There is nothing quite like a morning in the Mother Lode, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, on a warm spring day. Waking to sunshine and temps in the mid 70’s with an expected high of 84 or so is just about perfect. Light breezes and low humidity make it even better. This time of year, the grasses are still somewhat green, and on a Tuesday morning the traffic was even minimal.
Our site at the Elk’s Lodge in Shingle Springs is just a jump off Highway 50, and there are several ways to get north to Nevada City, but we wanted to take the most scenic route, following North Shingle Road to intersect with the famous gold road, Highway 49 near Coloma. The destination was Nevada City and meeting our new and old friends, (well most of us aren’t exactly new), at Nickie and Jimmie’s home there.
We hadn’t yet met in person, but I wasn’t the least bit concerned about it. I am not sure why this is, but somehow the essence of people comes through in their blogs in ways that always seem to be just right. Most of the time, I know if I will “click” with someone, and it amazes me that people turn out to be exactly as I thought they would. Nickie and Jimmie were no exception, except I think they were even nicer than I imagined. What truly lovely people!
The route north was wonderful, and winding through the hills on the curvy roads reminded me so much of the years I lived in Sonora and drove these roads for work. I also marveled at how lovely the landscape looked when I didn’t have to imagine slogging up those hot, brushy slopes with a pack and shovels! I could once again see the charm of the foothills and why people love it so.
We left early enough to take a short side trip to Coloma, but it was too early to visit the visitor center and once again my visit was just an overview. This is the site of gold discovery on the American River, and there are interpretive signs everywhere and old buildings that have a story to tell. We stopped long enough for a walk along the river with Abby, but returned to the road north fairly quickly so we wouldn’t miss our meet and greet time with Laurie and Odel at Nickie and Jimmie’s place.
The American River is a story itself, and we saw lots of hikers and raft companies that ply the wild waters of that river. It is a great place for recreation, with an old bridge walk that crosses the river in the canyon just below Auburn. We thought we might walk it on our way back, but by late afternoon when we drove the return route, the parking area was packed and it was hot and there were way too many people for us to attempt it. As beautiful as it is, there seems to be a lot of people pressure on the beautiful places around the Mother Lode.
Once we were through the old town portion of Auburn, Highway 49 is a 4 lane freeway all the way to Grass Valley and in no time we were exiting the road to Nevada City. We were a bit early, so decided to amble through town before finding Nickie and Jimmie’s home up the hill. I hadn’t been to Nevada City in years, but I was reminded on this sunny morning of just why it is such a popular place for so many. My eldest daughter dreamed of living here, as I once did. It is nestled into the pine covered hills, with steep winding streets filled with gorgeous restored Victorians and a Craftsman or two here and there, and lush spring flowers. The dogwoods were in full bloom and magnificent! We decided that after our little meeting we would come back and walk the town. Of course, at that time we didn’t know we would have the perfect guides who provided ice cream!
Up the hill to their home was a beautiful drive as well, winding up through Sierran Mixed Conifer forest, thick and lush with Ponderosa Pine, Incense Cedar, and White Fir. At over 3200 feet on deep old soils, the trees are growing beautifully, and the homes lining the road were quite lush as well. It was beautiful.
Our welcome was as delightful as expected, but their home was even more lovely than I imagined, and Nickie’s warm and open southern California personality warmed and mellowed even more by her time in the South and her sweet Southern husband combined to make a truly amazing combination. I loved both of them almost instantly. We laughed and talked as if we actually knew each other (which we did!!) and enjoyed seeing all their work on the yard, the new hot tub, and their beautiful home. Laurie and Odel arrived just after we did, and since the four of them were already acquainted, the talking and laughter was ongoing.
A special treat was seeing a special quilt made from some of the great collection of runner’s tee shirts that Nickie and Jimmie had collected over the years of short runs and long ones, including marathons! Gorgeous!
Of course we had to do the RV Blogger get together thing and go find someplace wonderful to eat. Our Nevada City hosts recommended a great spot in town, Lefty’s Grill, and we dined on the sheltered patio to the sounds of the bubbling creek. Wonderful food, and a sweet waiter who told me that definitely dogs were not allowed on the patio, but that if he didn’t know it, I could probably bring Abby. This was the perfect solution, since it was warm and even in the shade, it would have been worrisome to leave Abby in the car. Of course, the waiter smiled and said, “Please don ‘t bring your dog if you come back again, but she can stay for now”. Abby helped by being her quiet sweet and calm self, lying under the table quietly while we ate.
Laurie and Odel had lots of remodeling to continue, so declined to walk the town with us, but we were really happy to have Nickie and Jimmie lead us to good parking (.25 cents for two hours) and show us some of the finer spots in the lovely tiny historic city. Nickie said later that we only saw a tiny bit of it, but after a couple of hours we didn’t mind leaving and saving the rest for later. Something tells me we will return to this great little place again.
There is so much to do around here, lots of parades, and art, and festivals, good weather, beautiful mountains, rivers, so much to do and all sorts of recreational activities in abundance. It is a nice place. However, as we drove home, we remembered again that nice places usually attract lots and lots of people. Once again we drove the winding roads with lots of company. Mo used to love her little sports cars, and as she pushed the Tracker up the steep hills she wished for a clutch and some gears! As fast as she was going, however, there were often many cars right behind her trying to push her up the hill. A surprising number of turnouts along the route at least made it tolerable. Most people waved when she pulled over. Except for all the folks on cell phones, including one woman in a big SUV who almost obliterated us in Auburn, people in California are pretty good drivers.
It was such a great day! Thanks to the internet, and blogging, and RV’ing, we discovered some new friends and explored a place we might not have done without that little extra push of having someone who lived there.