01-18-2015 Nevada City and Oroville and time with friends

Current Location: Rocky Point Oregon

no snow winter 2 (6 of 6)Talking about the weather is silly.  There is no snow, there is no rain, there is no winter to speak of anywhere to be found in our part of the world.  Crazy.  The skies are cold but clear tonight.  The thermometer might drop a bit below freezing before morning, but c’mon…is this really what January is supposed to look like in Rocky Point?  no snow winter 2 (1 of 6)

It usually looks more like this around here in January.  

Happy New Year's EveBut with snow like that I would be shoveling and blowing the pathways and complaining about the ice on the driveway.  We were gone for three months in winter of 2014, and heard rumors that there wasn’t much snow then either, but it is surprising that the lack of snow is still persisting.  Water?  Snow pack? Drought?  Those thoughts lie in the background as we enjoy the moderately warm, snowless winter.  Maybe it will snow in April as it usually does.  Just in time for Easter.

Leaving the gorgeous sunny skies of the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree NP was tough.  I needed to be home, but that didn’t make the journey any more enticing.  As we approached the western slope of the Sierras crossing the Tehachapi Pass on Highway 58, we could see the thick blanket of gray brown smog/fog hanging low over the Great Central Valley.  Didn’t look a bit different than it did when we passed this same way two weeks ago.

I never tire of this view from Highway 58 toward the Grapevine The distance to Orange Grove RV park from Joshua Tree is a short 200 miles.  Of course we could have traveled farther, but why?  Why go beyond the waiting oranges!  I have to confess, I did take more than the loudly proclaimed one bag limit.  Signs everywhere said that limit would be “strictly enforced”.  I am sure they are talking to someone other than me, right?  Maybe the signs are for those greedy people who might try to pick bags and bags of the sweet things and sell them on the side of the road.  The sign wasn’t for me, the innocent little old lady from Oregon who just wanted an extra bag to share with friends along my route home, right?heading south_008DSC_0008

I remember blogland a long time ago when someone, can’t even remember who, “stole” oranges from a tree along side of the road.  Lots of moral lectures resulted from that little confession.  I am a good, mostly honest person.  Just don’t let me near your orange trees.

The park was about 1/3 full when we arrived, but by dark every single space was filled.  I would highly recommend getting a reservation if you are a big rig and intend to stay in the park en route or returning from the desert.  Seems as though the snow birds have found it and keep it very busy.

Once again we drove north along I-5 on a Saturday, leaving at 6:30 AM so that we could get all the way to the Grass Valley County fairgrounds before nightfall.  Just 370 miles or so, but that is still a long day for us.  The fog was thick when we gassed up at the Bakersfield Costco for a measly 2.06 per gallon for regular gas.  Who knows how long those prices will last, but we sure enjoyed them on this trip.

After a somewhat long and boring day traveling north, the fog lifted and we whizzed through Sacramento traffic onto the 80 and then north on Highway 49 to Grass Valley/Nevada City.  The two gold towns in the Mother Lode country of California are not far apart.  Our friends Jimmie and Nickie, are living in Nevada City, and in spite of their generous offer of driveway hospitality, we thought it would be smart to park the rig down the hill at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (47 of 49)It is a fairly nice park, as fairground camping goes, and in no time we were set up and on our way up the hill to Jimmie and Nickie’s lovely home on a lava cap ridge of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Just high enough in elevation to be out of the poison oak but not into deep long lasting snow.  Perfect.

Nickie told me that when they walked into the house, within minutes, they knew it was the one.  I had an experience like that once myself, when I stepped into my little bungalow in Klamath Falls back in 2002.  Within 24 hours I had an accepted offer and that little home now shelters my daughter and her family after some delightful years sheltering me.

Nickie and I have kept up our correspondence after meeting in person a couple of years ago…neither of us could believe it had been two years since we met, but it has.   Thank goodness for the blog where I could check out the original date of our delightful get together the first time.  Walking into their home is so comfortable and their hospitality is wonderful.

nickie and jimmie I have seen photos of their canal walk, and was delighted to have Nickie suggest that we get a bit of movement in before dinner walking the canal.  What a great place close to home to get in daily walks.  The water was a bit low, but I could see what a shady retreat this pathway would be on a hot summer day. 

Another walker took some photos of all of us together (thanks for this photo, Nickie), and the happy smiles on our faces just gives a hint at how much fun we were having. 

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (12 of 49)Later Nickie treated us to a wondrous supper of hand made spinach rolls smothered in her very own home canned marinara sauce, and a Caesar salad drenched in the fabulous dressing from the restaurant we had visited two years ago.  Fresh steamed broccoli and artisan bread rounded out the perfect meal.  Jimmie is so funny and friendly and kind, and he and Nickie are so much fun to be around.  I just love how they treat each other with such love and respect.  It is a joy.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (14 of 49) My favorite part of the evening was listening to the stories of how Nickie and Jimmie met and their travels and how they found their homes.  Flow!  These two definitely know how to live in the Flow of life at its finest. The best indication of the great time we had showed on the clock when Mo and I finally drove back down the hill to the MoHo.  It was almost 11 PM when we got to bed.  Geez!  We are early birds most of the time.

The next morning, with a brilliant sun bursting forth, we met again for a morning walk around the fairgrounds.  Nickie has a great sense of humor, although the wet bleacher seats weren’t exactly to her liking, but she wanted a photo in the bleachers, so I obliged.  Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (25 of 49)

I also got a kick out of taking pictures of Nickie herding geese.  She kept saying, “They love me!”.  I am sure that they did.

Visiting Jimmie and Nickie (45 of 49)We drove the short distance to Nevada City and a wonderful breakfast at the South Pine Cafe.  The food was incredible, and my choice was a lobster scramble with lots of mushrooms and avocados and Jalapeño Hollandaise!  It was even good when I ate the other half for breakfast the next day!  Once again, the fact that we were having a great time was evident as we lingered over our breakfast table long after the meal was finished.  Hard to say goodbye to such great people.

Of course, we had other great people waiting for us in Oroville, so we buttoned up the rig and took the back road from Grass Valley to Oroville via a road that I would NOT recommend, but it was fun. 

IMG_1217 The sun was brilliant in Nevada City, but by the time we dropped down the hill just enough to reach Oroville, the fog was again shrouding the landscape.  Spare me from California Valley fogs!! ick! That gray line you see on the horizon is the thick fog down in Oroville and the valley!IMG_1216

We camped once again at the Feather Falls Casino, not a cheap night by any means at $47 per night with no discounts.  Still, it was an easy hookup, a nice park that we like, and just minutes from Maryruth and Gerald’s home up the hill.  Readers know that Maryruth is my very best friend of more than 50 years.  It is always wonderful to see her and her husband Gerald, and to visit their home.

Maryruth has a new sewing machine and has completed more decorating projects in her home that I wanted to see.  After the look arounds, we drove down the hill again to her mother’s house, who has lived in Oroville for more than 50 years.  It was great seeing the family, people I have known and loved as my own family for all these years.

Later, Maryruth and Gerald took us to their friends winery, The Purple Line Urban Winery, right in downtown Oroville, and we sampled some great wines, including something called “Red Panties”.  We then ambled on to Papacito’s Mexican Grill and Cantina where I finally got my urge for some really GOOD Mexican food fully satisfied.  What a great little place with excellent food!  Their tortilla soup was the best I have ever had anywhere.

Once again we made it back home to the rig at a very late hour, proof of our wonderful time spent with good friends.  In case you are wondering where the photos are for this part of the visit, Maryruth did that thing when I pulled out the camera…”Oh Sue…Really?!?!”   So I put the thing away and didn’t take a single photo of our visit.  Only once, and only for you, Maryruth.  Next time I am taking photos!!IMG_1220

Because I honored Maryruth’s request, Instead of photos of Maryruth and Gerald and their wonderful home, the winery and the wonderful food, you get to see a photo of my daughter with her three little grandbabies, my youngest great-grandchildren. 


Shingle Springs to Nevada City, and Friends!

the beautiful American River near ColomaThere is nothing quite like a morning in the Mother Lode, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, on a warm spring day.  Waking to sunshine and temps in the mid 70’s with an expected high of 84 or so is just about perfect.  Light breezes and low humidity make it even better.  This time of year, the grasses are still somewhat green, and on a Tuesday morning the traffic was even minimal.

Day 3 395 Bishop_003DSC_0003Our site at the Elk’s Lodge in Shingle Springs is just a jump off Highway 50, and there are several ways to get north to Nevada City, but we wanted to take the most scenic route, following North Shingle Road to intersect with the famous gold road, Highway 49 near Coloma.  The destination was Nevada City and meeting our new and old friends, (well most of us aren’t exactly new), at Nickie and Jimmie’s home there. 

We hadn’t yet met in person, but I wasn’t the least bit concerned about it.  I am not sure why this is, but somehow the essence of people comes through in their blogs in ways that always seem to be just right.  Most of the time, I know if I will “click” with someone, and it amazes me that people turn out to be exactly as I thought they would.  Nickie and Jimmie were no exception, except I think they were even nicer than I imagined.  What truly lovely people! 

probably wouldn't enjoy driving the MoHo on 49 south of AuburnThe route north was wonderful, and winding through the hills on the curvy roads reminded me so much of the years I lived in Sonora and drove these roads for work.  I also marveled at how lovely the landscape looked when I didn’t have to imagine slogging up those hot, brushy slopes with a pack and shovels!  I could once again see the charm of the foothills and why people love it so. 

history in ColomaWe left early enough to take a short side trip to Coloma, but it was too early to visit the visitor center and once again my visit was just an overview.  This is the site of gold discovery on the American River, and there are interpretive signs everywhere and old buildings that have a story to tell.  We stopped long enough for a walk along the river with Abby, but returned to the road north fairly quickly so we wouldn’t miss our meet and greet time with Laurie and Odel at Nickie and Jimmie’s place.

working on a bridge on I-80, viewed from the America River south of AuburnThe American River is a story itself, and we saw lots of hikers and raft companies that ply the wild waters of that river.  It is a great place for recreation, with an old bridge walk that crosses the river in the canyon just below Auburn.  We thought we might walk it on our way back, but by late afternoon when we drove the return route, the parking area was packed and it was hot and there were way too many people for us to attempt it.  As beautiful as it is, there seems to be a lot of people pressure on the beautiful places around the Mother Lode.

Once we were through the old town portion of Auburn, Highway 49 is a 4 lane freeway all the way to Grass Valley and in no time we were exiting the road to Nevada City.  We were a bit early, so decided to amble through town before finding Nickie and Jimmie’s home up the hill.  I hadn’t been to Nevada City in years, but I was reminded on this sunny morning of just why it is such a popular place for so many.  My eldest daughter dreamed of living here, as I once did.  It is nestled into the pine covered hills, with steep winding streets filled with gorgeous restored Victorians and a Craftsman or two here and there, and lush spring flowers.  The dogwoods were in full bloom and magnificent!  We decided that after our little meeting we would come back and walk the town.  Of course, at that time we didn’t know we would have the perfect guides who provided ice cream!

Hi, Nickie!lovely welcome to their lovely homeUp the hill to their home was a beautiful drive as well, winding up through Sierran Mixed Conifer forest, thick and lush with Ponderosa Pine, Incense Cedar, and White Fir.  At over 3200 feet on deep old soils, the trees are growing beautifully, and the homes lining the road were quite lush as well.  It was beautiful.

Our welcome was as delightful as expected, but their home was even more lovely than I imagined, and Nickie’s warm and open southern California personality warmed  and mellowed even more by her time in the South and her sweet Southern husband combined to make a truly amazing combination.  I loved both of them almost instantly.  We laughed and talked as if we actually knew each other (which we did!!) and enjoyed seeing all their work on the yard, the new hot tub, and their beautiful home.  Laurie and Odel arrived just after we did, and since the four of them were already acquainted, the talking and laughter was ongoing.

Nickie and Jimmie ran lots of races and this quilt proves itA special treat was seeing a special quilt made from some of the great collection of runner’s tee shirts that Nickie and Jimmie had collected over the years of short runs and long ones, including marathons! Gorgeous! 

lovely lunch at Lefty's Grill in Nevada CityOf course we had to do the RV Blogger get together thing and go find someplace wonderful to eat.  Our Nevada City hosts recommended a great spot in town, Lefty’s Grill, and we dined on the sheltered patio to the sounds of the bubbling creek.  Wonderful food, and a sweet waiter who told me that definitely dogs were not allowed on the patio, but that if he didn’t know it, I could probably bring Abby.  This was the perfect solution, since it was warm and even in the shade, it would have been worrisome to leave Abby in the car.  Of course, the waiter smiled and said, “Please don ‘t bring your dog if you come back again, but she can stay for now”.  Abby helped by being her quiet sweet and calm self, lying under the table quietly while we ate.

Nickie and Jimmie will always be able to find each other in the darkblackberry cabernet sorbet for me.  Doesn't that look like a jewel?Laurie and Odel had lots of remodeling to continue, so declined to walk the town with us, but we were really happy to have Nickie and Jimmie lead us to good parking (.25 cents for two hours) and show us some of the finer spots in the lovely tiny historic city.  Nickie said later that we only saw a tiny bit of it, but after a couple of hours we didn’t mind leaving and saving the rest for later.  Something tells me we will return to this great little place again. 

There is so much to do around here, lots of parades, and art, and festivals, good weather, beautiful mountains, rivers, so much to do and all sorts of recreational activities in abundance.  It is a nice place.  However, as we drove home, we remembered again that nice places usually attract lots and lots of people.  Once again we drove the winding roads with lots of company.  Mo used to love her little sports cars, and as she pushed the Tracker up the steep hills she wished for a clutch and some gears! As fast as she was going, however, there were often many cars right behind her trying to push her up the hill.  A surprising number of turnouts along the route at least made it tolerable.  Most people waved when she pulled over.  Except for all the folks on cell phones, including one woman in a big SUV who almost obliterated us in Auburn, people in California are pretty good drivers.Day 2 Nevada City

It was such a great day!  Thanks to the internet, and blogging, and RV’ing, we discovered some new friends and explored a place we might not have done without that little extra push of having someone who lived there.