Saturday, October 31, 2009


Its Halloween, and I hope everybody has a blast at their party, or with their kids or grand kids. I liked the hanging apparition above at a neighbor's house. I especially enjoy the moonlight at this time of the month and the weather is right for a crisp night-time walk.

Over the years, I've enjoyed memorable costume parties; enjoyed teasing the littlest kids at the door when they arrive with their bags for a treat. I admire the people who decorate with sound effects and scare the daylights out of kids. It gives them a thrill to remember forever. My adult children can still remember the addresses where they were terrified the most. As youngsters they looked forward to Halloween almost as much as Christmas.

But, scaring yourself is not easy, it takes a separation of logic. I was really scared only three times in my life as an adult. Once, when I read a book on rape and suddenly felt insecure. Another when I read a book on alien beings invading our planet, posed as true stories, and rather credible. (I was much younger then.) And again when I chanced to meet Uri Geller and he read my mind. He could answer my questions, that I framed mentally, before I gave them voice. It took me a pause to realize he was answering my thoughts. It still gives me the chills to think about it.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Some of us are still kids at heart and...I got prankster neighbor, Jan, back.

This property is Haunted
Closed by Co.Ord,. # 20628.

Since her gate is always open, when we closed it, the gate stuck. She was dashing to an appointment, discovered our dirty work, and then couldn't get her gate to open. Of course, she called me. It took some effort to get it unstuck.
Her parting words? "And, now I have to deal with the county on this ordance #20268."

Everybody wants to live in our neighborhood.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The quilt show I attended last weekend had a new feature, whereby about 30 pairs of decorated shoes pointed the way around the grounds to the various venues. Since my daughter collects shoes, I thought I'd take some photos for her and the one above is an example.
This morning, however, I open my email and viewed jaw dropping shoes. EXTREME as in EXTREME.
I spent a couple hours on-line trying to find the origin of these photos to give credit, but could not find the source. During the search process I found many more mind boggling extreme shoe photos. What's more, they are for sale and supposedly wearable.
She must need the guy to keep her from falling over.
As sinuous as a striking snake.
This pair must be for masochists who WANT to walk on nails.
Maybe these slippers will scare away the real thing. But they look so realistic, I'd like to find a pair for my friend Jan, the neighborhood prankster.
I had a great morning traveling around the extreme shoe websites. One site was inoperative and I found one of the shoes in my line-up on my first attempt. It was Extreme Shoes Arts And Design. Others that were interesting: http://stylefrizz.com200803/virtual-shoe-museum-the-creepy-extreme-section and
There was, of course, much more. Its a strange world out there...but fun!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Its been an eventful month. We had a bob cat on the front porch in broad daylight, which tells me the wild things are hungry. Neighbor Karen threw a rock at it for fear they were drooling over her cats. That is the second bob cat this month.
We had a 13 hour power outage last week and a temporary problem Monday night. I'm pleased to say we all have electricity now, but when I returned from Manteca yesterday, I found bullet holes in my front window.
We do get a stray bullet from hunters now and again, but these two, on closer inspection, turned out to be bullet hole decals.
Aha! I instantly decoded who could have done the dastardly deed. My neighbor, Jan Stewart, the likely perpetrator.
Several years ago, a neighbor went on vacation and Jan convinced me that we should plan a little "surprise" for their homecoming. Jan laid down on neighbor Clement's driveway and I drew around her body with chalk. Then we blocked off their driveway with "crime scene" tape. Oh, it was such fun!
The neighborhood has never been the same since, especially near Halloween.
Last week she asked me if I had placed the bloody arm on her gate post? "No, not me!"

She didn't ask if I had put "The Witches Inn" sign on her front door. Hee, hee, hee.
I found a small decorated pumpkin on my newspaper box right after.
In past years I've found huge spiders in my bed, a large rat in my cupboard, a giant spider hanging from my shower spout.
The war is on! Shoot me some dastardly ideas, folks. I gotta get her back!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


California has money problems. The whole world knows California has money problems. Our current Governor and legislature is having difficulties with a frightful deficit that keeps on growing.
I learned today that California is the only state out of 52 that doesn't tax oil company producers within its own borders.
Other states raise billions on an industry that has made obscene profits and has enjoyed much favoritism from our Federal and State Governments.
When other states tax the producers, they write into the law a clause that the taxes cannot be passed on at the pump to the consumer.
The oil companies have just backed off refining more oil creating a shortage and the price of gas averaged an increase of 18 cents per gallon at the pump over the last two weeks. California has some of the most expensive gas in the country.
What's wrong with this picture?

Monday, October 26, 2009


We are at Turtle Bay-Fish Camp on the San Joaquin River in Manteca, a short day trip from Murphys. Jim left about 10:00 a.m. yesterday while I stayed to supervise a total revamp on my sprinkling systems. My goal was to finish up early and join him. It turned into one of those frazzling experiences when just as the day was done, I stepped out of the shower to a ringing telephone. A tenant called explaining she had no electricity in her house. Flipping the breakers didn't solve the problem and my usual electrician wasn't answering his phone on a Sunday night, naturally. Eventually, we got the problem resolved and I drove to Turtle Bay in the dark, wondering why I didn't just stay home until morning.

The motor home is an escape for me and I slept like a log, stayed in bed until 7:00 a.m. and in general let the tensions drift away. Then, I discovered, that Jim, who I might have accused of not having a romantic bone in his body, dressed in a blue shirt and blue shorts and reminded me that those clothes were the clothes he wore when he met me. He told me what I wore. Hmmm!
We proceeded to the restaurant where we met a year earlier. I honestly don't remember dates or anniversaries or what in the devil I wore.
I do remember that he drove from Morgan Hill and I drove from Murphys to a Highway Cafe about equal distance from both of us, in Tracy. He repeated what we talked about, how many hours (5) we stayed and talked, well, you get the picture.

When we returned from lunch, a chilled bottle of champagne was waiting for us in the refrigerator. I can never acuse him of being unromantic again, just because he doesn't like poetry.
October 26th, a new partner, a new life style, a new year, ramblin' and bloggin' around the United States.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


There are big scary monsters under the bed,
And every night they must be fed,
They love to eat fabric, its their favorite food,
It puts them in the very best mood,
So, the lesson is clear, consider your plight,
Keep buying more fabric, or be dinner tonight.

There is a saying among quilters that She Who Dies With The Most Fabric Wins. It captures the addictive nature of quilting. Your mind swirls with patterns you want to see come alive in a particular color or form. Every piece of fabric is already a work of art. Then mix it with other scraps of fabric in deliberate swirls, or bars, or stars or squares, and we all become a bit like Jackson Pollock. But quilting is so much more than artistic expression and a delightful hobby.

The Independence Hall Quilters (whose fair I attended yesterday) organized in 1976 with a push from the National and State Bicentennial Committees encouraging local communities to put together events reminiscent of Colonial times. This exceptional group has held a quilt show every year since then. They average 100 quilts per show, and no quilt can be displayed twice. Doing the numbers, that's about 3300 original quilts.

This is a close up of an old quilt. Heritage quilt entries are encouraged. Its dainty, pastel and feminine, when quilts were only made by women. Today many men engage in the craft more often called fabric art.

Quilts engage so many subjects, like the humor in the child's quilt above, reminiscent of the book Where The Wild Things Are; and the heart quilt above made of T-shirts awarded to people who give blood platelets. This quilt honors one man who donated over 500 pints of platelets at Stanford Oncology Center and others who have given 100 pints and so on. Amazing!
There were many beautiful quilts, but I'm crazy about chickens and this quilt caught my eye. Imagine my surprise when I read the label and it was made by a good friend and neighbor, Roxanne Borean.
I mentioned that quilting is addictive, but so many other adjectives come to mind when I relate to this group of quilters:
Skill, patience, friendship, charity, homely, warmth, practical, work, love, beauty, humor, neighbors, memories, talent and joy.
What more could you ask for in a hobby?

Saturday, October 24, 2009


"I Was Born In A Small Town..." I don't know the rest of the words to the song, but in my case, the words are true. I'm sure there is a deep seated reason that our family migrated away from old familiar places to settle in a small town. We are considered rural by the U.S. Census.
Then, every once in awhile, some incident reminds me of why I love to live in a place like Murphys.
When Richard Olson goes to the local bank, his dog Chico comes with him. Richard does his banking, but Chico steps up to the counter at El Dorado Savings and is handed a dog biscuit and then he patiently sits while his master finishes his paperwork.
You can see he and Chico riding around town in a bright red Jeep.
Yep! That's just one of the reasons I love living in Murphys. You'll also note the lack of long lines in the bank on a Friday.
If you discover you've forgotten your checkbook at the grocery store? They'll put a note in the cash register that you'll be back to pay later. If you've been sick, your doctor is likely to call you after a couple days and ask how you are doing.
In small towns you get personal service and most of the business people know you by name.
I'm still humming..."I was born in a small town.." Its a great place to be.

Friday, October 23, 2009


The Alameda County Sheriff's Archive project was started in 1989 and if it weren't for the pack rats of the world, we'd have very little for our archive. We now have hundreds of pictures, old signage, pieces of outdated equipment and uniforms, thousands of pieces of paper in old files and great stories. The archive is run by volunteers, mostly retired deputies, who meet and identify people in old photos, arrange displays, host tours (by appointment only), and collect items of historical value for posterity. We also have historical mug books from San Quentin; FBI wanted posters from all over the United States; we have California jail and Sheriff's history, U.S. directives during WWII about moving the Japanese into internment camps and other Civil Protection materials. I mention that because we are not limited to just the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
The Chowchilla Bus, from which the children were hijacked during the infamous Chowchilla case was demolished after we established the archive, and no one knew we existed. It was a missed opportunity for us to obtain a piece of historical rolling stock. We have the room, but no rolling stock of any kind.
Berkeley P.D. is also working on an archive with volunteers. It was started and is run by volunteer retired deputies working to preserve their own interesting history. Alameda County's archive is funded by fund raisers. We are a non-profit 501c-4 organization.

Gary Lindsay and Bud Harlan have been hard at work while I've been on the road. They "procured" two new rooms for us. They are small and will be used as storage for items too big to display in our present facility. The rooms were full of cast off furniture and stuff headed for recycle.
Deputy W. Rhodes came by the archive to visit while we worked on Tuesday. He is planning a retired Deputy Sheriff's Reunion for Oct. 2010. He'll prepare exhibits from our photos and artifacts. This reunion is different than the usual once a year dinner where people gather for an evening and shoot home. This will be a three day event staged at the Nugget in Reno. That way people will come from greater distances and have time to really visit old friends they haven't seen in years. He's doing a great job of prep, getting an early start, and we are glad to have the archive materials put to good use.
So far, we've had three college students use our materials to write papers, one a thesis. The Oakland Museum did their retrospective on the 1960's Civil Unrest using our materials. We've reunited people with old friends. We've helped folks searching for records of their grandfather's employment or incarceration and assisted quite a number of genealogy quests. We have prepared displays for retirement dinners, funerals, and other sheriff's office events.
Many people keep their memorabilia in their garage, maybe an old uniform, or a badge, or just an appointment book. Their children or grandchildren have no use for it and it gets destroyed. We encourage people to place their historical memorabilia in the archive where it will always be appreciated and preserved. For instance, we are looking for a picture of Cecil Poole, the United States Prosecuter during the 1960's deputy indictments. He was photographed holding a brick behind his back as he viewed the riots in the streets below him. We believe the picture was taken by an attorney by the name of Jim Crewe. We have very little in the way of early female matron or deputy uniforms. Can anyone help us in our quest???
You can contact me at 209 728-3235.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I've been away for a couple days, working at the Alameda County Sheriff's Archive. Some years back, we rescued an old Guard Tower that was slated to be demolished. My son Doug, a carpenter, working in the Bay Area, rebuilt that guard tower with his own and a friend's volunteer labor. In fact, he is always doing something for somebody else.
Sunday night, Doug came whooshing into the driveway about 7:00 p.m., set up shop tools on his tailgate and proceeded to do some measuring and cutting for some of Jim's installations on the motor home. He has been working out of town and had a limited amount of time. I marveled at his professional skills. He measured and cut, moving quickly back and forth between the motor home and his tailgate, chattering away as he worked, playing catch-up with his recent activities while racing to get the job done before dark. We sometimes take our kids for granted and I'm so grateful for his talents. He built the two story house I'm living in when he was only 26 years old, the first house that he built all by himself. He has built many custom homes since, then. He has been a carpenter for over 25 years now and has a serious back injury. His doctor considers him disabled but he refuses to be disabled and continues to work, although he has to be more selective about his tasks, especially lifting.
He is camera shy and hates to have his picture taken; he doesn't read my blog nor do much on the computer, but, I'm proud to declare how proud I am of him and his pride in his workmanship and his maturity and his helpfulness to others.
A loyal friend, and wonderful son, he maintains my rentals and is always doing things for me. Even better, he has a great sense of humor. Thanks, Doug

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I went to the Jamestown Heritage Celebration over the weekend mainly to see the Wagon Train, but I also met a charming character by the name of Linda Teigland Clark, a tinhorn gambler. I hadn't a clue what a tinhorn gambler does, but here you see it. The tin horn is designed to keep the game honest. The guy with the poke bets he can roll all the numbers in the box, from one to 10, before he rolls something he can't play. He tosses his dice into the top part of the tin horn (funnel) and it lands on the table beneath the bottom half of the horn. So, a roll of a deuce and a seven gives the gambler a choice, to play a nine or play a seven and a two.
However, Linda explained, old time tinhorn gamblers learned to cheat and faro dealers held them in contempt. Thus the negative conotation of a "Tinhorn Gambler."
Linda was so much fun to talk to, entertaining and chock full of gold rush stories. Which brings me to her book, The Small Window, available at, and others. Its the story of a Tuolumne County town named Hardluck and details the struggles of a family on a wagon train to California. Above, she offers a piece of candy to a smiling loser, but her game is honest. Like most gambling games, the odds favor the "house."
Another author on the street, historian Sylvia Alden Roberts also has a book about black gold rush history, Mining For Freedom.
Below, musicians entertained the folks on the street, instigating some impromptu dancing.

The tap dancers below executed their fast stepping routine to a caller like square dancers and were quite talented.

These young violin and fiddle players were as much fun to watch as listen too, but for me, the tinhorn gambler was the most intriguing. I'm crazy about games of all kinds and I loved that tin horn.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Jim stayed home, washed cars and polished the Bronco while I went to see living history on the Streets of Jamestown. They celebrated their Heritage Days, a fun event with locals dressing in period costume, opening up the old jail for public inspection, firing of the anvil, gold panning, and other events. In the past, I've managed to miss the Wagon Train and I was determined to catch it this time.

Five wagons pulled into town from an eleven mile starting point. The horses were wet, lathered, and tired when they arrived. The Historic Sonora Pass Wagon Train is a nonprofit group who own and maintain their horses and equipment and put on historical demonstrations at public events such as this one.
Two of the outfits were pulled by gorgeous black Percherons. Two mules looking the least stressed, pulled one wagon.

People don't have to own a rig, they can join the group and ride along as passengers.

Ladies in costume entertained and answered questions from visitors.
Not all wagon trains had covered wagons. Some were simple farm wagons or buckboards like this one above. I was impressed at how authentic the equipment was, with water and feed buckets hanging below. The traces and trappings for the horses are fine leather, making this an expensive hobby. The wagons were not carrying a heavy load like the settlers did.
I first became interested in wagon trains during the bicentennial when a group of wagons drove part of the original wagon trail and began a movement to identify and preserve what could be salvaged of the old trails used by thousands on their push west. Various groups formed all over the west to imitate and experience what it must have been like for the settlers. They now offer rides, do events like this one, and keep our history alive.
Mixing the old and new, the horses seem quite at home on the streets with cars passing by and people crowded around to get a look at them. Historic Sonora Wagon Train has a website for more information.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I thought I signed onto a National Do Not Mail List. I've been getting solicitations for everything from penis enlargers to hot trading tips. The unsolicited catalogs are rife with the most superfluous junk, such as a flamingo clock where one leg swings in time to the ticking, gosh, and only $29.95.
Or how about a 5 inch ceramic jar labeled Cruise Fund. The teaser for this magnificent jar at $14.95 is: Its A Start.
You'd be better off buying 15 lottery tickets. We all know they get you nowhere but at least they aren't hanging around the house collecting dust. It stuns me at the lack of imagination on some of these "great gift ideas." Like this leather bracelet that proclaims It Is What It Is. Only the clasp and etched bar are steel. Such a bargain at 19.95.
Or this cutsie pooh, can't live without, Chi WOW a, 3 and 1/2 inches by 4 inches, with pink espadrilles, sunglasses, hoop earrings and bracelets. Made of resin for $17.95.

Enough is enough, so, I decided to look up the Do Not Mail National Registry. Imagine my surprise when my net search revealed any number of organizations designed to help stop the flow of junk mail, but you pay for the privilege. One company touts, Now Free. It claims that mail marketing companies don't want you on their list if they know you won't buy. It saves them paper and postage. Yeah, right! Why don't I believe that a stop the junk mail company called otteroticist isn't going to send me sexy junk mail. Many of them are flagrantly fake. My internet search showed several efforts to get bills passed to prevent email junk, but, under the Do Not Mail National Registry? It apparently doesn't exist. A do not call registry does exist. I must have pared down my junk mail by phoning and asking to be removed from particular mailings. Since then I've gotten a new credit card and bought a used RV, and wham! I'm on everyone's big time sucker list.
If anybody out there knows the secret code to find a national do not mail registry, if I've missed it, please let me know.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Karen invited Jim and I for dinner and served Cornish Game Hens stuffed with apples. Asparagus, sweet potatoes with nutmeg butter, and wine rounded out the meal. Desert was poached pears with chocolate sauce. I have to say, dinner was delectable and the Cornish game hens were a wonderful treat as I hadn't eaten them in years. They were a popular entree during the 1960's and 70's for dinner parties but have lost their appeal in recent years, mainly because they've become expensive. Maybe the stagnant economy has some nuggets because they are quite inexpensive right now.
But, the point of all this is that Jim was a quality control engineer for a nuclear plant in the 1970's and he was being wined and dined by the powers that be from a Nuclear Power Facility in North Carolina. They were courting his approval so they could renew their license.
"They took me to this upscale restaurant with tuxedo ed waiters in a private upstairs dining room, " remembered Jim. "Nothing was too good for me. The wine and the food was the best you could buy when a high end entree at a good restaurant was $10.99 for a steak.
At this restaurant, the Cornish Game Hens were priced at $12.99 and $15.00 without buckshot. "It was written right on the menu. I never forgot that entree."
He may never have forgotten the memory, but I realized for the first time that Cornish game Hens, really were "game".

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Oh, mea culpa. I received the following message from my youngest daughter. She is a scientist and I can't argue with her good sense, so my apologies for committing to print a lethal recipe:

"What were you thinking? You put some raw food in a jar, leave it for several days, it swells the jar lid, and your response is...taste it?
Don't you know you can't taste botulinum toxin? And you can die from it?
The brandy is probably why it didn't kill you. Brandy is about pH 4.4, and a pH below 4.6 is safe for botulism. But sheesh, lady. Have a care.
Your horrified daughter"

In my own defense, I have to site age, much as I hate to do so. I grew up without refrigeration. We kept mayonnaise and catsup on the shelf. If a can of tomatoes swelled, we ate it. Even if the label got blackened, we didn't discard food. We cooked it. My grandmother used to boil pork and sink it in the cooled, boiled juice in a wooden barrel and cover it with a layer of pig fat. The barrel was liberally splashed with fat as well. Nobody perished or got sick.
Like my mother, I canned my own meats, and vegetables. By her creed, I was careful with non-acid things like meat and green beans for botulism. Fruits all had sugar and acid, with the addition of some lemon juice, if not enough natural acid. If the lid failed, we refrigerated it and ate it within a couple weeks.
I've always thought the warnings were a bit rigid from my own experience, and, in retrospect, I can see good sense in those dire warnings. Even with them, I have friends who still stuff their turkey the night before and have been doing it for 35 years.
Maybe we were just lucky, but I've made fresh apple juice before and kept it in the refrigerator for weeks with just a tad of brandy to stave off mold. I've had plum juice turn into vinegar and its great on salads. (I was only worried about mold, not botulism.)
Living poor was a different lifestyle. My parents wasted NOTHING.
But, my daughter makes a good point. It doesn't make sense to risk your life for a bit of apple jack. It could have turned out differently, so, don't make your own HOOCH.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


We all know how guys up in the foot hills with their stills brewed raw alcohol and decanted it during prohibition. I've even tasted the stuff, and the merest sip will put a hole in your belly.
It was not my intention to make hooch, but with gobs of apples needing attention, I decided to put some in a jar, cover them with a bit of sugar, and top them off with a dab of brandy to preserve them until I returned from Yosemite.
Luckily, the swollen lid on the jar of apples caught my attention yesterday. I carefully began loosening the lid and allowed minute amounts of pressure to dissipate. It could have been a disaster, but I managed to get the pressure down and open the jar. I decided to taste it and, hey, not bad for an accident of nature. Better than the stuff that sizzles your brain cells and puts a hole in your belly. In the blender, strain the pulp, and its a passable concoction. I like it! I like it! (Don't tell the feds!)
Then, we had a candle light dinner with our "drinks". Sounds romantic. The trouble is, I had to cook it by candle light on the wood stove. The power went out about 3:30 and didn't come back on until 3 A.M. this morning. Homely beans didn't finish cooking in time for dinner. The salad and cold chicken made the grade, especially when a friend came down for drinks and joined us.
It may look like I'm cooking at the kitchen stove in broad daylight, but check the reflection of the candle on the pot. It was really pitch black. We lit up a dozen candles and savored the relaxation of the evening with no ability to perform any needed tasks.I don't know why an unexpected power failure was fun, but it was. We don't often take time to do nothing and listen to the rain drops on the roof.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


How to make a bat house-

I had a question about how to build a bat house. They are really simple to make. It takes a rigid back board of about two feet wide by 14 inches long. No need to be precise. Whatever scrap wood you have around should do it. (For instance, the one I have has three boards to make up the solid front.)
The back board should be one inch longer than the front. Cut the tops of each board at an angle to allow you to put a little roof on it if it is exposed to rain. Or square it off if you plan to hang it under an eve or breezeway or some type of shelter. The front board should be shorter than the back board at the bottom.
Staple a piece of screen to the inside of each board before sandwiching them together with a one by one piece of scrap on each side. The screen gives the bat some purchase. Screw the three thicknesses, front, back and spacer together. Roof the top with left over shingles glued to a flat, thin molding board, screwed onto the top, and you are ready to hang it. The photo below shows the bat house from the bottom, looking into the screened insides. This size house will hold about 80 bats and give the flies and mosquitoes notice to move on to other areas. I’ve named mine, Mosquito Gone.
Now, how to attach one to the new RV. Hmmm! Just kidding, Jim

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We must have weather karma, or something, because the day couldn't have been more perfect. Sunny and cool, we drove to Glacier Point. Having never been there I was delighted to see the promontory rock so often photographed in the park's early heyday. No guard rails; a rock that hangs over the park and gives you the willys to see anybody cavorting there. In the 1800's it was a challenge like extreme sports are today.
Yosemite has the most domes of any place in the world. Without going into the geology of their formation, suffice it to say, they brought us this special park with spectacular views like this fantastic done below.
Even though Half Dome is so often photographed, I couldn't resist having my photo with the famous knob.
I sat upon this rock (below) for a picture after gazing in awe around me for 15 minutes. Soon, every kid and her brother were up on the rock for a photo. It makes a stunning backdrop.

At Glacier, with guard rails in place, you get remarkable views of the valley. Its hard to imagine how you see these huge granite icons from the floor, and then at Glacier, they seem close enough to reach out and touch. Below is the Ahwahnee Hotel.
Another granite monolith, with half dome in the back ground on our way back from Glacier Pt.
On the way back to the camp ground, we drove to the O'Shaughnessy Dam built within the park boundaries. It holds the Hetch Hetchy waters that flow by gravity 167 miles away to San Francisco. Hetch Hecthy, by the way, is from the Indian word hatchhatchie for grasses and weeds in the area that are edible.
Its difficult to pick just five pictures when everything is so beautiful. Jim is trying to teach me to discard 90% of what I take. It is a good discipline and I made an effort. I fixed those I could from Friday, plus those I took today. Then discarded a bunch of them and they are now in a new picasa album except I screwed up the album upload so bad, I couldn't fix it. Its very trying to work with some technologies that with a click of a button are irreversible. So even though I wrote this early this morning, I'm finally posting at 5:34 p.m.
What is that song? Dang me, dang me. Ya oughta take a rope and hang me. (groan.)


Jim and I decided to poke around the small towns of Big Oak Flat and Groveland. Big Oak Flat was named for a massive Oak Tree on a flat where gold miners decided to settle. While sitting under this stellar tree a miner happened to scrubble around in the dirt and came up with a nugget. The race was on, and the townspeople began digging around the oak until they killed this giant. The great skeleton stood for many years. When I first visited the town about 25 years ago, there was a marker where the tree once stood. We didn't find it. The highway had been widened, it was unkempt and uninviting looking and we probably didn't look hard enough.
We moved on to Groveland which has grown considerably since my last visit. It looks prosperous. The Iron Door Saloon is the oldest continuously operating saloon in the state, since 1857. The building has been occupied since 1852. Colorful and busy, with a ceiling plastered with dusty dollars and a picturesque old bar, its traditional to stop and swill a beer. Good stuff! Some locals still refer to the town as Garrote, after a sensational hanging in the town, followed by a second sensational hanging. Life in this gold town got more sophisticated and they changed the rowdy name to Groveland. I kind of like the historic name better, just because it is historical.
Little gold towns have their pokey, mostly to keep drunks until they sobered up. In this one, so the story goes, the jailer would often leave the door unlocked so the drunk could sober up and walk home when he was ready. Drunkenness rarely required the county magistrate.

The most beautiful building on the street is the stately Groveland Hotel.

We went on to Groveland's Oktoberfest held on a big ranch outside of town. It was decidedly local in flavor, more like a school carnival. They had a tub of huge zuchinnis and we wondered whether they were part of a contest? Or "Please take some home?" (The picture wouldn't load.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009


We arrived at the gates of Yosemite via Hiway 120, quite early in the day. Even so, there was a line waiting to get in. This is considered the Manteca entrance, and it happens to be the entrance that takes you through the recent August fire of over 2,000 acres. Our local paper had plenty of criticism about a controlled burn at the height of the fire season. Pretty ugly and very damaging. In some areas stately old trees that didn't burn outright are badly damaged and will most likely die.
Once past the burn, the views just keep smacking you in the face. Every turn brings about a new rock face. If only pictures could do them justice. We opted for the Yosemite Valley knowing it would be the most crowded area of the park over the weekend.
We stopped at practically every picture lookout and for me, the park has changed much since my last visit. Two lane, one way roads in and out. Parking areas with shuttle service to various areas. Guided tours if you want them. The changes are helpful and more sensitive to the ecosystems in the park. The changes were well done and positive in my opinion.
The beauty is unchanged, of course. After many years absence it's like seeing it for the first time and falling in love all over again.
We climbed tumbled car sized boulders rock to get closer to Bridal Veil Falls. Even though its late in the season, it still has water. Bridal Veil had no water on Jim's last visit in August of 2001.
The Visitors Center film shows the falls gushing powerfully in winter. Yosemite in winter is probably a sight I'll never see, nor the signature views at sunrise and sunset. I appreciated the film very much.
We hiked from the parking lot to the various sights then shuttled to Ahwahnee Hotel. It knocks your socks off to stand in front of the hotel with glorious views of climbers above you on the granite face. We had lunch at the hotel and took pictures of the massive fireplaces, stained glass windows in Indian motiffs, the mural room, furniture, candle holders, an eighteen foot table, a dining room that seats 491 people. Mind boggling for its time, 1927.
I asked the maitre d' how much it would cost to build the hotel in today's dollars? He said the original building cost 1.2 million, way over estimates. He told me an architect figured the cost of the dining room alone, in today's dollars, would run 6 million. What a treasure. No wonder its a national monument.
We hiked back to the parking lot and reluctantly said good bye for the day. We'll return on Sunday for a day trip of the high country.
I've included a picasa web album of my pictures at this address:

The signal here is weak and my pictures, some from the car, are unedited. The morning was hazy and needed some subdued light and added contrast. No captions. Most people know half dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rock,big meadow and other signature points. The fire, by the way, burned right up to Big Meadow.