July 1, 2008

oh no, am I turning redneck?

Yesterday I drove my 4WD on a mess of a backwoods dirt road, including driving through a sort of seasonal stream that is more of a temporary West Nile Virus factory. At my destination, one of the things I did was shoot a rifle. On the drive out, in low four wheel drive, I realized something: It had been fun.

No, I didn't go hunting. That's not on my agenda any time soon. My older son is on his first week away at Boy Scout camp in the Sierra foothills, a beautiful campground in gold country. The setting really is spectacular, and although it's isolated along a river in the wilderness, it's not far from several historic sites and towns. Since my parents were visiting, we decided to spend a couple of days up there and also drop in on the camp to see how the little bugger was doing.

Short version: He is having the time of his life. He's only 11 and gets to fire a .22 rifle (at targets). He hasn't even attained his first rank yet, and he's likely completed his Shooting merit badge this morning. He could (and may before the end of the week) try shooting a shotgun at skeet. Since he's 68 pounds soaking wet, it may break his shoulder. But he'd love it.

I tried my hand at the .22, too. I almost got the five shots within a quarter's diameter (the requirement for the merit badge).

We only spent a few hours visiting the camp. The rest of our mini vacation to gold country included a visit to historic Columbia state park. We panned for gold and drank Sarsaparilla, and the ranger talked to me for quite a while about the history of the Wells Fargo express office building. Next year I hope to get to the Columbia Diggin's.

Besides walking through Murphys, a cute little town with a preponderance of antique shops and a curious penchant for attracting Harley riders and rally car drivers, we descended into Mercer Caverns. We had a few years ago ventured into Black Chasm, which I enjoyed immensely. The story of Mercer and his discovery was more interesting, but I liked the mystery of Black Chasm's deep underground pool. Both are fascinating.

We stayed overnight at the Best Western on Hwy 4 in Angels Camp, and I can recommend it. Nice rooms. Clean. Pleasant continental breakfast. Good location. Quiet. It's also near a little park called Utica Park, right on Hwy 4, which is a great place for a picnic lunch. We also veered off the road to see the Mark Twain Cabin, not knowing anything about it beforehand. When we got there, we found out why it's located on Jackass Hill. Cuz only jackasses bother to drive up there to see this little "cabin" which really has almost no actual interesting history to it whatsoever.

The best part of this trip is that my WIP takes place during the Gold Rush in a fictitious area not unlike these towns. There's even a cave that plays a pivotal role. So believe I can write off much of the trip as research expense. (Note to self: Save receipts.)


JaneyV said...

Sounds like a fantastic weekend Pete. It'd really suit my inner cowgirl. Didn't Calamity Jane always ask the bartender for a Sasperilly?

Glad your son's enjoying himself. My eldest is in North Wales on an adventure week with his school - kayaking, white-water rafting, rock-climbing, caving etc. Glad he's keeping away from his snotty, sicky siblings. Thanks for your concern btw. They're both sleeping soundly. Hopefully much better by morning!

Robin S. said...

Thanks for sharing your trip with us! Sounds like a wonderful time.

And - Nah- you're not a redneck.
Don't worry!

I'm from freakin' Kentucky - I can smell one a mile (or an internet connection) away.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

That's cool! and no redneck jokes from me. But is it me or do I hear banjoes playing as I read this?

Chris Eldin said...

Do you have moderation on?

Chris Eldin said...

Ooops, I guess I typed in the wrong word ver.
Basically said there was nothing wrong with redneck.


Tammy Brierly said...

I moved up by Placerville from Sonora and loved Columbia. Glad you had some fun!