About Me

Tired of the mundane and craving an adventure, on Saturday, May 22nd, 2010, I embarked on the ultimate American road trip through all fifty states. After nearly a year and a half on the road, on a budget of less than 50 bucks a day, this is my story...

Cali Part 5: Nevada City and Lake Tahoe

Tuesday, May 31st
The better part of today was spent getting my car checked out, because of the check engine light that came on when I was exiting Kings Canyon a week ago.  The light has since turned off, but better safe than sorry, and besides, the battery indicator light also very lightly flickers intermittently if only for a split second, and my car overheats when I turn the temperature dial to warm or higher.  So yeah, it could use a check up, lol.

Well after several hours Kathy the Honda adviser sat down with me and carefully explained that their testing concluded that nothing is wrong with my car, lol, other than they had to fill up the engine coolant which was low and could be the reason for the overheating.  They didn't notice the battery light flickering, and they couldn't pull any code from the diagnosis machine.  Still, $120 is a relatively small price to pay for peace of mind and a wake-up call for the importance of checking my fluids (the car's fluids that is, haha).  And hey, they did very generously throw in a car wash and knock off a whole dollar from the estimate for diagnosis, lol.

Broad Street, Nevada City

I arrived in Nevada City before dark to visit my friend Laurel from back in the day of my high school years.  She moved from Philly, where I reconnected with her at the beginning of this trip, for an internship at an organic farm.  Laurel said this town was pretty, but I had no idea just how charming it was until I was drove down the historic, gas-lamp lit Broad Street, lined with quaint shops with brick facades from the 1800s, and surrounding Victorian-era homes.  My travel guidebook gives a brief blurb about it in its "California Gold Country" section:  "Called Deer Creek Dry Diggins when it was just a mining camp, Nevada City is perhaps the most interesting of the Mother Lode towns, with a compact downtown, that looks like a timeworn set from a Wild West movie.  Gaslights made from original 1800s molds light up Broad Street, where the historic Nevada Theatre and charming Emma Nevada House are located..."
Laurel's Farmhouse

How I'd LOVE to revisit during the holiday season! "Each year the town's picturesque downtown transforms into a Christmas card come to life during Victorian Christmas. It's a magical setting of winding streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gas street lamps, and carolers dressed in Victorian attire. Scenic and picturesque Nevada City was featured in Hallmark's "The Christmas Card," bringing visitors from all over to see the location where the movie was filmed."

I was met by a "Come in" before entering the little white farmhouse in the hills just a short stroll above downtown, and there I was greeted by Zack, one of 3 of Laurel's roommates and fellow interns.  He was baking fresh buns and keeping warm on this cloudy evening by the wood stove on the main wall of the humble great room, a cozy, rustic kitchen/dining/living room area at the end of the entry hallway.  With the hearthy, homey spirit in the air, 

We got acquainted and he told me more about the farm and its greater purpose within the Living Lands Agrarian Network, "creating more local food and more local farmers in the community, in cooperation with private home-owners."  A few minutes later Laurel greeted me with the best hug, showed me all the gardens on the little property, and then we walked into charming downtown and got all caught up at with great food ("stinky garlic mac 'n cheese"), great drink (I had a beer flight) and great atmosphere at Matteo's Public.  Afterward, we went back to the farmhouse and had a chill campfire with her friend Owen. 

Wednesday, June 1st
This morning Laurel whipped me up a version of farm-fresh eggs and greens ranchos huevos, then the house went to work while I explored the beautiful Yuba River for a little while before a rain 'n sleet storm chased me away.  In addition to the river, I saw a wonderful old bridge and beautiful wildflowers.

I joined Laurel and the rest of the workers from the various farms of Living Lands for lunch - bean burgers on fresh-baked buns, fresh salad and more, prepared by Zach.

Then I went into downtown and grabbed a walking tour map from the Chamber of Commerce and explored the little village for a while, stopping into the charming shops and snapping pictures of historic sites, buildings and homes, including:

South Yuba Canal (1855) and Ott's Assay (1857) Office Buildings
Firehouse No. 1 (1861) - "One of the most photographed buildings in Gold Country"
The National Hotel (1854, 1856-57) - "State's oldest continuously operating hotel"
The Nevada Theatre (1865) - "Oldest building in the state erected as a theatre"
Firehouse No. 2 (1861)
Miners Foundry Cultural Center (1856)
Sargent House (1856)
Nevada County Courthouse (1864) - Original built in 1855 burned in 1856.
Chinese Quarter (1850s-1870s) - Several Chinese businesses along upper Commercial Street.

Later Laurel and I went to nearby Grass Valley, another charming town, a little larger in size, and I browsed the shops of Mill Street while Laurel had her appointment with her new client (Laurel assists women through their pregnancy).  I had a beer at the bar inside the historic Holbrooke Hotel (est. 1851), then met laurel at Yuba Blue so she could spend the gift certificate she got from her friend Levi's parents for her birthday.

When we got back to the farmhouse she took a nap while I relaxed and chatted with Zach by the warm wood-stove.  When Laurel got up we went into downtown to watch some of the performance of friend of a friend at Cafe Mekka; his band performed beautiful Native American music.

Thursday, June 2nd
This morning I did some more walking around downtown and snapped a bunch of pictures of the beautiful buildings and did a lot of blogging at the bistro cafe.

I walked back to Laurels at 5pm and I followed her to a birthday party of a friend of hers in back in Grass Valley.  I had a lot of fun with everyone there, and there was really good food and the birthday girl's zany dad rocked out on his guitar and sang some quirky rock songs for us all.

Then I said goodbye to Laurel :(  She asked me if I was ready to go, and I replied "No, I'm never ready to leave my friends," and we exchanged a big hug and headed to Tahoe, where I would visit my friend Peter who I met hiking the Napali Coast of Kauai, Hawaii a few months back.

I got into Truckee, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Lake Tahoe, just west of the Nevada state line about 8pm and met Cory, Peter's roommate.  Peter had told me that he wouldn't be getting back from a concert in San Francisco until tomorrow, but that I was welcome to show up anytime.  Cory and I got acquainted and he was very kind, allowing me to make myself at home, and after he the beat the pants off me at a couple games of foosball, we watched "The Spirit," a movie from one of the two bins overflowing with Peter's movies.  Best of all, I had the most amazing sleep in peter's super comfortable bed, yay!

Friday, June 3rd 
Today I drove the 72-mile loop around Lake Tahoe, stopping for a map at the visitor's center in Incline Village, one of the many little towns that dot the shoreline of the lake.  Stops/activities along the drive included:
Mount Rose Scenic Overlook

Sand Harbor

Hiking along the Nevada Shoreline - Chimney Beach, wildflowers including snow plants, birds including Steller's Jay, neon green moss, rainbow halo, snow lots of chipmunks

Meadows north of Spooner Lake
Cave Rock
Beaches and century-old estates of the rich & famous at Tallac Historic Site

"Snow Plant"
Emerald Bay, Fannette Island and Vikingsholm Castle as seen from Inspiration Point Vista

Squaw Valley Ski Resort, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics

When Peter returned home from work, he and cory took me over to Sara's, Peter's girlfriend, where we hopped into her truck and headed to a softball game (Peter's car was really acting up on the way there and barely made it up her driveway) that Sara and Peter played in, and Cory and I watched as one of the players and the umpire got into it a few times, lol, then Cory and I strolled the sidewalks of Tahoe City to the dam at "Fanny Bridge."  Afterward we all went to Pete & Peter's for drinks and pizza (and Cory and Peter and I played a little foosball) and Peter yet again won another raffle!  This one got him a step closer to a free trip to Hawaii.

Peter slept over at Sara's, so I got to sleep in Peter's comfy bed again, yay!   

Saturday, June 4th
Today I took a little side excursion from Tahoe and visited Virginia City, a once booming mining town that was called the "The richest place on Earth" due to the deposits of silver and gold discovered during the great California gold rush (supposedly 75% of it has yet to be discovered!); it was also the home of Mark Twain for a while.  Now it's a touristy "ghost town."  I strolled the old wooden walks through the saloons and gift shops, grabbed some "lunch" from Barrels 'O Candy, and took an exciting, very informative 40-minute underground tour of the Chollar Mine; a 1/4-mile walking tour into the mine shaft and see square-set timbering, silver ore, rock drills as well as other old mining apparatusOutside I checked out machinery and equipment on display including a five stamp mill, hoisting cage, head frame, ore cars, trammer, steam engine, and compressors.

To complete my visit to Virginia City, I did a walking tour of the historic sites, mansions, churches and businesses from the 1800s.  I balanced a bottle of water on a lady's big bum, was thrown in "jail," and inspected "Suicide Table" (3 of its previous owners apparently committed suicide).

Then I drove around Reno, "The Biggest Little City in the World," for a little while (about 23 miles away from Virginia City).  I went to Boomtown Casino & Hotel where I had a few drinks before Peter and Sara met me for the casino's All-You-Can-Eat Whole Maine Lobster Buffet!
Several plates of food and 3 lobsters later (all to myself), the 3 of us went and saw the Bridesmaids movie (and Peter actually got buttered popcorn , lol). It was a hilarious movie that started off with a bang, as I attempted to open a can of guiness that ended up hissing out foam for what seemed like 5 minutes! My friends and the rest of the theater goers' laughter got harder and harder as they witnessed the embarrassing hissing of my beer and my endless slurping of foam, haha!  Then towards the end of the movie we all got to hear someone use a whoopi cushion, lol.  Yeah, pretty much the most fun at a movie in a long time:)

Got to sleep in Peter's bed yet again, yay! 

Sunday, June 5th
This morning I caught up on some emails and stuff and then Peter and Sara picked me up and we had lunch at Bridgetender Tavern & Grill - great food and rustic log cabin atmosphere!

After lunch we walked across the street to "Fanny Bridge" and watched the huge trout snatch up the waffle fries they were tossed (bad Sara!).

View from Eagle Rock
Then we hiked up to Eagle Rock, an enormous, eroded, dormant volcano, for spectacular panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains that Peter pointed out (Tallac mountain, Twin Peaks, etc).

After the hike we headed down to the south end of the lake for the Fair Oaks Renaissance Tudor Fayre at Camp Richardson, where we had some beer and watched jousting, were creepily detained in prison for trespassing (and Sara and I had to literally break our way out, and Peter bribed them with free beer), and browsed through the different stations (archery, farm animals, gypsies, etc) and vendor tents.

Band 'O Gypsies at Renaissance Fayre
Then we headed back up to Truckee where Sara gave me the grand tour of her cozy, rustic home with amazing views, and Peter insisted on ice cream, then we went to Village Pizzeria and stuffed ourselves to the gills on spicy crispy shrimp, garlic puff bread and butter, cheesy garlic bread and sauce, and the double-layer veggie pizza with extra sweet red sauce...oy!

After Pizza the 3 of us went back to Peter's and chatted with Cory for a while, before watching the movie "300" - one of my faves!  I said goodnight and goodbye to Sara, then Peter and Cory.  I had such a wonderful stay and again it hurts to have to leave.  I'll definietly be back one summer for mountain-biking, gondola-ing, and more hiking!


      ----------------------------------CA Fun Facts & Trivia----------------------------------
~ The highest and lowest points in the continental U.S.  are within 100 miles of one another. Mount Whitney measures 14,495 feet and Bad Water in Death Valley is 282 feet below sea level.
~ Alpine County, south of Lake Tahoe, is the eighth smallest of California's 58 counties. It has no high schools, ATMs, dentists, banks, or traffic lights.
~ Totaling nearly three million acres, San Bernardino County is the largest county in the entire United States.
~ California is bigger than eighty-five of the smallest nations in the world.
~ The area around Geyserville, just north of San Francisco, is the largest geothermal area in the world.
~ California holds within it the most diverse environment on the planet.
~ In the midst of summer, Point Reyes is the coolest place in the Continental U.S.
~ Death Valley is known as the hottest, driest place in the United States where temperatures consistently reach over 120 F (49 C) during summer months.
~ Inyo National Forest is home to the bristle cone pine, the oldest living tree species. Some of the gnarled trees which only grow at very high elevations are thought to be over 4,600 years old.
~ The Central Valley, a flat plain 75 miles wide and 430 miles long has become the richest farming region in the history of the world.
~ In Pacific Grove near Monterey, there is a law establishing a $500 fine for molesting butterflies.

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