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The John Shinnick 58 California Counties 58 County Pledge

Counties 25-30


Should Alpine County even be a county?  In terms of population, its 1,145 residents make it California's smallest.  In silver mining days it was more like 11,000 when it was created in 1854, but went all the way down to about 200 until the ske resorts of Bear Valley and Kirkwood were built.  The county seat is Markleeville, named after Jacob Marklee who set up a toll bridge in 1861.  He thought it was in Nevada, but surveyers disagreed.  He was later killed in a gunfight.  How fitting that the site of his cabin is now the county courthouse, pictured here!  Ah, the wild west!


On March 6, having just turned 39... er... 59, I visited the county in which my old band Void Where Prohibited was based.  It so happened they were playing at the Wild Fox in Novato, so I popped in on them.  The light wasn't very good for photography, but after a couple of beers this is what they really look like.  3-6-10.


Those bins to the right are filled with Jelly Belly jelly beans. I can almost forgive Ronald Reagan since he made these famous. He started eating them when the company was called the Herman Goelitz Candy Company. He did it to break his pipe smoking habit while running for Governor. This factory in Fairfield is one of only two, the other being in Chicago. The tour was self-guided, but there were helpful and fun employees available. They also make one of my great guilty pleasures, candy corn!  2-28-18.


I remember hearing of French Camp when I first came to California. It was named for the French-Canadian fur traders who used this for the southern end of the Hudson Bay Company's operation. It thus became worthy of having an official California historical landmark. I saw it (in a serious rain shower) on 3-1-18.


Wow, my home county!  I lived here for 29 years and had never been to the John Muir National Historic Site!  Well, no more.  I drove out to Martinez and saw the house that John Muir lived in for several years.  The true monument to his life is Yosemite, but this place was well worth the trip.  I learned of his life, his legacy, and gained an appreciation of how he basically founded the National Park Service.  What a guy! (5/16/10).


This was epic! On February 28, 2018, I made my way to Black Chasm Caverns in the town of Volcano. No, it's not nearly the size of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, but that makes it a bit more accessible. The formations are way cool and the tour took only about an hour. I was lucky in that the next day, heavy snows were expected which would close the place down. As it was, I was the only one there for the hourly tour. For you geologists, it has a great number of helictites. Also, there's a way cool underground lake that reminded me of Italy's Blue Grotto. Go see! 

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