Saturday, December 19, 2015

Road tripping to Angels Camp

Soooo, we left our Oregon home 30+ days ago to road-trip our way to Arizona, where we will spend ‘winter 2015’ kayaking the Colorado and other to-be-determined outdoor adventures.

As expected, we took a side road-trip on our road-trip south. Heading out from a stop in Tracy to see family, we drove east and parked our rig on the shores of Modesto Reservoir. Not only is it beautiful but visiting Canadian geese welcomed us. This county park is massive, with lots of RV hook-ups, boat launch, separate tent camping area, swimming, archery and fishing. The surrounding area is awash in groves of trees…almonds or some other variety of nuts. Regardless, it is quiet, beautiful and only 8 rigs were staying here, it is off the beaten path, but we like to be out of the noise and bustle - even small towns can be noisy if a train rumbles through.
We headed out to Angels Camp, approximately 90 miles on the back roads of Stanislaus and Calaveras counties.

Not 20 minutes later we were in the small town of La Grange, which is French for "the barn" or "the farm" and was primarily a farming community until someone found gold.


The historic La Grange Saloon replaced in 1897 after a fire burned the adjacent hotel was re-built for $13,000. Miners and river dam workers purchased the 86,670 shots of whiskey, at $.15/shot; helping the owner pay off the debt in just one year.

Another small town on the back road is Coulterville, another historic landmark, and one of those small towns that comes alive in the summer as travelers make their way to Yosemite Park.

Wood burning railcar outside the museum.

Coulterville was a mining community in the late 1890's

Magnolia Saloon Californias Oldest Operating Saloon

Jamestown National Hotel 

[In case you can't read this door sign "Hotel Registration in the SALOON"]

Wild game jerky is all the rage in Jamestown...

One of our destinations to Angel's Camp was to follow Mark Twain's footsteps. He got his inspiration for  "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1865) during a period when he was camping with friends in the Angel Camp area, where off Jackass Hill a replica, with the original chimney and fireplace, of his cabin has been installed there. Jackass Hill is so named for the animals, were used to carry supplies to gold miners.


See you soon on the back roads of America.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Stepping back in time...

New to Yuma? Passing through for a few days? On your way to another southwestern city or town as you escape the increment weather (read freezing cold and/or snow) of your hometown? Been here before but haven’t yet fully explored the surrounding areas? Bored? Looking for something interesting to do in other than watch broccoli grow? Interested in local/state history? Old cars and farm equipment?  

Just outside Yuma about 10 miles, in the midst of broccoli, lettuce and cabbage fields is a unique collection of autos, farm machinery and a small assortment of earlier transportation methods. Plus a whole slew of old radiators, hubcaps, car parts and old glass jars and the odd bicycle or sleigh.

 Welcome to the Cloud Museum -10 miles north of Winterhaven (Exit 172 on I-8).  “ situated on over 2 acres, affords visitors a unique opportunity to tun back the clock and view real American that includes over 120 Model T’s and Model A’s…”

Admission is a $5/pp, it’s open 7 days a week and if you call in advance you can have Johnny Cloud, Owner, provide you with a guided tour. Jack and Jill, friendly Border (mix) Collies were never far behind him, while looking for a head scratch from visitors too.

Hours can be spent wandering the buildings and discovering hidden treasures, including extensive old glass bottles, cast iron skillets, meat grinders, kitchen tools, and small applicances. There is even an entire section of farm machinery.

Take a tour of the property via the short film and enjoy a step back in time.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Giant and Kings Canyon

We spent our free day driving up to Kings Canyon, roughly 60 miles outside of Fresno CA. Our goal…the Grant Tree…one of the five largest trees in the world.

Named in 1867 after Ulysses S. Grant, the Grove it stands in became protected and a national park in 1890,

We were surprised to find the Visitors Center (6000') unadorned with any snow. The park employees shared a photo that had a 2009 photo where the snow was so deep the human being shoveling the walkway was dwarfed by the surrounding snowdrifts and the 2013 view with barely a dusting of snow. They have had only 15" this winter....and it melts almost immediately. 

Squaw Valley is just down the skiing this year it appears. 

General Grant tree

Inside The Monument Tree...
horses were kept here during increment weather as well as providing shelter to the lumbermen working the 160 acres owned by the Gamblin brothers.
This pine forest is big....always makes me happy to visit one. And I always look up!


Friday, September 26, 2014

It's deep, it's BLUE

 We just returned from a week-long visit to Crater Lake National Park. Descriptive words, such as awesome, beautiful, gorgeous, magnificent, spiritual come to mind - but those words just do not do justice to the spectacular vision Crater Lake is...

It was quiet. Peaceful. Restful. AND mosquito free. Yes, we had been warned. We were DEET prepared...didn't see bug one the whole week. September is the month to go if you want to be relatively kid-free as well. We live next door to six (6), yes that's right- 6, children who are for the most part -- great kids (aka, not obnoxiously noisy). So when we pulled in and were about to select a site, I glanced across the road and there were not 1, not 2, but 3 child sized bikes and a bus that had been graffiti'd in ways that only the stoners of the 60's would truly appreciate...I recoiled and said, ah, NO. My week in God's country was for rest, relax, and to rejuvenate...not to listen to small people having non-quiet moments.

So, if you are a camper, RVer or tenter...Crater Lake is for you. The spaces are large and there are some with electricity and are of different sizes so large rigs are few and far between.  If you are not one of the above, the Crater Lake Lodge is available as well. However, reservations are difficult to come by unless you book almost one whole year (10 - 12 months) in advance.  There is a NP campground for tents only that is very reasonable...$10/night. We were near the other motel, a 'motor inn', however I have not a clue as to the nightly rate.
Crater Lake Lodge

our site
Trolley tour 
Park Administration Building

Tickets for Wizard Island tours are available until mid-September, as we discovered too late to get one so as to visit it, but the boat did take us close. Two different kinds of WI tickets...a 3 hour romp or the all day (6 hours) version...only 6 a day of those are sold. So plan according. You can hike to the top, bird watch, sunbath or fish. No boats are allowed on the lake other than the tour company. And you don't need a license to fish either...they encourage fishing and lots of it. 

Wizard Island
As our tour boat captain is 1.1 miles down to the boat ramp. It's 11 miles back up. Be prepared to walk. stop. walk. stop. drink water. walk. stop. repeat often on the way back up.
Vidae Falls
Short, easy hike to Vidae actually don't even need to get out of the car to see this from the car. It's not this view, but you can see it.

Phantom Ship
The Phantom Ship can be seen, close up, from the boat tour as they take you right up to it and stop.
Inside Watchman Tower 
Watchman Tower

The Watchman Tower hike was around 2.5 miles rd/trip and although much of it is switch backs it is also steep. And totally worth the view once you get there...this is simply breathtaking on a clear day.
Panoramic from Watchman Tower to the North/NW
We did see some wildlife during our stay...mostly birds and ground squirrels. On our last whole day we did happen to see a deer not far from our campsite. And it was posted for bears, however we saw no evidence that they were in the area. (They are faster than I so I pay attention to my surroundings. Nope, not one spotted.)

No TV, radio or internet. Well, you could buy wifi at the convenience store near the entrance or at the lodge. We were able to call out and get messages when up on the rim...actually that was just fine with us. There was a time, not so very long ago when you had to stand outside in one of these to make calls anywhere.
It's called a 'phone booth'...ancient history now. Although we did see a smaller version of this at the convenience store/gas station.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Big Easy ~ and it was

We have left the 'Big Easy' after a 10 day visit and are headed south and the Gulf, for warmer weather, some kayaking and maybe just sitting down on the sand. This post will be more photo, less history....New Orleans, or as a local ~ Naw-lins is better known than many of the spots we have toured, therefore I have less to say. As many of you know I adore churches, art and I found some of that here. I'll include a few "not to miss" activities as well.
We stayed across the river in the Bayou Segenette State Park, and took the ferry from Algiers - 3 min crossing and it is FREE, drops you near the FQ, so it was perfect for u.. Using the ferry gave me such joy and recall of the fond memories of growing up with the Puget Sound ferry system. There is a small parking lot that charges $5/day M-F, a bit more on the weekends but it was so worth not having to drive across and attempt to find parking, as there are quite a few pedestrian only and one-way narrow streets. The state park had nice large spots, free Wi-Fi and also gives you an idea of the dike system that protects much of the area, as a dike lurks nearby on the access road to the RV parking.
This short video is of the Natchez tour boat leaving the harbor just as we docked.

Another beautiful church, St. Louis Cathedral, which you can see from the ferry as you cross the Mississippi...and the state museum has buildings on either side.
One of the wings is dedicated to Katrina ... included in the display was the piano owned by Fats Domino - shown here at his home
and here, cleaned and displayed as it was found.
And there is Mardi Gras...who hasn't heard of MG? Second floor of the museum is devoted to this with collections of invitations, dance cards, costumes and all the paraphernalia is a part of the celebration.


Friends suggested doing a few things while in New at Muriel's -

Check was elegant, delicious and swanky! We hit the oft mentioned Café Dumont for the beignet experience...check ! We found a great lunch at El Gato Negro, near the French Market...some of the best Mexican ever! Homemade tortillas, salsa and the fish tacos - the bomb!

It was suggested we drive across the "causeway" of Lake Pontchartrain .... now I truly dislike bridges, mostly high bridges, or bridges that have grating. The irony is that I live in a town with lots of bridges...I hold my breath and just drive across...but this bridge is 24 miles long and at times one can not see land, it is like driving across the ocean. I counted down the

mile markers as we crossed and was extremely happy to hit land and drive around for the return.
National World War II Museum was an unexpected treat...the 4D experience of the movie "Beyond All Boundaries" was unique. The buildings and exhibits are remarkable, the WWII veterans sharing they experiences and the interactive maps and displays makes for a full day.
I wanted a souvenir of our trip here...I found this at the Flea Market - Jennies - with instructions for both good and evil. Isn't she beautiful? A voodoo doll...<grinning>
New Orleans is a lovely city, with many historical buildings, feisty historical figures, great food and music.
This sign, found on a garage door gave me a moment of humor and the knowledge that someone has a sense of humor about their neighborhood. 

Next up, our Swamp Tour in Patterson, LA.