Relish a January ketchup? 2014

Jimmy and I hung around Matt and Jen's in SoCal for a couple of days upon returning from South America on New Years Eve.  We went out for brunch on New Year's Day, and slowly got back into the swing of things. Matt drove us to Santa Monica for a visit to the mall, as well as an outing at the new Tongva Park. This park is really a perfect blend of function, space and design; close to the beach and everything else.  

On Friday, Jan 3rd, we hopped in the Prius for the trip home to Nevada City on the usual boring I-5 freeway.  It's seven or eight hours of either barren nothingness or huge corporate orchards, mainly almonds trees in rows that stretch for miles in all directions. Once in while orange or walnut or pistachio groves appear, and vineyards, of course.  But, there just isn't much to take your mind off the fact that you're stuck with this "scenery" for hours.

I took this picture from the roof of Matt's apartment bldg.
If you squint, you can see the Hollywood sign!

I know this is a succulent of some kind,
but I've never seen flowers like this! @ Tongva Park.

My two favorite guys at Tongva Park. 

We usually adjust fairly quickly to our surroundings, but this time -- coming from early summer in austral South America to early winter in Northern California -- this time the change was rough.  To wit: I woke up sometime in the dark that first night we were sleeping in our own bed.  Bewildered, I lifted my head off the pillow and said, "Where are we?  I don't know where I am."  I peered around in the darkened room and realized we were home.  Satisfied, I burrowed back under the blanket and drifted off to sleep.  We turn our thermostat down to 50 degrees when we leave town, and it takes the house (and that bed!) a while to feel warm and cozy.

Long winter shadows on a lengthy afternoon Canal trail walk in Nevada City,
a few days after we returned home.

While we were basking in warm sun on the Golden Princess the first week in December, Nevada City got a 6" - 12" snowfall!  (awww, too bad we missed it )  And, a month later, this one-foot mound is what's left from where the snowplow piled heaps of snow. 

Another aspect of our slow adjustment was too-short winter days!  It was summer in South America and we'd gotten used to (and liked) early sunrises and late sunsets.  Now when we awoke at 6 or even 7 in the morning, it was still dark outside.  In fact, the sun didn't peek over the mountain and into our windows till well after 9 am.  A tough one for early risers like me and Jimmy!  And then, by 3 in the afternoon, those long shadows soon vanished into darkness.  During those few daylight hours, we unpacked and then found things to do while we acclimated.  I began catching up on my South American blogs.  We went hiking a few times -- exercise was good -- and once we met up with fellow hikers, Laurie and Odel, to try out a new trail near the historic town of Coloma.

Odel, Laurie, me and Jimmy on the Monroe Ridge Trail at Marshall Gold Discovery St Pk.  After a chilly morning, jackets came off.  This was a fine sunny afternoon for a loop hike.  We ate our packed lunches at the next picnic table site.

Most people remember the name Sutter and associate it with the 1848 California Gold Rush.  The man who actually found gold was James W. Marshall (1810-1885).  He was an American carpenter and sawmill operator, whose discovery of gold in the American River in NorCal on January 24, 1848 set the stage for the California Gold Rush.  The mill property was owned by John Sutter, who'd employed Marshall to build his mill.  Marshall, the dang fool, blabbed about his find, and the world stampeded to the American River!  The rest, as they say, is history.

Odel, Laurie and Jimmy at Marshall's monument. 

This is a replica of Sutter's saw mill.  The original was never used as intended, as waves of gold seekers turned everyone's attention away from the mill.  It eventually fell into disrepair.  Neither Marshall nor Sutter ever profited from the gold discovery.  We four wondered aloud how long we could keep quiet if we were to discover gold.  Much discussion, but no one committed to staying silent!

Despite a prolonged drought, the North Fork of the American River flows along nicely.  I peered into the water looking for bright and shiny (as in, gold), but all I saw were dull, gray rocks.

The actual site!  We were here!

Sutter's Mill site. 

Near the end of our loop trail were Nisenan Maidu bark structure replicas.
A Nisenan village stood here for thousands of years. 

Chaw-se (grinding rock) was a key part of Nisenan village life.  Based on the number of deep holes pounded into it, this chaw-se was used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years to grind acorns.

Nearby were two stone structures built in 1858-59.  One building - Wah Hop Store and Bank - was leased to Wah Hop in 1860, and served the sizable Chinese community for many years.

This sign was the first thing we saw when we hit the trail.  I looked, we all looked, but none of us saw a mountain lion.  Probably just as well, right?!

This ends my January catch-up.  Next:  Our Marysville swan tour!


  1. So nice to see pics of Odel and Laurie. I didn't realize you lived near them. Looks like they're doing well.

    1. Uh-huh, we live about 60 miles apart. They're fun people! Yes, they're doing well.

  2. That was a fun day! Too bad we live 60 curvy, up and down miles from each other - you are good hiking partners. Nice pics!

  3. oh fun! Four of my favorite people on a hike that I would love to go on someday...As long as you keep me out of the poison oak. No poison oak...right? You all look just great. I hear you about those dark winter days, Nicki...ack. By the time we get back to Oregon it will be much better.

    1. Right - no poison ivy... as long as you keep to the trail. :) Maybe we can all hike Malakoff Diggins this coming spring. Wouldn't that be a hoot? We'd prob all be out of control!!


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