Monday, May 31, 2021


It's a bit hilly but still accessible for wheelchairs this laid back, pretty little town in the Sierra foothills about an hour or so east of Sacramento. Nevada City lacks a lot of cell phone service, spotty wifi, and no ATM that we ever found (or at least trusted) in this town of many cash-only businesses.

Parking's a little tight but we do find a spot off the side of Broad Street, the main thoroughfare of the old downtown district here.

Before lunch, we do a little exploring. Up at the top of the street, we find Pennsylvania Fire Station Number 2, built in 1861, with funds derived from donations and a grand ball.

The name was changed from Eureka to Pennsylvania a year after the company was formed but the plaque out front does not say why.

As we turn around and head back down, we can see the snow-capped mountains guarding Lake Tahoe poking up in the horizon.

Just before we get to the quonset hut shaped Bonanza Market, we come across a building under renovation. This is the Nevada Theatre, which...until Covid 19...had enjoyed 155 years of continous operation (circa 1865) and will continue to do so after the pandemic restrictions have lifted.

This makes it the oldest, existing theater on the west coast.

A quick stop at the local dive bar, the Mineshaft, and then we continue. Gold country dive bars are the best.

We make a stop in Utopian Stone, a jewelry store, so Letty can check out the jewelry. The Gold Rush era safes still keep the merchandise safe at night. There are several musuem-quality pieces here on display (but not for sale) that make for some interesting browsing. It's also interesting to see the jewelers at work fabricating new pieces.

At the bottom of the hill, we take a quick look at what used to be the assay office.

Then, it's a brunch of crepes and pancakes at the French-inspired Classic Cafe.

Hunger sated, it's time to explore the Gold Rush part of this trip. That means a short drive to nearby Grass Valley and the Empire Mine State Historical Park.

Up in the pines east of highway 49 and just south of highway 174, there is easy parking and fully accessible restrooms waiting to greet you. Into the gift shop and you can pay the entrance fee for the park. The park is divided into two areas...the mine itself and the Bourn Cottage, really a mansion, that the San Francisco based owners to stay in when they visited the diggins.

We start in the mine section. We've just missed the start of the docent-led tour so we're doing a self-guided tour. The first thing we see is the "secret room." This was off-limits to most mine employees back in the day and held a massive, scale model of all levels of the mine. 

The model is still there and it is quite impressive. We're told that only the first inch down from the top of the model is still accessible (not to the public) and everything at two inches and below is flooded with water.

Outside, we've caught up with the tour group and listen to the docent for awhile but they've already passed the highlights that we want to see so we break off and continue on our own.

The Administration building is mostly inaccessible. Letty and I take a quick look inside to see the old furniture and scales before returning to Tim, waiting downstairs.

Next, it's off to the blacksmith shop where another docent has the coal-fired forge running hot and working. He explains to us that way out here in the middle of nowhere, mines had to be able to make their own parts for repairs thus many had extensive shops to do that.

Just across the street from the blacksmith is the main entrance to the mine. If you can walk, you can go down about 20 feet or so. 

If not, you can still peer down the impressive shaft. There's also a mirror installed so those in wheelchairs who aren't tall enough to peer down can see the reflection. There are a number of exhibits here in the open air that can catch your attention but it's hard to compete with that mine shaft.

After the mine works, we head to the other side of the park to check out the "cottage."

There is a foundation of another house that used to be here but burned down.

Extensive lawns and gardens hide the access ramp pretty well but we find it and make our way to the porch of the house. There is at least one stair at each entrance, although the interior of the building is closed today anyway. We look through the windows to see the period furnishings in each room.

Done with our touring, we head back to the van to make our way back home.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2021 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 30, 2021

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Belgians on Ice

Today on the patio were chillin’ some brews.  A couple of Belgian beauties.

Belgium is our favorite beer making country, followed closely by Germany and the good ole USA.  Today, we’re trying an abbey brewed reserve ale and a Lambic.  Both are readily available, today’s bottles came from Trader Joe’s.

The Lambic is Lindemans Framboise raspberry Lambic and the ale is Chimay Grande Reserve.

First the Lambic.  These are mainly sour beers often fortified with fruit.  Letty loves the sour Belgians, I think they taste like vinegar.  It’s an acquired taste for me but some people really love it.  This one is not sour, though.  It’s actually pretty sweet and tastes more like a raspberry soda.  Not sour enough for Letty and too sweet for me.  The raspberries give it a deep red color and it looks like punch.  

The Chimay is a rich, brown, smooth tasting beer.  It’s not very clear, almost a Guinness like thick brown that blots out the sun.  It is very smooth, like you’d expect a Belgian to be, and tastes just a little hoppy and a lot nutty.  Not a bad brew but there are better out there, although they are not as readily available.

The Lambic is $8 and the Chimay $9 for a 750 ml bottle at Trader Joe’s.



Friday, May 28, 2021

Having a Beer in Lake Tahoe

After two months of lockdown in 2020, California gradually started to reopen and loosen it's Shelter in Place (SIP) order. First, some parks and trails reopened. Restaurant dining rooms let people back in at a reduced capacity. Bars and barbers started to reopen in some counties.

Cases started to spike up so wearing of the masks was made mandatory again and further loosening has been put on pause.
For awhile, the Lake Tahoe region had added a one thousand dollar fine for non residents who were caught there on non-essential business. That was a tough one because the lake is only a two hour drive away from home for us, perfect for a day out.

Then, early in June with the state loosening restrictions and opening back up, El Dorado County let that restriction expire and Tahoe was open to visitors again.

Later in June, we had a local heat wave with five days of triple digit temperatures. I just wanted to have a cold beer on the edge of a cool Lake Tahoe so plans were made to see how I could make this happen.

While the lake is beautiful, with plenty of beaches to dip your toes, and the weather perfect, it's also a place with a lot of regulations and rules to keep that famous clarity of the lake intact. Consequently, there are not a lot of restaurants or bars right on the edge of the water.

There are, however, a few places that were there before the regulations got so tight and they have been grandfathered in...allowed to operate as before because specifically because they were already there.

Just west of the city of South Lake Tahoe lies Camp Richardson, a sprawling private campground that has been there for over a century. The camp restaurant, the Beacon Bar and Grill, sits right on the beach and has a patio literally a couple of steps from the water. 

In other words, the perfect spot for this adventure. 

Two hours from home, we're pulling into Camp Richardson. A $10 parking fee gets us inside and we find a handicapped parking spot next to the entrance to the restaurant. Masks in place, we're whisked to an outdoor table a few feet from the water.

A cold 805 beer is deposited in front of me. Mission accomplished.

While we're here, we might as well eat. I have a tasty French dip sandwich. Letty goes with a poke salad and Tim goes with his usual burger.

It's all good and very relaxing. It really hit the spot, getting out and taking our minds off of the pandemic restrictions swirling around us.

We still have full access to the grounds so it's off to do a little exploring. A couple hundred yards to the west is the entrance to Tallac Historic Site.

The grounds, open Memorial Day Weekend through mid September, have plenty of accessible trails to explore the three estates that make up the park. The Tevis, Baldwin, and Heller families all had estates here and their opulent, yet rustic, mansions still offer commanding views of Lake Tahoe.

The oldest of the estates is the Pope estate, originally built in 1894 by Lloyd Tevis who was the president of Wells Fargo, while the newest was built in 1921 by Elias "Lucky" Baldwin. Lucky Baldwin is very well know in the Los Angeles area where the city of Arcadia was established on his rancho and he started the racetrack that became Santa Anita Park. Many things carry the family name there like Baldwin Avenue and Baldwin Park.

While all the buildings were closed and locked up due to Covid restrictions, we could still amble up to the windows and look in. Of particular interest were the boathouse (with a ramp up to the viewing windows), the gardens, and the servants areas that were easy to roll around on.

After roaming the grounds of this trio of estates, which made us think of a rustic American version of Downton Abbey, it's time to head back over to Camp Richardson and head home.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2021 - All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 24, 2021


Going up highway 49, at the northern edge of California's Amador County, you'll pass through the small city of Plymouth, population just a hair over a thousand. You'll get a small taste of the past as you drive by the local supermarket, Pokerville Market. Get a bigger taste by going inside to get a snack to go...Pokerville was one of the original names for the area.

During the Gold Rush, the Plymouth Consolidated Mines pulled much of the precious ore out of the ground. The main mine was located east of what is now highway 49 in an empty, wooded patch north of the market and south of Amador 360, a local wine shop and tasting room.

William Tecumseh Sherman...who would go on to make his scorched earth march to the sea in the Civil War...surveyed the area in 1848. Settlement started here around 1852 and there are still a few buildings from that era on Plymouth's Main Street.

In 1856, Adam Uhlinger, a Swiss immigrant, planted a vineyard about 10 miles east of town. Unlike a lot of history that only exists in books, this is living history. You can visit Mr. Uhlinger's vineyard and winery, which is still in operation today as the Sobon Estate Winery.

There is a little jostling as to which is the oldest winery in California. Most point to Buena Vista in Sonoma which was founded in 1857. This winery was not only founded a year earlier, but has been in continuous operation...even during the prohibition...ever since.

Wine tasting is available inside...we particularly recommend their Cougar Hill Zinfandel and their Zinfandel Port. Across the patio, there's a very interesting museum (admission free) where you can stand in the original aging room, dug into the hill like a cave.

In between Sobon and the town of Plymouth, a vast valley of vines and tasting rooms used to be California's largest and most productive wine area. It still is one of the top viticultural areas of the state but is overshadowed by the likes of Napa and Sonoma to the west.

Owing to reminding the settlers here of their native Virginia, it's call Shenandoah Valley and is home to over 40 wineries. Many offer sips of wine for a small fee that's refundable if you buy a bottle. Big bold reds are the specialty of this hot, dry climate. Zinfandels, Barberas, and Sangiovese are grown in abundance here.

Back in town, it's pretty quiet but the focus is on one of the state's highest rated restaurants, Taste. With an ever-changing menu of exquisitely produced dishes, it's the highlight of any trip here.

Plymouth is one of the nerve centers of Amador County's very full slate of warm weather events.

In addition to the county fair...which is hosted here at the end of each July...there are concerts at Helwig Winery's amphitheater. They also host a Friday evening party each week from May through September where the mostly local crowd can dance to local bands while sipping wine and noshing on the on-site restaurant's evening special.

Another very popular event here is the blink-and-you-miss-it farmers market that takes place each Thursday for a month and a half at the end of summer.

More of a local get together than farmers market, it's where the low country residents of the county get together to hang out, chat, enjoy a dish from Taste (which, although just across the street, sets up a table with a simple dish they sell for cheap), drink wine (of course, one of the main things to do in this county), and maybe even buy some produce from the one or two stands actually set up for that purpose.

Plymouth is also home to Amador County's older brewery, Amador Brewing Company, which is located just east of the traffic circle on the road to the Shenandoah Valley (a new brewery in Amador City, Break Even Brewing, just opened making it the 2nd one in the county).

Only open Friday through Sunday, they make great brews and always have a tasty food truck vendor on site.

Of course, the other big thing to do is wine tasting and we also like to take a picnic with us to enjoy some spectacular settings while sipping a nice red while eating our lunch. Some that we particularly recommend are Story Winery, C.G. Di Arie, Dobra Zimlja, Deaver, and Andis.

If you'd like to taste and buy a range of different wineries in one place, stop off at Amador 360 which acts as a tasting room to the many small wineries here that don't have their own tasting room. On the weekends, you'll also find Thomas Allan...Story's winemaker...pouring sips of his own Fate wines, one of the best micro wineries in the state.

Spending the night is no problem. Rest, nextdoor to and owned by Taste, has modern and tasteful rooms, including accessible rooms. The Shenandoah Inn, on the south end of town, has two accessible rooms with a king bed (rollaway available) with tubs, no roll in showers. The Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort, about 10 miles away has both types of accessible rooms available and at the lowest prices of all three. They also have full resort amenities such as pool, spa, casino, and onsite restaurants.

It's a great place to see Gold Rush history and to visit one of the best wine countries in the state before it really gets discovered by the wine drinkers of California.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2020 - All Rights Reserved

Sunday, May 23, 2021

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Scottsdale Cocktails

(Please read our Covid 19 Statement first - Ed) We're on location for another Cocktail Hour here at The World on Wheels. This time, we're coming to you from the Valley of the's beautiful and warm Scottsdale, Arizona.

Not quite a pub crawl, we filmed this over several days when we visited the Scottsdale and Phoenix areas.

Watch the Video!

We start off with some easy to get to sips, no driving required...

It's the cocktail lounge of our hotel, the Marriott McDowell Mountains Resort.  Beer and wine are on tap as we relax by the firepit.

Next, it's a set of tasters at Harrold's Corral, a cowboy steakhouse and bar in nearby Cave Creek.  

Although the place is down-to-earth and not fancy, they do serve some mighty good microbrews.

Then it's a trip on Phoenix's light rail system so we can try the powerful tropical cocktails at Hula in downtown Phoenix.

The mai tais are sweet and powerful but we find a few others to like too.

Lastly, it's the night before a big bowl game in Tempe.  Can you believe this oldster got carded at the bar?

It's at Dos Gringos where we try some average Cadillac margaritas and the waitress gets our order wrong not once, not twice, maybe even more than three times...but we just gave up at that point.

It's all in the video above, click on "Play" and let's get this party started!



Friday, May 21, 2021

Classic Trip: Tucson, Arizona 2011 - Part 2

After spending a day in Tombstone it’s time to see Tucson proper.  The weather that had been threatening finally called in its debt and rain started coming down as we got back into the city.

Seems that’s how it goes for us, plan on a sunny getaway and we’ll get cold and rain.  Plan a trip to the snow and we’ll get a heat wave.

Watch the Video!

In the morning, we have a nice breakfast at the hotel…seriously, they have a great hot breakfast buffet…and make our way to downtown Tucson to see what we can find.  It is downright cold this morning.

Pulling into downtown, flakes start to fall.  That’s right…it is now snowing in downtown Tucson.  In the desert.  In Southern Arizona.  Just a few miles north of the border.  Where lawns don’t exist but Saguaro cacti do.

It looks like our bathing suits are just going to take up space in the luggage for this trip.

We find a spot to park on Congress Street on the east side of the city center.  It’s cold and snowy so we duck into the lobby of the beautifully restored Hotel Congress to get all our jackets, mittens, and hats on.  

The manager comes up to us.  He just wants to point out the accessible routes to all the areas of the lobby and invites us to come in and take as much time as we want to get warm.

That’s how hospitality is done, folks.

It is indeed an inviting place to sit for awhile, have a cup of coffee, and warm up in the tile walled room.

Out back, we cross the street to the old, restored Tucson train station.  Here you’ll find Maynard’s Restaurant and Maynard’s market.  We wander the aisles of the small store where you’ll find an upscale selection of food, wine, and beer plus some reasonably priced sandwiches and other prepared food to go.

Letty and I get a cup of weak coffee and it’s back out into the cold, cruel world.

Back on Congress Street, we stop at the Chicago Store.  It’s a large music store with just about any instrument you’d want to find.  It’s also like a musical pawn shop where local musicians can sell their instruments and budding musicians can buy them.  I get just a couple of items that I needed for our audio studio back home.

We continue to walk around in the light snow flurry but, although there seems to be a big surge towards restoration of the area, it’s still got a ways to go to be lively.

Back in the van, we head up First Avenue for lunch.  Today, it’s at BK Tacos.  You might have seen this place on the Food Network or the Travel Channel.  The specialty here is the Sonoran hot dog.  This starts with a bacon wrapped hot dog…a truly evil and delicious combination…and then piles on beans and salsa.  Most people also load up on the shredded cheese from the condiment bar.  It’s known as a chili dog on steroids…a pretty apt description.

The dogs are very good.  I also have a couple of their good al pastor tacos along with some creamy guacamole and hot sauce from the condiment bar.  It’s good enough to order seconds.

Tonight we’re going out on the town.  Specifically to a show at the restored Fox Theater on Congress Street back in downtown. 

When I was researching this trip, I saw that country singer Mark Chesnutt was going to be in town so we stopped in and bought tickets on arrival.  The wheelchair seating is in two boxes on either the left or right side of the orchestra and only 8 rows back from the stage.  Their actually very good seats.

At show time, the place is only about a third full so it was far from a sellout.  The first act, Mark Connors…a local singer, was not great.  The headlining Mark, Mr. Chesnutt, was great and...if you’ll pardon my French for a second...kicked ass.

The partially filled auditorium made up for the lack of bodies with the full-throated cheers and screams at Mr. Chesnutt’s act.  Security was tight, though, no pictures other that what we could grab with our phone or download a public domain copy could be had, so I apologize for the lack of photos.

The next day we wind down a bit, go shopping at some of Tucson’s many pawn and thrift shops, and spend the evening reminiscing at the hotel’s happy hour before settling in for one more night. 

We need to be well rested for that all day drive back to L.A.

Copyright 2011
All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

ACCESSIBLE ATTRACTIONS: Tucson and Tombstone, Arizona

Our ratings are...

Fully Accessible - You can access all of the attraction, with no problem, in any type of wheelchair.

Mostly Accessible - You can access most of the attraction, and all of the important parts of it, with your wheelchair.

Partially Accessible - You can access a good deal of the attraction but some parts are inaccessible and some important parts you'll miss.

Inaccessible - Kind of speaks for itself, avoid if you're in a wheelchair.

Here's Tucson and Tombstone, Arizona...

OK Corral - Fully Accessible. You won't have any problems navigating this attraction but be advised of two things...the gunfight show is loud and the actual gunfight took place where the highway is today, just outside of the walls of the attraction. Still, a lot of fun. If loud noises bother you, go between shows to avoid it.

Birdcage Theatre - Partially Accessible. You won't be able to access the basement and there are no accessible bathrooms.

Boot Hill - Mostly Accessible. Some of the paths through the cemetary are a bit rough but most wheelchairs will be able to see most of the area.

Big Nose Kate's Saloon - Partially Accessible. Basement gift shop is off limits to wheelchairs due to stairs.

Fox Theatre (Tucson) - Fully Accessible. Great place to see a show with very good and close up wheelchair seating.

Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved