Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cheaper than Disneyland

Two rooms.
One tank of gas.
Steak meat.
Pasta salad.
Fried rice.
And lots of trees and water.

About two hours away from Sacramento is a little town called Downieville. Perhaps not little when you compare it to Oscarville but pretty tiny for California standards. It’s a town that was once a hub or sorts for gold miners. Then it went through a period where rafting was popular. Now it’s known for it’s mountain biking opportunities.

There is a little store and restaurant on the way to Downieville called, “Indian Valley Outpost.” And across from Indian Valley Outpost is a section of the Yuba River that I like to soak my feet into.

I rarely wade out very far into this water myself, but the group I brought today were risk takers. They coasted down the rapids mostly intentionally… and sometimes not so intentionally.

Once hunger got the better of them we all dried up in the heat of the sun and then had a shaded picnic lunch.

After lunch we drove to the McMahon Mine. There is a pipe and slough built along the side of the mountain that carries this “natural spring water.” At one point it runs along the edge of the road and drips enough for water bottles to be filling pretty quickly. He’s a shop of some of such bottles being filled. Free water! Imagine that.

The Mine is my favorite place in the whole world. Everything from its long drive way to its long walk to water appeals to me. The McMahon Mine is private property that has been handed down by my family for several generations. It was once gold mining territory but it’s been a while since any gold has been found there. Currently it sits at 800 acres of beautiful scenery on the cusp of being passed down from my parents’ generation to my own.

I snapped this photo of my mom and dad (the bankroll of our trip this month) coming down the driveway.

It’s hard to capture the real attraction of this silent area of trees and dirt. In the main area we go to there is no swimming water hole to wade around in. And yet… somehow… people always find things to do here. Ways to entertain themselves.

And even when not “entertained” they don’t seem all that unhappy to just be sitting around on a log. I get it. I feel the same way when I visit.

After sitting around for a bit I led those who were interested on a hike to the nearest water source. I started with six teens and two dogs but after not too long, I was down to four. Issa, Rissa, Nick, and Anissum and I hiked along this path nature had nearly taken back for about thirty minutes before finding a way down to the stream that passes through this property.

At one point Anissum lamented to Nick that he wished they had brought a machete. I wished they had too. It would be nice to have this trail all cleaned up for me. And shoot if they are willing to be free laborers… ;)

After a rest at the water we decided to head back. We nearly got to the trail again when Anissum decided to go back for just one more sip of water. Rather than skillfully walk his way down he ran and jumped down off a fallen tree and ended up snagging his new shirt on a branch.

That’s the thing about the pretty nature. If you don’t slow down to appreciate it, it bites back.

Also on this hike I feel through log. All the way up past my knee my left leg broke through the rotted, fallen, trunk. The kids thanked me for showing them the hole and then moved on around me. Glad I could help them out, I guess.

A few scrapes and scratches were had all around. That is to be expected when you’re hiking in these private areas. When you think about it… so many worse things COULD have happened.

Nick and Anissum in particular seemed to thing little of risks before doing what looked pretty darn ridiculously unsafe to me. But I guess that’s just ‘cause I value my life ‘en stuff.

side note: I have a picture of my dad in nearly the exact same pose Anissum is in here. And he’s lived to be 62-so far… so I guess this isn’t as hazardous as it looks. Of course if you ask my dad now he’ll be the first to point out that, “if you do slip, you’ll die.”

Leaving the area we stopped to make some wishes on the huge dandelions that are growing wild.

It took a while to decide on just the right wish but once they did they let loose and blew.

We finally reached Downieville at about 7:00. After our cars were unloaded my mom got to work on barbecuing the steaks she had been marinating all day. Anissum, Nick, Patrick, Sabrina, Rissa, and I went to a swimming hole by the hotel while the remaining members of our group relaxed in front of a tv for a hour. Issa, I heard, even took a little nap.

At the water hole, everyone quite happily let the current carry them around the deep water that flows under one of two bridges in town. The one we were playing under is the bridge many people were hung from back in the day when hangings were commonplace.

They were just about to call it a night and head back in when they saw the rope swing was open. Nearly dried off everyone hopped back into the water and swam across to the rope swing.

Nick was the first to swing out over the open water but then he contently swung back to shore before getting off the rope. Anissum took the more popular route by swinging out over the deep area and dropping into the water with a splash. Patrick and Sabrina later took Anissum’s lead.

I didn’t bring my camera down to the water this evening but I anticipate getting the opportunity to snap pictures of the rope swing again tomorrow.

Once hunger again led to a desire to towel off we saw a deer cross over the bridge everyone was playing under. Sabrina and I stuck around a bit longer then the rest and got to see the deer then cross down into the water and eat grass from the rocks they had been playing on moments before.

With the three hours of driving on mountainous roads I am proud to announce that only one of the member of our party got sick.

Poor guy. Doesn’t he just look miserable? He hacked up some yellow stuff before settling back down in between Nicole and Patrick. Bailey loves it up here but I don’t know how many more road trips to the mountains mr. grump can take.


Shibby said...

Bailey sighting!!

Tell him Loki says hi (and by "hi", I mean *grrrrrrrr*bark* accompanied by dropping down into "let's wrestle" position)!

Auntie Kiki said...

I love the picture of Anissum (sp?) and his snagged shirt. His face is priceless. Just reading all that you did at the mine and Downieville made me smile. They seem to be absolutely loving everything...yay!!

Anonymous said...

My folks and I used to all live in Estes Park Colorado for a few years. That photo that you took of the two students looking as if they were hanging on for dear life on that big cliff rock is awesome! My sisters, brother and I used to do that but not quite so "dangerous", but the photos looked similar to the one you took. I am just saying your photo brought back some happy memories for me, thanks for sharing:)