Exploring Groveland

10 July 2013 in Memories, Trails/Hiking, Traveling

Groveland Hotel, Groveland, CaliforniaOf course at the end of a six day, ten hour a day stretch of work the weather turned from the pleasant sunny and seventy in had been all week to rainy and 40. All I had been looking forward to was some nice hiking on my days off, but the forecast thought otherwise. Finishing up a late shift on my last day the bottle of bourbon beckoned me and the bed soon followed. Awaking fairly early the forecast was unfortunately correct. A gray and gloomy blanket of clouds covered the sky and no amount of wishful thinking would change that.

As is custom on our weekends we try to enjoy a hearty breakfast at least on one morning and so Lindsay rose and whipped up a batch of homemade biscuits. This cheered our mood and got us motivated to make the most of an overcast day. We decided to check out the little town of Groveland that sat just a short drive to our west. We had driven through it a few times before, but hadn’t had time to stop.

By the time we were up and ready it was almost lunch and so we decided to try the Mexican Restaurant the had been recommended by many of our co-workers. A tiny building situated in the middle of an old town main street the interior was quant, but lacked windows, giving it a slightly claustrophobic tinge. But the service was good and the small dinning area was well attended by locals and tourists alike. The complimentary chips and salsa also was accompanied by a slightly spicy coleslaw of sorts. All of these items were good and had us salivating as we awaited our entrees.

The menu had a adequate vegetarian section, which made it hard to choose, but I settled on the guacamole tacos and Lindsay had to try the Chili Rellenos—her go to dish whenever it’s available. Both plates came out of the kitchen in a surprisingly quick amount of time. My tacos were on the small side, but quite tasty. The bottoms were lined with guacamole—as would be assumed in the name—as well as a delicious verde sauce. Lindsay’s dish was a sloppy—in a good way—mess of cheese, poblano pepper and egg. While mine was good I think Lindsay’s was better. Next time—and there will definitely be a next time—I will order the burrito. I saw a couple come out of the kitchen and they were massive!

After lunch we stopped into the library which shares a building with a small museum. Here we got library cards, checked out a few books and movies, and explored the small, but interesting museum. Not much bigger than today’s oversized living rooms the museum contained dated clothing and other personal belongings donated by some of the first families to inhabit Groveland. Which was first called by another name. Right now the uncommon name of european origin escapes me, but it translated to something like “cutthroat” or some other sinister and threatening sounding word. Apparently being a gold rush town populated by rough and tumble miners, loners and thieves the town had a sorted history. But when the gold dwindled and families moved in a more friendly sounding name was required. The museum also contained a couple of carefully crafted models that animated the process of processing gold ore and raw timber, as well as stuffed wildlife, a small collection of NASA training memorabilia, and some old newspaper clippings. There was also a small array of books for sale and a theater featuring informative films.

Iron Door Saloon, Groveland, CaliforniaNext we proceeded back down to main street to wander through a few shops and stop into the post office to send out some postcards. First we stopped into a tiny little bookstore set just behind the main drag. Had it not been for a chance meeting of the owner at a going away party we attended we would have probably never known the store was even there. But we knew and so we stopped in. The store was set in the living room and dining room of a house. The owner literally lived in the back. He wasn’t there today, but another retired ranger—who we also had met at the same party—was tending to the store. He was a talkative fellow and while we looked through the tiny selection he was constantly chatting with us about something. He showed us some old books on Yosemite, talked about the surrounding area, and even shared with us his plans for a roadside diner just outside the park. He was thoroughly entertaining and before we knew it we had probably been in there for an hour and he needed to close. We purchased two books and headed out.

We had also wanted to check out the local thrift store, but it had closed for the day already. And so the final stop on our tour de Groveland was the Iron Door Saloon. Hailed as well as reviled by locals and fellow rangers we stepped in through the back in the late afternoon. A few folks sat in the dimly lit bar sipping taps of beer and watching the Giants play. An older lady tended the bar and promptly served us as we took in our surroundings. The walls were adorn with mounted animals of all sorts including a huge moose head. Old chandeliers hung from the ceiling along with antique tools and license plates for almost every state. Hundreds of dollar bills were stapled to the ceiling—which set a least twenty feet above us was a mind boggling feat. It reminded us of the towny bars back at home. I could see how some people might hold distaste for such an establishment, but we felt right at home.

After a beer and a quick stop at the grocery store we were headed back to Yosemite.

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