I'm back in the Angels Camp public library. This is my last full day here. Tomorrow I drive into San Francisco for the day and take the "red-eye" back home. So...what have I been doing here in California...on my own...with no deadlines, no agenda, no schedule, no calendar, no easy Internet access, no set plans?
I've been down inside three caves: Mercer Caverns, Moaning Caverns, and California Caverns. I had a private tour of each as this is off season. There were others, however, on the tour of the Sutter Creek Gold Mine. I've been to several, small local museums and really felt the presence of the "old west" and the days of the '49ers. These cute little museums are the sort of places that honor the possessions of their family trees. Almost anything can make it into one of the showcases. There's a real, down-home appreciation of simple, everyday items and anything unusual or "special" to a person well loved in his or her community.
I found three yarn shops and one had a Thursday evening "sit and knit". They welcomed me to come an embroider with them. Thus, I've gotten to meet some genuine "people" who live and work here. I've driven on so many winding, mountainous backroads that I can't remember the number of quaint towns through which I've been! Hair pin turns are so common here that steering must be a quality inborn in the local youth.
I tried to go to the Calaveras Big Tree State park last Monday but the snow was coming down too quickly and the road conditions required chains at about the same time that my rental car started losing traction. I did, however, make it there on Thursday. It was like heaven. Every angle...all 360 degrees...with every step was a perfect picture. Almost no one was there. I had to have been the only soul to have ventured the entire mile and a half hike. That might not sound like much but it really was. Snowshoes were recommended, but I didn't have any. I plunged in anyway...sometimes above my knees in drifts but trying to stay on the weakly packed trail. I went inside fallen trees, under one with a carved out tunnel, saw squirrels and chipmunks, and couldn't help but feel simultaneously small and insignificant as well as totally one with God's nature.
If that experience wasn't enough, yesterday I drove over more climbing, winding roads and through Yosemite National Park. The day was so glorious that the few people there were mainly professional and talented amateur photographers with fancy, expensive equipment taking advantage of the clear blue sky and the puffy pure white clouds that set off the terrain in ways that simply defy words. It was beyond beautiful. It was more than the heaven of the Big Trees.
Today, I am going to Ironstone Vineyards to participate in a workshop with the English Moorcraft potters. This has been a great week!