2012 Summer Solstice In Tahoe City: the Heart and Solstice Festival

Secret Beach on Lake Tahoe's Nevada side, 2003

Secret Beach on Lake Tahoe’s Nevada side, 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is time for the Summer Solstice, as we celebrate the annual change from spring to summer.And no where is the Summer Solstice celebrated better than in Tahoe City, California.

It is the Annual Heart and Solstice Festival.  When you live in snow coutry I guess that summer and the sun are things you should really celebrate!

This year the Summer Solstice celebration runs from June 15th to 24th with 10 signature events and even more activities on the streets and in the shops, restaurants and bars of Tahoe City.

Tahoe City is one of my favorite little “big” towns, the “Heart and Soul” of Tahoe is nestled on the edge of the west coast of the beautiful alpine Lake Tahoe.  The jewel that sits between California and Nevvada, with gambling on the Nevada side.

Tahoe City is known for its natural high-mountain beauty, it Lake location and its “quaintness”.  It’s just a great place to visit.  Many people discover it on their drive to “North Shore” Lake Tahoe.

What:                            2012 Summer Solsrrice Festival

Where:                          Tahoe City, California

When:                            June 15th to June 24th, 2012

Events & Details:         Parties, a classic car show exhibits and ine tasting all on the shoreline of the beautiful Lake Tahoe

Highlights:                    A lake cruise on the Tahoe Gal on June 17th with music by Mumbo Gumbo

Solstice Stroll Classic Car Show June 21 on North Lake Tahoe Boulevard

The Tahoe City Wine Walk June 23 in downtown Tahoe City

The Art & Solstice exhibit June 24 at the North Tahoe Arts Center

And more!!!

The Sun by Cathy McClelland, North Lake Tahoe artist, brilliantly captures the essence of summer at Lake Tahoe.

Roll Out The Barrel in El Dorado County

El Dorado County is the place to be for Roll Out The Barrel, a fun event featuring 27 wineries.

Everyone has heard of NapaSonoma wine in California but some people have not heard of the El Dorado wineries.

They bottle some of the very best California wines.

El Dorado Winery Association (EDWA) invites you to hunt for your next favorite wine during their annual Roll Out the Barrel event January 28-29, 2012.

The event is a self-guided tour of the El Dorado county wineries.

You get wine tasting hors d’oeuvres, cheese and prizes.

You can even win free tickets HERE

El Dorado County is just a short drive from Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, and about 90 minutes from San Francisco.

You can find a map of the various wineries here

And you can check out the Apple Hill farms while you are there.  Buy or pick apples and other fruit, and get lunch and baked goods as well as some handmade crafts at some of the ranches.

And you can even visit Placerville and see that old Hangtown Motel sign made famous on the Dodge truck commercial this past fall.  Remember the “We parked it here, and if you find it you can keep it” commercial?  Placerville was named Hangtown in it’s early gold rush years.

Why?  ummmm…all the hangings?

Go, and have fun!!!

Copperopolis, A Gold Rush (??) Town In California

Calaveras County, California, USA.

Image via Wikipedia

Of course, California has many many gold rush towns, even a few ghost towns.  But it may have just one old copper town.

Copperopolis is a special gold rush town.  It is definitely not a ghost town although the spirits of some of the old-time miners may still be hanging around the town.

Especially in the historic Old Corner Saloon.

Copperopolis is south of Sacramento, a little past the small city of Stockton in Calaveras County.  Have you heard of the famous Jumping Frog Jubilee in Angels Camp, CaliforniaMark Twain wrote a story about it?  Well, that is in Calaveras County.  Pretty area and historically important.

Copperopolis has a population of some 3,600 residents and was founded in 1860.  And, of course, the town was named after the copper strike in the area.  Shortly after the town was founded. copper became very important in the U.S.  The Civil War created a boom for copper miners because the ore was needed to make bullets.  The boom ednded as the war ended and the mines closed.  The population dwindled.  But World War I and World War II both created new boom-times for copper miners, the mines reopened and the population grew once again.

Now Copperopolis hosts Dog Days, in 2011 this event will be held on October 22nd.  Dress your dog up and come to Copperopolis.  There are special categories for Lady GaGa and Johnny Depp lookalikes.  (I’m trying not to laugh here).  But, that is not what this post is about…..thank god.

“Tucked away among the rolling hills covered with oaks, Copperopolis in the Copper Valley looks much as it did when miners first discovered the riches the valley had to offer.”  With their new Town Hall, Copperopolis has a lot of events, you can find a list here.

The Sacramento Bee had a nice article recently about Copperopolis about both the old and the new Copperopolis.  The little town has seen a 35% population spurt in just the last 10 years.  There are authentic gold rush and copper rush buildings and brand new structures.

The Old Corner Saloon was built and opened in 1862.  There is a general store that opened in the late 1860s and an old brick armory (remember the bullets??) built in 1864 but now closed.  many of the old Victorian homes have been converted to mom-and-pop stores including a flower shop and a take-out grill.

Old timers drink a bit, chat and play pool in the Old Corner Saloon.  On the wall is a picture of the famous highway robber, Black Bart.  Bart used to throw back a few whiskeys in the Old Corner Saloon way back in his stagecoach robbing days.  The Saloon is an authentic cowboy, wild west and trucker kind of place.

The walls are covered with hats nailed, tacked and stapled in place.  The ceiling is covered (every inch) in dollar bills that customers place there.  Many many years of hats and dollar bills.  Make sure you take one of each and join the party!!

On the website for the Saloon, there is a great story about the old covered bridge in the Copperopolis area.

If you go to Copperopolis there are some very nice, well-appointed “bungalows” at the Saddle Creek Resort where a rich halibut will set you back 24 bucks, but oh what a halibut!  The bungalows cost $125-$165, a bit more for a suite.

The resort has a great gold course too.  it is a fine example of that 1860s vs 2011 dichotomy.

At Matt’s Take-Out on Main Street, they  have a great Angus beef cheeseburger for just $4.95.  Nice deal!!

“While it’s far from the every day hustle and bustle, the Copperopolis Town Square is close to it all. Ideally situated less than two hours from the San Francisco Bay Area and one hour from the Central Valley, the Copper Valley is
perfectly positioned between San Francisco, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Foothills.”

Here is a map:

in the Copperopolis area.

Apple Hill in California’s Sierra Nevada Foothills

Gold :: Locality: Placerville (Hangtown), Plac...

Image via Wikipedia

If it is September it must be time to make the annual trip to Apple Hill in the Sierra Nevada foothills close to the nice town of Camino, near Placerville, California.  Camino was originally called Seven Mile House.

From a review on Yelp:  “If you live in or near Sacramento, you need to come here. If you don’t live nearby, you still need to come here.  Regardless of your age, interests, taste in foods/wines/fruits, or mobility, you will LOVE Apple Hill!”

Update September 26th:

Well, my first apple pie from Apple Hill this season.  The pie was from Larsen’s Apple Barn (see below) a really good ranch on the Hill.  Bought some apple turnovers as well, might have one for lunch.

The pie was good but my mouth was expecting “great”, so I guess I have to go back and get another one!  I can try one from each ranch.  Good idea.  Anyway, a little whipped cream and had a very good dessert.

Apple Hill, Camino and Placerville are located in one of the nicest areas in  the beautiful Sierra Nevada foothills , just below the snow-line.

The Association & the Basics

The Apple Hill Growers Association started many years ago as a fledgling association of 16 apple growing ranches.  Today the association has more than 50 ranches and includes Christmas tree farms, a micro-brewery, wineries, spas and vineyards.  The ranches grow and sell fresh fruit (in addition to the apples) and produce.  Some of the farms are “pick your own”,  while others have picked their goods for you.  There is a nice shuttle-bus service that runs thru the Apple Hill area if you want to save some gas and would rather not drive.  The shuttle runs each weekend during the month of October.  Personally, I find the drive to be half the fun!

Many ranches have other attractions like petting zoos, craft fairs, railroad rides, pony rides, pumpkin patches and a lot of fun things for kids.

Other ranches have on-site restaurants and some have displays of antique farming and ranching items.  There is a golf resort and Red Hawk Casino is just up the road.  The nice little town of Camino with a population of about 1,700,  has a lumber company, general store, restaurant and hotel.


The Camino Hotel, A Bed & Breakfast Inn has a nice little website and is in an old Victorian era house.  Their rates are fair and include a nice breakfast.  Make sure you spend part of your day in the town of Camino.

Do I call it Placerville or Hangtown?

Placerville is larger than Camino and is growing now. Placerville is an original old west gold rush town.   You will find hotels, motels, restaurants, (with the original ‘Hangtown Fry’ and shopping in addition to gold rush sites and museumsHere is a Hangtown Fry recipe for the adventurous.

Downtown has an authentic 1849/1850 feel.  The real deal, definitely.  Placerville was originally named Old Dry Diggings, Dry Diggings and (most famously or infamously) Hangtown.

Placerville was aptly named Hangtown in 1849 when robbers were hanged during the height of our gold rush.  You can find the original “hanging tree” stump in the basement of a bar on Main Street.  It’s actually called The Hangman’s Tree Saloon.


The buildings housing the old Hangman’s Bar has been empty for about a year.  Te buildings have now been sold to a local couple  who promise to restore the unreinforced brick buildings wich date back to 1853.  There have been at least 2 recent attempts to demolish the buildings and the “Hanging Man”.  The new owners will keep both on Placerville’s Main Street, where tey should remain for generations to come.

The reprieve also appears to mean new life for the so-called Hangman’s Dummy, an effigy that has been strung up over the Main Street site for most of the past 70 years.”

Read more at te link above.

Placerville also has the Gold Bug Mine, a classic California hard-rock gold mine.  You can visit the mine and even enter it.  Great place for kids and history buffs.

Check out the Hangtown Grill, home of the Tri-tip BLT.  As you pass thru town on Highway 50 you will see the old hanging tree with a stuffed peep swinging in the breeze.

And speaking of Hangtown…check out this cool neon.  Look familiar???

Yes, the motel sign appears in the Dodge Journey SUV commercial  “We left it here.  If you can find it, you can have it”.  Personally, I would rather have the apple pie.

Here’s that commercial.  But, first understand…..that Dodge has already been found!  But watch for the Hangtown Motel sdign.  It’s cool!

But the next 2 commercials start later in the month, so find that truck!!


A lot of the ranches now have on-line stores for you out of the area shoppers.  Make sure you check them out.

A guy on this Facebook page says he will just still a random truck and say “Well Dodge left it here.  And I found it!”

What about some Maps and stuff?

A map showing the Placerville/Camino area is located here.  A map of the Apple Hill area and reviews on Yelp are here.

Check out the Apple Hill Drive site for a lot of information on ranches.

Apple Hill growers host a lot of events as well, even during the off-season starting with the Apple Blossom Festival each April and the 32nd Annual Apple Hill Harvest Run in November.  A list of events is here.

A little video/slideshow of Apple Hill is here.

They divide the ranches up by west & east.

A map for the western ranches is here.

The map for the eastern ranches is here.

Here are the grower guides for all the various products showing varieties and picking seasons.

This link takes you to a really cool Interactive Map.  Each apple links to a “where to stop” ranch on the hill.  Click away to your hearts desire.

It used to be that an Apple Hill map was a small almost hand drawn affair.  Now the list of ranches and area covered is much larger and more complicated.  This map is a good way to go online and then when you get to the Hill pick up one of the Association maps, a fold-out affair with the map, names of ranches, listing of their products and some other good info.  But too big to put online even in a west/east type of affair.

And how about some eats and grub?

I try to make it to Apple Hill at least once a year.  I am a sucker for the apple pies, apple cider donuts, apple fritters…yum yum.  I’m getting hungry.  And one ranch makes killer charcoal grilled burgers and chicken.

Here is a list of growers that serve lunch and some of their specialties.

Click on the name of the Ranch for more information or their website for those that have one.

So what growers do I usually hit up?  (note:  you can’t miss at any of the ranches, they are all great and all different)

Abel’s Apple Acres  a large ranch with a ton of products including an on-line store with apple butter and killer terriaki.

Boa Vista Orchards  As you come off Highway 50 (heading toward Lake Tahoe) this is the first large ranch and always one of my favorite stops.  I love their pies and baked goods.  They even sell apple wood for your BBQ pit.  Nice!!  The other non-apple item I love and even buy online during the summer is their Vidalia Onion Dressing for salads.  I also use it as a marinade for chicken on the grill.

Denver Dan’s  One of the oldest ranches on the hill, established in 1962.  Jams & jellies and a gift store in addition to apples and baked goods.  They do “you pick” apples as well.  Fun for the kids.

El Dorado Orchards  The site of the very first Apple Hill Smorgy Days in the early 1960s, the precursor to what has become the Apple Hill association.  El Dorado is the home of “the Apple Ridge Express Train carries many happy children, school groups and adults in the fall season”.  This farm is also the starting line and finish for the annual Apple Hill Blossom Trail Run held during the April apple blossom period.  No on-line store, but do not miss this one when you go.

Kids, Inc  I like this ranch a lot.  “It’s a great story. 30 years ago when Edio and Joan Delfino began ranch marketing, they told their children that they could name the ranch. There were seven children and they sat down after dinner one night and thought up a few names–“Farm Kids”, “Little Safeway”, “Kids Incorporated“, and others less memorable. They took the final vote and “Kids Inc.” got the most votes… “Kids Incorporated” became the name of the apple ranch not because the ranch was for kids but because kids worked on the ranch.

HUGE apple pies!

Larsen Apple Barn  One of my favorites because this is one of the oldest continuously operated family apple ranches on the hill.  Established in 1860 and still growing and selling their apples.  It has been there so long they sit on a road called Larsen Road. 

Their bake shop is  “home of the original apple turnover on the hill” specializing in the Cream Cheese Apple Pie, cookies, apple butter, jellies and other delights”.  No online shopping so make it one of your stops!!

Para Vi Vineyards  What, no apple pie??  Wine, wine, wine.  The hill is a perfect spot for growing wine grapes and there are now a number of great wineries.  Para Vi is one I stop at.  A single bottle of Para Vi 2004 Estate Zinfandel Sold for $1,300.00 at the El Dorado Art & Wine Festival auction!  Must be good wine.

I can’t list all the ranches, wineries and spas so I will stop with those few.  Like I said, you can’t miss at any of the Apple Hill ranches.  In fact, stop at all 50 sites!!

I love the Placerville area and Apple Hill.  Don’t miss it, but if you can’t make it check the growers site and individual ranches websites for some great on-line shopping.


Lots of Apple Treats here.  The Association map has recipes as well and most of the ranches share at least some of their recipes (some are held secret!), so make sure you ask.

Sure, Apple Pies & donuts & fritters are great, but:

Apple Pie Cookies link

“These are soft cookies with a spicy apple flavor. The caramel glaze adds a sweet  touch.”

Apple Pie Salad link

“This salad features a brown butter vinaigrette and a pumpkin seed streusel.”

How do you get to Apple Hill??

From Sacramento:    Take Hwy 50, 42 miles East to the town of Placerville. Go past the third signal on Highway 50 in Placerville and go two more exits to the Schnell School Road exit.  Turn left at the bottom of the off ramp and go uphill on Schnell School Road to the stop sign at Carson Road. Stay on Carson Road and pick up a growers map at any of the Apple Hill ranches.  The map is great, listing all the ranches and their products, hours of operation etc.

Hotels or Motels or???

Besides that old Hangtown Motel (I hear it is a bit run down) there are a number of nice places near Apple Hill.

The Cary House Historic Hotel 

A Placerville hotel with “historical ambiance and modern amenities”.  Mark Twain, Elvis Presley and Billy The Kid have stayed at this place.

The Camino Hotel 

In the small town of Camino which is very close to the hill.  “The hotel boasts a rustic country parlor, old fashioned front porch, second level sun porch, 9 total guest rooms, (some with private baths) and accented with rustic flair.”

The Gold Country Inn  

In downtown Placerville.  You can walk the old streets of town to the shops and restaurants and the Gold Bug Mine is just minutes away.

The Robins Nest Ranch  and The Fleming Jones Homestead Bed & Breakfast Inn

In Placerville, The Fleming Jones Homestead Bed & Breakfast Inn is a charming historic 1883 homestead and working horse ranch on 11 acres nestled between art and antique filled Placerville and famous Apple Hill.

The main farmhouse has three rooms while the bunk house (where the cowboys used to stay) has two rooms and a spacious deck overlooking the horse pastures.  And this ranch has Wi-Fi!!  They provide a great farm breakfast.

You can find other hotels/motels/inns in the gold country at this link.

October 19th:

An apple a day keeps the Dr away:  new studies promote the positive helth effects of apples.

October 21st will be World Apple Day.  October is also National Apple Month, according to the U.S. Apple  Association

“Liz Applegate, a Ph.D. nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, is promoting the apple as  vigorously as she does all year.

“It does more than keep a doctor away,” she said, alluding to its  weight-control benefits.”

“It’s an affordable family day,” she said. Certainly cheaper than a trip to  Disneyland or Great America.

People – mostly from Nevada – are even showing up for whole weekends, she  said.

Quieter weekdays are better for romantic couples and seniors looking for the  tastes they remember, she added.”

Read more at the link above.

Wooden Boat Week at Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, USA

Image via Wikipedia

If you are in California or Nevada think about going to Lake Tahoe from August 12-13, 2011 and join in the fun of the Lake Tahoe Concours D’Elegance Gar Wood.

The wooden boat show has hundreds of classic and antique wooden boats, many very old including Cris Crafts and others.

They are beautiful boats in one of the most beautiful settings in the world.  A deep alpine lake high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Wooden boats are so cool and the folks that restore, maintain, show and race them are amazing people.  Kind of like hot rod or hot chopper aficionados, except their toys are on the water.

Where is the show??

Carnelian Bay, Lake Tahoe- California


Sierra Boat Company Marina
5146 North Lake Boulevard, Carnelian Bay, CA
North Shore Lake Tahoe

Click here for map

Cal-Trans Info: 1-800-427-7623               1-800-427-7623
Nevada Roads Info: 1-877-687-6237        1-877-687-6237

From the West:
From San Francisco/Sacramento/Truckee:
Option One:
Past Northstar through Martis Valley: Travel Interstate 80 east, pass the Truckee exits, take exit 188B toward Lake Tahoe. Be sure to go under the overpass to the 188B exit – pay attention not to veer right onto 188A. Turn right onto Route 267 south and proceed 12 miles to Highway 28 in Kings Beach. Turn right (the Lake is on your left) and proceed 3 miles west on Highway 28 (North Lake Boulevard) to Carnelian Bay.

Option Two:
Past Squaw Valley, along the Truckee River: Travel Interstate 80 east to Truckee, south on Highway 89 to Tahoe City. Highway 89 turns into Highway 28 (North Lake Boulevard) as you get to the only light in Tahoe City. Go straight through the light (the Lake is on your right), through Tahoe City, and travel 6 miles east on Highway 28 to Carnelian Bay.

From the East:
From Reno:
Travel Interstate 80 west to exit Route 267/188B toward Lake Tahoe. Turn left on Route 267 South 12 miles to Highway 28 (North Lake Boulevard) in Kings Beach. Turn right on Highway 28 (the Lake is on your left). Travel 3 miles west on Highway 28 to Carnelian Bay.

From the South:
Option One:
Past Emerald Bay, on Tahoe’s West Shore: Travel Highway 89 north, past Emerald Bay, turn right at the “Y” (the only stop light) in Tahoe City. Travel 6 miles east (the Lake is on your right) on Highway 28 (North Lake Boulevard) to Carnelian Bay.

Option Two:
Past Incline Village, via Tahoe’s East Shore: Travel Highway 50 east to Highway 28, turn left and continue north 21 miles through Incline Village and Kings Beach to Carnelian Bay (the Lake is on your left).

Where to stay??

Well, you have many choices including the casinos and hotels of South Lake Tahoe, casinos and hotels of North Shore Lake Tahoe, Reno and that area.

On the north shore I always liked Tahoe City and especially Sunnyside, the lakeside restaurant and bar perfectly compliment this traditional mountain retreat with their own beach.

There are a number of great cruise boats on the lake including the old paddlewheeler, the MS Dixie.  Lots of fun, and so many outdoor things to do at Tahoe including hiking, mountain climbing, biking and just a great area to ride your motorcycles.

Update September 8th:  “The Tahoe Yacht Club presented 40 awards honoring the best of the best at the 39th Lake Tahoe Concours d’ Elegance Wooden Boat Show held August 12-13 in Carnelian Bay, Calif “, from a great article at The Sierra Food Wine & Art website.

The Overall Best of Show is a perpetual award and was won by JoAnn, a 1939 19-foot Gar Wood custom Runabout.  For the very first time, the boat winning the Overall Best in Show award also won the Marque Class Best of Show besting 30 other Gar Wood boats in its class.  This remarkable boat also won the Best Professional Restoration award, another perpetual award.  This award-winning boat is owned by Jonathan and Jean Trevillyan of Acton, California.

See the site at the above link for the other awards, boats and winners.

Great job to all of the entrants and the folks who work so hard each year to bring this event to us.

California Dreamin’: Places to Visit in California

Most of you live in places I’ll never get to experience.  That’s a shame because I enjoy visiting new places,  new people, food, sites, sounds and…..

In Cali we are fortunate to be blessed with such diversity of people and places that it is almost hard to describe, If you have not yet been to California, if you are planning to come or even if you just dream of coming to see us, here are some places in California that you just cannot afford to miss.

San Francisco, North Beach, Chinatown, The Golden Gate Bridge and others

You can walk or bike across the bridge it gives you an incredible activity and amazing sites.

Golden Gate Bridge

Isn’t she beautiful?

I have a post about the great San Francisco cable cars here.  Check it out!

Monterey, Pebble Beach, Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17 Mile Drive  and others

I miss the Monterey area.  One of the spiritual sites in California

The Aquarium is amazing but the bay is even more so…..

Kelp Exhibit, Monterey Bay Aquarium Photos

See my post specific to Monterey, the bay & peninsula and the aquarium here.

The Devils Postpile National Monument

Make sure you check my post on this wonderous site.  The Postpile is hard to describe in a few sentences.  Stunning.  Shocking.  Curious.  A beautiful area in the high Sierras.  Don’t miss it.

Lake Tahoe

it is quite a site to come over the mountain and see this sparkling jewel in the valley below.

Wicked Choppers

A few places for choppers parts & retrofits:


nice chopper sounds on the homepage Willy!!


Women build hot choppers too



Chopper City one of a kind



Chancellor's Chopper


Texas choppers at XS650


noid finished 1979 xs650 WICKED CHOICE CUSTOMS, Austin, Texas USA

Hot Bike magazine on the web


“Ride it like you stole it”