Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Idria Day Trip

The two old buzzards were getting a bit of cabin fever and decided to take a "mini" road trip, otherwise known as a "day trip". We have this Sunset book called "Backroads of California" that is divided up into areas of the state. One of these areas is around Hollister and the Pinnacles National Park. Yes, the Pinnacles is no longer just a National Monument. It became the 59th national park on January 10, 2013.

We decided to take in Tres Pinos, Paicines, Panoche, Mercey Hot Springs, New Idria and the New Idria Mine (a state historic landmark) and take some photos.

Up early and left home at 6:00a.m. Linda, John and Fannie Mae piled into Wilma and headed off. John had done some research on the internet and found that a popular breakfast place in Hollister was the Cozy Cup Cafe. He diligently plugged their address into our Garmin 3590 navigation device. We no longer use Wilma's GPS system. It is/was DVD based and the DVD player became faulty. Minimum repair cost is around $250. The brand new Garmin 3590 with lifetime map and traffic updates was not much more. The other nice thing about the Garmin is that you can enter map coordinates to offbeat locations. Example: John found the intersection of Panoche Road and New Idria Road by searching on Google Earth. Then he just put the cursor over the road intersection and entered the displayed coordinates into the Garmin and save the location. Now, the Garmin can tell you how to navigate to that intersection. Perfect!

We set the Garmin to take us to the Cozy Cup Cafe in Hollister. Thought we were being observant when it said "Destination is on the right". Didn't see the Cozy Cup Cafe. We did see a bail bond business. Figured they had closed. So we used the Garmin to search for other American restaurants in Hollister and found Jerry's of Hollister. It's a Denny's / Cindy's looking place. Stephanie greeted us and was also our server. She was good at her job. And, she should have been as she has been at Jerry's of Hollister for 22 years!

Next stop was the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Tres Pinos. It's a pretty little church which was built in 1892 as a Catholic parish. It was unable to sustain full time clergy and became a mission. Then, in 1935, the church regained it's parish status. We have several photos taken at the church in the photo gallery. You can learn more about this historic church by clicking here.

We went a few miles east on Quien Sabe Road out of Tres Pinos. Saw some sheep and cattle on the hillsides and took some "farmland" photos. Decided that road would not lead us anyplace spectacular, so turned around and went back to Tres Pinos, then on to Paicines .

There is a cute little general store in Paicines and a Post Office behind the store. Stopped for restroom break there and to pick up a few snacks for the next leg of our journey. From Hwy 25 (Airline Hwy) in Paicines, to the New Idria mine is 54 miles of two-lane road. We figured we'd be in the boondocks at lunch time.

This is a beautiful time of year to take photos of farms, ranches and the beautiful rolling green hills. The trees are still bare, making it a stark contrast. One of the intersections John had programmed was that of Panoche Road with Little Panoche Road which is where you turn off to get to Mercey Hot Springs. About 1/2 mile before the intersection, we came across the Panoche Inn. We must have been in Panoche, CA! It was still early so we didn't have reason to go inside. Figured we'd check out their menu on our way back from the mine. We've a few shots of the Panoche Inn in the photo gallery and you can learn more about it by clicking here.

Just 1/2 further down Panoche Rd is Little Panoche Rd and a sign to Mercey Hot Springs....only 8 miles away. Off we went. After a while, there were quite a few potholes in the road. We made it through and found Mercey Hot Springs. Unfortunately, to gain access to the facility (and anything worth photographing) you must be a "registered guest". We weren't going to be "registered guests" and had not interest in today's special Yoga massage. So, we took a shot of an old dilapidated house that is being restored, and the facility sign. Headed back to Panoche Rd and on to the mine. You can learn more about Mercey Hot Springs by clicking here.

Eight miles back to Panoche Road, then headed east. Our Garmin had been programmed to find the New Idria Mine and so took us to, of all places, New Idria Road. There were lots of interesting things along the way. One was stopping at the entrance to the Griswold Hills Recreation Area. This is a Bureau of Land Management area and is open to hunting and target shooting. John had already been aware of the Griswold Hills as he had researched local BLM lands for the purpose of finding a place to do some target shooting. At the entrance to the Griswold Hills there was a parking and rest area with a restroom (ok, an outhouse)...but it was clean! Sadly, some not-so-nice folks had shot up the signs and even shot holes in the map (which is in a glass front case). There are pictures of this in the photo gallery. Linda saw and photographed some of her favorite flora, tumbleweeds! To learn more about the BLM's Griswold Hills, click here.

Continuing on New Idria Road we stopped at several places to take photos. One was an old adobe building. Behind the building was a creek flowing with bright orange, opaque liquid. This seems to be run off from up at the mine. Anyway, you probably shouldn't drink it! There is a photo of this creek in the gallery.

Shortly afterward, we came across a sign cautioning us to drive slow as there were dogs and children around. Soon, this crazy barking dog appeared. He wasn't interested in chasing the car, he was determined that the car would chase him. He took the lead. It took some quick work and the horn to get him behind us so we could proceed.

Next was a sign that San Benito County did not maintain the road past the sign and you were entering at your own risk. OK, how bad can it be. It can be pretty bad! The good news is that there was always a way to avoid "high centering". You just had to judiciously pick your path. Oh, we only passed one or two farm trucks since leaving the Panoche Inn. And, no cell phone service. Finally, we arrived at the "outskirst" of New Idria. There were some old buildings on the left. We explored them and then drove up through the old town (which burned in 2010) and shot photos. The New Idria photos are in today's gallery and you can learn more about New Idria and the mine by clicking here.

The only way out and back to civilization was the way we came. So, back we went. One our way in, we had noticed some cattle pens with barbed wire fencing which had been supplemented with some tall, thin, vertical branches. Almost making a "privy" fence. There are a couple of photos of the fence in the gallery.

We were too hungry for just sandwiches as it was getting on to about 2;00p.m. So, we went back to Jerry's of Hollister for a late lunch. Stephanie was still there but was off duty and having lunch with here little daughter. Linda got the senior chef salad and John had the regular Cobb salad. Both were good.

It was a really enjoyable day. We sent out a notice inviting one person (we only had one extra seat) from the Morgan Hill Photography Club to join us. Unfortunately, we didn't send out the invite until the day prior. So, no takers.

To view the 80 photos in today's gallery, just click here.