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Friday, March 25, 2016

The Motherlode Revisited: Amador County, California - Part 3

Our last day in Jackson dawns wet. It’s drizzly when we start out for the day. The clerk at our inn who helped fix our room issues tells us that another great place for breakfast is Thomi’s, just a short block past the Waffle Shop.

We get in, find a table, and order coffee. Soon, we notice that although the restaurant is half full, there is but one server. Another employee can be seen on the phone in the back and as I go to the restroom, it’s apparent that he’s calling anyone else he can to come in to help with the crowd.

Uh, oh.

Watch the Video!

It’s worrying for naught, though, as the one server…occasionally helped by the kitchen guy I saw on the phone…masterfully serves everybody quickly, competently, and with a friendly smile at each table.

We complement her professionalism and hard work when she brings our check and make sure we leave an extra dollar on top of the normal tip for a job very well done in a very stressful situation.

On top of that, our omelets, yogurts, muffin, and pancakes are nothing short of delicious.

We’re looking to get out for a little walk. Coloma…where the gold rush started…is a 2 hour drive up 49 so we stick a little closer and go to Indian Grinding Rock State Park, just east of Jackson.

Still a bit early, we’re the only car in the parking lot but the visitor’s center has a sign that says “Open” on it. I walk up to the door, the handle turns, it starts to open but stops short because there’s a chain and padlock on the other side. I guess whoever was the last to leave last night forgot to change the sign.

Not a big deal except…

As I walk away, a loud alarm goes off. This must be the burglar alarm and I must have set it off when I tried to open the door.  No one is around, so we go down into the park but the alarm continues (you can hear it very clearly in the video for this story).

What would normally be a very peaceful place to enjoy history becomes a scene from some jailbreak movie as the claxon wails over and over.

Trying to ignore it, we look over the large rocks covered in indentations from where Native Americans have ground acorns for hundreds of years.  The alarm continues as we see the large roundhouse and La Crosse field (still used by the tribe to this day).

Putting some distance between us and the visitor’s center, the alarm starts to fade as we visit a recreated village and head into forest towards the campground.

Finally, the alarm stops as we look up and see a Highway Patrol cruiser looking around. Being hidden in the trees, the officer doesn’t see us, which might be a good thing since I won’t have to explain my actions.

As we make our way back towards the car, we see another car pull into the lot.  A few minutes later, the alarm resumes…

Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving and we’ll be driving home. Thinking that not much in the way of restaurants will be open, we take a drive over to nearby Amador City, next to Sutter Creek.

It’s still fairly early as we reach Andrae’s Bakery but the crowd is already there. I wait ten deep in line, eventually getting some of their fantastic sandwiches, tightly wrapped in plastic, that are destined to be our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

Back in Jackson, I take a little breather to catch this scene of the giant and old Kennedy Mine, one of the riches of the Gold Rush era, before we hit the shops of downtown.

Last time we were here, at the height of the recession, downtown Jackson looked like it was on the verge of ghost town status. Many shops were closed…only the small liquor store and pawn shop were doing steady business to the down-and-out as the closed historic National Hotel looked out over the sorry scene.

I’m glad to report that things are turning around. The National has a new deep-pocketed owner…who has even made it accessible with a new elevator shaft added to the side…the liquor store is but a sad memory, and the shops and restaurants were doing booming business during our visit. The pawn shop is still there and has some fantastic buys but the many antique shops could use a reality check with their pricing and my wife’s favorite shop, Home and Farm Store (the Biggest Little Kitchen Store in the Motherlode) almost has to turn away the crowd trying to get in.

It’s very nice to see one of our favorite destinations rebounding from hard times.  We’ll drop down the hill to Lockeford to buy some sausage at the world-famous Lockeford Meat Company, visit some of their great pawn shops, wineries, and farm stands, then we’ll call it a day.

It’s one more night at the Best Western, then an easy and quick drive home on Thanksgiving, my new favorite travel day of the year.

Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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