Friday, January 31, 2020

Plymouth Rocks: California's Motherlode

See part one here.

While there is no Plymouth Rock in this west coast version, it is rocks that are the foundation of this sleepy Gold Rush town located half-way between Placerville to the north and the county seat of Jackson to the south.

Specifically, it was the gold-veined quartz rock that miner dug out of the ground during the state's 19th century Gold Rush. In fact, this area was among the richest in the Motherlode, pulling out 185 million dollars in mineral wealth, 85% of that in gold. Just to the south of here, in Sutter Creek, the Lincoln Mine was still in use up until March of this year  2014 when the Sutter Gold Mining Company suspended operations and put the mine in mothballs. Tim and I panned for gold there a few years ago.

They still run an open mine in Mexico.

This is beautiful, scenic country. One of our favorite destinations in this state full of them. Tourists have really yet to discover it.

On weekends, dozens of wine fans come up and some even take limo tours to visit the old vines of zinfandel in the valley and taste some of the best reds made here.  Restaurants open up, musicians liven up bars, the few hotels and inns up here fill up and innkeepers can charge premium rates.

We're here on Tuesday when that's not so much the case. We get a hefty 30% off the high weekend rate, 80% of the restaurants and wineries are closed, and tourists are so rare everybody asks us what relatives we're visiting up here.

Still, we are determined to find ways to pass our time.

Ken and Marie are the very friendly owners of the Shenandoah Inn, our home for this trip. Ken even allows me to store ice packs in the utility room freezer (for a stop we'll make later on the way home) but the hotel's very basic continental breakfast just isn't going to do it for us.

At the bottom of the hill, just below the hotel, is Speed's Diner. Nothing fancy. Basic tables and chairs with car and cowboy pictures on the walls.  The food is outstanding. (Note: The owner retired and Speed's is no longer there. It is now a donut shop - Ed)

Letty has the cowboy benedict (biscuits and gravy instead of English muffin and Hollandaise), pancakes 'n eggs for me, and some biscuits and gravy for Tim.

Nice perk is that Shenandoah Inn guests recieve 10% off of their bill here, too.

It's not far to the town of Jackson, where we like to browse the pawn shops, kitchen store, and boutiques.  While Letty takes her time in a couple, Tim and I retire to The Fargo Club bar, across from the historic National Hotel (Note: The Fargo Club has moved two blocks to the west and is now called Jackie's Hideaway - Ed).

It's just Tim, the bartender, and myself for a few minutes until the day's barfly shows up out of the bathroom. We sip our two dollar Amberbocks chatting with the barkeep and the local.

She asks if we're there to visit relatives. No, we're just here for a fun trip.

"In Jackson?" she exclaims excitedly.'s historic, there's old gold mines to explore down the street, old Native American villages, and great wine.

The barfly agrees with me. Seems he's ready to confess something he keeps secret...he grew up in he knows what boring is (actually, we've had some good times in Fresno but the opinion is his).

Letty shows up after a bit. The bartender pours her a beer too and we have a nice chat with the locals before moving on our way.

The thermometer is moving towards 90 as we get back to Plymouth. We change into our swimsuits and head outside. Ken shows us how to operate the lift and we deposit Tim into an inner tube with its help. It's much easier than carrying him down slippery stairs.

The pool, while small and ordinary, sits at the edge of the foothills rolling off into wine country. It's an extraordinary view.

There's something about it that makes me never want to leave. We spend a couple of hours in the 80 degree water before calling that a day. I go over to Amador Market on Main Street for some sandwiches and we head back out to the pool for dinner with a view.

Ken has some contractors here renovating rooms. At the end of their day, he brings them out to the pool area with a cooler of beer and a handful of cigars.

It's an impromptu party as we all celebrate this wonderful place, waiting for the sun to go down.

2020 UPDATE: Well, we liked Amador County so much that we moved here a year ago. It's no longer a vacation destination for us, it's home.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Pictures by Letty Musick
Copyright 2014 - All Rights Reserved

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