All Important Family Time ... Jan 26th -- Feb 3rd

Let me begin this post by saying that when Father Time heralded in another year a few weeks ago, a trip to the South was not on the calendar for us.  We had other trips planned, but this one was necessary, something we had to do now, which I may go into in a later post.  Our focus is family time; this is my first post for the week.

Jimmy and I made flight reservations and flew into Baton Rouge on Tuesday, January 26th, where our journey began.  In the space of a week, we will visit my sister, Nannie and her hubby, "Bubba," here, rent a car, and drive to Mobile, Alabama.  We'll spend time with family there and manage to sneak in a few other more practical odds and ends before returning to Baton Rouge and then flying home.

On Wednesday, we woke to blustery north winds and an overcast sky, but the day was supposed to fair off before clouding up again.  The four of us decided to head down to the river (the mighty Mississippi) to see how high the water was and walk around my old stompin' grounds a bit.  (I lived here for ten years.)  Even before spying the river, we passed by what some refer to as the "Gothic monstrosity." 

Or as Mark Twain wrote:  "It is pathetic enough, that a whitewashed castle, with turrets and things ... pretending to be what they are not - should ever have been built in this otherwise honorable place." He also called the Old Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge a "Little Sham Castle" and the "ugliest building on the Mississippi."  It certainly is a unique structure, designed to look like a medieval castle and -- Mark Twain notwithstanding -- I kinda like it.  It's now a museum, but we didn't go in today; we continued on toward the water.

With water still well above flood stage, the USS Kidd was floating (it's permanently anchored), unlike many times when we've seen it parked on dry ground, surrounded by weeds.  The flags are whipping!

Christopher Columbus statue near Catfish Town.

Still along the levee, Nannie and Bubba sprinted for the overpass when we heard a train whistle.  I stood in the middle of the tracks to watch the train crawling down the tracks, and then I also ran up to the overpass.  We love to be here when a freight train hauls through.

After a cup of coffee at PJ's, we continued walking toward the new State Capitol building, where my sister worked for 23 years.  You can bet we had some déjà vu going on.  I guess Mark Twain would have approved of this capitol.  Look at that gorgeous sunshine!

Of course we rode the elevators to the 29th floor.

Being on the lee side was better, not so windy!

Back on the first floor, we admired the beautiful marble interior, examined the senate and house chambers and looked for (and found) a bullet hole in the marble (below the plaque) from the 1935 murder of Huey P. Long.

We continued our wanderings to the Arsenal Museum, a place I may have been so long ago that I can't remember, and a first visit for Jimmy.  When we left here, flat gray clouds had moved in and we deemed it time to return to the car.  

A lot of history was represented in this spot.

We whiled away the better part of the day walking and reminiscing and simply enjoying being Out and About together.  My fitbit recorded five miles!  The walk back to the car was a chilly one in that unrelenting wind off the river.  We stopped a couple of times for photo-ops.  Closer to their home, Jimmy and I picked up our rental car; we'll leave first thing in the morning for the Mobile area.  It's a Ford Focus, not a Prius ... oh well.

Really liked this wind sculpture.

Pure sugar.  We refrained.

Lastly, we met our friend, Shirley, for a tasty seafood dinner at Duke's in Denham Springs.  We try to see her whenever we're in town.  Can I tell you we always enjoy our dinners out with family and friends like these!  And we eat well, too!


Fun times, Silly shenanigans -- Fri/Sat, Jan 15/16, 2016

Another spate of rainstorms is forecast for both the weekend and the upcoming week.  What's a person to do when the weather precludes outdoor fun?  In our case, Sue and Mo's timely visit gave us an excuse to get together for dinner and tomfoolery on Friday at our Nevada City home, as well as lunch with our mutual friends, Laurie and Odel the next day.  Sue and Mo stopped by on their way south to warmer (hopefully), dry days in the desert. Jimmy and I had such an enjoyable evening with our friends, and we all had a howling good time and a delicious two-hour lunch at Awful Annie's in Auburn, CA on Saturday.  Maybe we should feel guilty, occupying a table for that long in a crowded restaurant, but it had been quite a spell since the six of us broke bread together, so, amid lots of laughter and chatter, we got caught up.  Nope, we're guilt-free.

After dinner, why not drag out the Mardi Gras beads?  Beads I'd accumulated during our years in the south.

"They're so heavy!"

Trading in rainy, snowy Oregon for a stay in Desert Hot Springs, lucky duckies.

Sue and Mo brought their little dog, "Ratty" Mattie with them.  She's a real sweetie.  I found a tennis ball and she and I played "chase the ball," till I tripped over my own feet and hit the hardwood floor.  Game over!  The blur at the end of her body is her wagging tail -- it never stopped moving!

When Sue whipped out her camera for "food porn" shots at Awful Annie's, I grabbed my point-n-shoot for this picture of my lunch:  Sierra Eggs, which was scrumptious.  Most of us ate breakfast-for-lunch dishes ... it was that kind of day!

Good food, good friends.

Laurie's croissant sandwich had stuff piled sky high on it, and we wondered how she'd manage!
She did just fine!

One more photo-op as we gathered to leave the restaurant and go our separate ways.  
Till we meet again, you guys!  Safe travels.


In between storms .... Tuesday afternoon, 1/11/16

We've endured another rainy week in Nevada City, which is a wonderful way to begin a new year ... that is, filling California's water-starved reservoirs and bringing new life to its rivers.  For outdoor folks like us, however, looking out our windows doesn't quite cut it.  This time of year, when an opportunity comes to do some walking (a no-rain day), we are ready.  We got our chance on Tuesday afternoon when the temp had risen to a balmy 50+ degrees.  When I retrieved our newspaper early that morning, I looked east to see bands of deep rose-colored clouds coloring the sunrise, harbingers of the next storm due Tuesday evening.  Go now, they seemed to say.

Though the afternoon could only muster up a weak, watery sun, providing no warmth, we enjoyed being Out and About.  We've suffered an irreplaceable loss in our family recently, and being active is the best anecdote for us.

A week ago, Jimmy and I hiked Nevada City's Deer Creek Tribute Trail East, putting in a few miles and crossing the suspension bridge. Opting to hike a different section of that trail today, we trod along the "Newtown Ditch" as far as we could go, including a 150' dogleg down to Deer Creek to cross the Chinese Tribute Bridge.  Why do people cross a bridge?  (To get to the other side!)  There's a .6-mile loop trail through the forest on that side. This is called the West part of the trail.

After following the meandering Newtown canal (a former hydraulic mining ditch) through dry chaparral for a while, we came to a split:  Canal straight ahead, Deer Creek to the right.  Via switchback, we descended to Stocking Flat (an historic name from gold rush days) where the narrow creek canyon suddenly opened up, widening to a broad floodplain.  Before us was a Chinese wooden arch and a perfectly balanced footbridge, as well as a couple of benches and picnic tables and native plant beds ... all very tranquil.

California was called "Gold Mountain" by the Chinese.  Singularly apt.

Up and around the .6 mile loop trail brought us to the shady side of Deer Creek, where little sun reaches.  Just as joy balances sorrow, so, too, will sunny and dry be offset by moist and green.  Mosses grew thick on this side; fallen damp leaves made our footing a little hazardous in places.  We skirted one or two mud puddles.  Soon we could no longer hear the creek, and the silence was good.

Great green mounds of moss.  Thick and so soft to touch.

Back on the dry side, Manzanita trunks sported new, beautiful rust-colored bark.   

This is all so nicely done.  Kudos to the parties that brought the whole Deer Creek Tribute Trail together.  We met only a few people out here today, but it looked well traveled.  We probably did 5+ miles, most of it easy. Just what we needed.  Just what we wanted.  Let the next storm lash NorCal.

Aw, heck.  Phooey!


Deer Creek Tribute Trail -- Sunday, Jan 3rd, 2016

The last couple of days, Jimmy has been helping our farmer friend, Cliff.  They're digging a ditch to lay water pipe, which will ultimately become water troughs for the farm animals -- muddy work!  It's been pretty chilly and mainly overcast so far this winter ... depressing weather.  At our house, we still have globs of snow left scattered on the ground from our Christmas Eve snow.  Rain will make it go away.  I don't think snow is forecast in the upcoming week, but ... ya never know!  Below are Jimmy and Moses -- Jimmy's on the Bobcat and Moses is chewing a log.

On/off rain is predicted for the next couple of weeks, and we surmised that if we wanted to get in a nice hike, it had better be now ... today will be partly cloudy, no rain till tomorrow.  We wanted to try out another trail that has eluded our feet since moving to Nevada City -- Deer Creek Tribute Trail -- so that's where we went today.  

It's easy to see winter has arrived just by the no-colors:  grays and browns all around, with only a dash of evergreen and moss green thrown onto the palette.  Oh, plus an occasional splash of orange/red color.  I'm standing in front of a large mossy boulder which looks like it's being consumed by tree roots, smaller rocks and downed limbs!  Again, we are hiking in an area covered with boulders, no doubt the result of mining. 

This particular section is the only level place on the entire route ... there is nothing level in the foothills!  Since we parked at the Miner's Foundry and walked almost a mile to the trailhead, I don't exactly know how far we hiked, four miles or so, maybe more.  I'm not even sure how long the trail is as it wraps around both sides of the creek. It was nice to be in sunlight right here.

Downed log?  Nope.  Artistic water culvert?  Yup.

The trail's highlight is the new "Angkula Seo" Suspension Bridge, which spans Deer Creek downstream of Nevada City and connects two branches of the tribute trail.  We hiked the entire trail, quite muddy in spots, and when we got home, we took off our shoes in the garage -- those shoes will need a serious washing to get the trail muck off.  Never mind that, it was a great hike!

This being gold mining territory, it came as no surprise seeing left-over flumes and dry, overgrown ditches on our hike ... we always discover or uncover cool aspects relating to mining.  Of course, this statement applies to today.  In yesteryear, the miners all but destroyed every single thing in sight.  The collapsed pipe above once connected to a ditch or flume on the other side.  Maybe 25 ft in the air? 

1916 is when the cement edging was put in to hold water for the now-filled ditch. 

Look how strong I've become!  Holding up this tree trunk with one hand!
Haha, I hurt my shoulder doing this stunt.

A shameful part related to mining, miners, and the 1800's in this area was the treatment of Native Americans. It's wonderful to have signboards along the trail.  This one reads:  "From 1848 to 1852, California's non-Indian population increased from 14,000 to over 224,000.  This rapid increase in population especially impacted the [local] Nisenan and other indigenous peoples who lived on or near the gold bearing streams.  Many were slaughtered and many more died of disease.  

The gold seekers cut down the forests, poisoned the streams, and took over the land.  The surviving Nisenan tried to adapt, learning to find gold and trade it for goods to support their families.  But laws were passed banning them from mining, making their survival even more precarious."

"Angkula Seo (Deer Creek) Bridge and its surroundings honor the Nisenan people, the original people of this area." It's a beautiful suspension bridge, 149 ft long, swinging high over the creek.  Thanks to the recent rains, Deer Creek had a lively flow.  Further downstream is another section of trail following a canal, which we'll save for a different day.  

Bridge work, well done!

Don't misread this picture!  The large boulder in rear-center is the size of a dump truck!
The water is crystal clear.

After our hike, Jimmy went back to the farm to play on the tractor!  I told him that if times ever get real tough for us, and with a little more practice, he could hire himself out as a ditch-digger!  He said he didn't think so! What's more, Cliff's wife, Marlene, has been feeling "under the weather," so I made dinner for the four of us and took it out to the farm.  It's always nice to help your friends and neighbors.