Going and looking back: Grass Valley, California

We are in a morphing stage. Since Greg’s passing, our Tuesdays With Seniors group hasn’t been the same. We’ve reformed and are now enjoying the company of pre-seniors. It was during this time that our two new members, Rita and Karen, and I went to Grass Valley and the Empire Mine State Park.

I had been there twice with Greg, and he was the tour guide. He mostly showed me the town, various high points and the countryside. He used to live in Nevada City and for him it was a homecoming.

I find Grass Valley old town a little less touristy than Nevada City. We went to both, but shot mostly in Grass Valley. Once again, I needed to shoot the familiar scene a little differently. I didn’t do HDR or carry a tripod as I had done on my two previous visits. I tried different angles and got in a little closer in some shots, especially at the mine.

This time our visit to the Empire Mine, where I did use a tripod and shot HDR,  yielded an unauthorized brief tour of the cottage. The ranger in the office turned her head and allowed the docent to take us in. We were like children in the candy store, that is until the alarm went off. Our docent, probably feeling like he got caught with his hand in the candy jar, was busy trying to turn off the blaring sound. Soon we heard an additional but different blare–the second alarm! We took our shots quickly because we knew that once the alarms were turned off, our sneak peak into the cottage would be over.

But, the fun isn’t over, and I look forward to more adventures with this re-formed group. We will have a new name which will be decided tomorrow during our Napa visit.


Taking a different course: Plymouth and Fiddletown, California, part 2

Oh, sorry to leave you right in the middle of Fiddletown, (Where we left off in my last post.) but we will leave once I tell you how it got its name.

Founded in 1849, the town mainly served as a trading camp for the many mines in the area. A popular mining technique, placer mining, was heavily dependent on water. Dry Creek, the local water source, ran dry in the summer months, meaning the miners couldn’t work. It is said that the miners would fiddle around, and the town became known as Fiddletown. Not happy with his town’s name, a local resident lobbied to have the name changed to Oleta (his daughter’s name). This name stood until his death in 1932 when the name Fiddletown was restored.

Embracing the name, residents are not idle. They have fund raisers to support renovations for historic landmark buildings, a Living History Day and a Fiddlers Jam. I’m hoping that some day they will put in a proper public restroom!

Now we will leave Fiddletown and head down to D-Agoustini Reservoir enjoy your journey!

Lesson learned; shooting with a tripod: Empire Mine State Historic Park, Grass Valley, California

I told you that I learn from my mistakes, and for this outing, I remembered my Tripod. It’s a good thing I did, because it came in handy at the Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. The park was begging to be shot in HDR which added so much depth and character to the images.

As usual on Tuesdays, our guide and driver Greg took us, me and Linda, the back way to the Park, stopping along the way to discover future shoots, do some actual photography and eat. That is how we ended up in Wheatland, the first stop on our journey. This is a very small town. I put the “very” before small because that’s how small it is–at least to our photographic eyes. The town, in Yuba County, actually has a population of 3,456 as of the 2010 census.

We were going to Rough and Ready but never made it because it was getting late and we wanted to get to the Mine. Oh yes, we made a couple more stops along the way. The Empire Mine was founded in 1850 and operated until 1956. The William Bourn family maintained control of the mine and lived there until 1929 when it was sold to Newmont Mining. In 1975 it was purchased by the State who then created the Historic Park.

We got there late afternoon, quickly going to the mine area. The grounds are separated into the mine area and living quarters consisting of a beautiful home and gardens. We shot until we were asked to leave. It seems they close the Mine at 5 p.m. When we left, the ranger reminded us that we were there almost two hours which should have been enough time to see the mine, and I had to explain that photographers take more time than most people. I don’t think she was sympathetic; she just wanted to go home!

Oh, another lesson learned! Check out the hours before we leave home! Yes, we’ll have to do that because we will be returning.