking in the dramatic coastline, looking for whales (fruitlessly), and taking yet more pictures of waves and rocks.


Fearing Mom would think I'd fallen into that surf if I didn't return, I finally headed back up. Couldn't resist one more shot of the wind blown tree's along the approach. I'm not the only one, just about everybody seemed to take pictures of this one.


From here, we drove back down the main road until we saw the turnoff for Drakes Bay. This was named for Sir Francis Drake, who spent five weeks in this area exploring it and repairing his ship, the Golden Hind, in 1579. The cliffs lining Drakes Bay are quite dramatic.


On the drive out to the bay, we passed a beach that is favored by California Sea Lions:


At the end of the road is another beach (inside Drakes Bay this time) that is favored by Elephant Seals. The adults have all returned to sea now so only the pups remain. They will have to teach themselves to swim and to feed before they head out to sea themselves.


By this point, I figured we'd really better get moving if we were going to make it to Bodega Bay tonight (there is no RV camping in Point Reyes unfortunately). On our way back up the main Hwy 1, we passed Tomalas Bay, which is formed by the San Andres Fault - making it a long, skinny and relatively straight line.


Interesting weather today - it did rain last night (as forecast I think). But when we got to Point Reyes, it was sunny - although quite windy. After we left Point Reyes and drove up Hwy 1 along Tomales Bay, we had clear, blue sky & sunshine on our left (west), and a nasty looking very dark sky on the right (east). When Hwy 1 left the coast for a bit at the north end of the bay, we drove into a rain storm. Then we got hail. This lasted a few minutes, it continued raining through the town of Tomales (mom lived their briefly as a teenager). But by the time we got to Bodega Bay and turned back west (just a bit) to the campground, we were back in the sun.

We stopped for the night at Doran Beach, a Sonoma County Park. Bodega Bay is on one side of the isthmas, Bodega Harbor on the other. Tyler, a really nice kid working the campground gate, used a free pass he had available to get us in (I didn't have correct change without digging into our laundry quarters). Turns out he's attending Santa Rosa Junior College, Mom's old alma matter!

It was getting pretty late, but I had time to get a couple shots of the beach at Bodega Bay and the Jetty (pretty rough surf out there!)



Miles Driven - 81 (about half RT), Cumulative - 18,466
Camped at Sonoma County Campground at Bodega Bay (full hookup, hot showers, beaches on both sides - what's not to like?)

Provisions Obtained - none, other then postcards and souveniers at Point Reyes gift shops...

Posted by jl98584 20:31 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 195 - Sonoma Valley & Coast (Photo's Added)

Today we visited Glen Ellen, including Aunt Evelyn's place, Jack London's ranch & musuem, a winery and Jack London Village with wine & cheese tasting (unfortunately not together)

sunny 60 °F

We got up this morning to occasional light rain, which continued throughout the morning. Mom was her usual perky self (perky in the morning anyway) and started off the day by collecting sand from the Sonoma River for her friend back home.


There weren't many campers in the park other than a CCC crew, but we did have some really cool neighbors - Pierre and Jeanette are from Canada, travelling by small RV through the USA. They've really been enjoying staying in the state parks, as have we, although for them they are quite a bargin with the exchange rates being what they are now.


While not that high compared to many places, Sugerloaf Ridge is the highest point in Sonoma County and the headwaters for the Sonoma River. Because there is so much fog and rain in this region, the rocks and trees have a lot of moss on them. I liked the scenery a lot, so did Mom.


Once we made it off Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (a bit of a mountain drive), we headed back to Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley. Both Napa and Sonoma valley's are parallel North/South valleys north of San Francisco bay. They get a fair amount of rain since they're not too far from the coast, but also lots of sunshine, so just about everything grows well in this area. Based on the number of vinyards we saw in Sonoma Valley, it looked a lot like the Napa Valley.


Just for fun, we drove down Warms Springs Rd and actually found the house Aunt Evelyn used to live in (a bit abandoned and overgrown now of course). I remember the bridge and creek here as well as the drive up to the house.


Aunt Evelyn died in 1979 and it looks like the house hasn't been used since she was there. Although I stayed there a couple of times and also visited a few more, I don't remember the details very well. According to my Uncle Bill, the house was in poor condition even when my aunt and uncle lived there, so maybe it's surprising that anything is left at all?


Evelyn Weinman, my great aunt, was an artist and specialized in pen & ink drawings (although she could also paint of course). Many of her works were of local scenes around Glen Ellen. Unfortunately, I don't have copies of very many of her drawings or paintings, but Mom says one of the things she drew was the Kenwood Depot. We passed this was on the road to her house, so I stopped to check it out. It is also a registered historical place so might have been worth a shot even without the family connection. A sign on the station indicates "great quantities of stone used for paving the Embarcaredo and Market Street were shipped to San Francisco" from this station.


So after this little side trip, we were ready to hit our first major tourist target of the day - Jack London's ranch. We spent quite a bit of time here, visiting the Museum and the Wolf House ruins (his dream home, but it burned down about a month before they were going to move in). Jack London is the author who wrote "Call of Wild", among other books. He lived in Glen Ellen from 1905 to 1916 when he died in his cottage from Kidney Failure. After he died, his widow Charmian, built a new house on the property she called the "House of the Happy Walls". She lived here until she died, after which the ranch became a state park and the house became the Jack London Museum.


Although the building is still a museum, some rooms still show the style enjoyed by the London's in their personal home, including the window seats in the living room, the living room itself and the dining room. It's hard to see in this view, but on the floor behind the dining table is a fountain.


While Charmian's house was it's own design, there are elements of it that are similar to the Wolf House that was to be Jack London's dream home. It was started in 1910 and was very near completion in 1915 when it burned down, one month before the London's were planning to move in. The park ranger says they now believe that rags with linseed oil were being used on the woodwork for the new home. They were left in a bucket and caught fire. Although London intended to rebuild, he died in 1916 before any serious work was done. The ruins are all that's left of the wolf house.


Jack London's grave is on a small hill close to the Wolf House ruins. His ashes are buried under this rock, as he'd requested.


After visiting his grave and the ruins to the Wolf House, I also hiked by this lovely vinyard. I doubt if it was there when Jack London lived on the ranch, he desparately wanted to make it a working ranch so I suspect he raised cattle rather then grapes, but who knows. The vines make a lovely scene anyway.


We ate lunch at Jack London SHP, then headed back down the road. Based on the scenery there, I can see why he fell in love with the area. This was the view we had from the parking lot as we ate lunch.


Just down the hill a bit from Jack London's ranch is a winery the visitor's center in Sonoma had recommended. The grounds were very beautiful. Mom elected to stay in the RV while I indulged in some wine tasting. I skipped the tour of the vinyards however so Mom wouldn' thave to sit in the RV too long (not sure why, it's got heat, food, things to do, etc.), but without the tour I didn't get any pictures of the place worth uploading.

Then we heaed to a place we'd also heard about from the Sonoma Visitor's Center, they recommended a shop that had a brochure for a free chocolate tasting - which we felt we couldn't pass up. It turns out this is in a small shopping mall called "Jack London Village", that also has an Olive Oil tasting shop and Cheese tasting shop. We tried the chocolates and bought a little, but we really liked the cheese shop!


So having yet again emptied our wallets, we hit the road and headed to where Hwy 1 starts up again north of San Francisco in Novato. We saw quite a bit of Heather, which really added a splash of color to the landscape.


This took us over some very rugged, winding and narrow road past Muir Beach. I stopped at an overlook above Muir Beach - quite impressive and very windy.


I hiked out to the end of the viewing platform of course, but Mom refused to go any closer to the overlook than this - the rail near the parking lot. That's fine, we each enjoy the trip in our own way.


We also stopped (briefly) at Stinson Beach. This is run by the National Park Service and didn't require us to pay to stop there! We later encountered county beaches that didn't charge for short visits, so National and Local are visitor friendly and CA State beaches - $$$? Anyway, as many beaches as we've stopped at during this trip - I never seem to tire of them. These are of Stinson Beach:


And, in honor of making it back to the coast again - one more shot of Stinson Beach...


From here we drove up near Point Reyes. Mom found a State Park called Sam P. Taylor SP about 6 miles inland, where we stayed for the night - lots of redwoods & a lovely creek.


Miles Driven - 88, Cumulative - 18,385
Camped at Samual P. Taylor SP, near Point Reyes, CA

Provisions Obtained: Gas $35.81 for 10.11 gallons at 128,242
Misc. Chocolates, wines and cheese - some for consumption later
Jack London books

Posted by jl98584 18:14 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 194 - Napa Valley (Photo's Added)

I decided to try finishing the trip by driving the rest of the way along the coast (time permitting), so we headed west again towards San Francisco. But I also decided to take a side trip up the Napa Valley to sightsee

sunny 60 °F

This morning, we left Art & Melody's and headed back down towards Sacramento. I thought it might be nice to include a couple of pictures from Hwy 70 as we drove west from Art's place - the scenery in the Sierra Nevada foothills can be quite nice, especially in spring.


Once we got to the valley and started south, we again saw this tiny mountain range. Art says they are the 'San Juan Mountains' and are the smallest stand alone mountain range (in the world?) I couldn't find any reference to them in Wikipedia, so I may need to do some more research if I want to learn more.


We also passed a few fruit stands along the way. Some are closed for the winter, but surprisingly some are open year round - they just carry a different selection of inventory. This one is just north of Marysville. We loved the bright pink road signs - a slightly different touch! They also had several varieties of honey, including wild thistle honey, as well as all sorts of goodies. We stocked up well.


This part of the central valley in California is known for it's agraculture. There are many orchards, but they were just beginning to bud out.


We also passed a couple of crop dusters treating some fields. It looks like this is a modern version of a biplane, they must still be making them specifically for crop dusting, which I think is pretty cool (not the crop dusting necessarily, but that someone might still be making biplanes.)


Then we headed across the Central Valley towards Napa. As we were driving west on I-80, both Mom and I fondly remembered stopping at a famous spot called "The Nut Tree". So we decided early on to stop there again on this trip for good measure. When we got to the exit for it however, the place we remembered was long gone - it had morphed into something totally unrecognizable as "The Nut Tree". Now it's a shopping mall with the same stores that are in thousands of other malls. There's probably still a store buried somewhere in there called "The Nut Tree", but it's hardly a wayside along the freeway, so would just be another store in a mall now. We decided to just get back on the freeway and forget about it.

When we'd visited the Sonoma Visitor's Center before heading east to visit my brother, the folks there had recommended driving up the Sonoma Valley, then back down the Napa Valley for some beautiful scenery. Since we were back in that neck of the woods again, I decided to take them up on this suggestion - only in the opposite direction - up the Napa Valley first.

The scenery is quite lovely, lots and lots of vineyards (some places even had grape vines in the front yards of houses & inns). Being spring, the California hills are also still green, which is nice.


Napa Valley is so famous for it's wine growing that two shots of vinyards are probably in order. In fact, the Napa Valley is the second most visited area of California - second only to Disneyland!


Of course, in addition to vinyards - there are wineries. We saw lovelier ones then these, but I couldn't always pull over to take pictures (or forgot to, which of course I would never admit to). At least they represent the two styles of wineries or wine tasting outlets we passed, traditional old style wineries and fancy, modern styles.


A little farther up the road, I spotted this little Oakville Grocery Store. It was built in 1881 and is still in business. Now it specializes in 'gourmet' foods and picnic supplies, e.g. wine, cheese and breads & crackers. However I had stopped because we needed Milk, for which I was out of luck!


Up the road a little farther is the little town of Saint Helena. This is just west of Pacific Union College, an SDA institution some of my relatives attended. We didn't drive up to PUC, but I thought a shot of St. Helena might bring back some memories to those who've been there?


While the vinyards and wineries were pretty, we didn't really stop at them today as we were just taking in the scenery. Maybe I was feeling the need to stop somewhere and at least see something, so when I saw the signs for the "Bale Grist Mill State Park", I turned off. Turns out this is closed for the winter, but there were plenty of interpretive signs and visitors are free to walk the grounds (where I picked up some poisen oak, Ugh). There are also a lot of moss covered trees in the park, which I found interesting (the area has a very moist climate and just about anything grows there).


This was built by Dr. Edward Bale in 1846 having received a land grant from the Mexican governor for the area in 1841. There wasn't a lot of water in the summer, and the available water came from higher on the hills - so the water wheel was built as a 36 foot 'Overshoot' wheel. This is the largest water wheel west of the Mississippi River.


The building in the background is the Grainery. In addition to storing grain, this was used as a local meeting place and social center. It may even have been used for dances.


Finally, we arrived at Calistoga, where we planned to head west across to the Sonoma Valley. Before we did however, we stopped at a place that bills itself as the "Old Faithful Geyser of California". It is a very tiny geyser compared to the real "Old Faithful" in Yellowstone NP, but it is a geyser none the less. It is also very 'faithful', or regular. The gift shop told us it erupted every 15 minutes, but while we were there it was more like every 5 to 10 minutes due to all the rain they'd had recently. I (slightly) remember visiting this with my great aunt and uncle when I was a kid.


Mom enjoyed this too, but hadn't put her teeth in, so refused to look at the camera (she does know I take pictures on the trip?)


And yes, I realize I haven't uploaded any video's since Florida - I've been so far behind I haven't taken the time to edit them! But I figure this one is simple enough, maybe I can get by without editing?

They also have an assortment of animals on the place to attract visitors (just in case the geyser isn't enough I suppose). We skipped most of them, but I thought these 'Tennessee Fainting Goats' were interesting. They don't actually faint, but have a genetic abnormality so that if they are frightened, their muscles lock up which can cause them to tip over.


Finally, we started across the hills to the Sonoma Valley. The road was quite winding and heavily traveled when we came to a sign directing all RV's to turn onto a different route. Being the fool that I am, I turned of course (although this took us way off the path where we knew where we were going). Along this new road we saw some signs to the Mark West Lodge. Not having any idea what this was, I just plowed on ahead at full speed. As we rounded a curve, we drove under the most remarkable grape vines and arbor I have ever seen. The Grape Arbor spans the roadway and extends for at least 40 feet or so, maybe longer. Even without slowing down, I was really impressed (and kicking myself that I hadn't taken the time to stop, investigate and take pictures). Later while looking at the pictures of some of the signs I'd taken back at the geyser place, I learned that these are indeed special grape vines. They are even in Ripley's Believe it or Not as being the largest and oldest grape vines in North America! (If you have time, follow the link above, at least the Mark West Lodge has a picture on it's web site.)

My goal for tonight was to get to Glen Ellen and try to find camping in that area. However, the RV friendly (?) road through Mark West's arbor took us to Santa Rosa instead. We got there at rush hour and absolutely crawled through town. When we got to the turnoff for Hwy 12 to get back to Glen Ellen, she started pestering me to take an alternate route, Bennett Valley Road, instead - since she'd lived off of it 60 years ago. Things looked a little different then she remembered them, but we actually located the place she'd lived while attending Santa Rosa Jr. College. They had lived at the end of Jamison Rd, which is just off of this portion of Bennett Valley Rd and Sonoma Mtn Rd. This brought back a bunch of memories for her, like the time her headlights died while she was driving on this stretch of road and she just barely made it back home safely.


This finally took us into Glen Ellen, but by then Mom had figured out that the closest camping was at Sugarloaf Ridge SP, back up Hwy 12 a bit. It was almost dark, but we headed back up into the mountains again (slightly different route however) and found an absolutely lovely SP for the night. As I was checking in at the ranger station, a herd of about 13 black tailed deer ambled by on the hill next to us. It was probably too dark to take pictures, but I couldn't resist trying.


One nice thing about staying in State Parks is that they are very peaceful and usually quite lovely. The downside is that there often is little or no cell phone or internet service - so instead of getting the blog updated a bit, I got further backwards. At least folks will have something to keep reading for a bit after we get home?


Miles Driven - 219 (No wonder Mom was tired!), Cumulative - 18,297
Camped at Sugarloaf State Park, off of Hwy 12 between Santa Rosa and Glen Ellen, CA

Provisions - Gas $43.60 for 11.786 gallons at 128,057 and $17.41 for 5 gallons (forgot to write down the mileage)
Milk and other misc. groceries at Calistoga, CA.

Posted by jl98584 17:53 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 188 -193 Visiting Brother in Paradise (Photo's Added)

We made it to my brothers place in the foothills east of Paradise, CA (Yankee Hill to be specific) last night. Had a nice visit with them.

sunny 67 °F

We'll probably stay here several days. I've got some chores to work on, so will keep this visit to one blog entry (most likely) - and actually be able to catch up the last several days (I expect). Sorry to be so lazy, as I've said before - I've developed a whole new respect for all those pioneers (and others) who kept daily journals! It really requires a lot of self discipline.

Arthur used to have terrible cell phone/internet connection up here, but just recently bought into a local wireless provider and set up his home wireless network - so I've got a good connection.

He and Melody also recently bought a really nice Karoke system (boy, it's harder to sing to then I thought! We're pretty bad.)


Mom & Arthur went to Church Saturday and enjoyed Jim McCall's (a cousin) Sabbith School Class. They liked Jim's class, but neither cared for the main sermon as much. However neither wanted to offend the other, so they both just sat through it. Later, my cousins Steven & Jim came over (they also live close by) and a few other folks and we all took a hike down the road to see the view over the Feather River valley.


And of course, the view from the end of the hike (maybe 3/4 mile from my brother's place):


My niece, Jessica, and her boyfriend Brad were also there, but elected not to join us for the hike.


I should also apologize, my nephew Jeremy and his girlfriend Amanda also came by a couple of times and we met up with him a couple more times in town - but somehow I forgot to pull my camera out! I'll have to make up for that some other time (I'm sorry Jeremy).

Saturday night, several of us went to a lesson in ballroom dancing (the Rhumba I think, although I did it more like "The Cottage Cheese"). We stayed afterwards for an hour or so for a community dance (some Rhumba music) and had a lot of fun. Fortunately, my camera stayed well out of sight.

Sunday, we tried to work on Dad's taxes (Ugh), got a little done on them I guess. Enough that I filled in a few important holes and realized that I'll need to just buckle down and take a week or so to finish the job (after I get home).

Later Sunday afternoon, my brother took me up to an old gravel quarry where we met my cousin Jim for some target practice. Seems that Art and Jim have become fond of shooting, including loading their own bullets (we picked up our shells after each round, Jim even put a tarp on the ground to make his shell capture easier).


Guess shooting get's kind of expensive if you buy all your ammunition. I'm no Annie Oakley, but didn't embarrass myself too badly.


Later in the evening, Art showed off some of his softer side (actually, several evenings while we visited - may be a reason I didn't get much blogging done as we often stayed up visiting into the evening?)


He was also able to locate this old button accordian that my dad used to play to wake us up on occasion (my memories of the beast aren't so fond as a result?) Thought some folks may get a kick out of seeing it again - Jeremy has requested it as something with which to remember his grandfather. It still plays OK, but needs a few buttons.


Monday Art & Melody took Mom & I into Chico and did some sightseeing. We tried to visit the Bidwell Mansion, but it was closed on Monday's. I got some exterior shots however (the entryway shot is through the front door glass).


We also checked out Bidwell Park, one of the 25 largest urban parks in America. Art & Melody got a little taste of what travelling with me is like (on this trip anyway) when I started asking them to stop so I could take some pictures! (And see - I do use a tripod on occasion, rare occasions, but on occasion).


Bidwell Park has been used for several movies, including 1937's The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn (I had no idea some of that was filmed in Chico!). I don't think this was part of the set necessarily, but liked the shot.


Also, there is a small dam on the Chico River that allows water behind it to pool up and be used as a swimming pool. They even have built a concrete floor and sides - although the river still flows through the swimming area. Nobody was in the water today (kind of cold), but in the summer it really gets used.


This was a really nice park, seemed like a good opportunity to get one of those 'You Were There' shots with my brother Art and his wife, Melody plus Mom and then I to the right.


Now that Art & Melody got a taste of how the trip works (with all the photography), they got into the swing of things a little bit and showed us an area with very quaint cottages. Art thinks these may have been built by a movie studio in the hopes of setting up shop in Chico, but the Chamber of Commerce didn't know anything about it, so maybe not. Anyway, they were clearly built by the same developer and 'quaint' was part of the design (Check the roof out on this first one).


We also went into the heart of old downtown to eat. Across the street was a very interesting hardware store. Art says our Dad used to love going here - I checked it out and can understand why - they have a very unusual selection of stuff. So - for Dad where ever you are (for those who don't know us, Dad passed away a couple of years ago):


The old downtown area of Chico looks a like this:


At it's heart is a very chic restaurant where we decided to eat. Surprise, surprise - it turns out this is in the building where the original Bidwell hardware store was. Very old downtown core! Since John Bidwell founded Chico, I guess you could say we covered historic Chico today.


Tuesday, Art & I went back to Nevada City - maybe for the last time? I had some legal work to do with the real estate agent, we checked Dad's place for tools that were supposedly left behind (took a few back, but there weren't enough to bother with). Art did bring back a French Prune tree at my insistance (they'd all been waxing eloquently at how good they were, so I insisted). And since we were in that neighborhood anyway, Art went to an organic farm supply store they liked and bought a bunch of stuff Melody had requested (and a couple more items) - Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply.

On the way to Nevada City, Art's new 2002 Ford F250 broke down, so the trip took us an extra three hours to have it towed back to Chico and switch cars, so I decided not to try to leave Wednesday afterall - need a little time to pack up again. Here's our infamous truck:


BTW - the area the truck died is just NE of Marysville, surrounded by rice fields. When I've driven through this area in the past, there have always been birds - lots and lots of birds. So after our business was done in Nevada City, I asked Art to stop along Matthews Lane here just so I could try to get some more bird shots (NO - I am NOT a birder - well, not a full fledged birder anyway?) ...and as intrepid blog readers already know by now, these are thumbnails, click to enlarge or see if I was able to correctly identify the bird...




After we got back to my brothers house, he and Melody couldn't wait to start working on their garden. Mom also joined the fun (looked too much like work to me however).


So Wednesday I'm working on repacking the RV, cleaning up my PC's hard drive, etc. etc. etc. We'll be leaving Thursday morning and generally heading north - or somewhere anyway... In the meantime, for those who've never visited my brothers place (way out in the hills), here are a few shots of the place I thought we ought to get before leaving town -



Miles Driven - 0
Camped at My brothers 'estate (2.5 acres) in the wilderness east of Paradise (They're off the grid, OK? That qualifies as wilderness in my book.)

Provisions Obtained - Gas (3 gallons in can to make sure I got back to town before I ran out!) I seem to recall that we also did a shopping trip to Wal-mart, as Mom needed a prescription filled again, but have otherwise forgotten the details.

Posted by jl98584 17:43 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (5)

Day 187 - Nevada City & Sutters Mill (Photo's Added)

Stopped in Nevada City briefly, then drove south on Hwy 49 to Coloma, where Gold was discovered in CA at Sutter's Mill.

sunny 67 °F

We left the Harmony Ridge campground reasonably early intending to visit Sutter's Mill in Coloma today. However, I thought as long as we were in the Nevada City area, I'd stop there briefly at least and take a few pictures. This is a very beautiful part of California, up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountians and in the heart of gold mining country.

We didn't stay very long, but here are some of the pictures. They are thumbnails of course, so click to enlarge and read the descriptions:


That's it, just a few pic's for folks to enjoy if you've been there before or if you haven't. Our main goal for today however was quite a way's south, so onward we go.

Over the years, I'd gotten confused about the whole Sutter's Fort/Sutter's Mill gold discovery thing. For some reason, I thought gold had been discovered at Sutter's Fort in the Sacramento area. Sutter's Fort was in the downtown Sacramento area and was a thriving, growing settlement by 1847. John Sutter needed lumber to help his community continue to grow, so he entered into a partnership with James Marshall to build a lumber mill about 50 miles to the east in the low mountains where there are tree's. Sutter's Mill is where they discovered gold.

In the mid 1800's, there were no electric motors to drive power equipment, so mills were built on rivers where there was sufficient waterflow to provide power for the equipment using a water wheel. Sutter's Mill was built on the North Fork of the American River, about 20 miles south of present day Auburn.


However as it was initially built, the water flowing out from the water wheel backed up and kept the wheel from turning properly. James Marshall had his men start digging out the tailrace, which is the path the water flows out from the water wheel. The original mill washed away during a flood in the 1800's, but the CA State Parks has built a replica near the original site, but on slightly higher ground, just in case.


In some places they dug or blasted all the way down to the bedrock to have a deeper channel for the water to flow out from the wheel. On the morning of January 24, 1848 while he was inspecting this tailrace, he spotted the gold flakes that would change history.


The full scale model of James Marshall's gold discovery is part of the museum located in the Visitor's Center across the street. We spent quite a bit of time there after first visiting the site of the original mill and then also the replica mill built slightly higher on the bank.


The museum consists of both indoor and outdoor exhibits. It tells the story not only of Marshall's initial discovery of gold, but also of the impact it had on people and the development of California. There are also quite a few exhibits of geology and mining, such as this chart of the different types of gold deposits found.


One of the exhibits is an old, 1800's stagecoach:


Another is the ruins of the 1850's jail, Coloma was one of the first 'boom' towns of the gold rush, so the jail was quite busy in the 1850's.


After the gold rush however, Coloma didn't have as much to sustain it. A few settlers tried orchards, but the town really died back. Today it is mostly just a tourist town supporting folks who want to see where gold was discovered (like us). Here are a couple of views of the downtown as it looks today.


BTW - on the way down to the river to check out the monument there, I saw this Western Scrub Jay. He was quite far out and it isn't as clear a shot as I'd like, but he was so different than the Stellar Jay's that we usually see out here, thought I'd throw it in.


By the time we finished visiting Coloma and Sutter's Mill, it was late afternoon. My brother and his wife will be working until quite late tonight, but generally we try to settle down before dark, so we high tailed it up to his place as fast as we could, about 120 miles north of us (and not in a straight line). In spite of many temptations along the way, I didn't stop for anything along the way, even gas (the tank was pretty low by the time we got there...). There are two dogs at my brothers place, a great dane and a pit bull. They are supposedly friendly (once you meet them I'm sure), but I didn't feel like messing with strange dogs in the dark, so located a reasonably level spot outside their fence and we settled in for the night.

Art's sister in law (and Melody's sister) Denella saw our RV and stopped in for a short chat late in the evening (we'd been asleep, but she wanted to make sure we were OK, so that was fine).


Miles Driven - 161 (40 RT), Cumulative - 18,078
Camped at - Dirt Road outside my brothers home

Provisions Obtained - Gas $31.75 for 9.075 gallons at 127,835
Brick a brack at Gold Discovery Visitors Center Gift Shop...

Posted by jl98584 21:05 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

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