May 31, 2007

Forest City, CA - Super ghost!

After a jaunt through Downieville and a fall into Woodruff Creek we headed up to Forest City, an abandoned gold mining town. Outside the town's entrance was a sign describing a stage coach hold up / shooting. The cemetery was filled with children, as I've come to expect from ghost towns, and the town itself was amazing. Over a dozen standing structures including a dance hall, a school house, a museum...and several outhouses, one in which a bear had it's way with a roll of toilet paper. And you're probably wondering which ghosts supply the town with toilet paper? E Clampus vitus...a historical fraternal order, that left their mobile gallows next to the school house.

Also check out Dani's speedy picture delivery.

One more amazing thing about Forest City was that they had a rope swing! Two of my favorite things at one time: ghost towns, rope swings.

Return to Downieville - 18 years later

Last Weekend I went camping in Tahoe National Forest. It had been 18 years since I had been back. We didn't know exactly where we wanted to go, so before really tackling highway 49 we stopped in at the ranger station. Being a holiday weekend, and being a non-planner, I asked the ranger where we might have campsite luck. She pulled out a gigantic map of the forest and began to point. I told her I wanted to be near Downieville. As she was pointing to campsites I saw something on the map that made my heart stop. A creek called Woodruff Creek. Along the creek was a strip of private land, a mining claim, said the ranger. I told her that my name was Woodruff and that my family used to come up there every summer. I described where we used to camp and about having several claims. It turned out that she had been a ranger in that forest since '79 and worked the fire year (when my grandparents were evacuated down the mountain). I started feeling that this woman, in her fifties probably, must have known my family. Even if she didn't, it felt like it.

When I think of the "Gold Country" as we called it, I think of my cousin, my grandfather, the color of the dirt and the chill of the Yuba. I also think about sharing mini cereal boxes with Hallie and getting donuts in Downieville. I think of my mom's homemade "floatation device" and the hubbub over what each person wanted in their sandwich. I remember Mertyl and rescuing kittens in 1987.

Here are a sequence of photos that I put together from Downieville and Woodruff Creek. (the video takes away some of the photo quality).

May 29, 2007

GG Park rope swing - in motion

So I blogged this swing before - but never with video. So here we are swinging around in the park. Yes I know it is sideways. I have a video of me too, but it won't upload even though it's the exact same format as the one that did. Any suggestions?

May 25, 2007

Keene Wonder Mine - A place to return to

Madeline and I went to Keene Wonder Mine for my birthday last February. We had a beer in the parking lot then took a gigantic hike up to the top, passing hanging ore carts, rusted safes and countless adits. Sadly we didn't have a flashlight. The weather was perfect.

Yesterday Dani and Allegra and I thought that returning to Death Valley, and to Keene Wonder Mine, might be a great idea. Wrong. It's 112 degrees. Instead we're going to the Yuba River near where my grandparents used to own several gold claims.

Here's Keene:

One of my most favorite photos ever. Below the end of the tracks is a pile of ore cars that look as if the ground fell out from under them.

This is when I cried because we had no flashlight.

No miner's booty left.

Looking down from the top.

We have a thing with machinery.

There were 11 of these towers all the way up the mountain.

Oooooh. It's dark in here.

May 24, 2007

Unicorns for comfort

Since Madeline left for India, Birdy and I have been wearing/hovering around her unicorn sweatshirt.

May 22, 2007

Charmed by a Tumbleweed

The second day of my mom's visit we went to the Maker's Faire. There was a high density of Ren Fair get ups, kooky bicycles, homemade purses, T-shirts, and robots. What made it worth while was the Tumbleweed house. I really haven't been able to shut up about buying a hunk of dusty desert, throwing a tumbleweed on it, and well, I don't really know what comes next.

Isn't my mom cute? (she likes Tumbleweeds too).

Instead of going inside, Madeline successfully avoided irritating Tumbleweed fans and memorialized my Tumbleweed visit.

Below = 100sq. ft.

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EPU Tiny House Floorplan

EPU Loft Floorplan Picture

May 20, 2007

Mom, Spud and Pansy up Bernal

My mom visited this weekend. We took Spud and Pansy up Bernal Hill and I stopped at a rope swing I've been meaning to try.

May 18, 2007


Skidoo (inside Death Valley National Park) is down one of the longest, bumpiest dirt roads I've ever driven on. We didn't think we'd ever get there. The town site is gone, but the stamp mill and several blocked off adits still remain. has a great Skidoo spread...but I can't get a direct link. Click the map, then CA, then Inyo, then Skidoo.

May 17, 2007

Golden Gate rope swing

There are several hidden rope swings in San Francisco. This one is in Golden Gate Park.

May 14, 2007

What's that smell? It's dead Tilapia.

Before a long ride through LA traffic on our way home from Palm Springs in March, we drove around the Salton Sea. Besides numerous abandoned town alternating with numerous towns filled with brand new empty five bed room homes, there was an unbelievable stench. It was dead tilapia that apparently die in droves every year. All along the shore there were whole reefs that were made of crunched and powdered tilapia bones. yum.

May 13, 2007

Watermelons and Crosswords

Today we went to Dolores Park to eat watermelon and do crosswords. Then it got cold and I had to pee and we had to go write final papers.

May 12, 2007

Muni graveyard and other Third St. delights

Today I went to exchange Madeline's super reinforced shoulder purse for two leg pouches for India. Then I took a ride down Third street to see the Muni graveyard Dani had told me about and see if Poppa Neutrino's boat was still there. Sure enough...Poppa's boat is still there, and the Muni graveyard, well, I know there's a more spectacular one some where.

May 11, 2007

Eagle Mountain and some potato chips

In March, while Madeline was studying away in our hotel (90% fake rock) in Desert Hot Springs (The foam version of Palm Springs), I drove to Eagle Mountain, a ghost town abandoned in the 1980s, just outside of Desert Center...a town of impending doom.

Eagle mountain was once an Iron mining town. Its all fenced off and has a brand new elementary school (also fenced off and seemingly unused). The lawns here were eerily trim, but homes empty.

Leaving Eagle Mountain, you have to pass through Desert Center. Here I found an abandoned hamburger shack that the previous owners never even bothered to pack up when they left. They were sun faded potato chips on the counter and red and white checkered french fry trays.

Here's more on Eagle Mountain written by someone who gets even more high as the article goes on.

May 9, 2007

Near death by rattle snake at Black Diamond Mine

I went hiking alone at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve. After having visions of a mountain lion jumping on my back from a tree I turned back, only to almost step on a large rattle snake. The snake pretended I wasn't there and allowed me to take pictures of s/he.

Black Diamond Mines is awesome. There are 5 or 6 former town sites and 12 mines. Some of the mines can be explored. For my first trip I forgot to bring a flash light so I'll be going back this summer. Like most ghost towns, Black Diamond Mines has a cemetary full of children. But unlike most mining towns you can pay three dollars for an extensive tour of the undergroud labrynth.