Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Saturday, October 20, 2012

An Overnighter with the Prospector's Mom

When my husband was a little boy, his parents took him camping and fishing... a lot.
One of the places that they went, every year, was called Pinecrest Lake. 
This is where the Prospector, his brother, our sons and our grandsons go for a week every summer.
It had been many years since my husband's Mom had been up there so a few weeks ago, we called her and asked if she wanted to drive up to Pinecrest and stay overnight. She said "Yes!!". My mother-in-law's name is Vi.
She is 91 years old... and still full of spit and vinegar.
So last Wednesday we drove the back roads from Jackson to Sonora and then east up into the mountains. Her daughter drove Vi from Stockton, through Oakdale and up to Sonora.  We met at the Lake.
We got settled into our motel room. Ours was on the very end. There were only six rooms in this motel. We were the only ones there until late that night, when one other couple came in.
Pinecrest is a busy, popular place in the summer but now it is peaceful and quiet.
The resort has cabins and condos for rent too.
 I wish I could include the smells of Pinecrest...the pines, firs and oaks, the campfires and "mountain misery". The familiar sounds of crows and mountain jays and a red tailed hawk sailing over head.
 We checked in and then drove down to the lake.
The Fall color was just starting. The weather was beautiful.
 We took a walk down to the lake. Look at that woman go. She has cruise control on that walker. She walks almost a mile every day around her neighborhood with her niece. She's a lesson to us all.
We finally made Vi sit and rest for a while. I sat with her and the Prospector and his sister went down to the water.
They came back with two homemade anchors that were found because the water level was so low.

 One was very old. The Prospector lost two when he was here a few months ago.
The weather was beautiful. Probably the last good week. It's suppose to snow here on Wednesday.
 This lake is regulated by the Pacific, Gas and Electric Co. Right now it's very low. You can see a lot of huge boulders and tree stumps in the water.
 We also drove to Strawberry... just a few miles up the highway. 
This is the south fork of the Stanislaus River... and it's a beautiful stretch of wilderness. It comes out of Pinecrest Lake, flows downstream joining its north and middle fork and then flows into New Melones reservoir.

This river has been extensively dammed and diverted and is a river of controversy. Here is some information about what happens when too many people need too much water and the "wars" that ensue. It's an ongoing problem with all the rivers in California.
This is looking upriver from the bridge on Old Strawberry Rd. I learned the art of fishing from the Prospector here before we were married. I learned the art of river fishing... and patience. I learned how to read a river and where the fish hide.
I don't fish much now, but this is where it started.

And below is Dawson's cabin, up on the hill to the south of the bridge. This belonged to a friend of my husband's father. It looked better in the 60's.  Then, there were no other cabins around it.
Remember the couple who came to visit us before our 50 year reunion? Al and Ginny... from Washington? Well the four of us stayed in this cabin one summer night in about 1964. We were young, not married yet... and well, it was scandalous behavior for all of us. I'm not even sure how we were able to use the cabin that night. We must have gotten the key from someone but I don't remember where or how. Maybe there wasn't a key.
I didn't want to sleep in the cabin because of all the spiders, (I'm sure it has a ton more now.) so the Prospector and I slept outside on the ground. That was a first for me... but a beautiful memory.
Now, no one is using it and it's in a state of decay. But it's still there, overlooking the river.
 We never told Vi that we stayed overnight up there. I'm sure she would not have approved, then. But the Prospector was conceived just up the road at another cabin in the Dardanelles and she loves to tell that story. Of course, she and grandpa were married... so that made it OK.
What are they looking at?
 They were all looking at a HUGE house that was being built up on the hill. It was one of those McMansions that are overwhelming and ostentatious. I guess some folks just have to flaunt their wealth. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and guess that this was a primary home and not a vacation home. I didn't take a picture of it.

When I was taking pictures and trying not to fall into the river, I found a very interesting metal marker in a huge rock that I was standing on. It's a US Coast and Geodetic Survey Bench Mark.
The term is generally applied to any item used that shows a point of elevation for reference. Bronze or aluminum disks are set in stone or concrete. Go here for more information. I thought this was interesting. It was put in this boulder in 1957 and I had to laugh because there's a $250. fine or imprisonment for disturbing it. Believe me, there is no way that this "bench mark" is going to come out of this rock unless you use dynamite. It looks really tamper proof.
Vi and I use to collect rocks up at the Dardanelle's campground. We would get the biggest ones we could carry and lug them back to the car where the Prospector and his dad would roll their eyes and complain about the extra weight. It got to be a joke. We would be driving along and I would call out "ROCK." and  Vi would yell, "Stop the car." and then we would laugh at the guys when they got mad about the whole thing.
We carried a lot of rock up from that river and took them home with us. To this day, Vi still has them lining her garden in Stockton. But we never saw any with "Benchmarks" in them. The boulders with benchmarks  were too big to carry home. Grandpa would have really had a fit.

Later that day, we went back to our motel, cleaned up and went out to dinner.Then we came back to the motel and crashed...
We slept well.
 Next time I will show you some photos of the beach at Pinecrest and  other interesting things that go on in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.


  1. Wow, that new camera is taking some gorgeous shots for you! Absolutely beautiful. And Vi! She's amazing.
    If you can, stay up after midnight tonight and watch the sky to the south. We're supposed to see a big display of galactic awesomeness...the Orionid meteor shower...the remnants of Halley's Comet (remember when it went by?)

  2. "The world is so beautiful and life is so short..."
    It was so kind of you to take your mom in law out to soak up the beauty and the memories. I'm sure it was a very meaningful time for her...and you as it sounds.
    Such pretty scenery. I'll just pretend I can smell the pines...

  3. smiles...looks like a very cool trip...i grew up camping as well....made me smile he asked his mother along...and that she went...love places like that, lots of beautiful country out there to be explored

  4. Great story Farmlady. You are a talented writer.

  5. How wonderful to take the MIL to the mountains! I'm sure she enjoyed and appreciated the trip! I, too, love to find bench marks.

    love, Cheryl

  6. Oh what beautiful country. And your husband's mother is very pretty. Your photos are great. I enjoyed this visit with you all. Have a blessed evening. Madeline

  7. Sounds like this area holds some of your most precious memories. It is indeed beautiful. We used to go camping at Strawberry back in the 70's. Your mom-in-law looks fantastic btw.

  8. Dawson's Cabin.... Can't believe it is still standing! It was kind of a wreck back in the day. Good memories, Connie. Was that the same trip when we spent the majority of our rental time looking for the horse that got away from us!??

  9. I love that area of California and have wonderful memories of visiting my cousins who lived in Sonora and traveling many of those same roads. How wonderful that your MIL has such a joie de vivre! Such a beautiful post!

  10. Looks like a beautiful and interesting place to visit.
    Glad you are enjoying your new camera.


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