Classic Rollin'... on a Saturday, June 21st

... rollin', rollin', right down Nimrod Street in Nevada City on the longest day of the year -- hello, Summer Solstice! Nevada City's soap box derby is a classic of a different kind, and full of amateurs in some of the strangest contraptions you'd ever want to see rolling down a street.  After visiting the farmer's market, Jimmy and I found a parking space a few streets away (Smartie is so easy to park!) and walked to where the action was!  We met our friends, Fran and Anson, there.  Check out some of these goofy gizmos -- enlarge each one for a bigger view!

The crowd's (and my) favorite:  Mrs. Potato-head!

 Sponsored by the Outside Inn of Nevada City, this entry was also a crowd-pleaser.  Cute!

A pool table rumbling down the street!


The bullet?  Fast! 

Not too creative.  Guy with a Go Pro on his helmet.

Waiting to be towed up the hill to the start line.  This car raced down the hill. 

And this would be the ore car, with its lovely pit crew on the right. 

 Did it spout flames as it roared downhill?  Nope.

A fierce fish being chased by a rogue airplane!  (I like that plane!)
(the entries hooked together by pull ropes are being towed back up the hill [by jeep] for the next heat.) 

I understand there were two categories:  One winner in the fastest group and one winner in creativity.  Some of these things flew down the hill so fast, I couldn't aim ye olde point-n-shoot camera fast enough.  For a hot, sunny day, the Derby enjoyed a good turnout -- lots of families were out enjoying this long summer day.  

The Derby is all about FUN, but it also raises money to fund adjacent Pioneer Park improvements.  I didn't take a picture of the fantastic swimming pool in this park, but I did stop by to ask about the pool water temperature today:  81°.  Believe one of these days soon I'll be suiting up!  Pioneer Park is also where the free band concerts take place; tomorrow evening will be the first one this year.  We'll miss it, darn it, as we can't be in two places at once and we're going to the Nevada Theater to watch, "Fed Up," a movie "the food industry doesn't want you to see."  Hoy!  That should be something.  Wonder if they'll serve brownies and/or popcorn?


A real Classic -- Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Father's Day weekend provided lots to do around town, beginning with the annual opening of our weekly Saturday morning Nevada City Farmer's Market.  The picture below doesn't show much of a crowd, but that's because most everyone was down at the other end of the street where the fresh fruits and veggies are. Plus, it was early, which IMO is the best time to go.  We picked up a hefty Napa cabbage, kale (for smoothies), and a pound of walnuts. We also bought freestone peaches because we could smell their aroma before we saw the vendor -- now that's a good recommendation! They were delicious, too. 

Here's Jimmy shooting the breeze with our friends, Marlene and Cliff, at their well-attended stand.  Their main product is organic mushrooms (many varieties)!

* * * * *

Sunday morning seemed like a good time to hit our canal trail for a leisurely walk, with near-perfect temps for outdoor exercise.  I almost always take my point-'n-shoot camera with me, in case I see something swell. The water level seemed low again, but at least water was flowing.  We didn't necessarily see anything swell, except some very nice wildflowers. 

California Indian Pink (Silene californica) - a foothill flower ranging up to about 4,000 ft.  This flower is named not for its color, which is decidedly unpink, but because it appears to have been thru the laundry with a pair of pinking shears.  This is a commonly heard explanation.  On the other hand, Wikipedia asserts that pinking shears were named after the flower!  Interesting information!

 Phantom Orchid (Cephalanthera austiniae).  Don't let the green leaves fool you, this plant rises from the moist forest floor on waxy stems with white orchid blossoms and no leaves.  This species is also entirely dependent on symbiotic mycorrhizae for its nutrition -- as in, it has no chlorophyll, so it makes no energy for itself.  Very cool to see.

Of course, beautiful Crimson columbine (Aquilegia formosa) was represented on the canal path

One of my favorites is Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and they lined the path in places.

* * * * *

On Father's Day, our town hosted the 54th annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic, which begins at 12:45 pm with a children's parade and finishes with the Men's Pro winner @ 6:30 -- fun for the entire family.  We arrived around 5 pm after an early dinner to watch the Men's Pro start.  Neither Jimmy nor I had ever been to a true bicycle race, à la Tour de France, and we got caught up in the spirit of bicycle racing!  We found the event quite exciting, so much so that we needed an ice cream to keep up our strength !  The lap course wasn't long, but it had two basics that I could see:  Uphill and Downhill.  Out of 57 racers in this class, a 24-year-old guy won the 90-minute race.  I bet he wasn't even breathing hard.

... and they're off... 

"Flying" down Broad Street at speeds of up to 50 mph... and then entering a curve!  Egad!

 ... riding up Commercial Street ...

 Overcast skies moved in, which was a blessing for contestants and crowd alike.
One more lap and the winner is:

The guy in blue with his arms raised!  Walton Brush of Mike's Bikes claimed victory.

The End!


A walk on the mild side - Monday, June 9th, 2014

On a scale of 1 to 10, walking along (or adjacent to) Sagehen Creek is a ten in my book.  Whether in the tall trees, grateful for shade, in riparian sections of the trail, or out in an open wildflower-bedecked meadow, you never know what you're going to see and it's a safe bet that you'll see plenty.  We came to this 6,000+ ft trail to escape the heat of lower elevations, and we wanted to share this cool hike with my sis, Nannie.  It's a 5-mile R/T hike, but relatively flat, so it's easy going.

Not a lot of water in Sagehen Creek, especially in a drought.  This creek drains into Stampede Reservoir, which was so low we could barely see it from our turn-around point. 

 I expected to see entire hillsides covered in blooming Mule's Ears, and we did see lots in bloom, but we also noticed many of them were wilting in the heat (and let's face it, we're dry here).

 We spotted pretty Crimson columbines in shady nooks. 

Masses of Purple Meadow Penstemon - Sagehen is a wildflower paradise in springtime!

 Nannie and me -- happy to be Out and About together (and airing ourselves).

 The patch of blue way down there is Stampede Reservoir.  We didn't go as far as that.

This meadow is in glorious color.  A treat for the eyes!

 Jimmy and I saw Kokanee salmon here on a hike we made last fall.  Easy to walk across Sagehen Creek without getting much of a foot-soaker.

A little further on toward the lake in the previous photo, I spotted a large brown bird thru my binocs, so I eased along the creek till I got closer.  What a surprise to see a lone brown Sandhill Crane!  The only Sandhills I've ever seen are gray, so what's up with this guy?  Nannie came alongside me and together we snuck in closer.  Eventually we walked all the way around this line of short willows.  No Sandhill.  It did not fly away.  We walked around again.  Nothing.  We supposed it was hunkered down in the tall stuff.  We looked it up online when we got home and these guys are called "stained" Sandhill Cranes -- some adults are stained rusty-orange by iron-rich mud. 

On our return, we paused again at the pond, like we did on the hike out.  We knew it was a beaver pond, full of green leafy trees and plants, with scores of birds, but it didn't look lived-in by beavers any more, or so Jimmy and I thought.  WRONG.  While we stood watching a woodpecker, a large ripple in the water caught my eye -- by gum, there it was -- a big ol' brown beaver toolin' around in the shallows.  You don't often see them, 'cause they don't want to be seen, but this guy didn't seem to mind.  Cool beans!

We studied this one last wildflower on our way to the car, a Foothill Death Camas (Toxicoscordion paniculatum).  This perennial is, as the name implies, toxic.  But pretty.

We enjoyed our hike immensely, but when it was over we were grateful to get in the car and head down the mountain to Nevada City.  (The Prius coasts most of the way down!)

* * * * * * * * * *

Tuesday was Nannie's last full day with us on this trip. I guess it would be redundant to say another hot one was predicted.  We opted to go to the movies early Tuesday afternoon, beat the heat inside an air-conditioned theater!  What flick did we pick?  A Million Ways to Die in the West -- an outrageously funny movie that had the entire audience (including us) rolling in the aisles!  What a great way to spend a hot ol' afternoon, followed by an easy dinner at Lefty's in Nevada City.

So, Jimmy and I bid adieu to my sister on Wednesday 6/11.  Back to the Reno airport where she would take off on the first of two flights home... in clear weather, thank goodness.  Back to her home and husband. Nannie and I are like two peas in a pod, tho we're seven years apart in age (she bees the younger one).  We love to spend time together and it doesn't matter where or what we're doing.  As adults, she and I lived next door to each other in Louisiana for ten years and that part of our lives was simply grand.

One advantage of our hot weather week was being able to get up early, and she and I would go sit on the back deck, in shorts or light jammies (or whatever).  With coffee and binocs, we'd sit out there watching various birds sample the feeders, and we'd chitchat or sit quietly... no stress, no worries, no haste, just two best friends - sisters - treasuring the simple stuff of life.  It doesn't get any better than this.  Love you, my seester!

The heat wave broke the next morning....


Don't forget to bring lunch! Donner Lake, CA, Monday 6/9/14

Monday, June 9th, dawned sunny and already as warm as biscuits right out of the oven.  We are active people, Nannie, Jimmy and me, and we don't like to just sit around, but it would be too hot to do much either in the Central Valley (as in the Sacramento area) or up here in the foothills.  We decided to hie ourselves up the mountain again to pay a (first) visit to Donner Memorial State Park, and perhaps hike around the lake.  We packed a lunch, and took plenty to drink.  The temp at 6,000 ft was in the 80's... not too bad.  Sunny and ... windy!

A lot of jokes are made about the ill-fated Donner party, and I'm as guilty as the next person.  Trying to imagine the horror of being stranded under such grueling conditions boggles the mind.  If you're not familiar with this bit of American history, Wikipedia has the story.  Please enlarge this picture if you can't read it -- the Pioneer Monument (below) was dedicated in 1918 to commemorate "the pioneers who crossed the plains to settle in California."

 "Near this spot the height of the monument shaft indicates the depth of the snow, which was twenty-two feet."

 Approximate area of the Murphy cabin (1846).  I cannot imagine 22 feet of snow here.  Certainly looks green and lush today, surrounded by majestic Lodgepole pines, Jeffrey pines, and White firs.  

 Clusters of pink Pussy Paws - so named because the packed flowers resemble upturned pads on cats' feet, and feel velvety - dotted the dry ground near the monument.

 The VC won't open till January, but the state park museum offered an array of interesting exhibits and information.  This sign was displayed behind the desk in the museum.  Little did the Donner Party know what lay ahead of them (but, then, who does?).

We left the museum to eat lunch at beautiful Donner Lake, and walk the easy lakeside trail.  The wind off the lake was pretty stiff and we changed our minds when we could actually see pine pollen blowing in the air, and a yellowish hue in the water at the shoreline.  Allergies kicked in big-time...

... so we finished our picnic and elected to leave and drive to Sagehen Creek to hike along the creek.  We figured the wind would be less there.  We were right.
I'll save those pictures for tomorrow.


A Sunday afternoon get-together and cookout - June 8th, 2014

Matt's in-laws, Alice and Tom, drove up to our place from their Roseville home on a rather hot afternoon for a planned cookout and a visit with Nannie. In fact, the temp when they left home was 102°, but life is cooler up in the foothills -- we were only at 95° or 96°!!  We all hung around in the house watching an old black and white movie on TCM and eating snackie-foods till the direct sun was off the deck.  While it was definitely cooler in the house (A/C doncha know), at some point, everyone gravitated to the deck.  We ate and chatted and laughed a lot! We had a wonderful afternoon/evening.

L-R:  Tom, grill-master Jimmy, Alice, and my sister, Nannie.  Jimmy grilled pork tenderloins (yum yum)!

A little color off the deck.

Alice and me, roasting marshmallows for s'mores.  Nannie was fixing hers.

I'd bought the fixin's for s'mores -- graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey's milk chocolate bars -- and figured a gas grill would suffice, since we're under an open fire burn ban.  Heck, it worked fine!  Jimmy and Tom opted for less-messy strawberry shortcakes.  Alice said she didn't think she'd ever had s'mores and couldn't wait to give 'em a try, and it's been years since I've had them.  Nannie, too.  I brought out those long forks and we three ladies set to it.  The fun really began when we commenced eating the sweet sticky thangs.  I don't dare post any of the pictures Jimmy took while we smacked our lips and graham crackers exploded on plates and table, with marshmallow stuff stuck on our lips, cheeks, fingers and, well, maybe you get the picture.  I'd get scolded if I posted 'em!  We laughed so hard we nearly fell out of our chairs! Oh, it's good to laugh like that.  Thanks, Alice. Thanks, Nannie.

The only fly in the ointment, so to speak, was the skeeters that attacked, little tiny buggers that packed a wallop. Why, you ask, would a dry area like ours have skeeters?  I wish I knew -- this is the first year we've been plagued; we have no standing water, but someone must.  We accused Nannie of not only bringing summertime heat, but also Louisiana killer mosquitoes !!  Jimmy saved the day when he brought out our new ThermaCELL skeeter repellent (which we got for our Livingston, Montana trip, but we're not going this year), and it worked very well. Thanx, Jimmy.

Oh, and Tom brought us two big (frozen) trout caught earlier this spring in Pyramid Lake.  Thanx, Tom!

What a fine day!

Next up?  When the temperature approaches 100°, what can we do the rest of the week?


A visit from Nannie! Thurs, June 5 - Wed June 11, 2014

I haven't been attentive to posting on my blog for a week because I've been busy having fun!  What a good reason, right?  My last post teased with the line about picking up a very special person at Reno's airport, and here she is below:  my younger sister, Nannie!  She flew in from Baton Rouge for the week, much to my delight. Her husband opted to stay home this time; he knew that she and I needed a "sister fix!"

Jimmy and I were camping at Granite Flat on the Truckee River at the time.  We'd driven separately to our campground -- Jimmy in Tergel, me in our Prius, since the distance is only 60 miles from home (90% of it seriously uphill) -- so we hopped in the Prius to fetch her.  We'd already buckled up Tergel for the ride back home to Nevada City, but we wanted to show Nannie where we were camping.  I didn't know I'd be wading in the river!

 Nannie already has her shoes off.  I'm debating about my sandals.

OK, let's wade in that COLD water, thru gormy silt, over painful rocks, and sit on that rock.

 Both of us.  We did it.  Now get out!  (uh, how?)

Ow, ow, ow, hurtful rocks!  The nutty things we do! 

Nannie left hot, humid Baton Rouge in the hopes of enjoying some of NorCal's cooler weather.  Alas... not so.  We accused her of bringing the heat with her, as we endured a horrid heat wave the entire week.  In fact, the day after she would leave the weather was forecast to break with a return to normal temps.  She left behind the southeast humidity, but sorry to say she suffered a summer-like broil under an intense northern sun.  All of NorCal did. Unfair, but what can you do?  Because the daily temps were well over 90 and some days we reached 96 and 97, our outdoor activities were curtailed.  Nobody wants to be Out and About then.  

Nannie, Jimmy and I met our friends,Terry and Mary for Nevada City's First Friday Art Walk.  We gathered at Lefty's Grill for dinner first, waiting for an evening cool-down (which didn't materialize) before hitting the shops and art in the streets.  The five of us had a great time!  (@ Jimmy - quit it!)
L-R:  Terry, Mary, me, Jimmy, Nannie

On Saturday, the 7th, we three drove to Grass Valley's farmer's market (early) where we visited with farmer friends, bought fresh veggies and bread, and each ate a freshly-baked treat.  That afternoon, Nannie and I stomped around downtown Grass Valley for a bit, but didn't last too long in the heat, though the heat was a proper excuse to enjoy a small delicious gelato from Lazy Dog's (as if a person needed any excuse).  Come evening, we dragged out the Yahtzee game and stayed up past our usual bedtimes playing one cutthroat game after another (kidding about cutthroat, I think).  When big ol' yawns became frequent, we quit.  I could say that we "let" Jimmy be the big winner... or I could say he skunked us.    

Nevada City on Sunday, the 6th.  Massive cloud build-up over the Sierra mountains.

 Sunday -- If I didn't water nearly every morning, the garden prob would turn into dried stalks.  As you can see, onions have gone to seed -- my sister is holding up an example!  The sugar snap peas are almost too tall to harvest.  Lettuces and Swiss chard do not like the heat.  Just like me!

Sunday morning Nannie and I spent an hour or two browsing at the craft fair.  

This afternoon, Alice and Tom (in-laws) from Roseville are joining us for a cook-out -- whew, hot job cooking on the grill today.  Nevertheless, hummus is made, beans are baking in the crockpot, tater salad is made, and pork tenderloins are marinating.  We are ready!  More on this tomorrow!