Escape #3: A California poppy hunt

I’m not normally the jealous type, but being in lock-down has us feeling things we usually don’t. Richard was gone star gazing for 3 days and nights, and photographers on various sites were posting pictures of poppy (our State flower) fields, so I became jealous. I needed to get out–safely!

I gave Richard the option of taking Highway 49 (a twisty mountain road) to near Jackson, California with me; but, I was willing to travel on my own. He came with me. About an hour into our drive, we found a mountain full of poppies just south of the town. It was stunning!

I would have liked to explore further, but hunger and awareness of Richard’s nap schedule had us turn around for the trek back home. We ordered sub sandwiches and ate them in the car–again being safe! On the way home we stopped in Drytown, a small town in Amador County so I could photograph a bunch of poppies on the roadside.

We were gone about 2 1/2 hours; not like our previous adventure! It was a great get-a-way outing. And best of all, I’m no longer jealous!

In search of vineyards, part 2: Napa Valley

When is a valley hilly? Never. In spite of that Marlene and I went to Napa to find more vineyards for my daughter-in-law Jess. We did find vineyards, but mostly wineries. I thought the Plymouth area vineyards were more eye catching and had more rolling hills.

But we did find lovely things to photograph, including the vineyards. We first found the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia which is a branch campus of the private culinary college. The building was simply beautiful, inside and out! You’ll find a store that has everything “kitchen,” a Julia Child exhibit and exhibition of her husband Paul’s photography.

They also have a restaurant, cooking classes, rotating exhibits, host events, and more. If you’re in Napa, stop in for an amazing experience.

Next we found the CIA at Greystone. This is where they teach students to become our future chefs. The building was Greystone Cellars, once the largest stone winery in the world. Its amazing history through its purchase by the CIA can be found here.

Marlene and I did not take the tour, but viewed as much of the building as we could. We shot the entry and outside. I really could have used my ultra-wide lens here!

And, yes, we did get vineyards!

And, so ends my vineyard quest. At least I hope so!!!

Open and Shut: Daffodil Hill, Volcano, California

We photographers never know when or if Daffodil Hill will open for the public. It all depends on the weather, and you know how fickle Mother Nature can be. Last year it didn’t open at all because of the rains. In years past, the owners had to close early because of rain.

This family attraction is located in the tiny town of Volcano, Amador County. It’s family owned and operated. People can visit without charge, but there are donation boxes and a small gift shop at the front. It’s great for families who picnic in the parking lot, walk the paths that wind through the And, if all goes well, 300,000 flowers fill the hillside when in full bloom.

These are personally planted by the family and volunteers help direct traffic into and out of the parking lot. I had been there before and posted about it in a blog. But that visit was during the week, not too crowded and peacocks were showing off in numbers. This time, being the first day and on a Saturday, it was crowded, no peacocks. There seemed to be less flowers too.

So why did I go on opening day? I didn’t think it would be open very long with rain being predicted. Laura had never been there, and I thought it would be fun to take photos of the crowds. With Marlene riding shotgun and navigating, we began our adventure a little late, sat in traffic while waiting to park, and finally entered after a half hour.

And, I was right!! Daffodil Hill closed for the season. three days after it opened! This venue is truly a labor of love and dedication for the family and volunteers. No captions for the flowers–you know what they are!

Found and seek: Sutter Creek,California

Very early into our visit to Sutter Creek, I found a wallet on a bench. My first instinct was to just leave it, but I thought maybe the owners ID would be in it. So, I looked inside. I found a driver’s license with a PO box for an address, no other identification and a wad of $20s. With that much cash, I couldn’t leave it. So, began the adventure to find her or the Police Station!

And, yes, it was an adventure. Our photographing stopped, we asked in several stores to see if they knew this person and to ask where the Police Station was. After walking past the end of town, we finally were told that the Police were located in a small white house! Sutter Creek is a small town in Amador County. But it wasn’t open. We had to press a button and wait for the dispatcher to come and take the call. Then we waited for the officer to come and take the wallet.

I don’t know which was more fun, shooting or finding the Police Station! Having been to Sutter Creek before, I concentrated on shooting doors. Of course there were other things that I couldn’t pass up.

We bumped into the wallet’s owner coming out of a coffee shop–literally bumped into. She was rushing over to the bench to retrieve her wallet. We calmed her down and told her we found it and it was at the Police Station. Being grateful, she told us to go into her sister’s coffee shop and order what we wanted and she would pay for it. The coffee shop, Choc-O-Latte, ended up being a photographer’s wonderland. See, do good deeds and you’ll be rewarded. If you find a wallet or purse, try to find the owner. You’ll have fun!

 

 

Three years for a first: Daffodil Hill, Volcano, California

I finally made it to Daffodil Hill, in Volcano, after 3 years of trying to get there. Explanation: It’s only open a short time and if it rains, they close. And, it’s closed each time I was scheduled to go.

This ranch has been privately owned by a family since 1887. They open for about a month in the spring, inviting the public at no charge. They do accept donations, but you are never pressured to make one.

Richard and I went on the first Sunday they were open. A weekend visit meant more people. More people meant shooting either close ups of the flowers or include the other visitors. I did both.

But, this was a day of “firsts.” I’ve never been able to take a photo of a peacock with its colorful feathers open, but I did this time! What fun. One photo buddy said they only grow and display those feathers during mating season. I guess timing was on my side. The males are the peacocks, females (who don’t have the brilliant feathers) are peahens, the little chicks are peachicks. It takes about 3 years for male peachicks to have feathers to display.

So, here are my first images of my first visit to Daffodil Hill. I’m putting more than usual in because I wanted you to have a good idea of the farm. I have twice this amount edited.

 

Great feedback: Back to Jackson, part 2

Wow, I am so grateful for all the feedback I received from my last post. Most of it was on Facebook. It really helped me shape the next part of my journey.

I began this blog as a way to talk about my new hobby and document my chosen paths. I chose not to take classes, but study tutorials, practice and join Meetup groups. And, it’s worked. It took about 3 years, but I am confident now and ready for the next step–learning more about processing and putting my work out there. I’m not looking to sell anything, but to get more feedback. Most of all, I’m having fun and have met new friends and wonderful, helpful people.

In the meantime, I promised you the images from Jackson and here they are. I will always be open to feedback, and I’m willing to listen and try new things.

 

 

Tuesdays with seniors: Part two of Amador County

Isn’t it great that we can just take a day during the week and go shooting–with a camera! Now, I don’t want you 9 – 5’ers to get upset, but we’ve earned the right. You see we’re retired, older and want to do what we can while we can. That’s why a few of us decided to designate Tuesdays as our get away day. And its been great.

The town of Jackson was our destination this time, but you know we never know where we’ll end up. Greg wanted to show Marlene and I Michigan Bar Road. I had already been on part of that road with him, but got too self assured and shot HDR handheld. Mistake! So I was glad to be able to get a second chance. For, Marlene, it was new territory.

We simply drive around (Greg has 4-wheel drive and knows the area so he drives), stop when we see something to shoot and sometimes never reach our designated destination. It’s okay because there’s always next week.

Wandering with my camera: Amador County, California

Well, I was wandering with my camera and my photo buddy Greg. He’s my guide and driver. When you go out shooting with Greg, you get the history of the area along with some back roads scenery.

Amador County is in the gold country. Its history goes back to the gold rush days when people were coming west to find their fortune in gold. Today its hills are covered with ranches, farms and grape vines. Wineries welcome you in to taste their finished products. It’s rural and beautiful.

This trip took us to Michigan Bar road and a small ranch. We didn’t trespass, but we weren’t invited either. You need to be careful not to go onto properties, but shoot from the road. After shooting what we could of the ranch, Greg took us into Jackson via the back roads.

Jackson is Amador County’s seat of government, and is in the heart of the Mother Load. This town blends the old and the new. We found some of the buildings in need of repair, and some were newer but made to look old. Others were rich in history.

There is so much to see, and we will be returning soon with photo buddy Marlene. Just call us the photo wanderers.

Back to the 18 – 55: Sutter Creek, California

Old, quaint, touristy, and surviving are just some words to describe Sutter Creek in the California gold country and Amador County wine area. I say surviving because you used to have to go through the town as you drove highway 49. Now there’s a bypass so drivers don’t get bogged down in the town’s traffic.

From the town’s website: A wonderful balance of old and new, today’s Sutter Creek maintains its Gold Rush facade while catering to the wants and needs of visitors from around the world.Shop, dine, slumber, stroll, wine taste, and enjoy the quaint atmosphere of Amador County. Sutter Creek, the jewel of Amador County & the Gold Country,  is steeped in history being born of the California Gold Rush and nurtured by the deep rock gold mines of the 19th & 20th centuries. 

I wasn’t as impressed with Sutter Creek as I was by Downieville. But then, we were able to buy lunch in this town! Sutter Creek was more commercial, not catering to any season. But it is surviving.

Here are some images.