Friday, April 11, 2014

Springtime in the Sierra Foothills

I've always enjoyed history, especially of the local variety, but since I am currently taking a California history course, my interest has been kicked into overdrive. A few weekends ago after watching an episode of Ken Burn's The West, I decided the parents and I should explore Auburn and its Gold Rush roots (and dabble in some nature and craft beer...naturally).
On our way to the foothills on a Saturday morning, we were passing through Dixon when I realized we needed gas. I took the opportunity to go snap a photo of the locally renowned Milk Farm sign.

The Milk Farm was a roadside restaurant established in the 1920s off of I-80. My Dad used to stop there with his family on their way home from camping at Lake Tahoe. We would stop nearby for frozen fruit bars when I was a kid on our return from the mountains. Unfortunately the restaurant closed in 1986, was demolished in 2000, but the sign still stands. 
Dixon, CA 
An hour or so later we were passing through the Auburn State Recreation Area. There was already quite a number of cars parked along the highway, with people setting off to explore the numerous trails. We decided to go to the farthest location first, then work our way back.

My parents and I arrived at Cool Beerwerks not too long after opening, in the small town of Cool. There was one other patron, but more people in a wide range of demographics (including kids and dogs) started to trickle in. We were greeted by a very friendly gentleman behind the bar.Mom, Dad, and I decided to split a beer sampler and have a pre-lunch snack of Truffle Shuffle Fries (I forgot to ask if the name was an ode to The Goonies).
Beer menuBeer flight

The fries were perfect: crispy, not greasy, and not overpowering truffle flavor. My favorite of the house beers was the American Pale IPA; slightly toasty and balanced flavor. Another highlight was the guest tap, Moa Imperial Stout from New Zealand, that is aged in old Pinot Noir barrels. Very dark in color, it's smooth and great for sipping.
Heading back down Highway 49 to Auburn SRA, we nabbed the last parking spot near the Lake Clementine Trail head. The fee is $10, cash or check, which you deposit in an envelope and drop box.  (Side note: I am currently obsessed with iPhone photo app Hipstamatic's Tintype SnapPak when on old-timey adventures!)
Tintype HipstapakTintype Hipstapak

I chose this trail because of it's easy difficulty level and it passes under the Foresthill Bridge; completed in 1973, it's tallest bridge in California (730 ft.), and fifth tallest in the U.S. The hillside was littered with wildflowers and Indra Swallowtail butterflies. They were moving so fast, it was hard to get a good photo!

The trail ends after 1.9 miles at Lake Clementine and the North Fork Dam, built in 1938 by the American Corps of Engineers. Mom's Plantar fasciitis started acting up, so instead of walking all the way to the dam, we drove along Old Foresthill Road to Lake Clementine Road and picnicked by the boat launch.
Lake Clementine
Lake ClementineAuburn State Recreation Area

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Daycation Flashback: Carlsbad Flower Fields & More Spring Fun

Life has kept me pretty busy and from updating my travel (b)log, but I thought I would share the trip that inspired me to write it in the first place.

In spring of 2012, I made an itinerary for Carlsbad in north San Diego County because my friend, Marcy, always wanted to visit The Flower Fields, so I planned a day around it. Our friend, Julie, also came along and later shared the itinerary with some coworkers who also ended up going on a day trip. They said I should get paid to be a date-planning concierge (I wish!), but thus the idea of sharing my daycations was born.

The itinerary is a perfect gals' trip, day date, or even an overnight-er for you Southern Californians! A little nature, a little history, and a little craft beer.
Marcy, Julie, and I left L.A. and headed south via the I.E. to pick up Crystal. At a gas stop, Crystal picked up a magical publication called The Jail Report. Containing mugshots and arrest stories, the $1 investment was well worthwhile and provided an abundance of material for car games! (Instagram photos courtesy of my crappy Droid, awesome DSLR pictures courtesy of Jules.)

We arrived at The Flower Fields and hour or so after opening and there was already a nice-sized crowd. Admission for adults is $12, and at the time they had a AAA discount. Antique steam tractor rides (who doesn't want to go on an antique tractor?!) were an additional $5.

Fifty acres of flowers sit on a hill, originally planted by Edwin Frazee in the 1950s. Although, his father's bulb business dates back to the early 1920s. The place is beautiful and entertaining for all ages.
The Flower Fields
The Flower FieldsThe Flower Fields

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Iris & Wine: Pre-Mother's Day Excursion to Winters

Last weekend Mom and I took a little day trip by ourselves because we were starting at flower farm, the fellows (Dad and brother) weren't so interested. :) 
Mom had read about the iris farm (irises being my favorite flower) in an "About Town" leaflet that came in the mail and thought it sounded like fun. I'm always on board for a day trip and planned for some fun in the nearby town of Winters.

We passed this huge mint green house on the way to the farm. Pretty much my dream home!

About eight miles off of the Interstate 80 into the rolling green hills of Vacaville is the Pleasants Valley Iris Farm. There were small white signs guiding us along the way, but we did miss the long driveway the first time since it was in a shaded area.
When you visit, stay to the left at the fork and pull around to park in a field area. There weren't many people at the farm when we first arrived, two adorable senior citizen couples and a lady with DSLR camera taking close-up shots of the flowers. We were greeted by two sweet, friendly Yellow Labs. After a serious ear scratching fest, we headed out into the field of flowers. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Exploring Canyon Country

I spent the second half of my Spring Break in Los Angeles with all my pals and was able to squeeze one more daycation in with Julie, who got the day off of work. She chose the location of Vasquez Rocks, amazing formation used in countless moves/tv shows about 40 miles north of Los Feliz, and I designed the rest of the day around it!
A sucker for vintage architecture, anything classic Hollywood and inexpensive, our first destination was the William S. Hart Ranch and Museum in Newhall. The park includes early Western silent film star William S. Hart's historic ranch home, mansion and a barnyard with live animals.
There is ample amounts of parking in the lot by the ranch house and a quarter-mile hike up the hill to the mansion. Watch out for rattlesnakes and I would not recommend flip-flops on the gravel path (whoops.)
Museum trail
Museum trailSpanish Colonial Mansion

Catching the last tour of the day, there was already a little group forming out in front of the Spanish Colonial Revival home that included a family with little kids, a couple of senior citizens and a pair of gals around our age. While the ranch house and barnyard are self-guided, to see inside the mansion you must take a guided tour (donation suggested).