I like having things to do on trips, but I’m not one to draw up detailed itineraries. Rigidity kills the spirit or at least throws a wet blanket over its head. Though initially planned as a research outing, I was bringing my wife along to California Gold Rush country. Her interests are not my own. I didn’t want to be that person pulling on the arm of a bored partner, so I threw in some wife-friendly pit stops hoping they would keep her from devising elaborate means of escape. Luckily, the time of year made autumn colors a gimme and I know she likes caves and forests, so I added those destinations to our journey.
From home to hotel, the drive was about five-and-a-half hours, including refueling and bladder relief. Unfortunately, most of that time was spent traversing California’s very, very flat Central Valley. I think the only things keeping me awake were the whiffs of cow manure drifting through the cabin. That, and I was excited to take our new FJ Cruiser on her inaugural road trip. She drove like a beaut, collecting windshield bugs with the best of them.
Once we left the freeways though, it was two-lane highways through some beautiful country.
We arrived in Sonora late in the afternoon. This tiny town in the Sierra Nevada foothills would be our FOB (Forward Operating Base) for the rest of the trip. We briefly explored Washington Street (the main drag) and filled our bellies with delicious Thai food. At first, it struck me quite odd to discover a Thai restaurant in this tiny mountain community, but after learning just how diverse the social history of Sonora really was, it made sense.
And what’s a quaint little town without a candy store (by the end of the trip, we figured there must be some sort of county ordinance requiring them)? Of course we stocked up for those random sugar cravings.
As the sun began to set, we learned that it was 2nd Saturday Art Night in Sonora. The second Saturday of every month, musicians set up and play a variety of instruments in nearly every shop on Washington. Art galleries are open late and some merchants provide free sweets and hot apple cider. This was such a great way to cap the evening and a fantastic introduction to the historic town.
By this time, the long day began to take its toll, so we checked into the Gunn House Hotel, tested some of the candy for poison and went to bed.
It was a long night for me.
To all of those online hotel reviewers complaining about street noise, my apologies for dismissing your warnings as overly sensitive. As usual, my wife was the smart one and brought earplugs. I don’t like sleeping in total silence or with things poking my ears, so I turned them down, but by the next morning, I was coming around to the idea.
Not only is the area hopping with pitchless vagabonds singing Suwannee River at three in the morning, but our room faced Washington Street itself. Big rigs, trash collectors, Harley processions – all manner of vehicles pass through the night. I suppose we could have drowned out the noise with the air conditioner, but seeing as temperatures hovered around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, I don’t think that would have been any more pleasant.
I think I managed a couple of winks. At least the bed was comfy.
Day two coming soon…