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…

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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…

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Join the Family at Sentivo Vineyards

If you want to be treated like family when you go wine tasting then Sentivo Vineyards is where you want to be. Beautiful location, great wine and food.

A while back, my wine tasting group, the Vineyard Vixens, went to visit a couple of wineries in Fairplay, CA, and to pick up some futures. We had a bit of an unpleasant experience when we went to pick up our futures. Several members of our group had been wine club members at that winery and we had always been treated well and had a good time. Suddenly, since no one was a member anymore, we were treated like persona non grata. We didn’t stay to taste and instead decided to visit Sentivo Vineyards which had been recommended by Mary at Gold Vine Grill where we had lunch. I am so glad we did! The staff at Sentivo Vineyards saved the day for us so that it…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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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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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