Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thursday, May 12, through Monday, May 16, 2011: At the Ponderosa Thousand Trails Preserve:
The Ponderosa Preserve is between Coloma and Lotus, not far from Sacramento. It's very rural, being in the gold country (what the local flacks call "The Mother Lode Country"). We have a site mere feet from the South Fork of the American River---a class 2 river where kayaks and rafters float by all day. It's very nice.

We didn't do any sightseeing until Saturday because early on Friday morning I took the truck to Folsom (32 miles away) to investigate the reason for a "check engine" light that appeared sporadically on Wednesday and Thursday. It turned out to be a major problem that would take until Monday to fix. I rented a small car (at the dealer's expense) and drove back to the RV park. Whereupon, Becky announced that we were going on a 175-mile sightseeing trip on Saturday---with the dogs. Since the car was going to be too small for the dogs, I contacted the dealer, and he arranged for me to pick up a van to replace the Honda I had rented. So I made my second trip of the day to Folsom to pick up the replacement car.

On Saturday, we visited several well-known spots in The Mother Lode Country---primarily Jackson, Angels Camp (we missed the annual Frog Jumping Jamboree by a week), Columbia, Placerville, and Murphys. The highlight was Murphys, where we had a delicious lunch at Murphys Grille (which should be "Grill" instead of "Grille" I believe, since I once learned that a "grill" is what you cook on and a "grille" is what's on the front of your car). I had a gorgonzola burger. Yum! Murphys is one of the ten "coolest" small towns in the U.S., according to Frommers. Placerville was a disappointment. Surprise: Placerville is the county seat of
El Dorado County, not Placer County; Auburn is the county deat of Placer County. Columbia was interesting, being the remains of a gold mining town that has been turned into a state park.

We also realized that this is wine country, as well. There are wineries all throughout the area.

It rained all of Saturday night and much of Sunday, so we took it rarther easy on Sunday, heading for the Gringo's Mexican Cafe across the street for a simple, but good, meal and a tasty margarita.

I picked up the truck in Folsom Monday morning. All is well---except for my bank account. We decided to go a whole mile from our RV park to visit the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. It's the actual site of Sutter's Mill, where James Marshall discovered gold in 1848---starting the gold rush that led to California's becoming a state in 1850.

Then we started to plan our exit Tuesday---heading for Reno. We knew it wasn't going to be easy to get there, since the gold country is quite remote. There is a "direct" route on California Highway 49, leading to I-80. But we've been warned that 49 is treacherous for RVs. Not believing the naysayers, we decided to take a partial dry run in the truck. After 15 miles on 49, we decided to agree with the naysayers after all. Much of it is quite twisty and steeply downhill, so we would be on our brakes all the way---not a safe thing to do with 7 tons of trailer behind you. We found an alternate route that will take us about 40 (safe) miles out of our way.

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