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California Marathon Road Trip: Maidu Indian Museum

The last day of our California trip came too soon.  It was Tuesday, and Jon was still a bit sore from running the marathon on Sunday, so we had another relaxing day.  We stopped by Total Wine to pick out some wines to bring home, and did a little shopping.  Then we headed out to the Maidu Indian Museum in Roseville, CA.

The Maidu Indian Museum is a small museum and interpretive center that is located on the site of an ancient village where the Maidu people lived for over 3,000 years.  The area saw the first signs of human habitation around 9,000 years ago – and historians believe that the Maiduan dialect began breaking off from other Native American languages around 2,000 years ago.

Around the same time, inhabitants began settling down in the area and managing the land through the use of burning, pruning, and gathering selected plants.  Acorns were plentiful there, and they provided a nutritious staple for their diet.  The Maidu also fished, hunted and gathered plants and berries.  They had an extensive knowledge of the medicinal uses of the plants in the area, and actively treated the sick and injured with various remedies.

The Maidu are expert basket weavers, using the reeds and grasses to weave baskets that range in size from a thimble to several feet across.  The museum has several excellent examples of Maidu woven baskets, and ceremonial pieces, including tools and regalia.  There is also a photo exhibit of historical photographs of the tribe.

A beautiful hawk was watching us at the Maidu Historic Site

A beautiful hawk was watching us at the Maidu Historic Site

The museum contains exhibits detailing the history of the Maidu habitation of the site, from prior to the arrival of the settlers through the period when the Native Americans were displaced from the area after gold was discovered in the area.  Exhibits talk about the Maidu trail of tears, the forced relocation to undesirable land.  It was hard to read about the hardships of their new home, and the destruction of their way of life.

A Replica Dwelling at Maidu Historic Site

A Replica Dwelling at Maidu Historic Site

After checking out the museum, Jon and I stepped outside to take a walk on the interpretive trail.  The trail is a short loop around the property, with signs at several locations explaining how life took place there.  One of the most abundant examples of the history of habitation there are the bedrock mortar holes, where women used sticks to grind acorns for thousands of years.  Over time, the constant use of the holes wore deep depressions into the bedrock.

Bedrock Mortar Holes at Maidu Historic Site

Bedrock Mortar Holes at Maidu Historic Site

The site also contains petroglyphs, but these aren’t as apparent.  They give you a little map to help find them, but Jon and I only saw one that we were sure was a petroglyph.  The others seemed like they could be natural; there were long scratches on some of the rocks that looked like the marks that are left behind by glaciers as they move other huge rocks along with them.

A petroglyph at the Maidu historic site

A petroglyph at the Maidu historic site

This site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, so it will be preserved for future generations to understand all aspects of the area’s history.  It was a pleasant visit; not an amazing museum by any means, but worth a few hours of our time.  If you are in Roseville and find yourself with a few extra hours, stop in and see for yourself.

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California Marathon Road Trip: Gundlach Bundschu

Our second winery stop was at Gundlach Bundschu – good luck trying to pronounce that name!  It is the oldest continuously family-owned winery in California.  It was founded by Jacob Gundlach in 1858 as Rhinefarm, with Charles Bundschu joining the company in 1868 – originally the farm in Sonoma was about 400 acres.  It was renamed Gundlach Bundschu in 1894 and at the turn of the 20th century the company was producing about 250,000 cases of wine each year.

Up until that point the winery facility was located in San Francisco, but the production facilities and about a million gallons of wine were destroyed by the earthquake in 1906.  They moved the production facility to Sonoma after the quake and then Prohibition hit.

During prohibition the winery closed its doors, and all but 130 acres of the farm were sold – the family managed to make a living selling grapes for juice and raising cattle.  After prohibition, the farm began selling grapes to Inglenook, Almaden and then Louis Martini wineries, but didn’t reopen the winery until the 1970s.

The winery now produces about 25,000 cases total – I believe all their wines are estate grown.  They have a huge tasting room with a gorgeous outdoor patio area; seems that they do a lot of events.  Too bad it was too cold to sit outside and enjoy the view!

Gundlach Bundschu Patio

Gundlach Bundschu Patio

Gundlach Bundschu was a fun winery; our server was Columbian and he was super friendly.  We tried Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.  We both loved the Zin!  It was fruit forward and balanced, without losing structure.  There was a lot of pepper and spice on the Merlot, and the Chardonnay was a nice acidic wine with a light balanced oak on the back of the palate.  The only wine I didn’t really like was the Gewürztraminer.  I liked it at first taste – it was semi-sweet with citrus, but there was a floral finish on the back of the palate that didn’t appeal to me.

Gundlach Bundschu Tasting Room

Gundlach Bundschu Tasting Room

While we were there several other groups came in, and you can tell they have a loyal following.  Which isn’t surprising, given the quality of the wine.  What a fantastic visit!

California Marathon Road Trip: Sonoma and Tin Barn Vineyards

The day after Jon’s marathon, Jon and I decided to head to Sonoma for the day to do a bit of wine tasting.  The day was cold and clear, and we got to Sonoma right at lunchtime.  After wandering around the square checking out our lunch options, we decided to try the Plaza Bistro.

The place was pretty empty when we arrived, and the temperature was cold – I wish they would have turned the heat up a bit.  But the service was friendly and fast, and the food was excellent.  Jon had the beet salad, with roasted beets, fresh sliced fennel, Blue Lake beans, Chevre goat cheese, and almonds, all on baby greens topped with a sherry vinaigrette dressing.  Jon was very satisfied with the salad – but he wished it had been larger.

Lunch at the Plaza Bistro

Lunch at the Plaza Bistro

I had the salmon sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, arugula, and lemon garlic aioli on a ciabatta roll.  It came with a green salad with vinaigrette.  The sandwich was amazing!  My only gripe was that the salad needed something more; it was just lettuce and dressing.  The sandwich was more than enough for me, and I knew Jon would be hungry again soon if he didn’t eat more, so I was very kind to share a few bites of my sandwich with him.

My salmon sandwich at The Plaza Bistro

My salmon sandwich at The Plaza Bistro

After our tummies were full, we were ready to start our tour.  We headed first to Tin Barn Vineyards.  We were first introduced to Tin Barn wine when we went to Zuzu restaurant in Napa a few years ago.  Zuzu is a tapas restaurant (fabulous by the way) and we had a bottle of their Zinfandel with our meal that evening.  We were hooked.  It was well balanced, fruit forward, and not overpowered with tannins.  We even tried to visit the tasting room on that trip and struck out, because it was Tuesday and they were closed.

This trip we were lucky enough to be there on a Monday, one of the days that the tasting room was open!  They are located in a row of warehouses, and it looked pretty deserted.  But the sign said they were open, so we went inside.  We looked around the tasting room waiting for somebody to come out, and peeked into the winery area as well.  Eventually, the owner, Michael Lancaster, realized that we were out there and came out to pour – he had been working in the winery and didn’t hear us come in.

Tin Barn Vineyards Tasting Room

Tin Barn Vineyards Tasting Room

Mike was super friendly and guided us through the Tin Barn line-up, starting with the Sauvignon Blanc, a dry, crisp balanced wine with flavors of lemon-grass.  There were two Pinot Noirs, both from Ricci Vineyard in Sonoma County, the 2010 and 2011 vintages.  They were both excellent; and having two different vintages from the same vineyard meant you could taste the difference that weather imparts on wine.

There were also two Zinfandels on the list – both from 2011.  The first was from Gilsson Vineyard in the Russian River Valley – a nice, fruit-forward Zin.  Gilsson Vineyard has 50 year old vines, which make for a fantastic wine.  The other was more tannic, from Los Chamizal Vineyard in Sonoma Valley, but also delicious.

We finished the tasting with the 2011 Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  This isn’t a vineyard designate wine, and it also contains Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  It was a great California Cab, with great structure and not over-oaked.

We left with two bottles of the Sauvignon Blanc and a bottle of each of the Zinfandels.  Our visit left me wishing we lived closer!

California Marathon Road Trip: Jon’s First Marathon

The day had finally arrived – the reason for our trip – Jon’s marathon.  The 31st Annual California International Marathon.  December 8, 2013.  Jon was ready for this.  He had been training for months.  He had run some 25 mile runs.  He was cross training with swimming, weights and the stationary bike.  All that was left was to get out on the course.

The start time was 7 am, and despite choosing a marathon in California in December so the weather would be warmer, he was greeted with an unseasonably low Sacramento temperature of 27 degrees.  Jon was dressed in shorts, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, running hat and gloves and his socks and shoes.

As we watched all the bundled up runners pile out of the cars, he got worried that he had under-dressed.  “Look, they are all wearing pants and sweatshirts…” he said to me.  I reassured him that these California runners weren’t used to running in below freezing temps, but he ran when it was far colder.  If he put more layers on, he would just be too hot.  I wasn’t completely convinced that he wouldn’t get hypothermia, but I must have sounded confident.  He got out of the car to go up to the start line.  Fortunately, it took so long to get to the front of the line of cars in order to drop him off, that he really didn’t have much time to wait before the start of the race.

Unfortunately, the California International Marathon isn’t all that spectator friendly.  I dropped him at the start, but there is no place to park there to see the runners start.  I didn’t feel like parking more than a mile away and trying to find my way back to the start, in the dark, alone, and in subfreezing temps.  Jon was on his own…

I headed back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast and shower, then made my way to downtown Sacramento to find the finish line.  Jon told me he expected to finish at about 3 hours, 30 minutes, but I wasn’t too sure about his estimate.  He always estimates that he will be much slower than he is.  So I left lots of time.

An early runner – in front of the California State Capitol

An early runner – in front of the California State Capitol

I got downtown at about 9:10 am, and made my way over to the finish line.  There were some bands playing, some people cheering, and a Santa riding a reindeer – sorry, the reindeer was not real, just a costume, and sadly, I didn’t get a photo.  It was still cold – only in the 30s, but I found a spot right by the finish line and settled in for the wait.

Inspiration for the last half-mile!

Inspiration for the last half-mile!

Jon was wearing black shorts and a gray shirt, along with approximately 2,000 other runners.  I might be exaggerating here, but I’m not.  There were several false starts, as I spotted men coming toward the finish and did a double take before realizing it wasn’t Jon.

Jon made good in his estimate, finishing in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 27 seconds.  Amazing!  That is a race pace of 8 minutes per mile!  For 26.2 of them!  I can’t even do that pace for one mile!  I was very proud of him, but he was so cold after he stopped running that we didn’t hang around long at the finish celebration.  It was a long limp back to the car with a stop for a hot tea on the way.

Jon (at left) about to cross the finish line

Jon (at left) about to cross the finish line

Jon’s attempt at a smile – he was tired, cold and in pain!

Jon’s attempt at a smile – he was tired, cold and in pain!

Back at the hotel, Jon took off his shoe to reveal a bloody right foot.  I accused him of not trimming his nails.  It wasn’t until a couple days later that we discovered the culprit.  A large (about the size of a penny, but thicker, and much sharper) PIECE OF GLASS that was sticking up through the sole of his shoe.  He said that he had felt something about a half mile into the race, but kicked at it and just kept running.  At one point he thought that the pain was just his foot cramping.  Apparently my husband either has an EXTREMELY high tolerance for pain, or he has no nerve endings in his foot.  He says the piece of glass, “just adds to the legend.”

So who knows how well Jon would have run if he had not had a large piece of glass puncturing his foot for 25.5 miles of the race.  But I do know, he ran well, and I couldn’t be more proud!

And Jon, remember we aren’t going to make marathons in California a new tradition.  I love you, but our next vacation won’t be in California!

(And in case you are worried – the foot didn’t get infected…)

California Marathon Road Trip: Old Clarksburg Sugar Mill

In my last post, I told you about our visit to Locke, California, on The California Delta.  After our visit, we got back on Highway 160 and were enjoying the scenery when we  saw a huge, old brick building.  We knew it must have been a factory of some sort, but didn’t know what kind.  Then we saw a sign announcing that we were coming up to the town of Clarksburg, and there was wine tasting at the Old Sugar Mill!  Well, duh, of course we had to stop – it was wine tasting in a historic sugar mill!

The Front Entrance of the Old Sugar Mill

The Front Entrance of the Old Sugar Mill

The Old Sugar Mill was a beet sugar mill that was originally owned by the Amalgamated Sugar Company.  This particular mill was built in Logan, Utah in 1897, and closed in 1933, due to blight and drought in Utah.  At that point, the company dismantled the mill and moved it to Clarksburg, where it was reconstructed and opened again in July, 1935.  The mill changed hands a couple of times, but had a long run processing beet sugar from surrounding farms, before finally closing for good in 1993.

The unrestored section of the Old Sugar Mill

The unrestored section of the Old Sugar Mill

In 2000, a plan was made to convert the mill into winery crush and retail space, and the first winery opened there in 2004.  The Old Sugar Mill has 10 wineries operating there now, and the mill is huge, with a lot of yet to be converted space.  Since we had never visited before, I did what any self-respecting wino wine connoisseur would do; I found a lady in the restroom who was carrying wine, and I asked her which were her favorites.  She said Todd Taylor and Rendezvous.

Todd Taylor was closer to the restroom, so we headed there, and ran into Todd himself.  He led us through his lineup of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.  I liked them all and was pleased by how much I enjoyed his Carneros Pinot Noir.  If you remember my posts on my March trip to the Anderson Valley, you know I wasn’t blown away by the Anderson Valley Pinots we tried.  Todd Taylor’s Pinots were wines I really enjoyed!  And his Zinfandel was excellent as well.

The Interior of the Old Sugar Mill – I love those Brick Walls!

The Interior of the Old Sugar Mill – I love those Brick Walls!

We asked Todd for his recommendation on another winery that did Zinfandels, since Jon wanted to make sure we tried some good Zins on this trip.  Todd recommended Three Wine Company, just down the hall, so we headed there next.

Three had a larger lineup, with a complimentary tasting of 5 wines.  It is the latest project of Matt Cline, who worked for many years as the winemaker at Cline Cellars.  The first wine was released in  2008.  For my tasting, I tried their Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Old Vine Zinfandel, their Field Blend, and the Petite Sirah.  My favorites were the Riesling, a nice semi-sweet Riesling, and the Old Vine Zinfandel (actually a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Mataro (also known as Mourvèdre), and Alicante Bouschet).  I wasn’t a fan of the Field Blend, but I liked the Petite Sirah.  It was a big tannic wine, but I think it would soften over time.

Christmas at Three Wine Company

Christmas at Three Wine Company

We wrapped up our purchases at Three and headed out just as the Old Sugar Mill was closing for the day.  We drove back to Roseville to meet up with Jon’s friend Pablo and his girlfriend Jessica for dinner at Sushi Nami.  They were having their “appetite stimulus package” sale, which meant that any of their sushi rolls was on sale for half price.  HALF PRICE!  It was advertised as a limited time only, but Pablo said that this special has been going on for a couple of years now.  I would totally visit all the time if I lived nearby!

We had a good time catching up, but unfortunately Pablo and Jessica couldn’t stay very long, and we were on our own again.  We headed back to the hotel for an early night, as Jon’s race would be here before we knew it!

California Marathon Road Trip: The California Delta

After our visit to the John Muir National Historic Site, we decided to take the scenic route back to Roseville.  We found CA Highway 160 and set off into the California Delta.  The reality is that much of the area just south and west of Sacramento is a delta; in its natural state the California Delta is a freshwater marsh with significant annual flooding, and a series of channels and sloughs with islands of peat.  The official name is the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta because it is located at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.

Beginning in the mid 1800s enterprising Americans decided that seasonal floods didn’t really work for them, so they set out to control nature and remade the Delta into fertile farmland that now rarely floods.  The rivers are contained with high built up levees on either side, which happens to be perfect for a highway, right?  The delta also happens to deliver a significant amount of the water supply for the San Joaquin Valley and southern California through an elaborate pump system.

So you drive along an elevated road, with the slow moving river on one side and large farmhouses on the other, and you feel like you have been transported into the Louisiana bayou, only with less vegetation and no Spanish moss.  And no alligators.  I imagine that in the summer the heat is probably pretty similar to the south, but perhaps with less humidity.  But otherwise it is EXACTLY the same.  Really.  And there are probably just as many mosquitoes.

One of the many bridges spanning the river

One of the many bridges spanning the river

Along the way, we stopped in a couple of small towns that modern life seems to have largely passed by.  Isleton (population 804) announced that it had a historic point of interest, so we set off to find out what is was.  It wasn’t clearly marked, so I’m not exactly sure what we were looking for or if we found it, but what we did find was a small town with several turn of the last century buildings in various states of disrepair.

The second story of an abandoned building in Isleton – its Chinese immigrant past still visible.

The second story of an abandoned building in Isleton – its Chinese immigrant past still visible.

And we found a woman who seemed to be on drugs, who proceeded to follow us around and stop where we stopped, and continue when we did, peeking into cars along the way.  So, due to the fact that this woman was creeping Jon out, we didn’t hang around long in Isleton.  Note: there were an awful lot of cars parked along the main street for as dead as the town appeared to be.  We could only find a handful of businesses that were actually open (or in business for that matter); certainly not enough to justify the number of cars that were parked.  We also found that stereotypical car covered with cats – so we took a photo of that too.

A couple of the more maintained buildings in downtown Isleton, California

A couple of the more maintained buildings in downtown Isleton, California

Cats on Cars

Cats on Cars

Our next stop on the Delta was in the historic town of Locke.  Locke was founded in 1915 by Chinese immigrants who were prevented from living in the nearby communities with whites.  This was once a thriving town with a Chinese school, traditional Chinese doctors, and restaurants and shops catering to the Chinese population.  You can see what it once was by the Chinese writing remaining on some of the buildings.  Technically, Locke isn’t a town, but an unincorporated area, but the historic buildings and its connection as a Chinese immigrant community earned it a designation as a National Historic Landmark District.

A row of historic buildings in Locke, California

A row of historic buildings in Locke, California

Someone (I cannot remember who) had told me that Locke was a quaint little historic town with art galleries and shops.  What we found wasn’t quite what I would describe as quaint – although it was certainly trying.  There were only a few shops open – a couple of art galleries and a consignment shop.  And a tiny little museum on the history of the Chinese in the area.  And wow, historic is an understatement!

Locke has as many abandoned buildings as it does occupied ones – and some of them seem dangerously close to falling down.  I would not want to be in Locke when the next earthquake hits California!  The upside was that there weren’t any tweakers in Locke, and it did give me the opportunity to take some interesting photos of the old, run-down buildings.  Other than that though, it wasn’t much of a destination – I was glad we had just chanced upon it rather than heading out there with a plan to spend awhile…

One of the not so well maintained buildings in Locke

One of the not so well maintained buildings in Locke

Our cruise of the California Delta was certainly interesting and beautiful, giving me an opportunity to see something new in California.  Jon lived in Sacramento for a few years and never knew this was right outside of the city!  This is definitely not a world of strip malls and pavement.  And at the end of our delta tour we happened upon a converted beet sugar mill – I will post about that next!

Have you ever visited the California Delta?  What did you think?

California Marathon Road Trip: Martinez Adobe at John Muir NHS

In my last post, I gave you a glimpse into our visit to the John Muir National Historic Site, and the house that John Muir owned and lived in during his later years.  Also on the property is an 1849 adobe home, called the Martinez Adobe, located on a section of the Juan de Bautista de Anza historic trail.

The land that the adobe is located on is the Rancho El Pinole, a Mexican land grant of 17,761 acres that was given to Ygnacio Martinez in 1842.  To fulfill the terms of the land grant Martinez built an adobe house, but that’s not the one that is standing today.  The current adobe house was built in 1849 by his son, Vicente Martinez, a year after Ygnacio’s death.  The property was divided up over the years, and the adobe and the land nearby was purchased by John Strentzel (John Muir’s father in law) in 1875.

Martinez Adobe, built 1849 – Adobe Construction

Martinez Adobe, built 1849 – Adobe Construction

The adobe is interesting for what it is, but not completely authentic (a wood section has been added on to the home).  However, the home is set up with an exhibit on the Juan Bautista de Anza historic trail, which follows the route of the 1775-1776 expedition by the Mexicans from Tubac Presidio in Southern Arizona, up through California.  Although the mission was funded and organized by Mexico, the colonists that traveled with Anza were from several areas around the world, including Spain, Basque, Mexico, other parts of Europe and Africa.

An outdoor oven at the Martinez Adobe

An outdoor oven at the Martinez Adobe

We had visited the Presidio State Historic Park in Tubac, Arizona, where the mission departed from, and had seen the signs of the route, but had never stopped at any of the historic sites.  So it was interesting to learn a bit about the end point of the expedition.

The exhibit included some of the history of the Oohlone tribe, who were decimated by disease when the colonists arrived.  It was a good reminder of the not so nice parts of the history of this nation.  The exhibit also documented information about area citizens who belong to the Oohlone tribe, as well as citizens descended from the settlers from the Anza expedition.

The adobe doesn’t take much time to tour, and it provided some great information on a piece of our history that I didn’t know much about.  It was well worth the time.