Black Chasm Cavern: Amador County Hidden Gem

View a wide variety of formations at Black Chasm Cavern including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone and the vast array of rare helictite crystals.

If you drive through Pine Grove on Highway 88/104 in Northern California, you will most likely notice the signs for Black Chasm Cavern at Pine Grove-Volcano Road. It’s hard to miss them. I have seen these signs hundreds of times and have been meaning to go to Black Chasm Cavern ever since I moved here. Last year, I talked about how I see fun things then forget about them. Well, I finally put this on my calendar and went! Arriving at Black Chasm Cavern The drive to the Cavern and visitor center is over a well-maintained gravel road off of Volcano-Pioneer Road. There are a couple of roads that turn off as you drive up — just follow the signs. Before you reach the center, there is a parking lot for RVs and buses. Automobile parking is farther up the road by the center. Outside the entrance to the visitor center and gift…

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Wildflowers to Snowshoeing in 30 Minutes or Less

I tried snowshoeing for the first time this week. I love that I can go from wildflowers to snowshoeing in 30 minutes or less in Gold Country. Check it out.

When I lived in Southern California, I lived near the beach and loved that I could be in the mountains within a couple of hours. Now, I live in the mountains of Northern California and the beach is only a little farther than a couple of hours away. I live at a great elevation where I get a little snow but not enough that I’ve ever had to dig out, at least not so far. I love that I can go from wildflowers to snowshoeing in 30 minutes or less. If I want to see a lot of snow, I just have to drive up the hill another 30-40 minutes and it’s a winter playground. That’s just what my hiking group did earlier this week. I went along and tried snowshoeing for the first time. Snowshoeing at Iron Mountain Sno-Park We went to Iron Mountain Sno-Park near Mormon-Emigrant Trail Road on…

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Wildflower Train: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park

You can ride the train at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park every weekend April through October. The Wildflower Train is a special event in April.

I have always been fascinated by rail travel and just love riding a train any chance I get. That hasn’t been nearly as often as I’d like, though. I’ve taken the train from Los Angeles to New Orleans and the Coast Starlight from San Jose to Seattle. Rail travel is always an adventure and these two trips were no exception. I’ve also done lots of short trips from Santa Ana to Carlsbad or San Diego. Does the train at Disneyland count? I think it does! There’s just something about it that gets my blood flowing. And the nostalgia of a historic steam engine is even more exciting. Last year, some friends went on a wildflower train ride and just raved about it. I tried to go last year but tickets sold out. The Wildflower Train only runs on two weekends in April, so when tickets went on sale this year, I jumped…

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Electra Road Wildflowers Take a Hike from Ordinary to Extraordinary

The Electra Road wildflowers are spectacular this time of year and offer an added bonus to any hike along the road and the Mokulemne River.

Hiking on Electra Road is not a very traditional hike or much of a challenge, but it is an excellent place to just get up and get outside. The day use area offers clean restrooms, picnic tables, barbecues and a beach for swimming. An added bonus this time of year is that the Electra Road wildflowers can be spectacular. Electra Road is just north of the bridge that crosses the Mokelumne River on Highway 49. Here, the river is nearly 100 feet wide and Electra Road provides easy access for white water boaters. The road is narrow, barely more than one lane, and in poor shape so be sure to drive slowly and share the road with the hikers. The road follows the river for over 3 miles before it ends at the power plant, which makes for an awesomely beautiful and tranquil hike. I have hiked Electra Road quite a few times…

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Animal Enrichment at the Sacramento Zoo

The Sacramento Zoo had a special animal enrichment event in celebration of Valentine's Day. The orangutans made the most of it. Check them out.

I have always loved going to the zoo. When I lived in Southern California, I went to the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park frequently. Even though it was about 90 minutes away, I had season passes some years. When Kelly told me she saw a special animal enrichment event coming up at the Sacramento Zoo in celebration of Valentine’s Day, I said I was definitely in. It has been raining here almost nonstop for weeks so we were quite lucky to have a beautiful, sunny day for our outing. The Zoo was very easy to get to but I thought the entrance was a little hidden as we almost drove past it. There didn’t seem to be an official parking lot, at least not one we saw, so we parked on the lovely, tree-lined street along with everyone else. The Zoo entrance was just a short walk. If…

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The Murals of Downtown Harlingen

The more than 20 murals that depict various aspects of the Rio Grande Valley's history and culture, is one of the main things for which Harlingen is known.

I just got back from a week-long trip to La Feria, Texas. I was visiting my Dad and helping him celebrate his 95th birthday. What a blast we had! He has bad knees so it is hard for him to walk a lot, which meant we didn’t go many places — we spent most of the time just visiting. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that one of the things I did want to do while I was there was check out the murals of downtown Harlingen. It is probably best to do this as a walking tour but because of my Dad’s knees, we did it in the car. I wasn’t sure my Dad was going to enjoy this because he was having to drive in an area he wasn’t familiar with, but he wanted to do it for me. He was getting a little frustrated in the…

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Most Viewed Posts of 2016

A look back at 2016 and my most viewed posts of the year. There were a few surprises and some things I knew would be there.

It’s the beginning of a new year and I’ve been reflecting on the blog, looking back at old posts and setting some goals for 2017. Even though the blog hasn’t been in operation for a full year yet (my first post was published on March 7th), I thought you might be interested in knowing what my most viewed posts have been since then. 5 Most Viewed Posts of 2016 I was a little surprised that my Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent Review (September) came in fifth. This post gets most of its traffic from search engines and Pinterest. I like that a nuts and bolts review is doing so well. My most popular recipe for the year was 5-minute Microwave Fudge (December) which came in fourth. This post got a lot of views in a very short time — it has been up for less than a month. It is the quick and easy version of my Vino…

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Women Traveling Alone — Are You One of Them?

I marvel at the brave women traveling alone in foreighn countries. These days, I'm more interested in exploring what my local region has to offer.

As a single, female, 60 something, baby boomer, and with the state of the world, I’m no longer comfortable with the idea of overseas travel, especially as a woman traveling alone. Perhaps some of you feel the same way. I read lots of travel blogs, mostly written by young millennials. Some are women traveling alone in remote places and I marvel at their bravery and sense of adventure. I’m OK with traveling alone in the US. In fact, this past spring I took a 10-day road trip, with just my cat for company, to a pet blogging conference in Phoenix. I stopped in Orange County in both directions and had a great time in spite of planned meetups with friends not working out. In January, I’ll be going to Texas to visit my Dad and help him celebrate his 95th birthday. I haven’t seen him in three years so I’m pretty excited…

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