The John Shinnick 58 California Counties 58 County Pledge
37) SANTA CRUZ
It's the law in 43 of the 50 states that if your best bud names his first born son after you, you have to attend his wedding. So it was that on June 20, 2010, said best bud Gary, his wife Eva, and I moseyed down to Santa Cruz for the nuptials (I always liked that word!) I forgot my camera, but photographers tend to abound at weddings, so Graham (the new husband) sent me this photo done by the official wedding photographer, Terry Way. I'm back about 2/3 the way and on the right, my left hand in the air. I think. I've rather forgotten since it was half a year ago as I write this. The moral of the story? If you want a timely photo, BRING YOUR CAMERA!
Justice would have some pics of Yosemite representing Mariposa County, but I'd seen it before, several times. Same with highway 140 as you drive in. But my brother had never seen them and I never tire of them, so on October 26th, 2010, we headed out. What I'd never done was to drive most of the way, then stop overnight nearby, so I could spend more time in the park itself the next day. We stayed in the pleasant town of Mariposa and asked at the motel for a good breakfast stop. Thus the morning of the 27th, we found ourselves at the Happy Burger Cafe. Good food, reasonable prices, just what we needed! But I recommend that if you come to Mariposa for the Cafe, you should probably set aside some time to see Yosemite National Park, too. It's only about 45 minutes up the road!
This is the Merced County Courthouse Museum. It was a surprisingly fun stop in my journeys, which I made on 3-1-18. Two floors of exhibits covering much of California's past. I was particularly taken by a rotary phone from pre-plastic times. Dialing it reminded me of my grandmother's phone! They had a McGuffey's Reader and an old glove showing many of the old European colonies in Africa. The old courtroom was just what you'd expect - somewhat small, but also somewhat intimidating.
38) SANTA CLARA
Not your everyday huge mansion, this 160 room salute to the utterly strange is the Winchester Mystery House. It seems that in the late 1800's, Sarah Winchester, widow of William Winchester of rifle fame, was told by a Boston psychic that the ghosts of those killed by said rifles would haunt her unless she moved west and built a house continuously. Which she did. 24/7/365 for 38 years! This was the result. My brother and I saw it on 10/22/10. Check out details at WinchesterMysteryHouse.com. It was only the second strangest thing I saw that week, though. The next day the Giants won the pennant, beating Philadelphia 3-2.
In searching for something to do in Stanislaus County, I ran across a favorable review of a newly opened brew-pub in the town of Ceres, Blaker Brewery. I got there about 4:30 on Thursday, 3-1-18. In addition to the usual mugs and pints and pitchers, they have 6 ounce glasses available, making sampling of their wide variety of craft beers possible. Easily my favorite was their Vanilla Bean Milk Stout, also a favorite of just about everyone there. They wanted to serve food but didn't want to run a restaurant, so they have local vendors come in - this afternoon, it was a pizza place that sold just 3 kinds of 9" treats. Yum! The locals were upbeat and friendly, and judging by the numbers, they're off to a well deserved great start. Check 'em out!
I'd planned on visiting Devils Postpile National Monument a couple of weeks earlier after my return trip to Bodie (see Mono County) but a flat tire changed my plans. Undaunted, I returned to the area on 10-13-16. The "postpile" itself is an interesting geological formation ("columnar basalt"), which was to have been blasted away in the name of hydro power, but John Muir lobbied President Taft, saving the day!
If you look up Devils Postpile National Monument (no apostrophe) on the internet you can see it, but you'll also find pictures of Rainbow Falls, to the right. It's also in the National Monument, a little over two miles away. Well worth the walk, really pretty!
On the same visit, I bought my National Park Senior Pass. $10 for a lifetime of all the national parks and monuments. Such a deal!