There was an error in this gadget

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Motherlode Revisited: Amador County, California - Part 1

It’s got magnetism to it. Drawing seekers to its precious metals…keeping them there with awe-inspiring vistas, perfect wine climate, and exquisite historic towns…California’s Motherlode also has a pull on us.

We keep visiting this notable core of the state not looking for gold, as those forty-niners did, at least not the metallic kind. We are in search of something precious and we keep finding it here. Glorious scenery, unparalleled history, some of the world’s best red wine, and very few others to get in our way.

Watch The Video!

Welcome to another Gold Country trip here on The World on Wheels. We’re back in Amador County.

It would be a trip we take even more often if it was just a little bit closer to home. Six hours is about what we can count on, starting with the often nerve-wracking drive up Interstate 5 over the Grapevine, then several more hours through the endless oil and farm fields of highway 99, until we reach the Love’s truck stop in Ripon, just south of Lodi and Stockton.

Turning right, we know we’re within an hour of our destination as we pass through the fun little town of Lockeford and head up into the hills, just past the chile farm we’d love to stop at if they were only open whenever we drive through.

While many think of the towering trees and massive peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains when thinking of California gold, the truth is a little less dramatic. Once you hit the foothills on the eastern edge of the San Joaquin Valley, you’re there. Think rolling hills, golden grass, and oak trees instead of tall pines and massive granite peaks.

Forty five minutes after gassing up and using the facilities at Love’s, we’re pulling into our hotel for the trip, the Best Western Amador Inn in Jackson, California…Amador County’s county seat.

Check in is quick but something is not right…there is no roll-in shower. I had confirmed a roll-in when booking the room. I went to the front desk and the night clerk was pretty much saying “someone booked it before you, they’re still there, you can’t have it.”

I’m just tired right now, a little miffed, but I just don’t have it in me to fight right now. Tim doesn’t need a bath tonight, I’ll visit with the manager in the morning.

To be sure, we don’t desperately need a roll-in but sometimes I want to give my back a little break from lifting a 160 pound man into a bathtub chair. This is one of those times.

Other than that, the room is decent, clean, and functional. It can’t be called fancy but two nice queen size beds will be more than enough.

In the morning, I print out my confirmation e-mail, tell Tim to come to the front office with me to “have my back,” and steel myself to hash this out.

There’s a different staff here in the morning, more conciliatory, friendlier, and…it seems to me…smarter (but maybe that’s my bias speaking).

I show the clerk my confirmation after she tells me the manager won’t be in for another hour or so. She immediately accepts my offer of adding 1,000 points to my rewards account but says we can only be moved into a smoking room with a single king size bed. I decline but she says she’ll bring it up with the manager when she gets in.

Later, the manager calls me and says she’ll knock my rate down to $50 per night. The regular rate is $90, I had a discounted AAA rate of $70, so this will make my three night stay $150 along with an extra 1,000 points.  It’s a deal I will accept so I must say that the management of this particular Best Western should be noted as being very willing to work with you when a problem arises.

(NOTE: I don’t know where our reservation went wrong, it could have been the national reservation center not passing on the information to the local hotel, so I can’t say they really messed anything up locally)

With our room issues resolved, we head out for breakfast. The hotel has a decent continental breakfast where you can also make your own waffles. There’s a Dennys on the property that gives hotel guests a 15% discount, but we’re not doing either of those today.

We’re in Jackson, which has a branch of the wonderful local Waffle Shop chain just up the street.  As an American Legion meeting is just adjourning, we take an adjacent table by the window.

Our breakfast includes a spinach and bacon omelet, a Belgian waffle, and my new favorite…a bacon infused waffle!

It’s all very delicious, inexpensive, and filling.

Carb loaded, ready to take on the world, we’re heading north on highway 49 to see if we can find some bargains on some of the best, bold red wines made anywhere…along the rolling hills of California’s stunning Shenandoah Valley.

That’s coming up next, don’t miss part 2…

Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved


  1. Hi, Darryl.

    I don't think I would have viewed the compensation you got from the hotel (reduced room rate + extra points) as "resolving" the room issue. Resolving the room issue would have been getting a room with a roll-in shower. I just mention this because I don't like the idea that hotel management is being encouraged to believe that throwing money at the customer in order to placate him is the answer to inadequate access.

  2. Katja, maybe not to your satistaction but it was resolved to mine. They did offer the only other roll-in shower available but it was a smoking room and we didn't want it. True, we had the option of cancelling and trying our luck elsewhere but frankly, we just didn't want to waste any valuable vacation time trying to find another, accessible room and I don't feel like being a civil rights attorney while on vacation for, what was for me, a relatively minor problem.

    Best Western did OK by me on this trip...I asked for the extra points as compensation that I'd be satisfied with as a resolution, they threw in the reduced rate on their own.

  3. Hi Darryl,

    If you love red wines, I'd suggest making a stop at Andis Wines in Plymouth if you haven't already. Some of the best wines in the region! They also have a small tasting room in Sutter Creek on Main Street if you can't make it out to Plymouth, open Thursday through Monday.

    Cheers, and enjoy your trip!


  4. Thanks, Jenae. Our wine touring on this trip was limited as we were in Amador Monday through Thursday and that Thursday was Thanksgiving, so we had to skip any tasting room that wasn't open during those days. Andis was one of them. I love Plymouth and loved going to the Dancing Bear during it's brief lifetime.