Archive for April, 2011

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

In 1848, thousands of gold seekers flocked to the area following the discovery of James Marshall’s famed gold nugget in the river in the tailrace of a sawmill that Marshall and his crew were building for land baron John Sutter.

Within months, Coloma’s population had swelled to 10,000.  Eventually, most of the goldseekers moved on, but the mystique of gold will forever define the area.  Every year, thousands of fourth graders visit the park as part of their history appreciation curriculum.

There are interpretive paths, historic buildings and a museum.  Park volunteers often demonstrate Gold-Rush-era crafts and trades including gold panning and blacksmithing.

The Gold Discovery Museum is a beautifully remodeled diorama depicting the gold discovery that instigated the California Gold Rush.  The outdoor exhibits include a Mineral and Assay Office, Chinese store, Sutter’s mill replica, along with Beakert’s Gun Shop where for $7.00 you can pan for gold and find your fortune.


The American River

Do you like to whitewater raft?  Hike? Pan for Gold?   The Coloma-Lotus Valley north of Sacramento has some of the most diverse, iconic landscapes in California and crucial water supply for much of California’s people and agriculture .  The canyon hosts 117  bird species including bald eagle and osprey as well as black bear, deer, bobcat, river otter, rainbow trout and salmon.

The South Fork American River Trail is beautiful.  You can travel on trails near the river for over 20 miles.

Meatgrinder, Troublemaker, Satan’s Cesspool, are you ready to go rafting?  The river is one of the most commercially rafted rivers west of the Rockies, perfect for novices and experts alike.  Children as young as 8 can raft the river and there are over 30 rafting companies to choose from.

This morning, as I was enjoying wi-fi, latte and a sunrise muffin from Sierra Rizing Bakery, a group of young guys from Action Whitewater Adventures were discussing rafting.  Sticking my nose into their conversation got me a ride on the guide raft this Sunday as a start to the season.



You know it the minute you close the trunk, your keys were in there.

AAA to the rescue.

It took longer to explain to the phone operator where the American River Resort in Coloma, CA was than for Kevin from G&O Body Shop to come and unlock the car.

thanks Kevin,


Golden Boy II

When I woke up yesterday morning a gigantic yacht was parked at the end of my dock.

3 stories, probably about 150 feet long, gleaming white with all kinds of electronic stuff sticking out the top and blocking my view.  There was a guy standing outside of it smoking a cigarette so I walked over to take a closer look.

Golden Boy II was named after the grandson of the real estate mogul who was, apparently, the original Golden Boy.  With real estate being what it is right now that must be a hefty title to wear, Golden Boy.  I shuddered, thinking it was just as bad as President, maybe worse, at least with President you ran for the title.  With Golden Boy II you were just lucky enough to be born 3rd in line to inherited hard work.

What, if like the bunny in Hop, you didn’t want to be Easter Bunny?  or Golden Boy?

There are some titles we choose for ourselves, Mom, Dad, Teacher, Doctor, Writer, mostly titles we love because they are who we are and what we do best.   I wonder if Golden Boy II had the choice?


p.s. when I woke up this morning Golden Boy II was gone so I didn’t get a photo, sorry.

Pulp Fashion: The Art of Isabelle de Borchgrave

We drove to San Francisco and had a wonderful hike through Lincoln Park overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge on one side and the Pacific on the other.

The exhibit was at the de Young – Legion of Honor and encompassed 15 years of work.  “Papiers a la Mode”, “Medicis” and “Mariano Fortuny”  60 costumes made entirely from paper.

The costumes were stunningly realistic considering they were paper – you know I like my paper.  She uses film cleaner style paper for lace and creates period jewelry piece by piece to match the elaborate costumes.

I don’t want to break any copyrights by posting pictures, the website is


Favorite National Park in California

Liberty, life aboard a docked sail boat.

Talking with my friend Geri today about living aboard a boat.  Geri suggested I write a blog about it, so…here ya go.

Liberty is a 37′ sloop, which is a sailboat with one mast.  There is power from shore and a great wi-fi connection from the harbor.

Water – go get the hose and fill the two on-board water tanks.  One tank feeds the kitchen, foot pumped, and the other the bathroom sink.  There is a marine toilet, so no solid waste, but if you have to pee at night it is a lifesaver.  Just saying.   Hot water,  put a kettle on.

Galley – that’s the kitchen for you landlubbers.  A small gas stove and sink, there is a cooler, but I prefer to use my Yeti.  I have been making most of my meals here and have become very efficient at washing dishes in a tiny sink, there is no garbage disposal and you have to be careful of what you put in there because it drains out to the bay.  I am using an enviro washing soap.

Berth – the bed is luxurious.  A custom made mattress, very comfy.  No heat, but a small electric heater, I get it all warm and toasty before we turn in.

Main shower and bathroom are on land, about a 3 minute walk.   First you take off the 3 boards which are the main cabin door, then up over the side of the boat and jump down to the dock, up the main ramp to the main dock, down the main dock to the beach and over to the building which houses the showers.  There is a super fancy french restaurant in the building called Le Garage, I stopped in once and $$$$$$$ oooo la la.

There is a nice “Captain’s” seating area which would normally have maps and charts but now houses my computer and reference materials.  I can stream shows to my mini and that is how I watch tv or movies.

There are a lot of boats anchored off the docks.  I counted over 100.  The guys who live on them are called “anchor outs”, a scruffy group of gentlemen who have been nothing but kind to me and Edgar.  They come into shore in an array of different skiffs and park them on the dock next to mine.  A neighborhood of sorts, I like it.

Edgar is having a hard time adjusting to the rock and sway of the boat and fell off the steps more than once.  I tried to get him to jump off the boat to the dock and he did it twice, but, I think it is just too far for the little guy.  I lift him on and off.

So, we are snug as two bugs in a rug.

The boat is being dry-docked for a few days on the 23rd of this month.  I would like to go gold panning while I am off the boat.   Has anyone done it?  Where is the best place in N. California?


San Francisco

I drove to San Francisco to take in some tourist attractions.  These are the kind of places on the official tourist maps.

If you can find a spot at the foot of Van Ness at the Aquatic Park, enjoy 4 hours free parking. As a bonus, you can see the Historical Ships docked at the Hyde Street Pier.  From there it’s a short walk to Ghirardelli Square and the attached ice cream shop, I bought a small dark chocolate bar.

Deciding to walk off the chocolate before I ate it, I headed up Van Ness Ave toward Lombard.



Edgar was tired when we reached the top.  We walked up the other side and down the “crooked” side.  These hills are steep.  Going down, we had a nice view of Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill.

There is a documentary about the Parrots of Telegraph Hill, they were flying around as we strolled back toward the waterfront.



We headed up The Embarcadero toward Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.  I bought a loaf of famous San Francisco Sour Dough bread at Boudin Bakery.

There are tons of shops on Fisherman’s Wharf and lots of places to buy and eat fresh chowder, crab, and all sorts of seafood.

Edgar pulled me through the shops and out the other end to the docks where the sea lions rest their huge bodies.  Seems the sea lion residents of San Francisco decided to head north and increased the population of the Sea Lion Caves in Oregon.  We did see lots of tourists and a few sea lions.

We passed the Cable Car Turnaround and the Bay Cruises Terminal where you can catch the ferry.  At least it is free northbound on the Golden Gate – southbound it costs $6.00 to cross.

Headed home with our bread and chocolate, anyone have some wine?


Behind the Golden Gate

You can drive through Fort Baker, past the Bay Area Discovery Museum to a point behind the bridge.  If you walk up the road and underneath the bridge you can hike all the way to the top and underneath where it hits the headland, up to the other side for a view of the City and the Pacific.

This bridge is enormous, 6 lanes of traffic and two pedestrian walkways.   I walked halfway across and was assaulted with the nose and noise pollution of so many cars.

The Statue of Liberty in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London, the Great Pyramid in Egypt, there are a few man-made things in the world that we all should see.   The Golden Gate Bridge is certainly on that list.


Driving Miss Belle

The joy of watching someone you love overcome  fear and do what they knew they could do…. …priceless.

My sister piloted her Boston Whaler, with a Honda 60, from her houseboat, to the dock I am staying on, across San Francisco Bay to the Corinthian Yacht Club, by herself, first time, triumph!  We high fived each other as we got off Belle at the Club, only to be turned around by Hans, the dock master guy, who sent us into an even smaller spot, which terrified Janet even more, which she did anyway.

After a yummy Sunday brunch, we docked Belle back at the houseboat, walked to the sailboat and picked up Edgar and then back to the houseboat.  About a mile each way.  Along the route, a friend stopped Janet and gave her a couple fat, fresh frozen lobster tails from a recent diving trip.

We decided to eat the tails with sauteed vegetables in a white wine sauce.  When they thawed, it turned out we had been mistakenly given the “prize catch”.  This single tail was over 2 lbs of deliciousness.

“Mama said they’d be days like this” the good ones, the ones we we’ll remember, an incredible dinner cooked and enjoyed with a sister, a nice walk and conquest of fear.