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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default California Gold & Silver Country Trip

    I decided to make this year's road trip the most researched and chronicled one I'd ever taken, and the following report is the result. For the first time I also made a detailed budget. Please keep in mind that expenses were for me, my wife, and our 10 and 3-year old kids. My wife puts up with long hours on the road as long as we eat in decent places and stay in clean, comfortable lodging.

    From Los Angeles we drove up to Sacramento, over to the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma and the Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley, further east to Virginia City, NV, back across to Sonora, and then down and home via Yosemite. This was a 5-day/4-night trip.

    Day 1:

    6:27 AM- left from Orange County (I was shooting for 6:00 AM at the latest)
    7:23 AM- stopped in Azusa (I-210 and CA-39) for gas and potty break as traffic was at a standstill.
    Note: If you are leaving from the Disneyland vicinity and heading north in the morning, not only do you have to avoid I-5 but you also have to leave by 6:00 AM if you want to avoid heavy traffic on I-210 E from CA-57 N on your way to connect with I-5 again north of Los Angeles.
    7:32 AM- departed from ARCO gas station ($2.999 per gallon cash)
    8:33 AM- stopped at McDonald's in Castaic for breakfast
    9:13 AM- departed
    12:17 PM- arrived at Pea Soup Andersens in Santa Nella for lunch
    1:33 PM- departed
    1:36 PM- went to ARCO station to fill up ($2.879 cash)
    1:43 PM- left for Sacramento
    3:36 PM- arrived Holiday Inn Express (Convention Center) in Sacramento
    Dinner at Fat City Cafe in Old Sacramento (very good)
    Total: 423 miles, 8 hrs 13 mins

    Breakfast:
    Budget $10.00 ; Actual: $13.40
    Lunch:
    B $30.00; A $36.25
    Dinner: B $50; A $45.53
    Lodging: prepaid so budget and actual matched at $63.38
    Gas:
    B $39.00; A $44.47
    Parking:
    B $5; A $2.50
    Entrance fees:
    B $22; A $0

    Difference between budget and actual: $13.85
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-24-2010 at 05:15 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    Day 2:

    9:05 AM- departed hotel
    9:10 AM- arrived at Sutter's Fort State Historic Park
    9:28 AM- left for Sutter's Mill (Marshall Gold Discovery SHP) because Sutter's Fort didn't open until 10:00 AM
    10:24 AM- arrived Marshall Gold Discovery SHP
    12:46 PM- departed for Empire Mine SHP in Grass Valley
    1:49 PM- stopped at Grass Valley supermarket (Safeway) for lunch items
    2:16 PM- continued on to Empire Mine
    2:23 PM- arrived at Empire Mine SHP, had a picnic lunch, and toured the grounds
    3:54 PM- left for Virginia City, NV
    5:15 PM- ran into traffic delays as I-80 is narrowed to one lane in each direction
    5:58 PM- stopped at the Honey Bakery in Reno for next day's breakfast items (very good Chinese bakery)
    6:08 PM- left
    6:11 PM- stopped for gas ($2.849 per gallon cash price at a Chevron station)
    6:20 PM- left
    6:59 PM- arrived at motel in Virginia City
    Dinner at Cafe del Rio (very good)

    Total 206 miles, 9 hrs 49 mins

    Breakfast:
    Budget $0 ; Actual: $0
    Lunch:
    B $10.00; A $14.78
    Dinner: B $50; A $43.00
    Lodging: prepaid so budget and actual matched at $98.00
    Gas:
    B $37.00; A $37.00
    Parking:
    B $8; A $0
    Entrance fees:
    B $35; A $21

    Difference between budget and actual: $34.22

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    I just added photos the my album "California Gold and Nevada Silver Country". I'll finish days 3 through 5 tomorrow.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    Day 3

    Toured Virginia City in the morning
    12:10- departed Virginia City for Carson City
    12:41- stopped at City Cafe Bakery in Carson City for lunch; looked through Nevada State Museum gift shop; took photos of old US Mint building
    1:48- left Carson City for Sonora via CA-88 and Carson Pass
    3:42- rest stop at Pine Grove
    3:48- continued on to Sonora via CA-49
    5:01- arrived at Gunn House in Sonora
    Dinner at Outlaws BBQ across the street (great food, somewhat slow service)

    Total: 164 miles, 4 hrs. 51 mins.

    Breakfast:
    B $20.00, A $6.00
    Lunch:
    B $10.00, A $20.24
    Dinner:
    B $50.00, A $40.00
    Lodging: prepaid so budget and actual matched at $110.16
    Gas:
    B $0; A $0
    Parking:
    B $; A $0
    Entrance fees:
    B $0; A $23
    Souvenirs:
    B $50, A $30

    Difference between budget and actual: $20.76
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-25-2010 at 01:31 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    Day 4

    Breakfast and shopping in Sonora for lunch fixings
    10:55- left for Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown
    11:02- arrived at Railtown; rode the steam train
    1:18 PM- departed for Columbia SHP (drove slowly and took photos along the way)
    1:41- arrived in Columbia; had picnic lunch and toured the park,
    Columbia is a preserved "ghost town" with many original building dating back to 1857, after the second great fire destroyed many of the originals. The main street through town is open only to foot and hoof traffic. There are a number of gift shops and snack shops in addition to the museum and restored fire house. Great boulders and pillars of rock around the town are testament to hydraulic mining techniques used to strip away soil in search of gold.
    4:29- returned to Sonora and got gas on the way ($2.959 per gallon cash price at ARCO)
    4:55- arrived back at hotel
    Dinner at Hong Kong Garden Restaurant across the street from hotel (very good food and service)

    Breakfast:
    B $0, A $0
    Lunch:
    B $10.00, A $5.77
    Dinner:
    B $50.00, A $44.00
    Snacks:
    B $10.00, A $15.28
    Lodging: prepaid so budget and actual matched at $110.16
    Gas:
    B $10; A $23.38
    Parking:
    B $; A $0
    Entrance fees:
    B $54.00; A $32.00
    Souvenirs:
    B $50, A $0

    Difference between budget and actual: $84.57
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-25-2010 at 01:30 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    Day 5

    Breakfast around 8:00 AM and packing
    9:40 AM- depart for Yosemite (planned on leaving around 8:30)
    11:22- stopped at Bridalveil Fall, took photos of Yosemite Falls, went to Visitor Center.
    The park was jammed on this Sunday morning and afternoon. Parking was scarce, and using the shuttle buses was the best way to get around without having to walk 1/2 mile between the parking lot and Visitor Center. We had precious little time in the park, but we needed to get moving so we wouldn't arrive home too late at night.
    1:47 PM- left Yosemite
    3:11- rest stop in Wawona
    Driving was painfully slow on CA-41 as an unexpected snow storm hit the area. Traffic stalled to crawl around one accident, and a number of cars pulled over to the side to wait for the snow to stop.
    3:26- left Wawona and continued south on CA-41.
    5:21- arrived in Reedley (a good distance east of our return route along CA-99) to check out a restaurant a friend said we "absolutely must go to". Alas, Uncle Harry's Classic Meals (Armenian Cuisine) was closed. We made do at Me N Ed's Pizza.
    6:50- left Me N Ed's to find a gas station
    6:53- got gas at One Stop ($2.899 per gallon)
    7:03- left Reedley to weave our way back to CA-99 via roads through fruit tree groves
    8:57- coffee stop at McDonald's in Tejon
    9:26- departed for home via I-5
    11:14- arrived home in Orange County

    Total 433 miles; 13 hrs. 34 mins.

    Difference between budget and actual: $94.54
    Last edited by shirohniichan; 05-25-2010 at 01:32 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default Cool !

    Thanks for the detailed report on your trip, I really enjoyed the photo's !

    Glad you made it home for the night, at a [semi] reasonable hour after the hold ups on 41.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    It was a bit hard to calculate costs down to the penny because my wife brought along a couple of grocery bags full of snacks she bought at Trader Joes weeks before the trip. Crackers, chips, mandarin oranges, and other goodies kept the kids from complaining too much between meal stops. I kept a cooler behind my seat (in front of the 3-year old since it wouldn't hurt her legroom) with drinks, sandwiches, etc. We cut down a lot on our lunch budget by stopping at markets and buying croissants, bread, lunch meat, drinks, fruit, etc. to have on our picnic lunches (and also for the one night we stayed at a motel with no complimentary breakfast).

    My usual instinct is to drive as quickly as possible to get to our destinations, but on this trip we took time to photograph historic buildings along CA-49 and to enjoy the sights. We have been up and down I-5 through California's central valley so many times we didn't do any sightseeing along it.

    An understanding my wife and I have is that I get to drive long hours and see historic spots of little interest to her as long as we dine in restaurants she likes and stay in comfortable accomodations. That means most Motel 6s and similar budget places are disqualified, although on occasion we run across nicer properties with reasonable rates. This means instead of spending under $50 per night, we're usually closer to the $100 to $110 range unless we get a bargain through Hotwire.

    Also, to make up for the long hours of driving on some days we like to spend two nights in the same motel so we can spend at least one day at a more leisurely pace and get rested.

    My favorite place from our trip: Virginia City. I'm fascinated by Comstock and mid-19th century history.
    My wife's favorite place: Sonora. She liked the Gunn House, the shops, and the quaint setting.
    My 10-year old's favorite place: Marshall Gold Discovery SHP. She got to pan for gold there.
    My 3-year old's favorite place: It's hard to tell, but the Candy Vault in Sonora probably won this contest.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    Sorry for the late reply to my own post, but I'm trying to figure out how to post attachments. Here goes.



    It worked!

    This is Virginia City facing southwest from the Mason's cemetary.

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