Sunday, July 11, 2010

Remember when???


Back in one piece with several cases of wine

This weekend was my surprise Birthday weekend I planned for Glenn. Thinking back on all the many wonderful times we have spent together, quite a few are in the Gold Country. We both went to UOP, just about 40 mins away from this rich historic area of California. Back in the day, we would join people in floating on tubes on the Mokelumne River. Beer in hand sun in the face, the troubles of the day flowing away like the cool waters of the river.

There were days when I would go up to the hills just to think. Here where so many fortunes were made during the Gold Rush, time to be seemed irrelevant. Some times, that sense of timelessness is a way to find perspective.

So when I thought, what can we do for Glenn's Birthday, I thought about coming here.

It had been many years since we had been here, but for many years we were regular visitors. We spent time in Jackson, Columbia, Sutter Creek, Nevada City but Murphys has always had a special spot in our hearts. And Murphys is where we headed to this weekend.

Unbeknown'st to me and Glenn, there was one of the Ironstone Concerts scheduled that evening. Sugarland was set to play at 8pm, and as we drove down 6 mile road to Murphys, we made our first wine stop at Laraine "Gerber Vineyards". The winery was founded by David Gerber, a Hollywood producer who also attended UOP in the 40s. He was part of a group of UOP guys who bought the Murphys Hotel in the 60s. Throughout the tasting room are memorabilia of his film days. The manager David Webster told us about David Gerber's recent passing. He also let us know about the concert. I told him about the 3 day walk and he generously donated some "Scarlett Harlot" named after the plane David Gerber flew over Europe. After being shot down, he was in Stalag 13. It was there that someone encouraged him to come to California to find his fortune. I truly appreciate the generosity and the chance to share the story and the wine.

We traveled onward to our Inn.... But as we drove into town, I couldn't believe my eyes. the roads were crowded with people. The town was alive with people walking and talking, laughing and enjoying life. The stores, many converted to tasting rooms, still had their charm, but the busi-ness of the crowd, made it feel more like a tourist attraction versus that quaint quirky quiet town I remembered.

We parked the car that was covered with road causalities....

And we taken to our room at the Dunbar Inn.

The Inn was built in 1880 and it is surrounded with century old gardens. The original owner built an identical home further up in the Sierras so his wife would never be lost in either house.

Our room's patio, was the front porch....

The owners Rich and Arline saw to every little detail... wine in the fridge, cookies, snack plate....

The home is grand for its day...

We took of to explore.... and walked down Main Street straight to the Old Timer's Museum. It wasn't open, and we have seen it before...But check out that boot in the window with a wooden sole.

The on to the Wall of Comparative Ovations
to say hello to Coke Wood.
The wall is maintained by E. Clampus Vitas "Clampers" and notable members are remembered here.

Dr. Coke Wood was a professor at UOP. He taught California History. Glenn was his TA when we were in school. I took Cal History from him. He was much loved...

Glenn is saying hello.

The founder of Murphys John Murphy is remembered here as well.

Wild flowers.

Some of the homes on Main Street have been all dolled up....

Some haven't....

At the other end of town was Val du Vino run by Jonathan and his wife. I picked up a couple of their wines for our growing Calaveras Wine Table for Wine Wars.

We left the winery and headed back toward town for dinner at one of the new places....

The crowds had thinned out leaving the town more like what we remembered.

We found ourselves at Grounds and grabbed a table outside.

Their generous portions could have been, just a little too much after wine tasting and their yummy home made-bread....

I had to leave half a ribeye on the plate.... No puppies to take it home to... We walked back down the street to the Inn.

Past another nice Main Street home....


More food!

They set us up on our "porch."

They do a great job at Dunbar Inn.... The food is really yummy and the portions (maybe everywhere in Murphys) are generous.

I don't know if this is why in the room is this little " instruction" to guests. Read the part in green!

We wandered the gardens to take in all the little details.

The fountains...

The arbor

The flowers...

The bird houses...

The beautiful Hydrangeas make you feel cool even in 100 degree heat!

I didn't count the birdhouses but there were quite a few.

Thankfully the old buildings in town have been preserved.

We started our day, by taking a walk...

Down into town...

Around a few corners.

The off to Clarissa's corner. We were sad to see the Burro that we had remember had recently died. They are having a memorial for her August 6th. It just goes to show how even the littlest creature can touch many people.

It was just about time to start our wine adventure. We used to love a winery outside town called Stevenot, as much for the location as the wine. It is nestled in a valley that is beyond picturesque. But we drove right by it... it had recently been sold.

Mr. Stevenot sold the brand to one person and the land and grapes to another.

The winery is now called Alturo Murani.

We met with the owner and he very kindly offered to donate a winery tour and private tasting for Wine Wars!

I was glad to see the winery in such capable hands.

Whoever wins this item will be lucky indeed!

We went further up the road to Macaroni Flats.

Here Italian Miners has their own little village.

Comoin back into town we walked the street and tasted wines at some great wineries. Many new... Including Zucca Mountain, where Tasha donated some wine to our event!
Many of those toursit who came for the concert were gone, but there were wtill some interesting ladies to see.

Throughout Calaveras County they have these great frogs, each one unique. Angels Camp is well known for their annual jumping frog countest that Mark Twain wrote about.

This wine taster has been out there too long!


Time to leave Murphys, after breakfast anyway.... But ok my too much food again! And unfortunately not Glenn's kind of food.

So off we walked.... down the street again. Down to the park...

The streets were empty....

The park, which is packed with kids later in the day was also relatively quiet.

The creek runs through the middle.

Back when Murphys was founded the creek was the source of much wealth. After they found all they could in the water there, they hydrolically mined a huge area behind the Murphys Hotel.

Now the creek is where children play, dogs splash and little fish dodge all the fun.

Along the creek, a few luck people have get away spots...

This couple seemed to feel quite at home.

Can you hear the water?

At the library...another Frog.

On the other side of the park the creek meanders through the depression left from the mining.

Maybe the smallest jail around...

We decided to grab Glenn a bite for breakfast at the Murphys Hotel...

Couldn't help but take a photo of this darling little girl... Pouting a bit. She saw a leaf fall off a little tree and tried to put it back on... so cute.

So off we went to another part of the Gold Country to see if it had changed... Shenadoah Valley is East of Plymouth. Famous for its Zinfandel, the area had grown. The firswt place Glenn turned into was just a wee bit too.......Napa. So we kept on driving to a place we always enjoyed...Story. this winery may have the best view around.

And although the elderly man we remember was no longer there, and the dogs we used to play with were gone too.. it was remarkably the same.

The trees give you wonderful shade on these hot summer days.

Views, views, views

Suddenly we saw three dogs. Not the same ones, but, it was reassuring.

They were supposed to have a barrel tasting, but no one was inside except that bear.

We drove on to Karly and then to TKC, where we met Stomper.

We even bought some of his wine!

And some of his too! The Imperial Syrah will be poured at Wine Wars!

Before heading back we took a little side trip to the main street of Plymouth. Love those old buildings.

This little town didn't seem at all gentrified....
Even the stoves look original!

With the one big house in town...

This building looked like it had been reinforced with brick.

Because it looks to me that it was originally stone.

Nice to know some things in the Gold Country don't change... Bikers still feel at home here.

While we were away, I recieved the news that a Realtor I know, and the wife of a Home Inspector I know died this weekend. I found that out in the morning before leaving Murphys. The idea that life is so fleeting, made the day more significant to me.

We are surrounded with opportunities.

Opportunities to smell the drying grass and the sweet peas. To taste the wine and kiss your love. We have these precious moments that we can feel the breeze on a hot summer's day and touch the sparkling water of a cool mountain stream. Are we too busy, or too distracted to make the most of these moments. Or will we end our days saying, I lived them well. I made the most of it.

I hope it won't be another 15 years until we come back, because honestly... that is way too long.