My Trip to The Gold Mine Areas of Northern California

Salmon Swimming Up Stream

My trip to California was so diverse. I have done everything from Disneyland to marking off seeing salmon swim upstream from my bucketlist. I have worked and played hard and met so many wonderful people. Even though I grew up in California I had never been much past north San Francisco. So it was through new eyes that I went on to Redding below the southern tip of the Cascade Mountain Range. Beautiful.

I was very lucky to have my aunt, Patty, as a tour guide through this gold mining country. We went to French Gulch where we saw all the old mining establishments. My aunt took me to a local bar. This place has been in business since the civil war. The proprietor was so nice and showed us all kinds of stuff including ancient log books with bar tabs dated all the way to the day Lincoln was shot . The bar has been in his wife’s family the entire time and the memorabilia is everywhere and MUCH more extensive than most museums. I took my brother back when he came up a few days later.

We also did the surrounding lakes and trails. It struck me

Redding California

how much it all reminded me of East Tennessee. I wanted to go to Lassen and the hot springs there but didn’t get the chance.

I did get to go with my cousins on a bike ride to the newish Sundial Bridge in Redding. So cool with all kinds of trails around the river. We rode and rode. Stopped to sight see a Bald Eagles nest, watch fly fishermen, and just walk a bit. I took my brother here too when he came over.

Whiskey Town and Bandy Creek
Sundial Bridge with Sean

These pictures are all great memories…

Sundial Bridge and Bike Ride with My Cousins

Next a bit on time with family after a very long time…..

Montana de Oro State Park, Osos, California

There was a guest from Quebec, an 18 year old who just graduated from high school and is traveling the entire west coast on his own (so right away he was a kindred spirit), we had gone on a Taco Tuesday taco run and were talking about what sites we enjoyed.

Once we came back to the Hostel with all our goodies a bunch of us were talking about a man I had met a man who found a bunch of raw jade in Montana de Oro that had come down from Big Sur.

So Nicolas (my new-found friend) said, “Well, when does it get dark?” I responded, “When the sun goes down.” He said, “Fine I’ll go look outside.” I shrugged and laughed. When he came back in a minute later, he said, “Okay there is plenty of time. Go get ready, we are going to Montana de Oro.” I sat for a minute, shocked, and then ran up to get ready. I quickly located overalls, Uggs and a sweatshirt. What a drive! Overhanging California Oak the whole way that suddenly opens up to the ocean. So AMAZING. And not on the every day “tourist” visit. We were there for hours. Well into dark. Moss on everything, smooth rocks with stripes, caves with water rushing in and out again, and drift wood. I was so at peace on one hand and excited on the other. This is a great website to tell about it, but it really has to be EXPERIENCED to get the fullness of it.

I’m going to post some pictures, but be prepared there is no picture we took that does this place justice.

Montana de Oro, California

Monterey, California

Monterey, California in the Summer

Monterey is truly one of the most magical settings in the USA. It is wonderful. I go to sleep and wake up to the sounds of sea gulls and sea lions. The above collage was done from my last visit here at the beginning of Sept. I am now here for about a week to enjoy it once more before heading north.

Last time I visited I enjoyed  the world-renowned Monterey Aquarium, the bar Steinbeck hung out at (and it is still owned and operated by the original 102 year old friend of Steinbeck’s), and the Wharf. I am lucky enough to be able to spend time with the staff and “Friends of” The Monterey Hostel. I have had some of my best experiences in California here in Monterey.

When I was here several weeks ago I had the pleasure of hanging out with a great guy from New Zealand, Gus. We took walks along the coast and lots of pictures.

I will add to this post with the pictures I take. This trip I am going to visit Big Sur, Carmel and hopefully Pebble Beach.

For now I am going to go and explore…

Volunteering at Little Theatre in San Luis Obispo, CA

When I first came to San Luis Obispo I had only planned on staying for about five weeks. Five weeks turned into almost three months. By far the funnest thing I’ve done while I was here is working at The Little Theater. A community theater in the heart of downtown.

I emailed Jessi, the volunteer coordinator, and met with her a day or so later at the theater to talk about what they needed in way of a volunteer.

A few days later I got an email saying that they needed some painting and building. I was excited. I showed up the next morning and have made the theater my home for the last 6 weeks or so. LOVE IT!!!!

The play was the Fantasticks. I worked on the two large trees, the Fantastic sign, and spent one very late night painting the floor. My boss, mentor and new friend, Dave, was so much fun to be around. As were the cast and crew. I have laughed and been myself and learned so much. YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH….

"Stacy's" tree
Set Building for Fantasticks

Opening night some from the show stayed after and were treated to story time from one of the actors, Larry Kaml, who worked at Disneyland on the Jungle Cruise for 11 years. Great stories!

On closing night I stayed in the Green Room during the performance so I could hang out with everyone when they weren’t on stage. It was a bittersweet night. After that performance we did what they call Strike. The cast and crew tear down the set. I was a bit sad for sure.

Closing Night.
Strike for Fantasticks

Before doing the set work for the next play, Leading Ladies, I helped with WOW (Week of Welcome) . This is a program at Cal Poly for their incoming freshman class. They work under upper classmen in the community as volunteers. Four groups of 15 working at two-hour intervals. The kids were great. We painted and cleaned and laughed.

Cal Poly Kids for WOW Volunteer Day
Cal Poly WOW Work Day

Between productions they do one night Reader’s Theater plays.  This one was called Side Man and was so poignant. Its about the downside of jazz in the 50s thru the mid 80s. The actors sit on stools and read the play. Great fun.

Reader's Theater

And I love the director, John Battalino. He has such a great gentle spirit. The above pictures were of that night. The cast party was last night. I can not express how much fun I had!!! And here are those pictures.


Started this past weekend doing the next set. Leading Ladies. This time I am using power tools!!!!!!!!!! Go me. I only have a few more days in SLO. Great way to end a fun time on my journey…

Set Building for Leading Ladies

Santa Barbara…

I arrived in Santa Barbara on Tuesday and had to be at my next WWOOF property early Friday morning. That gave me two full days of SB sightseeing. I made the most of it and met a few really great people. Two of which were my couch surfing hosts: Torie and Anthony.

Torie and couch surfing hosts
Such a great couple....

These two were so sweet to me. They had only moved in a few days before to this awesome apt. And still they let me sleep there. Very nice.

I was okay on a very short couch, but Anthony made me a wonderful pallet in his soon-to-be-music-room. I had fallen asleep on the couch while typing and was gently woken by Torie telling me about the pallet. I drowsily went to bed.

The next morning Torie gave me her business card so I could get a hold of her throughout the day. She works for the Historical Trust for preserving historical properties. Anthony had gotten a job he had been trying for the day I arrived and went to work soon after Torie.  I went sight-seeing.

First place I went was Jitters…loved their sign about being voted best “to do nothing or to do something”. There I worked on my computer and met all the baristas while I tasted most of the coffee and tea offerings. I was invited to come back at six and go with them to Trivia Night at a pub around the corner. I was on the bartender/barista team. It was so much fun…we lost but did get all the Entertainment questions, that they usually missed, because they were smart enough to have me on their team!

Pub and coffee houses
Random SB sightings

I love some of the signs in this town. Above are just a few. I went to the court-house, which I was told is the most photographed court-house in the USA. It is amazing. There is a 360 degree view from the bell tower. Then you can go to the court yards and relax. It is so  lush. There are no words. On the second floor there were many people painstakingly working to clean the murals that had been painted in the 1920s, but had been damaged in an electrical fire in January. Very  interesting to see the love and technique that goes in to every inch of the restoration. I was mesmerized. I remember seeing such work in Italy in 1994. I envy them working on these historical pieces.

Santa Barbara Court House

After I left the court yard I went to Alice Keck Park….WOW…

Alice Keck Park
California, USA, Santa Barbara flags

I just think this is a great place! I had so much fun. And it is so pretty. It’s clean. And a place I could never have visited without the wonderful and graciousness of Anthony and Torie…

Next stop: My new WWOOFing position in San Luis Obispo…

A Training Zoo and So Much Other Fun Too…


The train ride to Moorpark was so comfortable. I think I have said in other posts that I am really enjoying the train system in Southern California. I just wish it went to a few other outlining areas. There was a very small Marta system in place when I first left California and it has grown by leaps and bounds so I am sure there will be more and more routes added. It would be great if more native Californians would use the system to encourage the growth.

Anyway, when I arrived at the station I was told to look for a short Asian lady with a hat on and a 2 year attached to her hip. We spotted each other with no problem. Connie the hat wearer!

I have been missing my Marley a lot recently and was so excited to get a bit of a kid fix. Eve is awesome. And I would venture to say she thinks the same of me. We had a time doing everything from playing with their chickens in the backyard to the training zoo to church and bbqs. And then we had art/craft hour and I taught Connie how to make yoga mat bags. She made such a pretty one. I made Eve a purse too. I let her pick out the material and went to making it.

Eve's new purse and key chain...
Connie and her just made yoga mat carrier

The right one is the yoga bag we made for Ryan, Connie’s husband. We were busy bees that last nite.

I gotta say I fell hard for their 2 year old daughter, Eve.. She was with me from the second they picked me up from the train till they finally dropped me off 5 days later at my next couch surfing host’s. Here are a few of our pictures together…

We planted basil. We read books. We went to church together to watch her daddy play guitar on stage. We took walks. We played with her chickens: Pete, Pig, Bok Bok Choy…

My friend Eve...
Pig, Pete and Bok Bok Choy

After church, but before the bbq we went to the Moorpark Training Zoo. The only time I have been to Moorpark, California was 12 years ago when my ex-husband, Travis, had applied for the Moorpark Zoology Training Program. He ultimately didn’t get in but we were able to tour the zoo. So 12 yrs minus 1 day I was back again. This time only as a zoo visitor. It was a lot of fun.

We saw a show and my favorite part was the beaver. I am so excited about working with beavers in Poland and I was engrossed with the show.

I was upset a bit about how small and cage-like their living areas are. But I was told that these animals are not able to be kept at a zoo. They have  to have constant one on one care. It was fun to go and to see all the work the students do.

Moorpark Zoo Training Center

After all the fun with the family and breakfasts with friends and a BBQ, Connie and I went out for a couple of drinks on Saturday nite. We went to the downtown local pub called Jekyll n Hyde’s.

It closed at midnight which was a bit strange, but we had a lot of fun. Got to talk a lot and just get to know one another a bit. It was an eclectic place and we think we saw a woman only wearing her nightgown. But the beer was cold and the music nice….

Jekyll n Hyde's downtown Moorpark, California...not really a mecca of night life. O and that is a picture of me with a can of SPAM coverd Macadamian Nuts. SO GROSS!

The night of our Nite Out I was getting ready and I heard everyone in the hallway talking about getting an umbrella. I came out to see what was going on to find out that a VERY UNCOMMON July rain was happening. It lasted 5 minutes, but I was able to catch all the excitement with my camera…

Five minute July rain in Moorpark, California

Oh and before we left Moorpark I had to hit my new all time favorite fast stop eatery…..Sonic Taco!

before the big event
The great guys at Moorpark Sonic Taco...

Then it was time to move on…. Santa Barbara  was the next stop…

I was very lucky that Connie offered to drive me to Santa Barbara. Especiallty cause that gave me a bit more time with Eve and to enjoy talking with Connie. She made lunch and snacks for all three of us and we set off. After driving for a half hour or so we stopped in Ventura. I love it there. We went to several consignment shops and then on to the beach to eat our lunch… place

After lunch we went on to Santa Barbara. It was only about 20 miles more and it was a beautiful drive. Once there we stopped by my new host’s home to drop off my luggage and then headed on to the beach. It was very cool, because my new hosts make specialty tea and Connie and her mom make specialty Kimchi so they were able to barter their foods. I love this couch surfing stuff.

Once we dropped off my stuff we headed to the beach at Santa Barbara. We relaxed and played.  Eve was so excited. Fun to be had by each of us.

Santa Barbara beach with Connie and Eve

It was very bittersweet to say goodbye to Eve and Connie. I will miss them a lot. This is a great and fun family that I think in a different setting I would always be friends with.

To end this post I am going to put one of my all time favorite pictures of Eve. It is with my luggage as we were getting ready for the trip north. She looks so taken aback when I came to take a picture of her by my stuff at the car. She is still in her pjs and looks so guilty. She isn’t guilty of anything but caring about me. She has gone into their cabinets and got out some V8 juice < which I like a lot> and goldfish and was unzipping my luggage to put them in as a gift. It made me feel soooooooooooo great!!

Eve "sneaking" V8 and Goldfish into my luggage....I love her!

Next stop… Santa Barbara