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.

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