Friday, March 29, 2019

Celebrating Weeds and Country Music on St. Patrick's Day: Dandelion Days in Jackson, California

It's a vile weed. Sure, it has some pretty flowers and kids like to blow the seeds to the wind, where they will easily germinate. They'll take over your well cared-for lawn and destroy it, if it has it's way.

Why are we celebrating it today?

From what I can tell, it was a way of getting unwanted stuff out of your life...a community flea market to get rid of unwanted things, the "dandelions" of your life...turning lemons into lemonade.

At least that's what I can surmise, there's not a lot of data on the origins of the Dandelion Days Festival, celebrated each St. Patrick's Day weekend in Jackson, California.

In an area full of celebrations, get-togethers, fairs, and festivals, this is one of the many events happening in the region this weekend. We're going to make a full day of it.

When the crowds hit, parking is scarce in downtown Jackson. While there is a bit of parking reserved for handicapped placard and license holders at the police department, those go quickly. We have to park at one of the remote lots. We choose the lot at the county administration building a half mile away.

The accessible buses of Amador Transit are providing free, wheelchair accessible rides from the lot to the festival every half hour during the day. We get there just in the nick of time to catch one.

Main Street is closed for the event. A quarter mile of narrow, minimally accessible pavement dating back to the Gold Rush is where we need to be.

Since the street's closed, we just roll along down the middle to the other end where we'll work our way back. The sidewalks here are mainly accessible from one end of the block or the other, meaning you have to do a lot of doubling back to get off and keep moving along.

Our first stop, though, is for some food. Brunch at Rosebud's Cafe will do. A sausage and egg sandwich for me, while my wife had a delicious vegetarian curry risotto, and Tim had a grilled cheese and onion sandwich to fortify us for the journey ahead.

At the other end of Main Street, at the old fire station, the firefighters are cooking up some delicious looking tri tip.

Since we just ate, we're not hungry for it but I do make a note of their cooking rigs, which are steel drums with a fire inside. Rebar across the top makes for a handy place to hang the hooks holding the meat. A lid is put on to keep the heat down and the smoke in.

Kids and adults take their picture on an adjacent antique fire truck...

...while diners set up at tables inside the cleared station to eat.

Heading back, it's a mishmash of booths selling the usual stuff...incense, woodworkings, clothes, bags, etc...while musicians here and there busk for change.

Next to the historic National Hotel, a beer garden is set up.

A few very good cover bands serenade while we sip the local suds and wine next to Jackson Creek.

On the other side of the hotel is the actual flea market...a group of about a half dozen tables...whereas most of the other booths are professional flea market businesses.

The local Lions Club, sponsors of the event, have a dessert and coffee table here and a few carnival rides beckon the kids.

Tim tells us his battery is running low so we look for a place to exit and wait while I hike back up the hill to retrieve our van. The local American Legion let's me use their lot to load up Tim and we're off.

We take a few hours to relax and plug Tim's chair into it's charger before we're off for our next adventure. It's up to the town of Sutter Creek for an evening of dining and music.

At Cavana's Pub, we take the opportunity to have some cheap Irish whiskey and wine while dining on soup and sandwiches.

Next, we walk three doors down to the Sutter Creek Theater. I had contacted the owner earlier who assured me he'd hold a wheelchair space for Tim for the general admission show there tonight.

He's good to his word and Tim sits next to him as he operates the soundboard for the show. Letty and I sit directly in front of him.

Tonight, Sophia, Helda, and Grace...the Quebe Sisters...are playing a concert here. The sisters are a group of champion fiddle players from Texas who have evolved into an outstanding western swing band.

They're very good, popular, and well's kind of surprising that they're playing this 200 seat theater up in the hills of the Motherlode...but, here they are.

The sold-out show is exceptional and, with the tiny theater and audience, the sisters have plenty of time to mingle with the fans after the show.

Sophia remarks on my Sriracha shirt and I regale her and her sisters of the day the owner of the factory gave me the shirt.

The trio happily poses for a picture as we bid them goodnight and travel home after our day of festivals and music.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Cocktail Hour - Amarita

This is a drink of my own invention.  Sometimes, I just like to play around with what's in by bar and see what comes out.  Sort of like a Dr. Frankenstein of alcohol.  Here's one that came out good.  The others?  Just don't look in the dungeon.

Watch the Video!

Amarita Recipe (two drinks)
3 oz - tequila
2 oz - amaretto
1/2 oz - triple sec
1/2 oz - lime juice

Free Gift with Every Gift Membership!

Before mixing, put two cocktail (martini) glasses in the freezer.  Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker half full of ice and shake.  Remove the glasses from the freezer, they should frost up immediately.  Strain into the glasses.

Beware...this is a strong drink!


Friday, March 22, 2019

House Hunters: Motherlode - Part 3

On our post-Christmas house hunting trip to Amador County, California, we've seen four houses. A dreary cookie cutter house in Jackson and three houses in Sutter Creek, including the one my wife was now anxious to buy.

We had two more houses to look at on this day and we were heading down the hill 11 miles to the little town of Ione to meet Tammy, our agent, at a house in downtown Ione.

We had driven by this house before and I'd researched it quite heavily online. Superficially a beautiful home but I'd found some issues with it that had me leery of it.

This 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1780 square foot home on an almost 8000 square foot lot looked stunning, inside and out BUT...there was an apartment building directly behind it. Most of the driveway was turned into a landscaped patio.  Nicely landscaped, but still taking away from a parking area.

There was a large area behind the house that would be big enough for an RV and boat but, because the patio had been placed in the way, I could find no way to access it without rebuilding that patio.

Still, it was a gorgeous house and it was on the way to a new housing development the agent wanted to show us so we decided to give it a closer look.

Since there were six steps to get in, Tim stayed in the van while we went in to look.

Immediately, when we walked into the front door, my wife's jaw dropped. A gorgeous living room with 10 foot ceilings and wide doorways to the dining room and bedrooms spread out before us. One of the four bedrooms had been turned into an office in the front of the house. Two bedrooms were just off a bathroom that could work for Tim with a little modification, with doors he could drive his chair through.

The biggest surprise was in the back, however. A 400 square foot master bedroom with a master bathroom including an antique, clawfoot tub.

It was indeed quite a stunning house but I still had my reservations.

"There's a large parking area in the back but I don't know how you use it," I told the agent.

She showed me a hidden entry around the corner on the side street with a gate that opened, giving us access.

"What about that apartment building?"

"I know the owner, he's very picky about who lives there. There's never been a problem."

The tiny driveway out front was negated when I found the side entrance.

We would need to build a ramp for Tim before he could even set foot in the place but the 43 inch height of the porch was not too high to overcome.

Forget the house in Sutter Creek, Letty had found her Nirvana.

Still, we had one more to check out...brand new houses still being constructed that could be customized to our needs before moving in. Heck, this house was a year shy of being a century old.

Outside of town, across from a state prison, is Castle Oaks...a new housing development built around the town's  golf course. Tammy took us to the model homes.

With floor plans ranging from 1600 to 2100 square feet, 3 to 4 bedrooms, 2 to 3 bathrooms, and sitting on small 4-5,000 square foot lots with backyards facing the course, these homes could indeed be customized with accessible bathrooms and other features for special needs but still seemed a bit tight in the hallways and doors.

Not to mention that it looked like any other generic, suburban development with cookie-cutter houses jammed in very close together.

While Letty was off looking into another room in the house, I saw the writing on the wall.

"Tammy, as nice as these are, I think I know which one we're going to want," I told our agent.

"The house downtown? Great, are you ready to put in an offer?"

When Letty came back in, the answer was an enthusiastic yes.

The century old house in downtown Ione was listed for $400,000. We offered $380,000.

"I'll put the offer together and give you a call later when the seller's respond," Tammy said.

We set off back towards Rancho Cordova while our agent went to work.

About halfway to the hotel, my phone rang.

"The sellers have countered. All the conditions are fine but they want $389,000"

"OK, I'm driving back to the hotel with my wife and Tim. Let me talk it over with them and I'll call you when we get there."

After hanging up, my wife said "take it!"

When we got to the hotel, I called her up, accepted the terms, and was told I need to get $4,000 to the escrow office the next day to seal the deal and to sign the contract.

That would be an adventure in itself. More on that, next time.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 18, 2019

House Hunters: Motherlode - Part 2

After a rather mediocre start to our house hunt in the outskirts of Sutter Creek, California, we're moving on to the city proper and inspected a brand new house about a quarter mile away from downtown Sutter Creek.

Tammy takes us up the hill to a nice street, Foothill Road. This is more like it.

Here is a beautiful, 1460 square foot home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms on an almost 10,000 square foot lot. With everything new, it looked much nicer and doable than the last house.

A couple of nagging issues for us were that the hallways were still a bit narrow, as were the doors. Tammy was suggesting that we could widen the doors for Tim's bedroom and bathroom but, with a price that was $29,000 over our budget, it would be hard to do financially.

Outside, the back and side yards would need to be landscaped. The sprinkler timers were also very cheap, battery powered hose mounted devices that didn't sit right with me. Inside, the living room had a spot to mount a TV way up high on the wall over the fireplace, with a view marred by a ceiling fan.

Still, everything was brand new. It was a great neighborhood, if hilly for Tim's chair, and was in the heart of one of Amador County's most desirable areas. A lot better than the last house we saw but still had some significant issues.

(Note: we eventually passed on this house. As of this writing, it is still on the market at a reduced price of $399,000-Ed)

Just a couple of blocks away was a house that had just come on the market. At about 30 years old, this house on Gold Strike Court was like the house we just saw but more mature. Great landscaping, beautiful interiors...including a laundry room that was almost as big as our current bedroom...but still a bit out of our range at a matching $429,000.

It was also way up on a hill, which would mean a tough time for Tim on the streets here.

This one also had steps which meant we would need to build a ramp to get in.  With 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1600 square feet on a third of an acre, I could see Letty making plans to make it ours and trying to figure out a way to afford it.

We had a front runner.

In nearby Jackson, a very cookie-cutter, boxy house was quickly eliminated and that house on Gold Strike Court was looking very good.

Next, we were heading down the hill to the tiny town of Ione to look at a couple of more contenders. It seemed like a waste of time, since my wife had already mentally picked out her new home but we'll play this game out.

Those two houses will be profiled in our next report.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved

Friday, March 15, 2019

House Hunters: Motherlode - Part 1

It's Christmas Eve and we're headed to Sacramento. It's become a Christmas tradition for us to leave the headaches of the season behind and come up to our state's capitol where we can dine on the Delta King...a permanently docked steamboat on the Sacramento River...on Christmas Day.

Usually, it's in conjunction with a vacation to the area (you can read the stories on those past trips on this blog). This year, we have a different purpose.

A couple of days ago, we signed a contract to sell our house in Southern California. Yep, we're giving up the life of never ending traffic jams, overcrowding, and various numbskulls clouding our days in exchange for the slower paced life in the Sierra foothills in the historic gold mining region of the state.

But, first, Christmas.

As it usually happens, we're winding up at the Doubletree Suites in nearby Rancho Cordova. It's basically our go-to hotel in the area. Nice, big rooms...near a light rail station...and all the Doubletree, chocolate chip cookies you can eat at a price I can live with.

I can get cheaper in the area and I can get better but, here at the Doubletree in Rancho Cordova, I get a good mix of quality with price.

Fully sated from our Christmas dinner and bags of candy from Candy Heaven, just up the street from the steamboat, we tuck in to rest up for our big day tomorrow.

After breakfast, we're heading up to Sutter Creek off of highway 49 in Amador County. I have been looking for months at houses in the area and have winnowed it down to a list of five that look like they'd work for us. I've made arrangements to meet an agent from Coldwell Banker to show us those five houses and suggest others that might work for us and our budget.

In a nutshell, here's what we need...
One story
Wheelchair accessible or can be quickly made accessible
3 bedrooms
2 bathrooms
1400+ square feet

What we want...
A big lot
Separation from neighbors
As turnkey as possible

...for a budget of no more than $400,000 (or less if there are some major renovation projects to do).

Our GPS on T-Mobile is very flaky up here in the foothills beyond Sutter Creek. This first house is about a mile outside of town and the actual waterway that the town is named after is part of the 1 acre-plus backyard.

We find it, just past the junky looking yard nextdoor that looks like it came from an episode of American Pickers.

The driveway is heavily fissured (that'll need to be replaced) and yard maintenance has not been a high priority for the owners...did I mention that it's also huge?  Seeing that very large and very messy yard, this city boy immediately abandoned his dreams for a large piece of rural land.

A few minutes later, the real estate agent shows up...Tammy.  Introductions and then she takes us into the house. Tim stays in the car because of the four or five steps to go inside.

The house is ok...a bit dated with narrow hallways and doors. Bathrooms are tiny.

It's just a few minutes before we cross it off the list and call out "next!"

Let's see if this episode gets better on our next episode.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019 - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

ADVENTURES CLOSE TO HOME: Giving Thanks With Man's Best Friends

Throughout our time as a family we the Musicks' have not had the experience of having a family pet to call our own for the most part. For the first few years of my life my grandparents on my dad's side of the family had a Dachshund dog or wiener dog named Bill. Bill used to be my dad's dog until he decided to move out of the house and start a family of his own. After that happened Bill stayed with my grandparents for a few more years during which I would get to see her every time I went to their house for a visit each week until she died.

There was also the period of time that my parents had a pet cat named Howard. After a while though, Howard ran away from home and my dad found him some time later in the street after it looked like he had been run over by a car and killed. That wasn't the end of our Howard story though as some time after it appeared that we had found him lying in the middle of the street after being run over, a cat that looked just like Howard appeared at our door after which my dad proceeded to give him some food. After eating the food however, this cat that looked like Howard apparently left our house and went on his merry way to somewhere else. To this day my dad never seen him again nor does he know for sure if that cat was just another cat that looked like Howard or if, in an even stranger situation, the ghost of Howard decided to pay one last visit.

Until fairly recently, some of the other experiences that anyone in our family has had with a family pet consisted of a couple of cats that my grandmother on my mom's side of the family had that were named Sylvester and Larry as well as another dog that my uncle and his girlfriend had that was named Timmy.

As time has gone on, the sad thing is that each one of the pets that are mentioned above are no longer with us. The good thing for us though right now is that, as of last year, my uncle Amaury decided to get a new pet for both him and my grandmother Coya to have at their house. That pet would turn out to be a Jack Russell Terrier dog whom they named Cash. Ever since Cash became a part of our family my parents and I have spent more than our fair share of time getting to know Cash while dog sitting with him whenever my uncle Amaury travels to Mexico to see his family.

The times that we have spent with Cash so far have had such an impact on us that according to my mom Letty, it has totally changed the way that she looks at dogs now!  Until we met Cash my mom apparently had no real interest in viewing dogs as pets and as potential members of the family. Her only experience with pets before then were with cats and Bill, my dad's dog from many years ago. In the time that we have gotten to know Cash my mom has become hooked.

Ever since the first time that we met Cash we have had many opportunities to watch him over at our house whenever my uncle has to go out of town. One of those instances came fairly recently when we watched and took care of him during the Thanksgiving holiday last year.

During last year's Thanksgiving holiday festivities, Cash spent his free time by going on walks with us on the trail outside behind our house as well as chasing and or barking at lizards and other wild creatures that he may or may not have seen in our backyard. He also came along with us when we went to have Thanksgiving lunch/dinner over at my aunt and uncle's house.

While there he got to spend time and play with a couple of other four legged friends. Their names are Layla and Hammy. My dad even took some time to play a couple rounds of tug of war with Layla.

After we wrapped up the Thanksgiving festivities we spent the rest of the night back at our house where Cash enjoyed some quality lap dog time with us. When it was all said and done, the adventures we had over a five day span with a few of man's best friends had to come to an end unfortunately Even though we had to say goodbye at some point, it's nice to know that there will always be a next time for more dog friendly adventures in the future.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2019
All Rights Reserved.


Monday, March 11, 2019

Getting Back on the Beat

If you don't follow Tim or myself on Facebook, you probably don't know why it's been so quiet around here lately. The Musick Channel blogs have been on a little hiatus while we relocated from our long time home and base in Southern California to our new home in the Gold Rush country of Northern California.

Californians will know what I'm talking about when I say it's almost like two states here...north and it really feels like a huge change for us.

We'll be winding things back up into operating mode, starting with a series of posts about the process of the move then, hopefully, getting back on the road for some new travel stories.

To start with, we've lived the last 23 years in the city of Duarte, which is 18 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles, and about 8 miles due east of Pasadena on the 210 freeway.

The daily traffic in front of our house, which is the first one on the left

I retired in March of 2018 and, at that point, no longer needed to live in a particular location for my job. While I've lived here in the L.A. area for all of my 57 years it has gotten more crowded with traffic that is just unbearable, not to mention the quality of life has degraded with crime, homelessness, and cost of living among things that are just getting out of hand.

On the other hand, L.A. is where the jobs are and there's not enough houses to go around. That means home prices here are ridiculously high and it's a good time to cash in on ours, take our profit to somewhere cheaper, and let someone else take over this space.

Where we're going, the houses are almost half the price of homes here so we can go up and have a paid-in-full house in the country to spend our golden years at.

Stay tuned, and we'll tell you the story...which is a travel story, after all...of going up to find our new home and the adventure of selling ours.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2019