Columbia: A Piece of Sweet & Bitter California History

I’m an off-season, weekday traveler, and this visit to Columbia, a state historic park, was void of tourists, but somewhat busy with school field trips. Not every shop was open, but the doors to saloons and eateries and other tourist-friendly businesses were unlocked and welcoming.

Gilda Rolls into California’s Gold Country

How flakes and nuggets of gold found in the South Fork of the American River forever changed California and its people, fascinates me. Several books of history, written by and from the Native American point of view, has educated me beyond what I was taught in mid-20th century state board of education-approved history books. Those books made mild mention of the native peoples, while devoting chapters to the amazing men of the 1849 California gold rush.

Autumn at Merced National Wildlife Refuge

The graveled road made a slight turn, and the first flock of lesser Sandhill cranes — a gorgeous waterfowl that stands 3 to 5 feet tall and weighs about 6 to 7 pounds — gathered together in a wet, golden field of marsh grasses and plants. The superstars of Merced NWR performed an opera of chortling, honking, and bugling songs in the field. Other waterfowl appeared to be their silent, floating audience.

Escape to Lopez Lake

Yes, I awoke from pleasant dreams on the highest campsite at Lopez Lake, just outside of Arroyo Grande, California. It was another near-staycation not far from home, but someplace Gilda and her drivers had yet to visit. It seemed like a good way to recoup from a nasty week of international and national news — you know spies, and Russians, and misspoken words — stuff I can’t fix.

Jalama Beach Blowout

  I knew it was a risk, but I couldn’t negotiate the calendar — you know, change June to October. Maybe the weather goddess would look favorably upon Gilda and her passengers for a two-day campout at Jalama Beach campgrounds in Santa Barbara County. Perhaps the goddesses of the sea would seduce Njord, the Norse […]