Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Northern California Memories

Last Monday, my dad's sister died in southern Oregon.  She is the one we tried to go see last year, when the space a flight we were trying to make got moved up, and we couldn't make the show time for it.  I still am so sad it didn't work to get out there, as no other flights worked out.  Anyway, I really wanted to get out there for the funeral, if possible, which was on Saturday.  Because of the excitement on our flight to Nashville last month, I had a $150 voucher from United that I was able to use toward this trip!  I flew out early Thursday morning (after juggling around my carpool driving responsibilities) to Denver, where I met my parents, and we flew on the same plane to Medford, OR.  My seat was even next to one of their's, so my mom and I got to visit the whole flight!

We stayed with friends of my dad's from his growing up days.  He and Bob met each other in 3rd or 4th grade, and they graduated from high school together.  They also did cub scouts/boy scouts together, and had a lot of great adventures.  Dad was the best man in their wedding, and the 2 couples have kept in touch over the years.  We had such a good time staying with them! They have a house on 7 beautiful acres, and I thoroughly enjoyed tromping around out there, collecting samples to bring home to show my biology class of things like different types of lichen, some moss with sporophytes, and other nonvascular plants.
 Here is a view off the back deck of some of the property I got to walk around.
 Here are some of my samples, including "Methuselah's Beard" lichen on the branch in front, and "Oakmoss" lichen as well as the flatter "Hammered Shield" lichen on the twig in back.

After breakfast on Friday, my mom, dad, and I headed over the Siskiyou Pass into northern CA, where my dad grew up.  Our first stop was the old mining town of Yreka. This is the old hotel on the main street through town, with a neat stagecoach in front.
 My grandpa moved the family there when my dad was around 5.  He opened a hardware store in this building on the corner (just down the street from the hotel), which is now a meat market.
 This was my dad's house growing up.  It was actually 2 separate buildings until his dad joined them with a walkway at some point, but not before there was a big mudslide that came in between them and filled up what was a (nasty) swimming pool in the front yard.  My dad was in favor of just leaving the mud, since the pool was always gross, but my grandpa insisted that they dig all the mud out of it.  We couldn't get close enough to tell if the pool was still there in the front, and you can't even really tell in this picture where the pool would have been!  The house was up at the top of North St.--not too far from where his friend Bob grew up.  There weren't very many houses around back then, and there was just a field behind the house, but now there are several houses to the right of this one, and a neighborhood behind it.
 Then we headed just out of town to the Greenhorn Reservoir area.  My parents used to own some property out there, so we drove past it.  They sold it when the soil only perked for a 2 bedroom house--that wouldn't do any of us any good!--and the house that has been built on it is indeed tiny.  We stopped at the park, where they have some mining equipment and buildings on display.  This wheel was completely remade by the brother of Bob's wife Lucille, and he did an amazing job.  I don't know if you can really see it, but the spinning wheel turns the flat wheel, which spins a stone that . . . did something.  I can't remember, lol.  The wheels all look great though!
 Here are my parents standing in front of what's left of an old stamp mill.  Because of our time being stationed in Colorado, I read a lot of books about the mining history of that state, so I am somewhat familiar with the equipment.  I really find it all fascinating!
 Here you can better see the heavy metal weights that crush the ore.  We agreed that the park needs someone like Lucille's brother to restore this stamp mill, but boy, I can not even imagine what a chore that would be!  Those metal things are SO heavy!
 After a quick lunch at Taco Bell (it was a novelty to me to not have to order 2 taco 12 packs--I got a doritos taco and a chalupa!), we headed to the (even smaller) town of Montague.  After selling the store in Yreka and delivering auto parts for another company for awhile (which is when my grandpa found that wonderful Model A Ford that he and my dad fixed up, and that my dad still gives the grandkids rides in today!), my grandpa opened another hardware store in Montague.  It was in the bottom of this greenish building, and they lived in an apartment on top.  Unfortunately, the building burned quite a few years ago--and there the building stands, all burned out and desolate looking.  Rather depressing, actually!
 Right behind the burned out building is this house, which is where my grandparents were living when I remember visiting them.  The house is looking quite shabby now, which is sad, because my grandparents always kept it looking very nice and kept up. The area is somewhat depressed though, with not much industry around since the lumber mills were decimated after the spotted owl stuff.  Montague definitely had more of a depressed vibe than Yreka, though, although there is one huge lumber mill operation not far from there that I was surprised to see.  It was enormous!
 Then we headed back north up I-5, almost to the Oregon border.  This is where my aunt and uncle owned and operated a service station/liquor store/restaurant for many years.  Now it is just a liquor store, and one of my cousins said the owner is making a killing.  He buys more in bulk than Costco, so he can give better prices, and apparent'y the people are willing to drive through the mountains for a deal!
 The place did not look as nice as it did when my uncle was in charge though, and there were all these huge trailer/shipping containers behind the store that didn't used to be there, plus huge security fences.  My aunt and uncle built the house below on the right, and I used to LOVE to go visit them and my cousins!  They had a pool, and sometimes a horse, plus all this land to run around on, and I thought the station was so interesting!  I know now that it all had its downsides too, like being really isolated, but as a little girl, I thought it was amazing!
You can see from all these pictures that it was cloudy and rainy, and that is how it was the entire trip, which was disappointing.  We didn't get even a glimpse of Mt. Shasta!  But there was no snow, and it really didn't actually rain all that much--just little sprinkles.  I really enjoyed seeing all these places, and I *really* hope we can get our kids out there to see everything too.  Small town life in northern CA (and I mean REALLY northern CA, not just "around Sacramento", lol) is so very different than life here in northern VA.  Plus the history is so interesting, and I love how the families are all so connected in all these little mining towns up in the mountains.  Fascinating!

I'll post more about the rest of the trip in another post, but the whole trip was really wonderful, and I am so glad I was able to go!

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