How often do you take a vacation to get away from your usual workplace routine to enjoy a totally different experience? I did. It is part of my life business: getting away to a new environment. After this trip, I was refreshed, relaxed, and ready to resume my activities inManhattan.
Spring break from teaching at Baruch took me to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. I stayed with my niece Tomi Sue and her cats, dog, and horse. Below is my photo album of images from a wonderful time with family and the new friends I’ve made after many trips to the area.
One of the first things I did on Tomi Sue’s five acres was to walk around looking at the flowering plants—like white daffodils—and the wildflowers that were blooming. On Sunday, we went for a lovely Easter dinner at Tony and Dana’s, Tomi Sue’s sister, who live in the wine country of Napa Valley. Of course, the food was excellent as was the wine.
Usually when I’m in the area, I go toYosemiteNational Park, about an hour and a half away from Tomi Sue’s house. However, on Tuesday when Tomi Sue and I wanted to see Yosemite one more time, rain was forecasted. My niece suggested we explore the town of Hornitos, translated to “little ovens” in Spanish, which was closer and something we both hadn’t previously seen. To get there, we drove through beautiful pasture areas where there were no gates to confine a cow and calf; instead, there are grates along the road that cattle cannot cross.
Hornitos, a town of 75 people, is located in the southern tip of the gold country of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is called the Gold Country because in 1849, gold was found in the area and soon people were rushing from all parts of the country—and the world—to strike gold. The Gold Country is made up of a series of mines where prospectors panned for the gold that they thought would give them wealth. Many did profit greatly; however, there were many who came away empty handed or in a jail like the one in Hornitos for jumping someone else’s mine.
Tomi Sue and I spent a long time in the cemetery reading the names and dates of the then diverse populations. We saw headstones that included the Irish, Croatians, Portuguese, Chinese, and other ethnicities. My niece pointed out that the brick creation could have been one of the “little ovens” that gave the town its name.
According to online sources like Ghost Town Explorers, Hornitos was one of the most prosperous mining areas in the Southern Motherload. Do you like Ghirardelli candy? Ghost Town Explorers’ caption of the remains of a business reads, “Domenico Ghirardelli Store, opened in 1856, he went on to become a chocolate manufacturer in San Francisco. In 1929 the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company purchased the ruins of this general store and put a plaque on it.”
I couldn’t help but take this picture of looking at goats in their pasture through a free standing doorway and over an old wagon. It framed for me the tranquility of the area and the preservation efforts of those who live in a very small historical town.
Our return trip took us higher up into the mountains. Even looking at this picture makes me a little dizzy. My niece is a great driver so I wasn’t afraid, just cautious since it was a very long way down. On our way back, we stopped for a wonderful dinner at a restaurant where, if the clouds weren’t so low, we could have seen into the valley of California. Ah, it’s time for me to not just get back to work but to plan my next trip to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.