Placerville for history and pot pies...  
After the discovery of gold in nearby in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, the small town now known as Placerville was known as Dry Diggin's after the manner in which the miners moved cartloads of dry soil to running water to separate the gold from the soil. Later in 1849, the town earned its most common historical name, "Hangtown", because of the numerous hangings that had occurred there. By 1850, the temperance league and a few local churches had begun to request that a more friendly name be bestowed upon the town. The name was not changed until 1854 and was the third largest town in California.  Most recent news is that the artist, Thomas Kinkade, grew up here.
Placerville Hardware is the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi.  This a man's toy store.  Original features, rich history, and everything a man could want.  Fun to explore.
Operating since 1856, Placerville News Company is the 5th oldest business in California.
I love this store!  Classic.
We drove 50+ miles to Placerville have lunch here at Z Pies.  The concept was born after the owners traveled to Australia and New Zealand, where it's hard to walk a city block without passing several pie eating opportunities! On their return they would ask themselves, “Why are meat pies not as tasty or more popular here in the States?”  We have asked ourselves the same question, surprisingly often.  We were not disappointed and we later found Z Pies comes to Tahoe's farmers' market, every Wednesday.  Just another reason to move there!
Bridal Veil Falls... A beautiful spot to stop on the way back to Tahoe.

Tahoe...Third time's a charm?

We awoke early for yet another road trip to Tahoe.  Our realtor has found us some darling homes to look at, so Steve and I cleared our calendars and headed north (thanks Lori, Julie and Linda for your understanding).

We are eager to "land the little cottage of our dreams" (Steve's words) and be here permanently.  As you can see from the photos, the drive is a beautiful one and we enjoy the road less traveled with each other.

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Tahoe Cabin Search Status...

As you know, we are trying to relocate to the Sierras.  Here's our current South Lake Tahoe status, after Steve went there this week for an inspection of yet another cabin:
Upon much deliberation, we have, again, decided to pass on a cottage (our second choice). The problem- asbestos (the rather beautiful item pictured here). Our daughter-in-law works for a law firm that deals primarily with Mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer that develops from transformed cells originating in the protective lining that covers many of the internal organs of the body caused by exposure to asbestos).

We cannot, in good faith, buy a pre-1985 house and know 100% that it is asbestos free. We want our future grand babies to crawl around and feel safe. At least we now have even further refined search criteria.
The right place is there. We are confident and determined to make Tahoe our home. I will keep you posted and I'll begin taking reservations when we finalize it all.  Wish us luck.  We are disappointed at times but still very thankful that we can even have the options we have...

"One of the secrets of life
is to find joy in the journey."

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San Clemente for brunch and fun...
I spent time by the sea with my friend, Cindy, and then again with my brother, Chuck. GLORIOUS.
While I was living in Italy, my dear friend, Cindy, followed her dreams and moved from Temecula to the beach.  For almost as long as I've known her, she and Marc have spoken of returning to San Clemente.  Who can blame her?  Look at the view from her home.  Wow!
We walked a block to the seafront.  I can't believe this is her front yard.  I'm so happy for them.  They are living in paradise and I get to visit. 
An added bonus of being in a beach community is the fact that there are numerous amazing spots to dine.  We actually got tans while eating brunch.  How fun is that!
After Chuck did a round of golf, we came to Carlsbad.  No trip to California is complete without getting your feet in the warm sand and brisk sea.  This was a pretty terrific day.
“The cure for anything is salt water...
sweat, tears, or the sea.” 
-Isak Dinesen

Hiking Daley Ranch...

After a delicious brunch with Fred and Brady in their new cottage, we all embarked on a hike at Daley Ranch. For centuries, these hills and valleys were inhabited by Native Californian tribes. The first European settler to arrive in this valley was a young English immigrant named Robert Daley. He settled into this valley in 1869 and built a small log cabin. The family farmed, raised horses, and continued to acquire land.

In 1996, plans to develop this land were halted when the Escondido City Council voted to purchase and forever protect the 3,058-acre ranch as habitat preserve.  Coyotes howled in hidden scrub and the blue sky was welcoming after yesterday's rain storm.  We delighted in wandering and getting caught up with each others lives.

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Mexican food and wine tasting...

On a rainy Saturday, Chuck, Steve and I did what everyone seemed to be doing...shopping at Costco, lunching at our favorite Mexican restaurant- Hernandez' Hideaway in Escondido-followed by wine tasting at Wilson Creek here in town (alongside a very devoted Coors Beer drinker...note his tattoo). It was a delicious and fun way to pass the day!

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My brother, Chuck, arrives...

Yesterday we welcomed my big brother who arrived from Virginia to a glorious Southern Californian day.  Chuck is here for a week of golf, visiting friends, and hanging with his little sister.  Last night we barbecued and caught up a bit with news of his growing family (grand babies) and wonderful travels (North Pole).  It was a great night.  The next few days promise to be very delightful.
 
A brother is a friend given by Nature. 
~Jean Baptiste Legouve

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Palm Desert for warm sun and family fun...
A scenic 1 1/2 hour drive to our home, this desert town, near Palm Springs, is a wonderful place to escape to.  The area was first known as the Old MacDonald Ranch, but the name changed to Palm Village in the 1920s when date palms were planted. Local historians said the main residents of pre-1950 Palm Desert were Cahuilla Indian farmers of the now extinct San Cayetano tribe, whose presence is still very felt here.
We began our day at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument's Visitor Center.  We learn a great deal about these mountains which contain nationally significant biological, cultural, recreational, geological, educational and scientific values.  In the Monument, the desert floor meets steep, dissected mountain slopes and rises through five distinct life zones...interesting and gorgeous!
Randall Henderson "Mr. Desert" wrote in 1937, "here are two deserts: One is a grim, desolate wasteland. It is the home of venomous reptiles and stinging insects, of vicious thorn-covered plants and trees and unbearable heat. This is the desert seen by the stranger speeding along the highway, impatient to be out of the 'damnable country'...
...But the stranger and the uninitiated see only the mask. The other desert - the real desert- is not for the eyes of the superficial observer or the fearful soul of a cynic. It is a land which reveals its true character only to those who come with courage, tolerance and understanding. For these, the desert holds rare gifts: a health-giving sunshine; a sky that after the sun goes down is studded with diamonds; a breeze that bears no poison; a landscape of pastel colors such as no artist can reproduce; thorn-covered plants which during countless ages have clung tenaciously to life through heat, drought, wind and the depredations of thirsty animals, and each season send forth blossoms of exquisite coloring as symbols of courage that triumphed over appalling obstacles." Today we experienced the other desert- the real desert- and loved it.

We then met Steve's brother, Kevin and his wife, Ann for lunch in El Paseo, the first residential development occurred here, in 1943, in connection with an Army maintenance camp in the area and has since developed into  an upscale shopping district, not unlike Rodeo Drive.
There is something magical about ending your day, dining along a palm tree lined street in the company of charming conversationalists.

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Continuing our cabin search...

Our cabin in the pines has proven to be too much work.  To quote Steve's response to our realtor:
 
Joel;

After reviewing all the inspection results and also the bids to repair age & damage issues, to turn this house into a year around residence, we feel that we cannot pay the asking price.  While we still like the meadow location and "bones" of the house, the costs and effort to make it right are just too high.  It adds up to more than $38k in cash plus a lot of time, even without any furnishings, kitchen updates, minor beautification, or landscaping, etc. We would essentially be rebuilding this house, and it is more than I want to do.

Thank you for all you've done so far, you have been awesome.  Looking forward to buying the "perfect South Lake Tahoe home" with you.

Steve & Denise

So the search continues.  The 395 is beautiful and my Ford Focus averages 40 MPG on the nine hour drive. 

"Not all those who wander are lost."
-J.R.R. Tolkien

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Salvation Army Thrift Store reopens...

We are a family of thrift store devotees and when one of our favorites, The Salvation Army Family Store, closed we were a little disappointed.  However, after an extensive remodel, today was its Grand Reopening and we were there.

Dignitaries and bargain shoppers gathered for speeches and the ceremonial ribbon cutting.  Then the hoards entered the store in a surprisingly orderly and polite fashion.  While crowded, and a bit frenetic, bargains were found and fun was had, all while benefiting a worthy cause.

In a very real sense, The Salvation Army Family Stores are at the heart of the Adult Rehabilitation Center philosophy. These simple community stores serve several distinct purposes:
  • Our Family Stores provide quality clothing, furniture and other goods to the community at bargain prices.
  • The Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Centers are 100% funded from the proceeds of our Family Stores, allowing them to be self-sustaining.
  • A major part of the men's and women's involvement in their own rehabilitation is Work Therapy. Some of this is done in the Family Stores allowing them to regain self-esteem and learn valuable vocational skills as well.
So you see, the Family Store is much more than meets the eye. It is an outlet for bargains, a donation center, a training site, and a place where neighbors can shop with dignity.

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Actor Gary Sinise helping an injured soldier in Temecula...

Last night, at the Temecula City Council meeting, Gary Sinise (one of my favorite actors) appeared on the agenda.  After an impassioned plea from him, the Council has given unanimous approval to allow Sinise and his band to perform a concert at the Town Square City Plaza.

Sinise is known for playing Lt. Dan, a soldier who loses both legs in battle, in the movie "Forrest Gump."  Eight years ago, Sinise formed the Lt. Dan Band as a salute to veterans, raising money and morale for troops.

His specific goal in Temecula is to build a so-called "smart home" for Cpl. Juan Dominquez. The 27-year-old lost two legs and an arm in a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2010.  "Smart homes"  are truly accessible homes for returning soldiers and created with a new standard of accessible design.

"The city is pouring out their hearts for this brave Marine, who has given so much for us, and people are lining up to support this particular concert and this fund raising effort," said Sinise, who currently stars in TV's "CSI New York."   I have already purchased our tickets for the March 1st concert and I hope you will too.  Go to the Lt. Dan Band website for more information about this worthy cause.

To quote Mr. Sinise,
Personally, I have made it a particular mission to do what I can to draw attention to our military service members, their families and our veterans and to make sure they know they are remembered and appreciated. Whether through performing with the band, supporting a military charity or visiting the war zones and hospitals to shake some hands and take some pictures, all of it helps them know that there are people out there who are aware of their sacrifices and understand the importance of keeping our military families strong in difficult times. It is important to remember that these defenders are volunteers. There is no draft. Military service is something that we all have a choice to do or not to do. And I am grateful that there are Americans that have made the choice to serve. Especially in such dangerous and uncertain times.

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A funeral for a Fallen Soldier...
Steve had to go to Whittier today for business and on the way home he inadvertently became part of a funeral procession.  One thousand motorcycles traveling at 45 miles an hour followed the hearse and limousines.  All on ramps to the freeway were blocked.  At first he was peeved at the disruption, until he passed under the first over crossing.  There atop of the bridge, in full dress uniform, were firetrucks and police vehicles, lights flashing.  There were four bridges equally decorated before the funeral procession exited the freeway in Lake Elsinore.  Steve knew this was someone amazing and it wasn't until he returned home and googled "motorcycle procession to Lake Elsinore" that he understood the magnitude of the event.
Army Staff Sgt. Noah Korte, 29 and a father of two small children, had been deployed to Iraq three times and was less than a month into his first deployment to Afghanistan. He died when his unit came under fire from suspected Taliban sympathizers who also crippled Korte's vehicle with a roadside bomb. In all, three American soldiers died in the attack on December 27th.
The motorcyclists are part of an incredible group called the Patriot Guard Riders who "Stand for those who stood for us". If I had a bike I would join this group whose mission statement begins, "The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation. We have one thing in common besides motorcycles. We have an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security."
My sympathies go to the Korte family and I will cry a little harder the next time I hear Lee Greenwood sing:
And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I wont forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,
next to you and defend her still today.
‘ Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God bless the USA.

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Eagle Falls Hike- enjoying our neighborhood...

Today we ventured into the majestic hills surrounding Lake Tahoe.  I was given a book on the hikes of Tahoe and we plan to embark on each of them.  Today we took one of the easier paths, Eagle Falls.  Steve spent 20 summers at Lake Tahoe and never scaled this beautiful granite mountain.

Eagle Falls has two different waterfalls to choose from and we decided to see them both. There is the Lower Eagle falls, and Upper Eagle Falls. Both are beautiful and worth the short hike.  Lower Eagle Falls is about 1 mile hike down to the lake. The waterfall is spectacular, falling in two large cascades, the first about 60 ft. the second about 90 ft. It's an easy to moderate hike and takes about 20-30 minutes. This is a great waterfall, and worth seeing. This is one of the most popular hikes in the area, for good reason.

We admired the frozen falls, had a picnic lunch in the sunshine on a cliff above the Lake and reflected upon our decision.  It was a spectacular last day in Tahoe.

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Inspections and Decisions...
A day at the cabin.
We met with the cabin inspection team for hours of poking, probing and problem solving.  Like most things that are 49 years old (myself included), there are things that need some repair.  This cabin was built as an all electric summer retreat.  Much effort is involved in making it a "year round" haven.  We will know more when all the reports are in.
The locals commented that this was the most activity this cabin has seen in years.  The newspapers, on the fireplace, are dated from 1998.  The only recent residents appear to be mice and spiders.
After the inspection, our realtor Joel asked, "Are you frightened?".  Being that Steve and I have never owned a 'used home', my answer was "A little".  We are doing diligent research and still believe this cabin in the pines is a place we see ourselves living and enjoying grand babies...one day.

Travels around the Lake...

With a 65° day, we decided to embark on a drive around the Lake.  First stop was window shopping in Carson City, NV (When Nevada became a state in 1864, Carson City was confirmed as Nevada's permanent capital).  While we only shopped, we made promises to return for a history lesson.

A delicious Mexican lunch was in the delightful city of Truckee.  We meandered it's 1800s storefronts and enjoyed the beauty of the day.

Stops for frolicking in little patches of snow, river scenery and breathtaking lake views rounded out our pretty amazing day.

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile,
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean.

-John Muir

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