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Monday, May 15, 2017

CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH TOWNS: Mariposa

The Fishing Pond at the Restful Nest

It was the summer of 1999 when we first navigated these roads. According to the directions the innkeeper gave me, if I got to town on highway 140, I’ve gone too far but I found the Yaqui Gulch turnoff. When I got to the old highway, look for the brick water well house, Buckeye Road would start right next to it…don’t turn right, don’t turn left. Just sort of go cockeyed straight onto it. Past the three mailboxes on the left, slow down and look for Buckeye Creek Road and turn left…if you get to Ben Hur Road, you’ve gone way too far…

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It is a challenge the first time you try to find the Restful Nest but once you do, you’ve found bed and breakfast paradise.  We’ve come here several times over the years to recharge, visit the area’s many sights and attractions, and…most of all…to visit with the owners, Jon and Lois Moroni, who have turned into friends.


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It’s been too long between visits, however, as we haven’t been here since Tim went to college. Their lab mix, Casey…who’d fetch sticks long after the stars came out…has since died. Jon has gone through a bout of cancer, successfully thankfully, and Lois no longer smokes.

Still, it’s the same bed and breakfast we came to know and love.

With only three rooms (there’s actually four but Lois only rents three at the most) set on 11 acres, it’s a bit of heaven sitting five miles away from town with hiking trails, fishing pond, great stargazing, wild animal sightings, and a pool and spa.


It’s not technically accessible. The toilet is in a narrow space and the small shower is also too cramped for a chair to use but there is a smooth path to the room and, since we notified them ahead of time about the chair, Jon build a ramp so Tim’s wheelchair could ascend to the upper balcony and dining room.  (If you need a fully accessible room, you might try the Best Western or Comfort Inn in town)
We spend some time catching up with the Moroni’s after dinner and then head down to our room to rest up. There is a TV in the room but you’ll only get three channels here in these rural hills.
In town, we find a place to park uphill from the main street so it will be easy to roll down. We do a little window shopping  and souvenir hunting on the old sidewalks. Mariposa is an old Gold Rush town so access can be spotty. One end of the block is ramped but the other end is stairs so you’ll need to double back to get to the other side of the street.  Some of the shops in these old buildings do not have access but many do.


Mariposa was known for pulling a lot of gold out of the ground. Today, it’s not as touristy as other Gold Rush towns farther up highway 49 in the Motherlode but more of a real town. People here work regular jobs and there’s a sense of community here.  Kids belong to 4H or the FFA and the fairgrounds are busy with local celebrations and festivals…we like to show up on Labor Day weekend for the county fair.

John C. Fremont, the soldier and explorer, called Mariposa home. At the end of the sidewalk, Bett’s Silver Coin restaurant sits in the adobe building he constructed…the only three story adobe building in the Motherlode.

At the north end of town, next to the Burger King, is the Mariposa Museum and History Center with its mining stamp mills and historical dioramas of local history.


At the south end of town, in the parking lot of the fairgrounds, is the California Mining and Mineral Museum.  With a recreated mine tunnel and hundreds of examples of gems, it’s a real treasure to see. The star of the show here is the largest intact gold nugget ever found in the state, a real whopper at 13.8 pounds.
Both museums charge $4 for admission.



Jon and Lois serve a huge breakfast to guests everyday and we don’t get out to eat too much in Mariposa but there are a number of good places to eat when the hunger does eventually strike. Our favorites are the Nachos at Castillo’s and the pizza just a few doors down at the Pizza Factory.


Mariposa is part of the Sierra Foothills AVA and has a few up and coming wineries in the area.  While Silver Fox is open by appointment only and Chappel Winery has a storefront downtown, you can visit the other two wineries…Casto and Butterfly Creek…for tastings.  If you like friendly dogs, be sure to visit Butterfly Creek, located on Triangle Road on the way to Yosemite, just east of town.

All Outdoors California Whitewater Rafting can take you on 1 or 2 day trips down the Merced River, which is just a few miles north of town.  Yosemite is 35 miles to the east and one of the best day trips you will ever do.

Old gold towns abound in the area and are fun to explore. For a more hands-on experience, you can pan for gold at the mining museum or at Paystreak on highway 140 just west of town.  Many shops in the area also sell pieces of gold mined in the area…one mine is still operating commercially.

Not as well known as the other Gold Rush towns farther up highway 49, Mariposa will give you that Gold Rush feeling without being overwhelmed by tourists. Give it a try next time you’re headed towards Yosemite…we think you’ll end up in love with it like we are.


Darryl
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

2 comments:

  1. Wow $4 is such a steal, you would be a fool not to check them out.

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  2. That's an artile which interests me immensely. I've always been fascinated by the histroy of Gold rudhs, not only in California. I'd love to visit the Mariposa museum. Thanks for this.

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