Why is it Never Raining Giraffes and Hippos?

I'm down here in Fremont working on a couple of spikes for a bigger-than-usual integration and it is raining cats-and-dogs. Already, I was going to have to delay posting because I left my camera cable back up the hill, but with this rain, it's possible that the wee toaty explorer I made last night will never get to go outside and explore Fremont.

Which is just as well, the Bay Area might just be getting overcrowded with wee toaty sites.

wee toaty

Wow, the iPhone sometimes takes terrible pictures.

The other disappointment about this trip so far: I thought I had found the most awesome restaurant ever. Ever.

pizza and curry

Sadly, it's closed on Tuesday and tomorrow I have to socialize. No curry pizza for me this trip.

Where in Nevada County - Kallenberger Barbershop

I've had a hard time finding a barber I like in Nevada County, not so much from a lack of skill as an overabundance of politics.

This particular barbershop has a different problem, though. Do you know what it is?

Leave your location guess in the comments or check back in a week if you don't know. I'll put a link in the comments then.


I know that North San Juan is having a cherry festival tomorrow, but there's absolutely no information on-line. When does it start? Are there any scheduled events? Is there a parade? If so, what time? Sheesh.

Undeposit Day

Here in California we pay a deposit on our cans and bottles. Today, I took the latest set of empties back over to the Speedy Mart to get some moola.

They put the bottles and cans into big metal baskets and weigh them. I need to do a better job keeping the caps with the bottles. I guess it's because they do it by weight that my take today was $17.02. Two cents!

I did the prudent thing with my sudden wealth: invested it in lottery tickets, of course.


Apparently, I'm on an old bicycle kick. This is from Australia.

Joyce Barry advertising for Milk Board, September 1939


How cool is this?

Rollins Lake

So I ducked out of Nevada City early on Sunday because I was worried about getting trapped when my road was closed for the bike race. I slapped the kayak on top of the car and tootled over to Rollins Lake. As you can tell from this picture of the Sheriff's boat, I was on the Placer County side of the lake.

That's the only picture I took, because the water was choppier than any I've experienced aside from the Chesapeake Bay. I should have known it was going to be rough. If there were no other signs, the raucous music blaring across the water from the Outrigger restaurant should have tipped me off: this is a party lake. The Jet Skis, speed boats, water skiing and pulled tubes leave the lake a sloppy, chopping mess. At $9 a drop, I doubt I'll return with my kayak anytime soon.

Where in Nevada County - All the World's A Stage

Where might you find this structure? It looks like a stage to me, but I don't think that's what it is.

Leave your location guess in the comments or check back in a week if you don't know. I'll put a link in the comments then.

First Annual Soap Box Derby

Here are some pictures from today's soap box derby, with little comment. I had some trouble with lighting from my position. I liked being in the shade too much to really get good sight lines. It is what it is.

When they're going left-to-right, the vehicles are being towed uphill to the starting line.

multiple cars

A Five Mile Tour

So yesterday I took a five mile bike ride up hill. How do I know I went five miles? I know because I stopped here and ate:

5 mile house

I've only done this ride once before, so maybe this is just an annual ceremony. This time, though, I rode straight up 20. It took me an hour and 15 minutes. That's four miles per hour. I'm pretty sure a good walking clip is three. Granted, when walking, I don't stop every forty feet to rest.

I'll go at least fifty.

The scariest bit...oh, who am I kidding? Every inch of riding up 20 was scary. The stretch up from 49 almost all the way to the Snow Mountain ditch has a great shoulder, and most of the rest is hit and miss. There were several wide spots that were good for resting. The spot right at the end of the mountain passing lane section is bad because there's no shoulder and the road is hemmed in by a guard rail. But that's pretty short. I think I made it all the way up without being passed by a huge truck -- they seemed to pass only when I was taking breaks in the turnouts.

I'm not sure that I'll try it again really soon, though, because the curves are bad. I don't mind riding with traffic if I feel like there are some sight-lines, but I don't think most of the drivers pay much attention to the signs suggesting 35 and 40 around those curves.

The 5 Mile House is serving Vietnamese cuisine this month. The board says that next month is New England. I hope that means some Boston bean pie! It probably means lobster rolls.

Oh, hey, I forgot to mention this to the folks while I was there, but 5 Mile House people: it would really help if you turned the bike rack around the other way. That way I could put my front wheel over the top and use the U-lock to secure the wheel and frame. As it is, I have to put my bike sideways because just locking the front wheel without getting the frame is not bright.

The Harmony Ridge market across the street from the 5 Mile House has some great iced chai spice cake. With that and the 5 Mile House, although it's good exercise going up the hill, I doubt I'm losing any weight.

Actually, it was a 10 mile ride, but it's hard to count the ride coming back. The distance I covered in one direction at 75 minutes? 17 minutes to get back.

So now I know the top speed of the Jake (my bike). All the way down the hill, I was riding faster than I could pedal even in highest gear. On the other hand, I was stopped at Nevada City's only traffic light.

Englebright Lake

On Tuesday, I fixed my next to last test against the Ruby script, heaved the kayak onto the top of the blueberry, and popped down to Englebright Lake. Unfortunately, the gate was guarded by these billy goats gruff.


When I finally got around the goats and tootled down to the boat landing, I remembered that I had left my life jacket back at home. So I had to drive all the way back up the hill to Nevada City to pick it up. When I finally returned, I paid my $4 using the fancy new machine they've installed next to the ramp.

pay machine at englebright

The water was so high, you nearly had to wade out to it. I got the kayak in the water and paddled a little bit up the coast. I found an interesting structure in the water:


With the water running so very high, it was filled with sticks and logs. I lost count of the number of times I thought I saw a snake or a turtle and it turned out to be a stick. Then I came across this bit floating along:

floating jacket

I like the way the trapped air gives it a bit of animation.

Finally, I returned through the houseboat city in Skippers Cove. Two or three were occupied, but for the most part it was like wandering through a watery ghost town.

skippers cove

Yeah, it's evenings like this that keep me from missing the east coast.

X-Wing Soap Box Car

Man, I wish I had gotten my act together and worked to enter this weekend's Nevada City Adult Soap Box Derby. I know exactly the design I'd like to have tried:

From the SciFi Mafia. Click through, people. That R2-D2 head really swivels.

Humbug Day 2011

humbug day sign

What beautiful weather it was on Saturday for Humbug Day, up in the Malakoff Diggins State Historical Park! I hit this park a couple times a year, generally to wander around the interesting debris of the mining operation, but this Saturday was a celebration in the old town site, which was originally called Humbug and later called North Bloomfield.

(So, while there is a North Pine Street and a South Pine Street, there is a North Bloomfield Road but not a South Bloomfield Road; at least not in our fair city.)

There are more pictures below the fold, as it were:

Pete's Pizza Now In Nevada City

I'm generally with John Stewart when it comes to pizza, but there is some pizza around that will do in a pinch. Probably my favorite local pizza comes from Pete's. I used to have schlep the six whole miles down to Grass Valley for their pie, so I'd generally just fall back on the North Ridge.

But Pete's has opened an outlet quite a bit closer:

They're in the place formerly occupied by the kebab place on Commercial. Welcome to Nevada City, Pete's!

Where in Nevada County - Art on a Rock

Since I live in Nevada City, I feel like these "Where in Nevada County" shots aren't really giving the whole county enough love. So here's something from up-county (east-county?) for you to guess. Where in Nevada County do you find a one-lane tunnel and a bit of metal art like this?

First, here's a look at the tunnel.


There are actually two of these tunnels. Above one, there's a bit of metal art on the rocks:

art on rock

Here's a close-up shot of the art:

closeup of art

And as a final hint, here's a long shot of tunnel and art:

long view of tunnel and art

Leave your location guess in the comments or check back in a week if you don't know. I'll put a link in the comments then.

Cigar Boxes

I took this picture in the general store up at the Malakoff Diggins State Historical Park on Humbug Day:

cigar boxes

Another thing that reminds me of my age: when I look at this picture I remember all the cool stuff I used to keep in cigar boxes. They're what we used for pencil boxes for school. I think every kid had at least one cigar box with something in it. I might be in the last generation that had a cigar box organizational system. I had stacks of boxes. There was my baseball card box, of course, and one for coins. I don't remember if I kept stamps in one -- I seem to remember having a binder for those. But the heaviest one had my bottle caps.

My bottle cap collection was poorly curated -- there were lots of duplicates -- but it was a varied and colorful collection of metal ruffled rounds. These days, I find plastic caps in my car and I can't even tell whether they came from Coke or Pepsi bottles.

I also used to collect beer cans, but that was more for the construction opportunities than for variety. I made huge towers in my bedroom from empty Stroh's and National Bohemian cans. The towers would be cylinders of 8 or 12 can rows, and they reached to the ceiling. Every few nights, about three in the morning, the cat would brush against a tower, and it would come raining down with a clattering cacophony of tin.

I didn't get much sleep when I was young.

What did you collect?

I didn't realize until I looked at this picture that they actually had Prince Albert in a can. Now I need to run back up there and tell them to let him out!

This is Nice

And not just because the song is called "Nevada City."

John Heart Jackie - Nevada City from Ben Moon on Vimeo.

Check out John Heart Jackie.

Where in Nevada County - 06 June

The great thing about this is that the eyes really glow that angry red. Scary robot!

Leave your location guess in the comments or check back in a week if you don't know. I'll put a link in the comments then.

Nevada County Makes

Have you seen this site? It looks like some folks are trying to make a central place for arts and crafts made in Nevada County. I see purses that look like blue jeans and paintings of Grass Valley and dinner napkins and bird houses made out of twigs.

Cool stuff.

Cryoburn (by Lois McMaster Bujold)

"I know what you're thinking." My imaginary friend Bertie is sitting next to me at the bar at the Dew Drop Inn. We are here in an effort to visit every single restaurant in Nevada County. This one is in a little valley off of 49 down the hill a bit.

"No you don't, Bertie." I take a bite out of my hamburger. There are only five things on the food menu. The Dew Drop Inn is pretty much just a bar with a cool front lawn. The front lawn was once a swimming pool fed by the little stream out front. The owner told us that in the '30s Olympians practiced out there.

"You're wishing you had ordered the hot dog burrito." Bertie steals another fry.

"Not really, no. I think for a first visit, I was right to play it safe." Being imaginary, Bertie can't really order his own food, so he's always stealing mine. "What makes you think you can read minds all of a sudden?"

"Oh, it's not really reading minds so much as deep thought and interpretation."

"I see. Deep thought."

"Yeah, I saw people doing it in this book, and so I figured I could, too."

"What book?" He holds up a copy of Cryoburn.

Bertie leafs through the pages and says, "Yeah, it's full of passages where the characters are analyzing each others' motivations and stuff, thinking all that while saying something else."

"I don't think anybody really does that. I can't do either thing."

"Either thing?"

"Yeah, I can't be doing any analyzing while I'm talking and I never have any idea what's going on in other people's heads." I really, really wish I could, though.

"Well, I know what you're thinking."

"No, no you don't, Bertie."

"You're thinking you wish they had ice cream here."

"Bertie, thinking I'm thinking what you're thinking is not the same kind of thinking."

"That's what you think."

"What I think is that the book, which I read because it's a Hugo nominee this year and I get to vote, is probably full of spoilers about stuff that happened in preceding books. I haven't read any of them, but I imagine this one gives away a lot."

"They're only spoilers if you plan to read the other books."

"I wouldn't say this is the best book ever written, but it kept me interested, kind of like a good pot-boiler."

"And it comes with this awesome coaster." Bertie puts a CD underneath my tumbler.

"Yeah, I don't get that. The book comes with a CD, but neither its sleeve, nor the book, nor the flap tells me what it's for."

"And you're afraid to stick it into your laptop."

"Of course, I am. Who knows where it's been? Hey!" Bertie took my last three fries in one swoop.

"I know what you're thinking. You're thinking you wish that Annabel Lee had been here instead of me."

Well, I have to give him that one. Annabel Lee never steals my food.


So there's a Twitter feed over there on the right side of this here blog site. I've got it hooked up to look for "Nevada County", "Nevada City", "Grass Valley", and #nevadacounty. It gets a lot of real estate spam and sometimes stuff about cities or counties in Nevada. (A tweet like "Man found in Nevada. City officials look for dog," gets picked up in this kind of search.)

A month ago, it was filled with tornado warnings.

"Tornadoes? In the mountains? Pshaw!" I said to myself. I looked into it and learned that there is a Nevada County in Missouri. Did you know it was founded by people from here?

At any rate, I've been ignoring anything that says tornadoes. Turns out, though, we get warnings, too.