Monday, May 31, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 04 - Memorial Day

After a leisurely breakfast in their room (Wheat Shredded and Raw Bits Twain Twain) the 2 old buzzards had coffee at Alicia's Sugar Shack. Then it was off to Twain Harte Grocery for cow juice and a honey bear. Twain Harte has an annual Memorial Day Parade ending with a ceremony at the Twain Harte arch. The parade goes all through downtown and takes about 7 minutes. Downtown is only about 2 blocks long. The parade and ceremony were both very touching. The special honorees this year were World War I Veterans. There was a flag by the arch at half mast that has been flown by the town for one year. It was raised then lowered and given to the family of a service person who had lost their life. As the flag was folded the story about the meaning of each of the 12 folds was given. The young lady who led the group in the Star Spangled Banner was singing it for the 9th year in a row. She is graduating from high school this year and said she will be back to sing it again next year. The boy scouts gave out small flags to everyone before the parade started. There were lots of dogs, all very well behaved. One was even pimped out as a politician for her owner who is running for county supervisor. You will see Gretchen in the photo gallery. All in all, it was a very nice event. Eventually, we will have a video of the parade and ceremony posted.

After the parade we went to the library so that John could upload video from day two. We sat in the car (library was closed). Our WIFI at The Hideaway is iffy at times (1 bar) and the library's always seems to be 5 bars.

Then it was home for our lunch of leftovers from Chinese and Linda's salmon.

Our afternoon adventure was to an apple ranch about 7 miles from Twain Harte that is owned and operated by a religious sect (I think they are called Anabaptists). Their appearance is a lot like Amish folks (but they use powered farm machinery!). They have an apple orchard and raise some other crops. Their apple pies and pastries are famous in this area. Everyone knows about Cover's (pronounced Cove urs). We got an apple pie to go that was just coming out of the oven and a basket of strawberries. Then it was back to The Hideaway for naps and a walk.

For dinner we tried a place that has been catching John's eye for quite a while: Jeb's Waffles and Ribs

Linda's theory was that he was a home cook whose specialties were waffles and ribs and he crazily thought he should share them with the world and thus opened a restaurant. It sounds like such a wacky combination that John asked the server about it as soon as we were seated. She told us that the owner is a crazy 92-year-old (her words) who has a lot of restaurants. It is actually now named Jeb's Country Cooking but they have never changed the sign. John had a blueberry waffle and Linda had a chef's salad. Both were very good. The decor was heavy on bears and deer and old signs. Very cute. Reminded us a lot of a Black Bear Diner. "We get that a lot" said the server.

Linda is thankful for lupines (called bluebonnets in Texas), patriotic folks and senior menus (great discounts). John is thankful for all those that have served and are serving to keep us free. He is thankful for the Twain Harte Branch Library wi-fi and for the talented hands that made such a delicious apple pie!

The Day Two video has been uploaded and there is a link to it at the very end of the Day Two travelogue.

View today's photo gallery by clicking here.

The video for today was added on 6/5/2010 and can be watched by clicking here.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 03

The buzzards were up by 6am today. After shredded wheat and raw bits Twain twang we flew up the road passing through Confidence, CA to Sugar Pine, CA where we got mocha and coffee at Alicia's Sugar Shack. We got good news at Alicia's. Not only is Sonora Pass open, but the roads over the pass to Bridgeport are clear. Our primary plan is to go over Sonora pass and stop in Bishop, CA and Beatty, NV. We have motel reservations there. We have an alternate route back through Tulare and Barstow if we need it. But, it appears we're good to go over Sonora Pass.

While sipping our coffee we perused a free publication called Sierra Lodestar. After studying their map we decided to take a back road from Twain Harte to get to Murphys. Once we found Big Hill Road. we felt pretty confident (after all, we had just driven through Confidence, CA) that we would end up in Murphys. For you Morgan Hillites, Murphys is named after 2 of the sons of Martin Murphy. They headed out this way during the gold rush.

Big Hill Road was a steep and windey road and very scenic. Around one bend we spotted 2 turkey vultures dining on some fresh road kill. It seems a deer was just no match for some recent vehicle. Soon after that we came upon a bright yellow sign that explained the situation. The sign showed a leaping dear and said CAUTION SUICIDAL DEER in hand painted letters. Once we got to an area called Rocky Top it was time to start downhill. We went through a part of Columbia State Park where we will go later this week and see their tent city Gold Rush reinactment. Out of Columbia we were on Parrotts Ferry road and eventually went over a bridge where there was a large body of water. Before there was a bridge the acess from Columbia to Murphys was by ferry. The water is a part of New Melones Lake that forks off into branches of the Stanislaus River (North, Middle and South).

Once we got to Murphys it took a while to find Ironstone Winery. When we got there it was still going to be a wait until any tours would occur so we decided to come back another day. It would be too hot to leave Maggie Mae in the car... even if it was in the shade. By this time it was around 11am.

Linda had discovered an ad in the Sierra Lodestar for Lighthouse Deli whose signature sandwich is a New Orleans Style Muffeletta. John is a Muffeletta fan from way back so we stopped in Sonora and got take out. Linda chose a Turkey Artichoke sandwich with carmelized onion on focaccia bread. Back at our cozy hideway we enjoyed our lunch at our outside table.

If it sounds like all these gold country towns are pretty close together that's because they are. Angel's Camp of Calaveras Frog Jumping fame is in the same neighborhood. We just happened to come back a different route than we intended.

After lunch John and Maggie Mae took naps. John claims it's the mountain air and the altitude. Linda took a walk around the 9 hole golf course that our lodging is next to. At one point she thought a man was coming towards her to ask why she was on the course. He was just being friendly and wanted to point out a turtle up on a rock at the edge of a duck pond. Linda got a nice photo of the turtle.

Having decided to stay in town (as opposed to going back to Sonora which is about 11 miles away) for dinner. We further decided on Chinese food at the China House Restaurant. We left the cabin at six and got a parking place right in front. We ordered Hot and Sour Soup, 3 Ingredients Dish (with water chestnuts, chicken, scallops, mushrooms, brocolli and asparagus), Cashew Chicken and a bowl of steamed rice. It was really delicious. Best Chinese food we've had in a long while. And, we can have it for lunch tomorrow as well... and maybe even dinner! By the time we left at about 6:45pm, the place was crowded.

Linda had no room, but John was in the mood for a single scoop of ice cream. Believe it or not, Dreyer's ice cream is a feature at one of the local pizza places. We thinks it's a new gimmick. John got one scoop of Rocky Road (his favorite) to sweeten up the evening.

Linda is thankful for ideal weather (lots of rain and hail until just before we came), bananas (no bones) and duct tape (repairs practically everything except ducks). John is thankful that we are able to take road trips, that we have Maggie Mae as a traveling companion and that we are going to be able to get over Sonora Pass.

Today's photo gallery can be viewed by clicking here.

And, the video for today can be viewed by clicking here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 02 - Our 45th Anniversary

We slept in until 8:00. That is pretty late for both of the old buzzards. As Linda was waking up she enjoyed looking up through the skylights to see the blue sky and the pine trees. Then she saw that there is a pine tree in one of the corners of the room with a duck on it near the top. There's a shelf in the kitchen area that is like half of a small canoe. Every lamp has bears or greenery or both on it. One of the floor lamps has 2 bears climbing up it. Every mirror has some kind of an outdoorsy theme. There's an old hand crank phone on the wall. Haven't tried it yet. Even the closet in the corner is cute. It is set at a 45 degree angle to the corner of the room.

Today marks the buzzards 45th wedding anniversary so Linda is appropriately wearing her sapphire ring (which also happens to be her birthstone). John's anniversary card was very green. Linda used it on their first anniversary, their third anniversary, their 40th and then again today. So in 5 years on their 50th it will be really green. That's a lot of use out of a 35 cent card from 1966. It especially came in handy this year since one of Linda's 2010 resolutions is not to buy any greeting cards.John's present from Linda was a joke book by Dr. Bill Wattenburg (of KGO radio fame). In it he already found one of his favorite jokes from childhood. Too long (and naughty) to repeat here but you can get the book from C Crane Radio if you want. Let's just share that his favorite line from it is "Diddy up doat".

After breakfasting on Shredded Wheat and toast with peanut butter (John) and Raw Bit Twang Twang (Linda) the buzzards were off to check out the 24 hour availability of WIFI at the Twain Harte library. While Linda enjoyed the cute library John found that their WIFI does work better than that available at our hideaway. You can even use it when the library is closed if your laptop has enough battery power. Just pull into the parking lot and have at it.

Then it was on to the Little Cottage Cafe for mocha and water. But before getting there Linda got drawn in off the sidewalk to Nature's Way where she found the perfect birthday present for Amber (turning one in July). It is a purplish foofy tutu with a headband to match. Please don't anyone spoil the surprise and tell her.

Next on the schedule was John's anniversary present to Linda. He chauffered her on a Thrift Shop Warrior adventure. Despite the closure of the Twain Harte Soropotomist Shop, there is still a plethora of nearly and not so nearly new establishments in the Gold Country. Linda struck it rich at all 3 that were on the route. She found frogs (for her garden), a bluejean coat, a moon and stars vest, a serving dish to replace one she broke not long ago and her favorite kind of BIG cup for tea.

It was then to Subway's for some $5 footlongs - a veggie delight (Linda) and a Italian BMT (John). We brought them back to our humble log cabin and ate them outside under the pines. Maggie helped John with two of his Cheetos and Linda with her Pringles. Gables Cedar Creek Inn is next to the Twain Harte Golf Course so we watched some players as they duffed past. After lunch Linda took a walk and John and Maggie took naps.

Linda got to town by staying at the edges of the golf course was able to avoid getting hit by any stray balls. One golfer even came over, complimented her hat, introduced himself (Chris) and suggested that if we really wanted to be happy we should retire and move to Twain Harte. John bets he is a realtor. (Nope, he is just a retired happy guy from Campbell). She told him we had thought about it in the past but now we have grandchildren who are too precious for us to be that far away from. (And, of course, our darling daughter, super son and sweet son-in-law.)

In town Linda explored a gift shop where she found another garden yogic frog too cute to resist. It is posed on a rock that says "Breathe". Next Linda scouted out a perfect spot to place a letterbox since Twain Harte, shockingly, has none at all...yet! When Linda arrived back at The Hideaway, John and Maggie Mae were both sound asleep so she tried out the recliner and studied the photo book about her "new" camera that she recently got as a hand-me-down from John when he upgraded.

We journeyed back to Sonora to get new batteries for our pedometers at Radio Shack, then have dinner at Pine Tree Restaurant. It's located with the Best Western Sonora Oaks motel. We've eaten there several times before. Once for Thanksgiving dinner. Linda had a nice Cajun salmon with salad bar. John had BFD (breakfast for dinner), a skillet scramble with eggs, sausage, gravy on cheese toast and home style potatoes on the side. Came with biscuits and gravy as well.

Time for today's history lesson: Years after the Mi-Wuk Indians (yesterday's lesson) had built cochums (houses) from trees and bark, gold was discovered in 1849, drawing white men to the foothills by the thousands. When the gold was exhausted, then came the lumbermen and the ranchers. Apple and pear orchards, cattle ranches and later, lumber mills began springing up around the Indian enclave. Twain Harte was named after the original owner of the Twain Harte Lodge's 2 favorite Mother Lode authors, Mark TWAIN and Bret HARTE. The village has grown to house summer dwellers and residents (many of them artists, who showcase their creations in the local gift shope and summer art festivals). The population on the sign coming into town says 2,586. End of history lesson for today. You can go back to your regular lives.

Today Linda is thankful to share a 45th anniversary with someone who she can still make laugh and who still makes her laugh. She is also thankful for snickerdoodles (fun to say and good to eat) and cute puppy sighs (from Maggie Mae). John is thankful that Sonora Pass is now open. He is also thankful that last 45 years were the happiest he could imagine and that Maggie Mae didn't throw up on the leather upholstery in Wilma Lou. Linda says TMI TMI TMI !!! John says "I can still be thankful."

Today's photo gallery of more than 40 photos can be reached by clicking here.

Video of Gables Cedar Creek Inn can be viewed by clicking here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Twain Harte Road Trip - Day 01

[Morgan Hill, CA - May 28, 2010] All journeys begin with a single step and a single thought (hmmm, wonder if I forgot anything). We left home at 8:05am on Friday, May 28th and headed for The Daily Bagel Cafe where John fortified himself with mocha and a creamated Everything But the Kitchen Sink bagel. Linda had vanilla and hazelnut coffee with cocoa sprinkles. She was already fortified with Raw Bits Twang Twang. After dropping John's absentee ballot at the Post Office we pulled out of Morgan Hill at approximately 8:53. We went through Manteca where there were lots of cherries on the trees and lots of fruit stands. Prices were $2 and $3 a pound - much more reasonable than back home where the cherry crop is mostly a loss this year because of the rain. We usually stop at a McDonalds in Manteca, but they have moved to another location in town. Oh well.

Around 11:26 we pulled into our favorite stop in Oakdale - Oakdale Cheese and Specialty Store. John got 2 packages of curds (yes, they look even weirder than the name sounds). Linda got some quark (a smooth spreadable dairy product) and a yogic frog windchime that says something about the importance in life of remaining flexible. The frog is in cobra position. With John's help Linda located a letterbox outside the cheese store. The clue Linda had downloaded at said that a geranium wagon was near the pet petting area (llamas, sheep, goats) but it had been moved. John spotted it and Linda found a great stamp to enter into her logbook. In the video, there is a VERY long tutorial on letterboxing... just kidding, it isn't that long.

Next stop was the 50s Roadhouse Diner in Knight's Ferry. We always try to time our trips to be nearing close to a mealtime. It's fun to see the decor and the food is outstanding. Appropriately there were several fancy motorcycles parked outside. John had Red Skelton's Chef Salad and Chill Will's Chile Cheese Fries. Linda usually gets a Mr. Green Jeans Veggie Burger but got the soup 'o the day - Chicken Noodle. The Howdy Doody Chicken Strip Salad sounded pretty good too. Some other items on the nostalgia-laced menu were Bridgette Bardo French Dip, Beaver Cleaver Chile Dog and Hopalong Cassidy Corn Dog. Knight's Ferry was previously a community called Buena Vista. We left the diner in the neighborhood of 12:42. Several photos in the gallery of the 50's Roadhouse Diner and some video (once we get it posted)

The traffic was starting to pick up some. It being the start of a holiday weekend, after all. Some of the road was 2 lanes for a while but we soon arrived at Gables Cedar Creek Inn in Twain Harte. This is probably our 10th trip to Gold Country at least our 5th or 6th time to stay in Twain Harte at one of the Gables Cedar Creek Inn cabins. This one is called The Hideaway. It's faux log cabbin construction. The decor is bears, moose and more bears. There's even a bear rug on the floor in front of the cozy fire in the stove. It's really close to a swiftly running stream which sounds wonderful. From the bridge that's used to get to our cabin you can see rainbow trout. Gables Cedar Creek Inn is over 50 years old and the present owners (Tim and Jan Ewing) have had it since 1985, It and the 2 parcels of land west of here were the summer camp for the Mi Wuk Indians. There are Indian grain grinding rocks here. Years later the stagecoach stop was located on this property. After the flood of 1986 the owners found some horseshoes at the base of a buried tree trunk by the creek. There's your history lesson for today. This will be our home until late into next week and we will be taking you with us on some day trips. The weather is a little chilly so you might want to get a jacket.

As on our other post-retirement road trips, we are eschewing radio and TV. Amazing how peaceful the quiet is and it is especially nice to be free of political advertisements. It gives us more time for photography, blogging, reading, journaling and just listening to nature. Maggie Mae seems to approve of the new digs. She is up on the bed taking a nap. She hasn't tried out the bear rug yet so that is a Kodak moment just waiting to happen.

Speaking of journaling Linda (and John if he wants to) is going to list 3 things a day that she is thankful for, (or for you English Majors) for which she is thankful. On Friday Linda is thankful for her faithful gardening sun hat, quark and stretch jeans. On Friday, John is thankful for a safe journey, great chili cheese fries, and finally getting away! In closing, at the end of the day, we haven't thought of anything we forgot ... yet.

The photo gallery today is a bit sparse, but here it is. Click here to go to the photo gallery (it will be in a separate window)

Finally, the video is up. You can access it by clicking here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How We Spent Mother's Day

It was a great way to celebrate Mother's Day. All the Fery clan gathered with the Tarvin clan at Tony & Jen's home. This, of course, provided ample opportunity for all the grandparents, aunts and uncles to spend some time with grandchildren Isaac, Amber and Owen.

Linda and Jen went to another Mother's Day event earlier in the afternoon. Jay and John drove up from Morgan Hill to arrive around 4:00 p.m. as scheduled.

It was sort of a "pot luck" but Jen & Tony provided (and Tony cooked) tri-tip, ribs and chicken. Jen fixed corn-on-the-cob. We had a nice salad, cheesy mashed potatoes, fresh fruit and cookies for dessert. It was a yummy meal.

Now, imagine if you can, two ten-month old kids discovering corn-on-the-cob and an almost three-year old not only with corn-on-the-cob, but also BBQ ribs. Imagine the mess!

John brought the video camera and Linda brought the still camera to "capture" the afternoon.... visiting, cooking, eating, opening presents, telling tales and most of all, watching the grandkids.

It was a beautiful, cool and breezy afternoon, and it was a great time.

The video and still images have been produced into a 24:02 minute video which can be viewed below. If you're not a member, or fan of, the Fery or Tarvin clan, you probably won't want to watch it.... but who knows and who will judge?