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Monday, July 7, 2014

Sunday Adventures

Resting in the shade during
a busy day of adventures

This past week was a tough one for our family, we lost our beloved Grandmother, Martha after a battle with her declining health was lost. It was also a cause to embrace family even more, and we were lucky to do so when our oldest daughter flew in from Texas to spend a few days with us and help us celebrate the Fourth of July holiday weekend as well as have an early celebration for my husbands upcoming 50th and my 48th birthday(s). We decided to celebrate life, having a close knit family as well as the birth of the country. But once the birthday cupcakes were eaten, and the smoke had settled from the fireworks it was a question as to what to do next. So of course the answer was a daycation adventure!!! So then the question was where to this time?? The answer was Calaveras County and go explore another cavern! So with only a couple left that we had not already visited, we landed on Moaning Caverns

Moaning Caverns, so named for the sound that the first people who discovered it that sounded like a distant moaning sound when drops of water dropped into the wholes withing some flowstone located in the small town of Vallecito Ca, just outside of Murphy's ( some of you may recall a couple of years ago a visit to Murphys and Calaveras Big Trees State Park and the blog that I did about our trip there.. if not you can look under the labels section and find the blog there) , it is a great place to have a full days worth of adventures if you choose too, with everything from the actual decent of over 200 stairs ( or repelling if you choose) and a 165 feet down into the heart of the cavern to zip lining and panning for gold, you can even sit and have a freshly cooked hot dog while enjoying the surrounding scenery there in the heart of gold country. We choose, or should I say "I" choose to use the stairs and the family did not have a choice. I was ready for a good work out and with all those stairs down and a few more than the 235 up, I was sure to get one. 

After so many caves/caverns, I did not think I could learn any more interesting facts to share with you here, but I did just that! So here they go... First off, did you know you have no depth perception when you are in the caverns. Formations seem so small, or at least not as big as they actually are, and also seem closer, and yet they are actually far bigger and further away than what they seem. No animals live in the bulk of the caverns that we have visited that I have shared with you. Not even bugs! Most of the caverns I have shared with you have absolutely no gold, even tho they are in gold country. I could go on and on... Ok, nope, I can't .. I lied, cause with descending a 100 foot hand forged iron spiral staircase that made me more than a little dizzy, as we made our way down, and a very short memory for facts and not having the luxury to take notes, I picked up a few key facts to share with you, but you can read all the rest HERE.  It will do a better job of educating you on what is in caverns in general and all sorts of great stuff about Moaning Caverns.  Of course I have shared things about stalagmites and stalactites in previous blogs. So now without further wait, here are a few photos.....

Our very informative guide.. boy she must get a workout
doing this tour all day! 

Some of the many bones found inside the Cavern, the guide said was one of a young girl and that all of  the bones are about 13,000 years old! How did they get there?? Well from falling, having taken the "7 second" tour, which we were warned could happen to us without proper safety  precautions.  

The size of the actual cavern, we stopped at 165 feet down.

100 feet of steps down and then back up....
but so worth it! 

A few visual highlights...

The "Chocolate Waterfall" ... actual color is from Iron deposits..
it goes all the way from the opening to the bottom of the stair case we
took down. 

Flowstone formation, color comes from Calcite sheet like deposits. 

This formation had many nick names, so many that I forgot what kind it
actually was. I know I am a bad tour guide! Anyway, what stood out was that it is
over the size of a 2 story house and yet seemed not as tall as even
a one story when we stood there and gazed upon it! 

After going down, one must go back up...
after the 100 feet climb of the spiral staircase,
there is the ladder like stairs. No worries,
you can pause, and there are a couple of landings.

Stopping to rest and take a couple photos as well.
Oldest, Chanda in the back, and middle Rebecca...
our youngest was unable to join us. 

Time for one including hubby Robert.

After our adventure through the cave it was time to refuel! With Murphys Ca, being just a few minutes away we decided to stop there for lunch before deciding what to do next. I have as I said done a blog on Murphys and plan to go back and visit a few more wineries that are located in this charming town, so I shall not go too in depth about our time there, but wanted to share a few snap shots with you before moving onto the second half of our adventure. Oh YES there is MORE! Maybe YOU should grab a bite to eat too!  

We had a lovely stroll through the town, listening to an elderly gentleman playing a trumpet outside a cafe, enjoyed a bit of time in the park and of course we found a great little place to eat, V Bistro and Bar, a little place tucked in away from the main street of town, but with really great food. I just had to give it an honorable mention. Next time we just might eat there again and I will remember to take pics of the actual food.. but trust me we were so hungry, there was no time for photos! My husband and oldest dined on Sunday brunch offerings of French Toast , that included 3 Slices of French croissant in a cinnamon vanilla batter, whiskey anglaise and of course maple syrup .. I had a nibble and it was so yummy! My middle daughter and myself shared, I was trying to watch my diet even with all those stairs, we dined on the Croque Madam, which in this version was grilled Prosciutto and Gruyere cheese on sourdough with Mornay cheese sauce, country potatoes.. which were cooked to a crispy perfection! 

Not where we ate, but the flagship landmark beauty of the town of Murphys.
The food sounded very yummy, but we were looking for a bit something different. 

Part Two....

So the day not even really half over we had to decide what to do next. Three of us would have settled on simply wine tasting, but our oldest daughter is not into wine and it was her vacation so we left it up to her, Big Trees or the Railtown 1897 State Park, of which none of us had been to the latter, and thus it was decided upon to make the 40 minute drive from Murphys to Jamestown Ca. in  Tuolumne County, here in California. To quote the official details of what the state park actually is, as they can put it far better than myself, " Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and historic trains preserved there have starred in over 200 feature films, television shows and commercials. the historic Jamestown shops and Roundhouse complex is one of the last of it's kind in America....." I adore trains, riding, watching, learning about them, there is nothing I don't like about trains, and after visiting the Sacramento Railroad Museum, of which I did a blog about as well, I had always wanted to make the trip up into gold country and more so when I found out you can take a train ride. This day we were VERY lucky and they were running the engine on steam, something that only happens on occasion from what I understand. We arrived just in time for a potty break, and to buy our tickets and get aboard the historic train lead by engine 3 and make the 45 minute round trip from Jamestown to the Rock Quarry and back.... and after get the free tour of the historic Roundhouse.  For this second half of the day we took a combo of both *videos and photos to give you just a little taste of what it was like... it would take three or more blogs to share everything we saw!

All Aboard!!!

Always good to see a smile on my girls face,
here Rebecca gives me a good one. 

"Tickets please?"

This water tower helps replenish the steam engines and was also used
in the filming of Petticoat Junction....anyone remember that show from
the 1960's ? It was a favorite of mine ( in reruns).

Engineer Stephanie, one of the very few
women engineers in the country!  Or ever!
Especially of steam trains.

When it was time to go back, Engine 3 uncouples from
the front and gets switched on the tracks to go past us
sitting on the train, then switched again to recouple at the
other end and take us back.

Whistle blowing and steam pumping,
we are on our way back. 

Time for a tour of the Roundhouse. 

Just one of the historic train engines housed at the park.

Docents help add to the experience,
from information, to stories. 

It takes more than just one size tool
to do the job when caring for a train. 

Taking a moment for a photo op.

Underneath it all...
what an engine looks like without the insulating

Explaining how the bolts work and
sharing his own personal stories.

What train travel used to look like. 

Car or train ? How about both? 

Part Ford, part train, this would be often used for VIP's
back in the day to go out and inspect the tracks. 

*Well I wanted to share videos with you all, but sadly blogger is having some glitches... if you would like to see the train videos, and follow my fan page on facebook, I will be posting them there. if you do not follow me there, I certainly hope that you will, or if you would like me to send them to you, leave a comment with an email or email me from my profile and I will be happy to send them to you. 

All photos taken by Chanda Feldman-Grivas 

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