We had a long driving day from Yosemite to Chico in Northern California. Its one of those days when the distance only looks a little way on the map but we had many more winding mountain roads than we expected and it took us until 6.30 pm to get to our hotel. We were trying to avoid the freeways where there is much less to see and it is harder to stop. The weather was warm – about 26C and it was avery nice day.
Just as we left Yosemite Valley, I found a view that looked really good. I couldn’t help myself, so I jumped over a fence and took this photo of the river with the sun coming through the smoke haze.
Most of our day was spent driving through old gold mining country – areas where the California Gold Rush was active in the mid 1880’s. Some of these were cute little towns with old streetscapes that are probably being maintained for their tourist potential. We could have stopped at every one, but we just didn’t have time.
We did stop at Jamestown where we had coffee in this building which was owned by a friendly woman who had an Australian daughter in law. Her grandfather had run a grocery store in this building and it has stayed in the family for a number of generations.
We stopped in the little town of San Andreas for lunch. We saw a little Del, in an old house along the road and had a a delightful sandwich lunch. Our faith in being able too get decent food has been well and truly redeemed. We can highly recommend the Pickle Patch Cafe if anyone is passing through this town.
I thought this may have been the place from where the famous San Andreas Fault got ts name, however that comes from a lake near San Francisco. The old area of this little town is down a narrow street and it looks like it is still living in the frontier days. The name, obviously, comes from the Spanish for St Andrew. It was first settled by Mexican gold miners in 1848. The alluvial gold soon ran out but a discovery of gold in an underground river channel revitalised the camp and it soon gre to become a town.
We passed through another town called Angels Camp. This was the place where Mark Twain first heard the story of the Jumping Frog and wrote a short story about it. I had always associated Mark Teain with there Mississippi because of his stories about Tom Sawyer but he did travel to San Francisco as a journalist. He lived in a cabin near this town for a short time and the town is now milking his name to death. Every business and location has somehow managed to build ‘Mark Twain’ into its name.
Late in the afternoon we stopped at a little town called Grass Valley. In Mills St, there was the home of Lola Montez, the famous gold rush era dancer and singer. She had even sung in the little theatre in the Tasmanian town of Zeehan on the west coast. Lola was quite some lady! She was an Irish dancer and actress who became famous as a “Spanish dancer”, courtesan, and a one time mistress of the mad Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, Her original house is now used by a Veterans Support Service.
Near the city of Marysville, I was surprised to come across some broad rectangular fields covered in water. As we were near the town. I first thought that these might have been town’s the sewerage ponds. They were, instead, rice fields and the home of thousands of ducks and geese. I read that the farmers here export most of their rice to Japan but it is only used for making rice crackers and for giving away as foreign aid by the Japanese government. They are very disappointed that none of it is eaten locally. There is a simple reason for this. Japanese people have a specific taste in rice and this rice just won’t taste the same as the species grown in Japan. It’s just like bread – you eat what you are used to (and like) and shun varieties that don’t tast the same.
We arrived in Chico too late in the day to do anything but we have an was day tomorrow and we will look around t see what we can find.