Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gold Country--The Mother Lode / Judy

It's been so long since I did a blog, especially with pictures, that I hope I can remember how to do it. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them and see the details better.) Here goes: Last week was Lloyd's annual vacation so we went somewhere we've always wanted to go, but never had. It's called the California Gold Country and it's between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe and it's all about the Gold Rush. I guess I'll tell about each day, then try to put the pictures in somehow.

We left on Monday and it took about six hours to drive to a little town called Sutter Creek, where we stayed all week at a wonderful Victorian-style bed and breakfast called The Foxes Inn. That first night we ate across the street at the Palace, which obviously used to be an old saloon.

In this picture of the Inn, our room was the one in front on the second floor.

And here's inside. It was full of antiques and wonderful little touches and a large bathroom with a big, claw-footed tub AND big shower.

I have to say something about those gourmet breakfasts we had. They looked beautiful and were such a work of art we almost couldn't eat them, but we managed. Usually we ate out in the garden, (where Lloyd is in this picture) but a couple times we had it in our room. Check out those fruit cups, which were the first course.

This is my French toast one morning. Look at the tiny butter dish with the tiny blossom on the right below the (heated) syrup pitcher.

Anyway, on Tuesday we explored Sutter Creek, which had lots of quaint stores, including antique stores (they always just look like Goodwill to me), tea rooms, a museum of a turn of the century store, and a music box store.

We lingered there quite a while and for Mother's Day Lloyd bought me a music box and had them put in the tune "La Vie en Rose," which is what my Grandma Hansen had in her music box. We had lunch at the ice cream emporium and afterwards drove to El Dorado Hills to a big shopping center because I'd forgotten to bring any sox, of all things, and had to get some. Then we had some soup at Chili's and went to see "How to Train Your Dragon" in 3-D at the IMAX theater. Awesome! Why can't we have an Imax here?

Wednesday we went to the Sacrament temple, which was only a little over an hour away and went to two sessions. Since it was Cinco de Mayo, for dinner we had fajitas at Chili's.

Thursday we explored more of the area around Sutter Creek. We toured the Sutter Creek Gold Mine and learned what a hard life miners had, and probably still do. The guy above was our guide and has spent his life and still is a gold miner. He says when you see pictures of groups of miners they are always frowning because they always have a headache. And, besides a shortened life, that is just one of the problems with the profession. You can also see the veins of white quartz in the side which is what they dig out and find the gold inside. At one place we saw little pieces of gold winking in the middle of the quartz.

The sluice above is where we panned for gold. We bought a bag of sand guaranteed to have a few gold flakes in it and they showed us how to swish it around in the plate through the water. It was fascinating how the gold, tiny as it was, shone through the sand and was not too hard to find. SO much fun!

Also, that afternoon we explored a big deep cave with lots of weird stalagtites (above) called helictites.

That night we went to a smaller town called Plymouth where we ate at an incredible restaurant called Taste. The town looks run down and a little seedy, but this restaurant looks very urban and would have fit right in in San Francisco. I understand people come from all over, including Sacramento and the Bay Area to eat there. I should have taken pictures of that food because it was amazing to look at as well as incredibly delicious.

Friday we drove up to Placerville, a little bigger town with an historic downtown and lots more shops where we spent most of the day. Then we went back to El Dorado Hills because we'd bought tickets to see "Iron Man 2" in the IMAX. Before the show, we ate at a Thai restaurant that gave us so much food we brought a lot home and were still eating it several days later. Fortunately it was so good we wanted to. We enjoyed the movie a lot, although I still think the first one was better, but frankly, ANYTHING is fantastic on that screen.

Saturday we went south instead of north and saw the towns of Jackson, where we spent a couple hours in a used book store, Murphy, which looks a lot like Sutter Creek, and Angel's Camp (above), which is famous as the site of Mark Twain's story about the jumping frog of Calaveras County.

I was about to take a picture of this carving when this big guy comes out of the store and asks, "Do you want a picture of the artist too?" I said sure so here he is with his artwork.

 On both sides of the sidewalk, every few feet they have these plaques with the year, length of jump, and name of the champion frog for that year.

We ended up that evening in Copperopolis. We were able to see a very local version of a melodrama which was a fund raiser for the volunteer firemen. The play was written by a local woman and everybody knew everybody else in the audience and the cast and we were obviously the strangers in town. But it was a fun play and we had corn dogs and sloppy joes there.

Sunday we went to church at the nearby Jackson Ward and people were very friendly. We even met an older man who'd once lived in San Luis and knew my dad and remembered Lloyd as a red-haired teenager.

The Inn had fixed us a fabulous picnic basket, even including the tablecloth, which we took to a place called the Amador Flower Farm. (Lloyd was really happier than he looks, but he was eating.) It was drizzly and most of the flowers weren't in bloom yet, but it was an interesting place, like this little house below, which is part of the corn maze during the Fall.

Then we drove further north to Auburn, quite a big place but which had more of the same flavor of all the little towns around we'd seen. Hint: if you go, don't drive up Highway 49, which is steep, narrow and full of twists and turns.

The whole trip was fun and relaxing and wonderful. We enjoyed seeing a different part of California that we'd never seen before and listening to books on tape as we drove around. But most of all, we enjoyed being together (Lloyd is always a fun date). And on Monday we came home, where it was nice to sleep in our own bed again.

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