As usual, we had our Thanksgiving the weekend before and thought we'd take advantage of the holiday to get out of town for a few days. Threw the camping gear in the back of old bluey and headed east on the 120 towards Calaveras County. Frankie picked up some sweet water skis at a thrift store along the way.
The sweater was a good find as well, not to mention a hardback edition of Ray Bradbury stories and a picture book from the 50's about Alaska.
And this little guy.
Stopped off in old town Columbia and walked around a bit. More like a miniature Knott's Berry Farm than a ghosttown, but that seems to be the case most of the time. Ever been to Bodie? Probably the best ghosttown you could ask for apart from stumbling upon one in the middle of nowhere.
How come San Francisco doesn't have naked ladies painted on their fire trucks?
Lit out before dark and headed east on hwy 4 thinking we'd stay at this primitive campsite we'd read about near Boards Crossing.
Quite a few logging roads later we gave in and went back to Calaveras Big Trees SP.
The after dinner debate face.
Time for bed.
The best part about camping in the winter is the utter lack of people, even in most of the touristy parks. Weekdays are are the nicest (but not always an option unless you're independently wealthy), but even weekends tend to be pretty mellow unless you're in Yosemite or something.
Someday we'll have a sweet set-up like theirs.
Breakfast of champions.
This stump used to be a dance floor.
Left the big trees behind and cruised down the road to the Moaning Cavern in Vallecito.
The original entrance to the cave was a small tunnel that went horizontal for a while and then dropped off all of the sudden sending animals and little boys plummeting almost 200 feet.
In the 1920's a really beautiful spiral staircase was installed and nowdays you can rappel your way down as well.
Down we go.
Crazy alien looking formations in there.
The cavern itself is big enough to house the Statue of Liberty. Next time we're taking the 3 hour crawl through California Cavern as well.
Drove by the Pearl Gates of Heaven but didn't drive all the way up, as we weren't sure if it was open to the public or what exactly we were getting into. Apparently it is and you can take a "biblical walk" through the gardens.
Took a little hike down to the Natural Bridges and got our nature on. Chestnuts?
A little encouragement is always nice.
David Franklin, bat photographer.
Man, that little guy was fast.
Waded in a bit, but couldn't tell if it went all the way through or not. Probably a venture best saved for summertime.
Climbed over to the other side and picked some watercress, too bad we left the cream cheese and crustless bread at home. Drove into Murphys thinking maybe we'd luck out and get the Ulysess S. Grant suite at the Murhys Hotel , but no avail. Instead of staying in the unexciting motel addition, we headed back to Columbia and got a room at the Fallon.
Definitely a good choice. Awesome historic hotel without being all cutesy and overly potpurried. Plus they were pumping the heat and we each got a bathrobe.
Walked up the street to the City Hotel for their prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner and felt very adult drinking champers in a restaurant. Not a huge fan of turkey and was happy to opt for the prime rib, which happened to be the biggest piece of beef we've ever had set in front of us. So tasty, though.
Finished as much as we could, then sidled next door for an aperitif.
Full and sleepy.
So long gold country.
Made one last stop on the way home to get some fruit and see how cheese is made.
The elves were off duty, but the coriander gouda was delicious. We do love our cheese.