Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert

Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, lies at the heart of the Painted Desert and is one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world.

When I heard that the National Parks’ Senior Lifetime Pass was increasing from $20 to $80, I decided to go ahead and get mine. I was a few years past the time when I qualified but I never really thought I would use it. Other than Yosemite, there weren’t many National Parks near me in northern California but I wanted to get it, just in case, before the price increase. So, who knew I would use it twice in one week on this trip, for Grand Canyon National Park and for Petrified Forest National Park. The first time I used my pass was when I went to the Grand Canyon on October 31st (Halloween). When I booked the Grand Canyon Railway, I had to either…

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The Incomparable Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway

I love trains so I knew that combining the Grand Canyon Railway with seeing the Grand Canyon would be the highlight of my trip.

My RV journey began with the thought that a travel trailer might be easier than finding multiple hotels that would take my three cats on my move from Northern California to southern Texas. From that simple thought it grew into the idea of fulfilling a life-long dream of traveling around the country in an RV. As I fantasized about what the trip might look like, I knew the only thing I HAD to do was see the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and the only one in the United States. Everything else I might get to see or do would just be gravy on the potatoes. Grand Canyon Railway I don’t remember how I learned…

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Notes from an RV Newbie’s First Weekend on the Road

If my first weekend on the road as an RV newbie is any indication of how things are going to go for the next few weeks, I’m truly going to love this life.

If you have been following my blog, you know that just before my birthday I made a life changing decision to downsize, buy a travel trailer and do some long-term traveling while moving in the general direction of southern Texas. Preparing to be an RV newbie has been a monumental chore with not much to write about so it has been a while since I posted. I’m back now and plan to share the whole adventure with you. If my first weekend on the road as an RV newbie is any indication of how things are going to go for the next few weeks, I’m truly going to love this life. Day one, Friday, October 12 I finally pulled out from Pine Grove at about…

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Mercer Caverns: A Top Attraction in Murphys, CA

Murphys, CA, in Calaveras County is home to Mercer Caverns, one of four fantastic caverns in Northern Caifornia's Gold Country. Learn about the fascinating history and amazing geology on an entertaining guided tour.

My friend Joy and her husband were here visiting for a few days from Southern California so I planned some activities for them. We spent the day on Sunday in Murphys attending their Presidents’ Wine Weekend event. On the drive to Murphys, Joy wanted to know if we could visit Mercer Caverns wile we were there since it was only a mile away. One of my goals is to visit all four of the fantastic caverns in Northern California’s Gold Country, so I was happy to agree. Because it is so close and the tour only lasts about an hour, it was a perfect break from all the wine tasting.     Since I visited Black Chasm Cavern in Volcano last year, I figured Mercer…

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Amador City: Where to Eat, Stay and Play

Although Amador City is the smallest incorporated city in California, covering less than a square mile, it has lots to offer. It has a hotel and four great places to eat. Main Street is also dotted with unique shops, a wine tasting room or two and a museum.

Although Amador City is the smallest incorporated city in California, covering less than a square mile, it has lots to offer. It has a hotel and four great places to eat. Main Street is also dotted with unique shops, a wine tasting room or two and a museum. If you want to learn about local history, you can take a walking tour of the town. Hike the back roads to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area.     Where to Eat in Amador City Imperial Hotel The Imperial Hotel is the perfect place for an elegant dinner for a special occasion or just some really delicious food. The hotel dining room prides itself on featuring organic, locally grown produce, fresh meats and sustainably…

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Things to do in Murphys CA — More than Wine Tasting

When you visit Murphys, it will be obvious why it was voted one of the top ten coolest small towns in America. Take a trip back to the 1800s while enjoying great food, shopping, art galleries, outdoor activities and more.

If you haven’t been to Murphys, you should definitely add it to your list of places to go in California’s Gold Country. I have been there for special events like the Chili Cook-off, just to shop, and to stop for breakfast on my way to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. When you visit, it will be obvious why it was voted one of the top ten coolest small towns in America by Budget Travel Magazine. There are cool things to do in Murphys CA! Murphys, California, is located in Calaveras County, about 3 hours east of San Francisco and a little less than two hours southeast of Sacramento. I’m only an hour away where I live in Amador County so I can visit often. If you…

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Small Town Wine Bar in California’s Smallest Incorporated City

When I learned that another eating and drinking establishment was opening in Amador City, I have to admit, I was a little jealous. They already had the Imperial Hotel and Jamison’s Ale House, two of my favorite places to eat in the county. They had Andrae’s Bakery, which puts out some awesome bread and pastries. Now they were going to have Small Town Wine Bar, too.     Small Town Wine Bar in Amador City Small Town Wine Bar owner, Ginger Budrick Carter, has been in the hospitality industry all her life. She started working in her parents restaurant in Sutter Creek at the age of 13 where she worked her way up through all the positions. She learned to pay close attention to every…

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Amtrak from Sacramento to San Francisco

Amtrak -- Sacramento to San Francisco -- who knew? Certainly not me. At least not until recently. I've lived here for more than three years and didn't know you could take Amtrak from Sacramento to San Francisco.

Amtrak — Sacramento to San Francisco — who knew? Certainly not me. At least not until recently. I’ve lived here for more than three years and didn’t know you could take Amtrak from Sacramento to San Francisco. San Francisco is about a three hour drive and 130 miles from where I live in Amador County. Then there’s the traffic and the parking. When I learned from a client that you could take the train, I was quite eager to try it out because I LOVE riding the train, which you can read about here and here. It was on my mind for a few months but I just didn’t have a specific reason to go. When I received an invitation to ZinEX (hold that thought…

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Most Viewed Posts of 2017

My top ten most viewed posts of 2017 include stories about historic places, amazing food and fun and interesting things to do in Gold Country.

Last year, when I wrote a post about my most viewed posts of 2016, the blog had only been in operation for just under 10 months. During that time, I wrote 34 posts, an average of over three a month. I didn’t meet my goal of at least four posts per month but I was pleased with the quality of what I had put out. When I sat down to figure out my most viewed posts of 2017, I was a little shocked to see that during 2017 I only published 32 posts for the whole year. That’s way below my goal of four per month. Consistency is definitely my biggest short coming when it comes to blogging, but I believe in quality over quantity. I…

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Oysters and Smoked Meats at Jamison’s Ale House

The first time I went to Jamison's Ale House and Oyster Bar in Amador City, CA, I knew I would be going back often and would want to share it with you. You'll find things on the menu you won't find anywhere else in the county.

The first time I went to Jamison’s Ale House and Oyster Bar in Amador City, CA, I knew I would be going back often and would want to share it with you. Jamison’s Ale House If you want to know anything about beer or home brewing, visit Jamison’s Ale House and talk to co-owner Virginia Vasquez. Virginia has been judging beer for nearly 20 years, both commercial and home brew competitions. As a result, she began to appreciate how important it is to understand the ingredients, process and history of beer. She has organized pub crawls all over Northern California, blogged and written for a brewing magazine. Seven years ago, Virginia was coming through town and stopped to visit a merchant friend. She ended up…

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