A Foothill Fourth + Hot Springs

Apologies for the delay, I got a bit of writer’s block. A couple years ago I went into the foothills with my best friend to see fireworks and check out the state parks’ events.

We had a great time in Columbia State Historic Park, where they had all kinds of old-timey activities and historic structures.

They have cool rock formations left after they power-washed all the dirt away looking for gold, then built cabins

Pretty spartan inside though

Lots of cool ruins around from the old brick buildings

This is still a functioning saloon, with really good sas

Old wagons on display

And the blacksmith shop was up and running, with an old-timey character selling the iron wares

Lots of fun activities for the kids, such as the watermelon eating contests

And the greased pole climb? There was also an adult pole in the back, the prizes were some cash and was hilarious to watch

Candle dipping shop, I made a cool one with like 10 shades of dark blue

Can also do some panning

My favorite part of any visit here is going to the tea house, they have great food and a wide selection of teas available

So lovely

At night we headed down to Mokolumne Hill (Mo-call-uhm-nee), named after this high hill

It really dominates the area

A ton of people showed up to the high school football field to watch the fireworks get set off. It was a great show but camera’s do not capture them well unless you get special equipment

As a bonus, here is a side trip I took to Buckeye hot spring outside of Bridgeport, starting with this view of the eastern sierra

The springs come out of the ground with a very hot fury

And then heads down the hill in it’s mineral-lined channel

It then hits this overhang, created by mineral deposits and erosion from the nearby creek

Even this far down from the source, these drops are super hot

So people hang out underneath it in hot pools, or head over here a few feet to pools mixed with creek water

Primitive springs are unique and fun. Next time let’s take a tour of the vivid SF Museum of Modern Art.

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Rock Lakes in Nevada County

100th post on this site!

If you keep heading up the trail from the meadow you eventually get to the rock lakes. Did I mention where this is last time? Off bowman lakes road, which is near where highway 20 and I-80 intersect in the mountains.

This is a white California Lilac (ceanothus), smelling lovely along the trail

A few years ago a small fire took out this stand, not sure if lightning or campfire, but the size indicates lightning

Will take a while to recover

But all around is beautiful mature forest

The drought hadn’t killed off many trees yet here, this meadow was full of mule’s ears

I only just saw the caterpillar in this one

One of my favorites, larkspur

A wonderful mariposa lily

So nice, let’s see it twice

Looks like a phlox to me

Looks like a berry to me

A pink penstemon?



A very special coral root orchid, they are parasitic plants like the snowplant, feeding off the roots of the conifers

Once up a pretty steep hill, the sierra crest peaked through and the late June snowbanks on the north faces were still around

Only one there, it was spectacular

Slightly windy day kept things cool, the water was ice cold

It was super full too

See them?

A swarm of beautiful dragonflies

More mountains with snow peaking up

Back at the lake (this was the upper rock lake, the lower one isn’t quite as picturesque


till next time

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Loney Meadow Wildflowers

Off of Highway 20 in the sierras there are some PG&E lakes and some very tricky 4WD roads that take you to some spectacular areas. One of those is Loney Meadow, a hidden gem that was recently restored from cattle grazing.

I hate when people do that to the signs.

Pink pussy paws


A different lupine

Can you see the spider?

A little closer then

Some shooting stars


Not 100% on this one, well, not even 5%

This looked like a lilac


Some penstemon near the center and lots of blue eyed grass

I think these were just weeds

Crimson columbine

Towering larkspur

Look a bit like white elephant’s head

A clover

Wooly mule’s ear

Elderberry or poison angelica

A much better view of this spectacular meadow before we head up the hill

On the way we saw these immense aspens which were all connected at the roots around a boggy area

The snow plant indicated a high elevation and pines nearby

They are parasites of the pines, feeding off the nutrients in the roots

Next up, Rock Lakes further up the trail from the meadow.

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Historic Murphys and a Botanical Garden

Happy New Year!

To start off, let’s head up into the foothills to the small town of Murphys, the Queen of the Sierra. It is located right off Highway 4, east of Stockton.

We started at Ironstone Vineyards, a large winery, tasting room, cafe, museum, amphitheater and garden complex that hosts many events throughout the year

In May they had a good amount of flowers, but earlier in the spring is full of flowering bulbs

Here is where the hold concerts and other events, I’ve been here for fourth of July fireworks before

Many of the garden paths wind under shady and well-maintained trees, particularly Japanese maples

They even have a giant pipe organ saved from a historic theater in Sacramento (the Alhambra)

The museum housed this irreplaceable crystalline gold nugget that is worth hundreds of thousands in the metal alone. These remnants of the gold rush indicate the wealth of gold that was found, and still lies buried, under these foothills

The back of the winery looked quite old, many buildings here are over 150 years old

Such as the historic Murphys Hotel, built in 1856

The town had an old jail they preserved, it was tiny

And contained this miscreatin’ character

The main park in town crosses the refreshing Angels creek that is partially dammed to allow safe swimming

A very appropriate flower, a hollyhock, which was quite popular in the mid-1800’s

We then headed downhill to a river, and found this surprised cow on the road. Looks like she wants to challenge us for passage

This was a pretty cool place, part of the water and power infrastructure for the state

I guess it takes water from higher up on the river and produces power here and releases it into a canal that empties into the river

I thought the canal was the prettiest part

But the stair-sided walkway was a close second

The river wasn’t very interesting photography-wise, so here are some wonderful flowers from the same time of year at the UC Davis Botanical Garden

That shot was pretty special, but this other type of poppy was a fantastic shot as well

I wish I knew what these interesting flowers were


A rare, red magnolia flower

These are flowers from a native milkweed

They did not jingle


These oleander are going to become rare, a bacteria is killing them off by the thousands in southern california

They have some truly majestic oak trees here as well, from all over the world

This native valley oak is quite large, likely hundreds of years old

A cactus was blooming, usually this just happens at night



Some australian plant drooping over

At the pond we saw this kingfisher

Which promptly plucked a nice minnow out right in front of us. I couldn’t get a good shot of that part though, so you will have to enjoy the anticipation without a reward

See you next time with a stupefying array of flower from the Loney Meadow and Rock Lakes area

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