Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Roaming the Rust Belt (2017)

On Highway 49

Breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn, Roseville was very enjoyable, partly thanks to my server, a particularly cheery and pleasant woman from England. When I had earlier done some basic research for this short add-on road trip, I'd been surprised to see that one of the top things to do in the area was listed as Drive Highway 49. Further investigation showed that this road linked several of the recommended destinations, so the task of finding a way to fit the highway into my schedule was not destined to be a difficult one. In fact, today's plans already revolved around it.

But first things first: my initial objective was the small town of Auburn, and this involved a quick 15-mile run on Interstate 80. I parked in the Old Town area, conveniently located just off the freeway, and began the day by having a look around. It was still quite chilly at this relatively early hour on a quiet Sunday morning.

Leaving Auburn, I joined Highway 49 - strictly speaking, California State Route 49 - for the thirty-minute drive to Nevada City. Despite its name, Nevada City is in California and is home to just 3,000 people. The historic part of my second destination of the day was centred on Broad Street, and it struck me as really rather attractive. Based on various posters and the fairly obvious preparations taking place, I surmised that some kind of Christmas fair and/or parade would be taking place that afternoon. Near what would be the turning point of my walk at the far end of Broad Street, I had a coffee in a local café to ward off the cold outside.

Next, I made a short hop to Empire Mine State Historic Park, said to be "one of the oldest, largest, deepest, longest and richest gold mines in California." For over 100 years since its opening in 1850, this facility was responsible for the extraction of gold from literally hunderds of miles of underground passages. I paid the State Park fee and had a look around in the distinctly chilly conditions. One of the most interesting aspects of the visit was the ability to see the mine buildings alongside the comfortable residence of the owner, who lived on-site.

Returning to Auburn, I once more picked up Highway 49 to continue my journey southeastwards. This section proved to be a most enjoyable scenic drive, but care was required in places due to the sudden appearance of challenging gradients combined with twists and turns. After a brief lunch stop in what felt like the middle of nowhere, I passed through Placerville and saw a Christmas parade in progress. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nowhere to park in order to take a closer look, so I simply continued my journey towards my planned night stop at Sutter Creek.

Trying to dispel from my mind some doubts about my chosen hotel (see 'Hotels' on black menu bar), I took a walk along Main Street to take in this small town's atmosphere, which drew from a mixture of gold-rush-era nostalgia and latter-day tourism and wine production

Sunday 03 Dec

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