Sunday, October 14, 2012

Virginia City via the 49 Highway Day 4

When morning arrived in Sutter Creek we were up early to start the day. The only negative is that the hotel doesn't have coffee in the rooms and there is nowhere in the town close by to get coffee early. The only breakfast place doesn't open until 9 am and we planned to be gone before then.
Well we packed up and decided on a photo shoot in front of the hotel before we left. When we were finished I was having difficult getting Betsy, ( my name for the Wideglide) to start and had a bit of a breakdown. Bob and Ted experienced my breakdown and it was determined that I needed coffee in the morning to begin the day in a positive mood. So the joke was for the rest of the trip that if I was happy in the morning, I must have had my coffee.
We headed out of town looking for breakfast and coffee, however it was not to be found for a while. It wasn't long before food and coffee didn't really matter. The area was beautiful and dotted with small farms and homesteads.
We stopped in Plymouth at a small roadside cafe. It was the Firehouse Cafe or at least that was the theme. There were pictures of fireman fighting fires all over the place. On the walls and on the tables. The food was good and reasonable and they had good coffee.
Black smith shop, very cool & informative in Marshal Gold Discovery Park

ore crusher

The mill where gold rush started

she's off looking for gold
The 49 highway is very pretty through this part of the State. It was narrow roads that winds around and up and down. There were lots of overhanging trees and it is just a very peaceful, quiet area away from the hustle and bustle of life. We rode through with just the rumble of the engine and you feel you have not a care in the world. It is hard to believe that we were so close to the State Capitol of Sacramento. We traveled through Placerville and only got lost for a moment.
We found the 49 again and headed on to Coloma where we stopped at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. We spent some time here and wandered around taking pictures. We watched the blacksmiths working their trade and got a history lesson from one of the docents there. I have been to this place before but I always come away with a different experience. This park is the Central site that started the Gold Rush in California. The Gold Rush is what started the migration to California. Those people are the ones who actually populated the state and made the future which we now live in.
We stopped and had fresh squeezed lemonade and kettle corn at a little shop. Then we continued on our way. I would highly recommend a visit to this park if you want to know about California and how it came to be.
We started up to our destination of Downieville. The first time I went to Downieville I was amazed at the dense forest that exist in California. I lose site of the beauty of this state living in Southern California.

great little watering hole
We continued on up the highway and stopped after North San Juan at a little combination General Store/ Bar/ and Pizza place for a break. The building was very old  and historic, built out of brick. Grace and I were amused as there was a claw foot bathtub in the women's bathroom. From the outside the building it looked like three separate storefronts but when you get inside they were all connected. The bartender also worked as the Cashier in the store. There were several locals there and we were wondering how these people make a living. We left without an answer.
this proves it
The road to downieville
view from our room during the day
view from our room at night
We continued on to our destination of Downieville. The ride up through the forest to Downieville is magnificent. It is dense forest and like something out of a Fairytale. You ride along and drop down into a valley with tall mountains all around and you have arrived. The Yuba River runs though the town and the hotel we stay at is right on the River. Each room is decorated in Antiques and has a balcony that overhangs the river. You can sit out on the balcony and wind down the day listening to the rush of the water going by. There is a security door to the balcony, so at night you can lock it and go to sleep with the sound of  the river all night. This place is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever experienced.
The town of Downieville is frozen in time of a about 1880. All the main buildings date to this time and have been preserved. The newer construction is built to this period, so you feel totally isolated and like you stepped through a portal to another time. Cell phones have no service here, so all is quiet. We stopped into a Wine Shop and talked to an older Gentleman that owned the place. He proceeded to give us a history lesson of the area. We started standing and then were sitting in chairs around him like we were in school. He told us all about the Sierra Meadow that we were headed for the next day.
We moved on with the intention of having a Steak dinner at The Grubstake Restaurant only to find it was closed. Note to self: The Grubstake is closed on Wednesday. We were disappointed and had dinner at the Pizza place in town. We explored the town a bit then headed back across the single lane bridge to the hotel. Drank some wine and talked about the day, then off to bed.

Virginia City via the 49 highway Day 3

September 18, 2012

We left Oakhurst the next morning and found the beginning of the 49 Highway. Our goal for this trip was to ride the 49 from beginning to end. Our next stop would be in Sutter Creek and the American Exchange Hotel.
Main Street Coulterville & The Jeffry Hotel
The Highway winds and weaves through beautiful Country. In the Fall the wild oats are golden and the Oak trees dot the landscape of rolling hills. I have always loved this part of California and this route is no exception to the beauty.

Joe had done some research prior to the trip and found points of interest in the small old mining towns along the way. One of these was Coulterville. We stopped and found The Jeffrey Hotel. This hotel is still owned by the same family that founded it, well over 100 years ago. It has been kept in very pristine condition and is like stepping back in time. There is a restaurant in the hotel, but we will have to save that experience for another time. It was to early in the day and was not open yet, besides we ate at the hotel in Oakhurst and weren't ready for food yet.
We stayed and explored the town and again took lots of pictures. The people in the town are very friendly and willing to tell you all about the place. The town of Coulterville is primarily original buildings and is a great example of the history of the 49 highway.
We continued on and enjoyed the day. We visited several little towns along the way. I was suprised when we went through Sonora as to how busy it was. Cars lined the streets and there was no where to park. As we had explored this town on prior trips, we decided to continue on and stick to the smaller, less crowded places.
We stopped in Jamestown at the Harley Dealer and explored around. We found we were starving and were told the little Mexican place down the road was good. So we walked on over and left the bikes in the Dealership parking lot. This little restaurant proved to be special. It was just a hole in the wall but the food was excellent. It is just south of the Jamestown Harley dealer on the highway 49.
After we ate we walked back to the Harley Dealer. I was surprised that Bikes were approximately $4000 cheaper in Jamestown as in Southern California. (Note to self: when considering a new bike, shop out of the area).
We rode through Jamestown itself and circled back to the highway. Jamestown is old and has a lot of ambiance. It would be a good place to spend time and explore, but not today.
We headed on our way through the countryside. Suddenly there was a road up to the right with a sign that said "Jackass Hill". Joe took the right and we all followed. We rode up and through houses and Oak trees until we arrived at the end of the road. There was a small cabin where Mark Twain had lived and written the "Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". Joe had seen something about this place in his research prior to the trip and had wanted to stop. It was a cool piece of history to experience.
We stopped in Molhuolome for a break and found there wasn't a great deal left of this place, but the entire 49 highway is a history lesson for the California Gold Rush.
We had considered some other excursions along the way but decided to leave them for another trip as we wanted time to explore Sutter Creek. We arrived there and checked into the American Exchange hotel.
The hotel dates back to the 1800's and has been preserved in that state. It has been updated with all modern amenities but still retains the history and age of the place. I love old buildings like this because it makes you feel you are in the 1800s when the history had taken place. Old hotels are better than Museum houses as you are allowed to participate in the experience of history instead of just viewing it. You get a much better feel of what it must have been like to have lived in that time long ago.
We ended up with a room that looked out to the Veranda which overlooked the highway and the town of Sutter Creek. The veranda was set up with tables and large ceiling fans. It was a great place to unwind and discuss the day. We wandered around the town in search of dinner and decided on the restaurant in the hotel. The food was Italian in theme, but had different items than other Italian restaurants I have experienced. Joe and I decided to split the Italian Pot Roast and it was amazing. I don't know exactly how the Chef created that dish but it was awesome!
Another nice thing about this hotel is that they had washers and dryers available for the guests. The only obstacle is that there is no general store in this town and you have to return to Jamestown to buy soap. So Note to Self: stop for laundry soap and wine before Sutter creek. Not  just wine. We did a load of laundry and it made the rest of the trip easier, however I always take to many clothes on these trips. It never fails that I come home with clothes in the luggage that I never wore. Something to continue to work on for me.
We got together on the Veranda after dinner to wind down the day and and drink some more wine. Then it was off to bed .

Virginia City via the 49 highway Day 2

September 17, 2012

Inside the Restaurant w/ a great view
The next morning, still in Springville: We had been told there would be breakfast included with the room. We all gathered in the dining room and were treated to homemade Spinach and Cheese quiche. Also fresh fruit, raspberry scones and fresh coffee and juice. All very yummy and we all agreed we would return to this place on another adventure.
We took off for today's adventure through Sequoia National Park. We rode out of town and traveled through farmland with winding roads and overhanging trees. The air was crisp and it was a gorgeous day. The wild Turkeys, Deer, and other Critters were out along the road. Farm animals like horses and a baby Mule were also out. It was a beautiful ride.
Waiting for the escort
We then started climbing up into the trees. We encountered some road construction when we entered the park. We stopped at the visitors Center for a quick break and took off. We were told that they were escorting people through every hour and we didn't want to have to wait.
We stopped in the shade and waited for the escort along with a line of other people. We all got off the bikes and pulled out the camera's. It was a beautiful spot and the time passed quickly.
Soon everyone started piling into their cars and we started out. The road was muddy and not exactly suited to our Harley's. We road up and up until we finally passed the construction. I kept thinking that a year ago, (with my inexperience as a rider), I wouldn't have been able to handle this. I was feeling good about my accomplishment of the last two years.
Huge Redwoods
We road on and arrived in the big trees of Sequoia. It was a beautiful and enchanted forest. The trees were ginormous and beneath them were all sorts of ferns. I had heard about the beauty of Sequoia but it is something that you have to experience.
  Bob had read about steps that were carved into a large...very large... granite rock called Morro Rock to take you to the top. They were carved into the stone at the time of the New Deal prior to WW II. Bob talked about someday climbing to the top. Grace and I decided there was no time like the present.
The path to the top of Morro Rock
We parked at the base and just started climbing up a little, while taking pictures. The views were spectacular. It was funny how people along the way were suddenly your friends and we were all encouraging each other to continue to the top.
Grace and I continued up until she disappeared around a corner. ( I have a very severe fear of heights, but I also don't like to miss out on things. I work very hard to overcome my fears to not miss out on amazing experiences). I followed Grace on up until I found myself at a point where there was an overhang. When you turned the corner to the right, the climb went up again and the handrail disappeared. It was replaced by rocks jutting up beside the steps. Well this was more than I could overcome. I attempted to make myself continue and the rush of panic was more than I could handle. I decided to turn back.
Made it to the top
I stopped at at the point where there was a turn and you could stand next to the railing. At this point the three guys caught up with me and went on. I didn't feel that I had missed out as I only missed about 20 steps. The rest of the group were all feeling very accomplished as they reached the top. Lots of pictures. I conquered my fears as far as I could go. Maybe next time...
We continued on up the mountain and out of the park to Oakhurst which was our next stop.
The view was Awesome
just got lost for a little while

but adds to the adventure
As we were heading down the mountain I had something hit my right arm and start stinging me. (I have an allergy to  Everything and I never know how bad a reaction will be) I wasn't sure what it was that stung me, I just knew it hurt. I rode on until the road widened and pulled over. Joe who was leading the pack turned around and we all stopped. I wasn't having trouble breathing or feeling like my throat was closing, so I considered this a good sign. I do carry EPI pen with me just in case. The spot was burning rather badly though.  Ted had these little swabs for stings and I stuck it on the site with a band aide and we continued down the road. We came across someplace to eat called the "Old School House Restaurant". The bar was open for Monday night football and we were all starving. Joe and I had a beer and one of the best burgers with garlic fries I have had in a while. The restaurant was about 100 years old and had been preserved to keep its historical value. It is marked as a spot to return to on another trip.
We were heading down a highway through farmland. Joe saw a sign that he and I thought required a left turn. Joe got out the GPS and found we were wrong. Esmeralda (the GPS' name), got us back on track with a little detour. She had us turn right to get us back to the highway. You know it is not a good sign when there is a sign at the entrance that says "Rough Road". Well we did it anyway. The sign wasn't kidding. We bobbed and weaved along as the sun set.( Later we found that Grace had taken the most amazing picture on that road.) We finally got to the right turn to take us back to the highway and we were back on track. Good to have Esmeralda. Thank you Justin for a wonderful Christmas present.
An old School House turned into a restaurant & sports bar
Sports Bar...worth the stop, just east of Sanger on hwy 180
We kept going through fields and finally arrived in Oakhurst and checked in to our Motel. Ted and Bob told me that I didn't have a taillight and they were making it a point to stay close as I wasn't readily visible from the rear. I was very grateful for this. Joe and Ted went in search of  a taillight bulb and after a glass of wine were were out for the night.

Virginia City via the 49 Highway Day 1

September 16, 2012

We left the house in Fallbrook at 4 am to start our latest expedition. The weather had been warm and we decided to get across the Upper Desert before the heat hit. We met up with the rest of our party at the Denny's on Railroad Canyon in Lake Elsinore. We found we had an Outlaw in our midst as one of our friends had chosen to ride his Harley out of his gated community where it was not allowed. Well he appeared without any sirens blazing so we figured he had gotten away with it. Ted the Outlaw!
We were off! We road straight through to Kramer Junction and the 
Roadhouse Restaurant for breakfast. I was in need of more coffee to start the day, (more on this topic later). 
The Roadhouse is known for their Homemade Cookies. They are sold up by the register, don't pass them up. We filled our tanks stashed the cookies and where on the road again.
Iron Horses invade Randsburg
  A short way up the road we visited the Ghost Town of Randsburg. An old mining town that is now a ghost town. The town consists of Junk Shops and Antique stores plus a couple of places to eat; and several rather eccentric desert dwellers. This all adds to the ambiance of this little town in the middle of nowhere.
We stopped to take a butt break and to take a few pictures before continuing on our way. After a bit of driving in circles, Joe stopped to ask someone in Randsburg for directions. He was trying to find a road out of Randsburg that lead to Hwy 14 across the desert, next to a dry lake bed. Yes Joe is a man and yes he asks for directions. (My opinion; I have the perfect man, more on that topic later).
We found the road on the west end of town and started out. The view was pretty spectacular and much nicer than the standard highways we have normally taken.
We had a little mishap when we found  highway 58 and realized we where going the wrong direction. Bob straightened us out and we turned around and headed to Lake Isabella and Kernville. We stopped for lunch in Kernville at Cheryl's Diner.  This place has just good home cooking. From there we headed on to Springville.

The road started winding up into the Sierras; turning from sand and sage into pines and cooler temps. We laughed when we were talking that evening about the descent. As we went  down the hill, each curve looked the same and it was as though we where stuck in some Twilight zone episode, where you are stuck in time and nothing would ever change. The terrain changed as we were no longer in tall trees and it was warmer but the curves didn't. Turn to the right and long swooping turn to the left. Down we went.
Springville Inn
The Park across the street
Finally we arrived in Springville and checked into the Springville Inn. The town was small and quaint. The Inn itself is very old and has had some work done to update it. The rooms were very comfortable and had all the amenities. There was a small park across the street with a gazebo and and manicured lawn. The mountains rose up behind it as a backdrop. It was a very beautiful site and nice end to a long day of riding.
We sat out on the patio area and drank some wine and ate the cookies from the Roadhouse in Kramer Junction. We  discussed the day and laughed a lot. Then it was off to bed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Overniter to Yuma Territorial Prison

This was a trip to the Yuma Arizona to visit the Yuma Territorial Prison and ended up with a couple of side trips, and an interesting twist on the town of Yuma.
The town of Yuma as I remember it some 40 years years ago when I was growing up and would visit there, was just a hot dusty town, but no
w a few years later and my interest changing, Yuma like so many other towns and city's, they are trying to capitalize on their history and restore their downtown as their "Historic Old Town". We found a couple of wine tasting shops and what looked to be and smell like a good Italian Restaurant, and above that was a rooftop Jazz Club, we didn't go to the Jazz Club but it looked like a great roof to hang out on, on a warm summer night , along with a host of the typical nic-nac shops.

Now for the original intent of the trip..."The Yuma Territorial Prison" it operated from 1876 to 1909 and was considered by the people of Yuma as the "Country Club" because it was the most modern complex around it had indoor plumbing, running water and flush toilets and electricity, something the people of Yuma did not have, however if you where unlucky enough to be invited to stay at the prison for a while it was considered by the inmates as "The HELL HOLE". Imagine, temperatures during the summer reached 110 degs. if you where unlucky enough to be on the sundown side of the cell block...well to say the least it was HOT! there was NO AIR CONDITIONING, however they did have a way to circulate the air. And I'm sure the winter months where the same in the opposite direction. To go and see how they had to exist back in the day and the reasons you could be sent there, ie. misleading a woman, adultery, really makes Joe Arpaio's jails in Phoenix look pretty good, I thought it was well worth the trip.
Arizona State Parks: Yuma Territorial Prison: Home

Side Trips:

A small Town? called Felicity about 8 miles west of Yuma just off I-8 it even has it's own exit. It's a town someone started as a tribute to all man kind and has had it declared as the "Center of the World "?? It's just some place you have to see I can't
quite explain. You'll know your there when you see the church on the hill in the middle of the desert.

Camachos Place
This is a Mexican Restaurant out in the fields of El Centro (abou
t 10 miles south of town) that has been around for some 60 years. It was started for the field workers to eat and relax after a hard days work, but it wasn't long before the surrounding towns found out how great the food was, real home cooking, and it became quite the spot for a beer and taco. I truly think it's known world wide and worth looking up, be sure to try the "Special Quesadilla" That and a cold beer is the perfect prelude to a carne asada dinner.

The Trip to Yuma, You couldn't ask for nicer weather somewhere on S2
Stopped for Lunch in Ocotillo, "wont make that mistake again" only found 2 spots to stop,both where bars and this one looked best

Where prisoners entered prison and received all their supplies. The prison operated from1876 to 1909

The sun down side

I'm not sure inmates today appreciate what they have

Guard Tower

Not a lot of room with 6 people in a cell

Pretty good wine for the only winery in the desert to make wine, a friendly, cool place to enjoy a glass of wineHeadin' back to the hotel from old town

chasin' trains

relaxin' after a hard day

inside this building is said to be the "Center" of the the earth?

This Plaque is the center of the Earth?Looking down from the Church on the Hill

until the next trip