Dining Solo on My Birthday

Traveling, or even dining solo, is something I always tried to avoid. Turns out, it is probably because I am an introvert. You might be too if...

I have always considered myself a shy person. I am attracted to “take charge” extroverts and was always happy to let them be my front person. New people I met rarely remembered me or, if they did, I was so-and-sos friend. Traveling, or even dining solo, is something I always tried to avoid. I didn’t want to have to interact with strangers or wonder what they were thinking of me. Are You an Introvert? Over the years, I learned that my “shyness” comes from being an introvert. Some still think that being an introvert is a negative thing, but no, it doesn’t mean I don’t like people or I’m antisocial. It just means I enjoy my alone time. I didn’t realize how much of an introvert I was until I read this article on Psychology Today that says you might be an introvert if: Although you enjoy social get-togethers, quiet time…

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Imperial Hotel Amador City: Nobody Famous Slept Here

Although it is the smallest incorporated city in California, Amador City still has much to offer, including the elegant, yet casual, Imperial Hotel.

Amador City, population 200, was a booming town during the California gold rush. The Keystone Mine was one of the highest producing mines in the area and as many as 5,000 people lived and worked in the town during that time. Most of the buildings, including what was to become the Imperial Hotel, were wood frame and, as with most mining towns, there was a fire that burned the majority of the town to the ground. After the fire in 1878, the structure that would become the Imperial Hotel was rebuilt out of brick. The owner at the time was Mr. Sanguinetti and the hotel was called The Italian. Some time in the 1920s the name was changed to the Imperial Hotel but no one seems to know exactly why. The Imperial operated as a hotel from 1878 up until about 1927 when it was boarded up and it remained…

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Riding the Rails by Motorcar in Amador County

Take a motorcar ride in a vintage railroad maintenance-of-way work car in Ione, CA. You'll want to bring your camera for this 6 mile round trip ride into the beautiful foothills of Gold Country.

When I first saw information about the motorcar ride in Ione, CA, I was intrigued. The stable where I had my horseback riding business was right next to the railroad tracks in Anaheim, CA. I saw lots of high rail trucks on those rails, but these vintage motorcars were so cute. And they were telling me I could go for a ride in one! On the railroad tracks! The Motorcar If you are wondering what motorcars are and why they are on the railroad tracks, let me give you a little history lesson. You might be familiar with handcars from old western movies. Handcars came on the scene in the 1860s and were mainly used to maintain small sections of track. In 1910, handcars began to be retired and replaced with motorcars, or speeders as they were also called. Although the motorcars are slow compared to a train, they are…

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Dog & Pony Ranch: Luxurious Gold Country Vacation Rental

It's been two decades in the making but Troy and Cyndi Harrell's dream has finally come to fruition. They recently hosted a thank you/open house celebration for their Dog & Pony Ranch in Jackson, California. They officially became residents of Amador County the end of last year but waited for better weather to have the celebration for the completion of their home and luxurious Gold Country vacation rental.

It’s been two decades in the making but Troy and Cyndi Harrell’s dream has finally come to fruition. They recently hosted a thank you/open house celebration for their Dog & Pony Ranch in Jackson, California. They officially became residents of Amador County the end of last year but waited for better weather to have the celebration for the completion of their home and luxurious Gold Country vacation rental. Just like everything else Cyndi does, the celebration was planned to the max. Early in the day there was hiking, basketball, games in the new game room, zip lining if you were brave enough, playing with your dog in the pond, and feeding the farm animals. Later, there was an open bar, a band, super patriotic decorations, a catered barbecue dinner, and an ice cream bar for dessert. Cyndi and Troy purchased the 60 acres of raw land in 1998 and, over the years,…

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Volcano, CA: Where to Eat, Sleep and Play

For such a small hamlet, Volcano, CA, has a surprising number of places to eat, sleep and play. Here's the rundown to help you visit Volcano like a local.

Volcano is located in Amador County in the sierra foothills of Northern California’s Gold Country. It is surrounded by natural beauty and steeped in history. For such a small hamlet, Volcano, CA, population 116, has a surprising number of places to eat, sleep and play, all within walking distance of each other (with the exception of Black Chasm Cavern) on Main Street or just around the corner on Consolation St. Here are the restaurants, hotels and attractions so you can visit Volcano like a local. Where to Eat in Volcano Kneading Dough Bakery Everything at Kneading Dough Bakery is made on site using farm fresh, locally sourced ingredients when available. Of course they have bakery items and artisan bread but they have so much more. They have breakfast entrees, souffles, quiches, sandwiches, soups and salads. Their specialties change daily. They aren’t open for dinner but they have frozen dinners to go. Need…

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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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Toogood Estate Winery in Fairplay

In May 2001, Toogood Estate Winery was established on a 40-acre parcel of rolling hills with microclimates perfect for the varietals hand selected for it. www.goldcountrycowgirl.com

Wine Tasting When I was in my 20s and married, my former spouse and I visited north coast region wineries quite often when we traveled to see friends in Petaluma. In Southern California, we had wineries in Temecula which I visited. Somehow, in later years, wine tasting became something I no longer did even though I really enjoyed it. I hadn’t been wine tasting in probably 20 years when I moved to Gold Country, so I was pleased to learn that the area has many award winning wineries. I have heard that wine tasting in the north coast region, as well as their wines, has gotten very expensive. Some wineries there charge as much as $60 for tasting with the average being $40. Here, wine tasting is like I remember it in the 70s. It is low key, with friendly hospitality. Wine tastings are rarely more than $5 and the…

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