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…

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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…

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Health Benefits of Nuts and the Ultimate Grilled Cheese

I love adding nuts to pretty much everything, including my ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. Check out my secret for always have totally melted cheese.

I absolutely love nuts, all kinds of nuts, and I put them in pretty much everything. Nuts are a healthy addition to your diet (good thing for me) and add flavor and texture. Some tout them as a healthy snack but the problem with nuts is that they are high in calories. I find it hard to control portions when I’m snacking on them so I prefer to add them to my food. I put them in salads, stir fries, frittatas, pasta, and even my favorite grilled cheese sandwich, which I call the ultimate grilled cheese. Health Benefits of Nuts I think most people have heard that nuts are “heart healthy” but they also have other benefits. Research shows that people who eat nuts tend to…

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Birth of a Blog — or Four: Finding My Blogging Passion

One year ago today I published my first post on Gold Country Cowgirl. I was not new to blogging. It just took a while to find my blogging passion.

One year ago today I published my first post on Gold Country Cowgirl. Although that was my first post on this blog, I was not new to blogging. It took me a while to find my blogging passion but I think I finally made it. One of my biggest passions is horses. I’ve owned horses for quite a few years and have done a lot of trail riding and camping. I decided I wanted to document and share these experiences so I launched my Horse Buzz A-Z website in August of 2012. Of all the blogs I’ve written for, I think I enjoyed writing these destination travel guide posts most and would still be writing them except that horseback riding is a lot different here than in…

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Wine Blending at Wine Tree Farm

The wine blending class at Wine Tree Farm is educational and thoroughly enjoyable. It was a blast and I highly recommend it.

I have done a lot of wine tasting in Gold Country over the past couple of years and the most enjoyable times have been when I learn something new about wine or winemaking. As I’ve mentioned, I’m no expert. I just enjoy wine and learning about it. On a recent visit to Wine Tree Farm with the Vineyard Vixens wine tasting group, I attended a wine blending class which was both educational and thoroughly enjoyable. The vineyard and winery are located on Highway 49 near the turnoff to Amador City. It can be easily missed but just look for the large sign up on the hill opposite the turnoff. Even though the grapevines are still dormant, we’ve had so much rain that the hills are an amazing green. Owner…

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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…

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Wine and Food Pairing Event — Scott Harvey and Taste

The Scott Harvey Wines and Taste Restaurant wine and food pairing for wine club members and guests was a hit. Wine club membership has its privileges!

You’ve heard that membership has its privileges. Well, that is very true when it comes to wine club membership at local wineries in Gold Country. Scott Harvey Wines had its February Wine Club Release Extravaganza for wine club members and their guests this past weekend with food pairings from Taste Restaurant in Plymouth. A sign outside the winery welcomed wine club members for the wine and food pairing event. As you may know, I love my bubbly and the Jana Mendocino Blanc de Blanc is delicious. We arrived a little early and Jack poured the Blanc de Blanc for us while we waited for the food stations to finish setting up. Wine and Food Pairing We looked over the wine and food pairing menu while we…

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Cooking for One — My Favorite Meal

When you are single, cooking for one can sometimes be a challenge. Here's my favorite go-to meal. It's quick, easy, with clean up that's a snap.

When you are single, cooking for one can sometimes be a challenge. Sure, I like casseroles, soups and roasts and have my freezer stocked with leftover meals, but a single person can’t cook like that every night. The freezer would be overflowing in no time. And what do you do if you forgot to start the slow cooker or even take something out to thaw? Of course, you can thaw one of your leftover meals in the microwave but what if you want something fresh and simple? When I buy chicken thighs/breasts, pork chops or salmon, I lay them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet to freeze. Once they are frozen, I seal them with my FoodSaver. I can take them out one…

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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…

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Pasta with Pumpkin Cream – Not Just for Fall!

Pasta with Pumpkin Cream, Butternut Squash and Chicken Sausage - my version of a delicious dish we had at Villa Toscano from Chef Tim Benham.

Several weeks ago, the Vineyard Vixens had a pasta dish for lunch at Villa Toscano that we all just loved. Executive Chef, Tim Benham, explained his process to us and told us the ingredients but didn’t give us any specific amounts. I played with the recipe and tweaked it until I came up with a version that I find quite yummy. I’m calling my version of this delicious dish Pasta with Pumpkin Cream, Butternut Squash and Chicken Sausage. The original dish had an even longer name! One of the ingredients of the dish is soy sauce soaked, roasted pumpkin seeds. There weren’t any on the portion I got from the buffet at Villa Toscano so I didn’t get to taste them. I thought this sounded like…

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