"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Waterfalls, Family & Fishing!

Placerville, CA
Storm Valley Ranch

The next weekend Dale and Ruth stopped by for a hike and lunch.  They were camping down near Sacramento for a bit.  Had to take them to the waterfalls in Coloma.  It was that pretty.
Steve, Me, Ruth & Dale.
Views of the American River.

Mt. Murphy. 
I think there were even more wildflowers blooming.
Funny how much the grass grew in just a week.  And the poison oak.  I felt like everyones Mom, reminding them not to touch the nasty stuff as you hiked by.  Luckily no one got it this time either!

While the water was just a little bit slower, it was still amazing.  The sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds but it was still a gorgeous day.

Ruth carefully climbing down from the "Sofa Rock".
This time we hiked up a bit further to where the REAL gem of the waterfall is.  Luckily a guy going past told us that if we went just a bit up we would be really surprised!  It's even more amazing up here.  Dutch Creek Falls (the Upper Falls) is joined with Johntown Falls across the canyon. 

That is Johntown Falls above.  I couldn't really capture the entire falls as I was on a very narrow, steep part of the trail just to get this shot.  You can't really get both falls in their entirety in one picture without a nice wide angle lens.

The upper hillside above Dutch Falls was covered with its own waterfall of purple flowers.
Another shot of Johntown Falls (above) and a shot below where they join Upper Dutch Falls (below).

Ruth goin' in for the shot on the steep hillside.

Since you can't get down the steep, slippery rock I just couldn't get a picture of Dutch Creek Falls from the best angle.  It is just gorgeous to see this spot!  Guess I'll have to do a three-peat and bring Curt and Glenda here next week.


Once back down at Coloma we decide to stop in to Gold Hill Winery & Brewery for some tasting.  Here is the link to the brewery portion of their website.
We sat outside with our drinks and planned where we'd go for lunch.  In the end we decided to walk down Main St. in Placerville and give them the Timmy's Brown Bag experience.  You'd have to go to their site for examples of their crazy, but DELICIOUS sandwiches.
We had a great time with Ruth and Dale and we also got some great tips on things to do and see from them while we are in Oregon next month.

The next day we were up early to go to Lake Berryessa where our son, Brennan, had planned a farewell day of fishing and BBQ for our family and his girlfriend, Alex's, parents. It can be difficult to see everyone you want in just a month, so this was great!  My brother and Alex's Dad brought their bass boats, we all brought our kayaks and my sister brought her paddle board so there was plenty of water fun for everyone!

My Dad, Kaylee, Shane (the fashioniesta of the family!), Brennan and my Mom.
My brother taking my parents out for some fishing.  This was very memorable as my Dad has not been able to fish or hunt anymore.  It's been years since he last fished.  Both of them caught several Bass and he was in heaven!
Ryan, Hurley and I out and about in the kayak.
Diane, Courtney and Josh.
My brother's dog, Ruger.  He is like a little kid.  He will just swim around by himself.  His favorite though is just sitting or standing in the water and splashing.  He could do this for hours! SO funny!
Kaylee all happy that she was able to stand up and paddle without falling off.
Even happier when she caught a bass later from the paddleboard. Way to go Kaylee!
Kris caught a nice Bass from the shore.
My brother with one of his catches.
After lunch Steve and I went out with Alex's parents, Rob and Sandra.  From the pictures you can guess who caught all the fish!

Nice one Rob!
Rob and Steve.
Me and Sandra.
I never did get a picture of Brennan and Alex, but thank you both for all the work coordinating everyone and planning the BBQ!
And that wraps up another busy week!  I'm not sure how much more back to back fun I can take!  I guess we'll find out as Curt and Glenda arrive in a couple days.  We'll show them around Placerville for a few days then we'll all head up to Oregon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What a Crazy Weekend!

Placerville, CA
Storm Valley Ranch

Tina and I had planned to go out on a hike when she mentioned she had heard of a nearby waterfall that neither of us had known about and suggested we check it out. 
It was outside of Coloma (where gold was discovered).  We've spent so much time here over the years I couldn't believe neither of us knew about it.  We parked by the river and walked about one mile to the trailhead.  The overall hike to the Upper Dutch Creek Falls and back is about 5 miles.
We couldn't have picked a better time as the snow melt and warm, sunny days has the creeks and rivers flowing heavily.  California's State Poppies are turning the hillsides orange.
The entrance to a pretty little winery.

Here is the entrance to the unmaintained trailhead.
Mt. Murphy in the distance.

More pictures of Mt. Murphy as the trail leads us up a bit and around it.

There were a few downed trees along the way.  Unmaintained means no trail clearing.  There are many areas where you have to duck and maneuver around the poison oak.  While there were no rattlesnakes out this trip you do have to watch for them and ticks.  I don't know why, but at lower elevations around the US there seems to be more and more tick warnings.  We did have to brush a few off along the way.  Erosion is also a problem on one steep section of trail, so be careful as it is somewhat hidden in thick grass.
The trail follows the creek most of the time.  It is nice to hear it as you hike along.  There are several other small cascades and falls.
All the bright green of new leaves on trees, ferns and moss were just beautiful.

This cute little Blue Belly lizard was taking a little siesta.
Here we are at the Lower Dutch Creek Falls.  They were just beautiful and roaring with water.  Too bad we did not know there was an Upper Falls too! (there is a later blogpost about the Upper Falls).
So loud! (sorry Lee for the format!)
We took a few pictures and explored around. 

Other than a couple that left as we got there, we didn't see anyone until we were leaving.
 Opposite the falls is a large boulder that we climbed up on to and had a snack and just soaked in the sunshine and listened to the falls.

A colorful pool.
What a great spot!  Like a built-in couch.  A rock couch, but quite comfy.

A picture of the vultures flying above the steep hillsides with a bit of crescent moon out.
It was a great hike and we followed it up with lunch at the Argonaut Farm to Fork Café in Historic Coloma. We usually order one of the delicious sandwiches that comes with a salad and there is more than enough to split.  Everything is farmed locally and so delicious.  Another great hike Tina!
The next day Steve and I were up early for the 3 hour drive to San Jose to visit friends and family.  Ugg, we hate this drive.  Each year it just gets worse and worse as the population, and house prices, soar.  It no longer matters what time you leave (mid day, midnight, etc) it will take HOURS!  There is always traffic and you're bound to hit a car accident or two or five!
We had dinner with our brother-in-law, Brian and a couple of great friends, Michael and Amy.  I specifically wanted to eat at El Burro.  It's a family owned Mexican restaurant that has been open for over 40 years in the same place.   Seems the upscale center it is in gave them their ticket to leave so they can subdivide their large space to make more money.  Of course!  Too bad as they are a community favorite with tons of charm and some really good food!  We sure hope they find another location and wish them well.
The funny and pathetic (but free) salad is actually very tasty.  I've never eaten that beet though!
Kind of funny I didn't get a picture of our group of the meal, just the salad!
Another fun surprise was a re-connection with an old friend I used to work with at Burger Pit.  That was when I was 18!  We lost contact of each other over the years but she found me through facebook.  She still lives in San Jose so we picked the next morning to have breakfast.  It was really great to catch up with Anita after all these years.
Anita and I.  It was just like the past 35+ years never happened.  Funny how that happens.  It was great to see you again Anita!

Well breakfast flew by and a few more hours talking at a local park I used to play at as a kid.  Then I had to buzz off to dinner with another friend, Chris.  We ate and waited for the rest of our trio to show up for after-dinner drinks.
Chris, Deb and I went to the somewhat new, Bass Pro Shop.  They have a large restaurant, bar and bowling alley inside!  The bar is huge and it is decorated with the usual Bass Pro shop décor.  It's a really fun place to stop at.  We talked for a few more hours then called it a night.
Here is the small bowling alley that looks like it's under water.  Really neat place to visit.
 Me, Chris and Deb.  Friends since high school. Cross Country Running teammates.
The next morning we were up early and doing a repeat of the 3+ hour drive home.  I had plans to do some fishing with my brother the next morning but cancelled.  I'm just not cut out for that back-to-back fun anymore!  Too crazy!  I need some extra sleep.
Later in the week I did a little geocaching at another nearby Pioneer Cemetery I had not been to before.  I walked around and read the markers.  I love old cemeteries and find them very interesting and peaceful.
I liked this marker for an old samurai from the Gold Rush days.  The Wakumatsu  Family were quite successful in this area.  They still have a large farm where they grown some of the best Mandarin Oranges.
Beautiful, intricate iron work surrounding this family plot.
I thought it was kind of funny that poison oak was growing out of the middle of the gate. The residents may be long dead, but I swear, this poison oak lives on forever!!
Purple Lilacs blooming all around.  This doe was enjoying the area as much as I was.
Next up some more hiking and FISHING!