Ye Old Railway Tunnel in Norden

Ah, Lake Tahoe! Quite possibly one of my favorite places in California. I used to go up there every so often as a kid. Happy memories. When my family and I stayed there, we’d camp out at a cabin in King’s Beach. It belonged to a relative. Just four rooms with a steep roof and large backyard, it was the perfect getaway for a few days. Close to the beach, too.

This time, I’d be staying with a relative right smack in the Nevada desert: a beauty in its own right. But before arriving there, I’d planned to a few things along the way. I mean, if I’m driving three or more hours (traffic dependent) from wine country to Reno, I may as well make a day of it.

Right?

Since it was a Sunday, I went to the early morning service for church and left almost immediately after that. After I stopped to get an iced tea, of course. And then: ROAD TRIP! Ah, the joys of flipping through radio stations you don’t often hear to see which one you like best.

Continue reading “Ye Old Railway Tunnel in Norden”

Lachryma Montis: General Vallejo’s Estate- SSHP, Part 3

According to the park ranger at the Mission San Francisco Solano (which I talked about in Part 2), I was to drive three blocks west, and then make a right on Third Street. Had it been colder outside, I would have walked; but I find the heat draining- like my energy is being sucked from my lifeless corpse- so I couldn’t muster up the will-power to do so. Although it generally depends on the temperature. High 70s, maybe. Mid-80s and above? Nope. I wouldn’t do well living in the desert, although I suppose I’d eventually get used to the heat.

The drive leading up to the estate was long and lined with trees; they acted almost like sentries guarding the gates to a medieval castle. I couldn’t make my car go very fast on it (speed limits, you understand), but that worked to my advantage. The slower speed allowed me to not only get to my destination safely, but also to better enjoy my surroundings. Being so close to the main part of the city, I felt like I was in the countryside, miles away from everyone and everything. Had I been able to find a country station that came in, I would’ve been blasting it out my speakers.

A bike path intersected the road and I slowed down, allowing a skateboarder to cross, before continuing on my way. As hot as it felt outside when I was by the Sonoma Plaza, it honestly didn’t feel as warm here at Vallejo’s home. More than likely due to the level of foliage and trees here. Or maybe it was the breeze that decided to greet me?

Hi, friend! Here’s a little something to soothe ya!

From the parking lot, just beyond a pearly-blue gate I could see a two-storied white house. But before I could get there, I first had to go through the gate into another building just to the right. It was here that I triumphantly brandished my receipt from the mission. I was given a laminated pamphlet with information on the home- and a map of the home’s interior- and sent on my way.

First, though, before going outside, I took a moment to gaze at some of the artifacts on display, amongst which was an old carriage once used by the Vallejo family.

Continue reading “Lachryma Montis: General Vallejo’s Estate- SSHP, Part 3”

Mission San Francisco Solano- SSHP, Part 2

Situated across the street from the barracks (in Part 1 of my trip to Sonoma State Historic Park) was the mission. It was part of the El Camino Real: a road that connected almost two dozen Spanish missions and stretched from San Diego to Sonoma. Cool, no? You can see the bell-shaped markers alongside wherever the road itself once was (or is). I’ve included a picture of one just above.

I stepped along the front porch and opened the solid wood door and found myself in a small entry way. Behind a desk sat a park ranger. I paid the $3 that would allow me into the building; not expensive and the one-time fee would also allow me entry into Vallejo’s estate and, if I so desired, the Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park. I didn’t ultimately go there this time; but I shall, perhaps, in the future.

In what had once been the dining room were water-colored pictures of most of the Spanish missions that dotted the El Camino Real. According to the laminated pamphlet I was giving upon entering the building, these were done in the early 1900s. I took my time gazing at them. I loved that someone had taken the time to do all these at one point in history.

Nowadays, all you have to do is point a camera and…click! So fast and easy. Back then? Painting and sketching was easier- and less expensive- than taking a picture with one of those clunky cameras. And then you had to wait for the film to be developed, too. As I admired the pictures, I recognized another one I’d been to in Carmel probably around twenty years ago? I know I had been in grade school then, but I don’t remember much else about that venture. Continue reading “Mission San Francisco Solano- SSHP, Part 2”

Sonoma State Historic Park- Part 1

Sonoma State Historic Park is situated to the north and northwest of the Sonoma Plaza- an attraction all its own with the grassy expanses, play equipment, memorials, and ponds full of ducks. I parked my car alongside the plaza and stepped out into the warm summer air. I stretched, locked my car, and stepped onto the sidewalk. I then made my way toward the first historical site of my venture.

According to a park ranger I spoke to, the Sonoma Plaza and, in fact, the town of Sonoma, was originally developed by General Vallejo, a soldier in the Mexican army (in case you’re wondering if the town of Vallejo is named after him- it is. The town of Benicia is named after his wife).

The Sonoma State Historic Park comprises of the location of Vallejo’s first home, his later estate, and the barracks that originally house soldiers of the Mexican army. It’s a fascinating history that would take a long time to explain; but I highly encourage you to do a little digging and read about it yourself!

The first part of my self-guided tour comprised of the Casa Grande servants’ quarters, the Toscano Hotel & kitchen, barracks, and not the Blue Wing Inn. It was originally built to house soldiers and also played a role in the gold rush. But I didn’t think to go in it. Don’t ask me why. I will next time I’m in Sonoma. I did, however, explore everything else.

Continue reading “Sonoma State Historic Park- Part 1”