More fun than I should be allowed to have…

Last weekend, Susan surprised me with a weekend vacation to Gold Country in California.  She told me to pack a bag, load up the cameras and tripods, and we headed out!  We drove SR 88 (it’s very nice that CA and NV used the same number for this road) to Jackson CA.  On the way, we stopped near Red Lake and grabbed a few pictures.


It was still morning and the sunlight made this slope an image begging to be made. As always, my greatest challenge was balancing the exposure for the light and dark colored rocks and the bright snow patches (wait -that really is snow -we actually had a little this year).


I am working hard to look around when shooting. Just because there’s a great subject in front of you doesn’t mean there’s not a greater subject to the left or right, or behind, below, or above you. This rock slope is just right of the above image, and I was intrigued by the tree growing out of seemingly impenetrable rock. Again, I loved the lines and shadows of the rock, and the beautiful tree gives the promise of life in the most unlikely places. And then there’s the water – the source of life – coming down the slope. Beautiful!


Just down the fill slope, I found this tree also defying the odds. The summit in the background enhanced the composition very well.

We got to Jackson in the late morning.  The weather in this quaint little community was great.  We found Tailing Wheel Park, a local park that is home to the remains of a wheel system that moved mine tailings from the Kennedy Mine to a holding pond.  The Kennedy Mine was a very busy place in the early 1900’s, and its operations generated a massive amount of tailings.  A freak rainstorm washed some of the tailings into fertile farmland, and the Mine constructed this system to prevent a lawsuit.  Two of the four wheels remain, but only one remains standing.  This is a beautiful area, worthy of a visit.  Go to for more information.


Tailing Wheel 3.


More Tailing Wheel 3.


Here is my lovely bride standing next to one of the buckets used to transport the tailings. This is displayed next to the remains of Wheel 3. All that remains of Wheels 1 and 2 are the foundations, the wheels are long gone. Wheel 4 is still standing, and is housed in a building uphill from Wheel 3.

We had a nice lunch at Stanley’s Steakhouse in the National Hotel, in downtown Jackson.  This historical building was recently remodeled and is beautiful.


This is the lobby of the National Hotel. I am so lucky to travel with a beautiful model.

After a little walk around town, we decided to visit Old Folsom.  We traveled on two lane roads through rolling hills.  We hadn’t been to this area at this time of year before, so we were amazed by the green grass.  We are so used to traveling Nevada and Wyoming, and found the absence of sagebrush a nice change.


We saw this fella’ when we turned from SR 169 onto Scott Road. At first, we thought he was a statue because he didn’t move – then his tail switched.


When we pulled over to take a picture, we found he had a friend.


We saw several scenes like this on Scott Road, but the road is so narrow that shoulders and parking don’t exist. When we found this tree, we also found a place to pull off the road and park.


I walked a little way down the road for this image. It was definitely worth the walk. This is typical of the country between Jackson and Folsom.

We love Old Folsom, and have visited to do a little antiquing.  It’s been a while since our last visit, and much has changed – all for the better!  We went down to the railroad museum (which was closed, darn it) but found these couple of images.


I think this is a residence for a station master or someone like that. We’ll go back when it’s open and we can go in.


We could see the displays through the windows, but this was closed, too. Gotta go back sometime!

On our way out of town, we stopped at the Folsom Factory Outlet Stores to look for shoes.  I found an awesome pair at the Merrell store – they will be great for the summer!  We headed up the hill to Placerville and the Eden Vale Inn.  Thirty years ago, a pair of newlyweds bought a barn and transformed it into their home and then a bed and breakfast.  Mark and Gayle are marvelous hosts and mere words do not do justice to the Inn.  Eden Vale deserves its own blog – visit for more information.


Here is my lovely bride in one of the many garden areas at the Eden Vale Inn. This one is right outside our room.

After dinner, we sat around the fire pit and chatted with a young couple from Los Angeles.  Well, that’s the end of day 1 of our great adventure.  Are you tired yet?  Surprisingly, we only drove about 150 miles total for the day.  Not too bad!

Day 2 began with a gourmet breakfast at Eden Vale, and then a trip up the road to Coloma CA.  Coloma is on the American River and is home to Sutter’s Mill.  Surely you remember what happened at Sutter’s Mill in 1848?  That’s right – gold was discovered and the push to gold country was on.  We started our visit to Coloma in the peaceful confines of the cemetery.  There were several names on the sign at the gate and I didn’t memorize them.  We enjoyed exploring the grounds.  We encountered a few mosquitos here – the only place we did on our adventure.

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From here, we went down to the river and the State Park.  At the Sutter Mill replica, we found the Park Historian giving a tour.  We listened in for a bit, and then started walking.  We bumped into the tour several more times during our time there.


I was off to the side working on other pictures when the tour arrived, so I missed the historian’s spiel, but I think this is a stamp mill. The historian fired it up and made some noise.


I liked the lines and shadows made by this rock wall, the difference in the grass between the upper and lower levels.


And my lovely bride in the remains of the Coloma jail.


Susan decided I needed to be in a picture, too, so I set her up and went to the corner – yes, it’s a familiar place for me!

From Coloma, we drove into Placerville and walked around.  Placerville is a great place to visit – lots of things to see and great places to eat.  We visited a yarn store and kicked around the antique shops in town.  We also drove up to Georgetown to see a new place.  I found a picture that I want to make there, but I need to do it when the modern cars are gone – oh no, we have to go back for another visit!

Day 3 and another great breakfast.  We loaded the Expedition and bid our hosts good bye.  Just uphill (literally) from Placerville is Apple Hill, a farming area that specializes in (you guessed it) apples and other fruits.  In the fall, Apple Hill celebrates the harvest with a couple months of tours and fairs and sooo much fun.  You can pick your own apples, buy an apple pie, and have a grand time!  Wait for images from my visit there next fall.  For now, the trees are in bloom and things are quiet.  We enjoyed driving the rolling hills and seeing the pretty country without the traffic and chaos.


Apple trees in bloom!


I’m not sure when this tractor ran last. It sure makes a pretty picture!

We drove up US 50 to Lake Tahoe.  The traffic coming the other way was the usual for a Sunday afternoon – lots of people heading home from their weekend at the Lake.  We stopped at Bridal Veil Falls, and I got out the tripod and worked in the low light.  The water was flowing, but not very fast.  Darn drought!

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We got home, unpacked the car, and started doing the laundry.  I rested and then started working on the pictures.  We watched a covey of Quail kick around the yard one morning this week, and I caught up with them on the east side of the house.


The blur in the image was caused by a couple other Quail chasing around. I left it alone because it’s kind of fun.


So now you see why I’m having more fun than I should be allowed to have.  As always, my lovely bride Susan treats me like a king.  I am so lucky to have her and enjoy her love and support.  For next week, be prepared to see more baby horse pictures (I found a new one yesterday) and also my submittal for the weekly photo challenge – composite montage.  I am overlaying an image with a texture to create a more artsy look.  I’ve been experimenting with the technique, but haven’t finished my submittal.

Thanks for following my journey, and Enjoy – PHOTOROGR