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The John Shinnick 58 California Counties 58 County Pledge

Counties 31-36


Did Mark Twain make Calaveras County famous or vice versa? Either way, Mark Twain's first nationally popular story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", published in 1865, was set in Angels Camp. The Angels Hotel, pictured here, is where it took place, and they've had frog jumping contests here annually, with plaques adorning the sidewalks much like the Hollywood Walk of Fame! I visited on 10-12-16. Fun stuff!


I lost my original Tuolumne pic, so I returned on 9-27-16. This is the Barretta Gardens Inn, a wonderful B&B in Sonora, the county seat. Hostess Astrid even sent out the welcoming committee! The place is a short walk to downtown where a number of fun restaurants can be found (I had dinner at the Diamondback). It was recommended that I go to Columbia State Park, but that will have to be next time!

33) MONO

Like Tuolumne, my Mono pic got lost, so I went back to Bodie, a real ghost town, on 9-28-16. This is the abandoned church. When the gold ran out, nobody wanted to stay for the 20 below zero winters or the 120 degree summers. There are two roads in. Bodie Road is bad, but Cottonwood Canyon Road is utterly horrible. I used it to exit (my TomTom told me to) and I blew a tire! Still, the stop is worthwhile so see such a large town that emptied out so quickly!

The bad news is that I'd never had to change a tire on my car before and couldn't figure it out. The good news is that I got good cell phone reception and AAA saved the day. Further, I found a tire to fit in nearby Lee Vining.

So why not use Mono Lake itself? It had already represented California in the 50 State Pledge! Both are worth seeing!


I started my 58 County Pledge on 11-17-09 by heading to San Francisco to take in the Bank of California Museum.  It was recommended by my friends at Putney Financial and has some very worthwhile exhibits from the middle 1800's when San Francisco was establishing itself as a booming financial center in the west.  Lots of gold coins, ingots and unprocessed metal are on display, as well as various notes, artifacts, and some great accounts of the city's early history.  It's in the basement of the Union Bank of California at 400 California St.  Admission is free, though your dignity takes a hit as you have to go through a security check to get in.


Talk about my own back yard!  Alameda County is about a quarter mile from me and the UC Berkeley campus about 2 miles.  My brother Chip was in town and wanted to see it, so on 10/23/10 we did.  We noted on a campus map this facility, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.  Of course, no photos allowed, but the exhibit was a most excellent display of Japanese art dating back as much as 1,000 years.  It's on loan from the Clark collection and is called "Flowers of the Four Seasons".  Great stuff and on display through Dec. 22 when the museum closes for the holidays.  Check 'em out at


Such irony. San Mateo County is really quite close by, being on the San Francisco Peninsula, but it was the last county I officially visited on this 58 County Pledge. The city of San Mateo has its own Japanese tea garden, far smaller and less spectacular than its San Francisco counterpart, but still most worthy. Many of its attractions were donated by sister city Toyonaka, Japan, including Shinden, a shrine to the divine spirits. What a nice name: SHINden.  Like its S.F. counterpart, the tea garden is a park within a park, this one being Central Park. Though I drove through showers in both directions, the sun shone during my stay here, a fitting end to my project and start of my 67th year on the planet. Happy birthday to me, 3-3-18.

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