The Central California Trilogy – Part 3


All you need is love

Do-da-do-da-do. (come on, sing along)

All you need is love….

Part 3, finally

Where the heck were we? Damn tangents. Ok, so we leave Bass Lake through Oakhurst – geography people, take a drive – on to CA 49 north. Twisty, windy (long I – sounds better to me than winding) through some rolling hills in the gold mine territory. Half hour later we’re in Angels Camp, home of Mark Twain’s Jumping Frog and annual frog jumping event at the month long state-fairish thingy. Something like like that. Look it up if you want to know exactly what it is. Twenty minutes or so later we pass through the cute little town of Mariposa. No big whoop, and then we pass a warning sign, “Trucks over 30′ kingpin to axle not advised next 22 miles”. I thought, “We saw that same sign from Temecula to Julian” and it was a bunch of very tight turns in the mountains but everybody just backs off when they see you, so WTF! Andrea didn’t see the sign. Didn’t want to scare her so said nothing. Then out of the blue we come upon an overlook, the perfect place to have lunch. And then we took a look. Cat’s out of the bag. Holy Switchback!

Lots of people stopped up there after coming up from Bagby Recreational Area, down at that bridge. One guy in a big white pick-up truck (I think the only color they sell in CA), advised us against going down there. Whoop, there it is! Sign me up baby. Must be one of loose screws. Tell me not to do it and the green light comes on. Had similar warnings 12 years ago when we drove our old 27 footer over Independence Pass in Colorado. That was one lane at points at the edge of a cliff, a must drive if you like that kind of thing. Get out of the way, here I come. Great game of chicken. Back to the Bagby Rec Area. Nicely paved road, respectful drivers of a 42 footer towing, and a tiring number of very tight turns and switchbacks. I would much rather be on a flat, wide interstate but if the road is going to be a challenge, give me your best. It was no Moki Dugway but, damn, that was fun. And, it seemed like we were sniffing glue halfway through. With so much shifting going on we were bound to break something – a bottle of clear nail polish. No wonder I felt like Superman.

The next 50 miles were only slightly easier. It’s all mountains where CA 49 transverses. We ended up in the old mining town of Columbia, our overnight (2) destination. To get to the 49er RV Ranch, you have to go through and then zig-zag around Columbia Historic State Park. No problem. But upon arrival, we got the last site available. Three guys, all with beards but all needing some dental work, guided me into my spot, up a very severely steep curving hill – backwards. Good job boys. Topped off an exhilarating day behind the wheel. And the Wi-Fi was good enough to stream the Mets game.

One more by-the-way: I bought the single team MLB package this year for my team so if you need to contact my phone during a Met game, try Andrea or 911.

Columbia is one of many of the original gold mining towns along CA 49, named for the real 49ers, not hapless football team. The road is also known as the Golden Chain Highway, stringing a dozen gold rush towns together over hundreds of miles. We passed through Sutter Creek, home of the original gold rush mine. Lots of history along the way. You could make a nice vacation of it if gorgeous scenery, old west charm, and history is your thing. Here’s a little bit of the state historic park in Columbia:

Now we’re in Tahoe Valley RV Resort, in South Lake Tahoe. Beautiful. The best of National Lampoon’s Vacation if they had come here. Very tall pine trees and a lovely full moon tonight walking the dog, rather breathtaking as we await tomorrow’s snow storm. The drive in on US 50 was more of the same, back and forth for 50 miles, a couple of switchbacks and finally we emerge far above the lake – a beautiful view – you gotta put Lake Tahoe on your bucket list. We took a short drive today up along the shore to Nevada Beach in, surprise!, Nevada. The actual national forest recreation area was officially closed but we walked from a nearby street to the beach and I hope Andrea posts some of her pics soon because I left my phone in the car. We have to go back because this was one of the most spectacular sights we’ve encountered in almost two years on the road. We went to Tahoe in 2006 for our 30th anniversary. Problem was, my math was off a year and it was only 29 years. But we gambled then so it was fun. The scenery was gorgeous. And it still is. We’re voting for it as the place we would most want to come back to. Do you like jaw dropping natural scenery? Or, would you rather look at crumbling ruins of man made cities? Come on, this is a destination. You like to ski? Heaven. Gamble? Yeah, the Nevada side. Sit back and love what you’re looking at? The best. The chamber of commerce ought to pay me. I’ll get some pictures Saturday, after the snow stops.


I loved his rock guitar riffs. Eric Clapton, upon being interviewed as the best guitarist in the world, said that you should be interviewing Prince. Not a fan of most of his genres but when he started ripping on that guitar, I could just close my eyes and let him take me away. Would have loved to have seen him and Carlos Santana play off each other. I don’t know if that ever happened but I can imagine. As a human being previously known as the God of odd, I loved his independence – going your own way. We lost a genius.

OK, after running this by the editorial staff and cleaning up some of the steroid induced angry rants, it’s now Friday and the snow is here.

That’s some big fat snow.

Last thoughts. California is our favorite state. The geographic diversity, so much breathtaking scenery – we’ll be back, Arnold.

And my love to the editorial staff who has had to deal with the response to raging steroids and pain. I’m sorry for being such an ass.

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