Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day Trip to the Gold Bug Mine

Sunday morning started out early (as most do around here), and we had that restless feeling of wanting to get out of town and do something different for a change. We considered our options and decided to check out Placerville. It's a rural town about 45 minutes from Sacramento that was historically a big locale during the gold rush. 

After the drive over, we stopped in the adorable downtown to get a bite to eat. There happened to be an old car show going on.

We stopped in a secondhand bookshop (at June's request - I was so proud!), had a look around and then headed to lunch.

We ate at a restaurant called Z Pie which serves all kinds of gourmet pot pies.

Then we headed to the Gold Bug Mine, which was a real working gold mine back in the day. The grown ups got hard hats because of the low ceiling and we put on sweaters since it was only about 50 degrees in the mine.

It was so fun watching June. At first she was a little scared to go in and asked if there were any bears in "the cave." She was still a little reserved when we first got inside since she saw movement down the mine. Once she saw that it was just more people, and those people promised there were no bears, she really opened up. She was running around singing and happily spotted some tiny frogs.

Michael and I had a great time, too, although the claustrophobia kind of set in. Once you realize how far from the entrance you are, and just how much rock and earth is suspended above you, the prospect of earthquakes and cave-ins seems not only possible but likely. Of course the mine has been standing for a hundred years now, so as Michael said, if it caved in right then we just had to accept that it was our time to go.

After that, we panned for gems. June only got marginally wet and we did find some pieces, so it was a success.

But we weren't quite ready to retire off our findings.

There was also a stamp mill on site where they would extract the gold from the other rock from the mine.

I found the process fascinating, especially since it was told by a man dressed up as (and playing the role of) Black Bart, who was also my Dad's alter ego when he would wrestle me and JP as kids.

They had some minerals and rocks on display and plenty of other educational information. The map behind Michael in that picture above was a visual of all of the gold deposits found in the state of California. It was pretty impressive (and we were right in the thick of where gold spots were heaviest) and it makes sense why so many people moved out west hoping to strike it rich. (Although I hope they were better at panning than us.)

We drove the scenic way home.

Unfortunately this led to a very late nap, which led to a positively hellish bedtime for the Junebug. She  was pulling out all the stops when it comes to stalling ("I'm thirsty, I need to go potty, I don't like that shadow over there.") We had to pull out all the stops to get her down without waking up the baby, but I did stop short of threatening that Black Bart would come get her.

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