Sacramento, Rio Vista & Chico

March 30-April 3, 2000

We went looking for adventure … and we found it! Leaving Eugene on I-5, we stopped for coffee and goodies at a rest stop near Grants Pass before picking up Betty Haralson at Medford. Arriving at Castle Crags State Park it was a little discouraging to read the warnings about rattlesnakes and poison oak. We continued on to a campground close to Shasta Lake and had lunch. We spent the night at the Red Bluff Inn and had dinner at the Elks Club nearby. The weather was perfect and the drive through the Siskiyous gorgeous, with snow-covered Mt. Shasta very visible.

We continued on I-5 and arrived at Old Town Sacramento Railroad Museum about 10:30. One huge engine is named the “Baldwin” Ewart was quick to point out. We had lunch on the lower deck of the Delta King, and then left for Coloma and the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. This is the mine where James Marshall started the 1948 California Gold Rush; he died penniless. We were given a tour by a docent in costume. Our lodging was the Day’s Inn-Discovery Park for two nights.

Saturday morning we left for the Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista. On the way there we discovered the Jelly Bean factory, so stopped for a visit. We were greeted at the Western Railway Museum by a conductor, also in costume. The train trip took us west and south, passing many sheep and new-born lambs, an historic church and views of Mt. Diablo. We drove back to Sacramento Old Town; the weather had turned quite warm, about 85 degrees. We were to be on the Matthew McKinley for our 5:00 Sunset dinner cruise, and this is where our adventure began. Our buffet was opened up and some of us were filling our plates when the waiter “ordered” us to sit down. All that could be seen was the cement wall of the bridge — the boat had lost power and it looked like we would hit sideways! But the captain was able to drop anchor and steady the boat. We floated into the tunnel underneath the bridge, and there was quite a bit of confusion. Ewart said now was the time to sing “Nearer my God to Thee”. One waiter said it was a good thing we had our bus driver along and I guess he meant we all should go down with the ship. In a few minutes we were told there was no danger (?), so we continued with our dinner. Soon there were fireboats, Coast Guard and Police boats, pleasure boats, people lining the deck up above and TV cameras flashing. They had trouble figuring out how to get us off the boat, and when we did there were news and TV people waiting to interview our group (Lenore was interviewed). The incident was in the news for several days.

We left Sacramento on Sunday and drove up Hwy. 49 through Auburn, Nevada City and Grass Valley with our morning break at the Empire State Mine Historic Park (which we will have to explore later). We continued on to Oroville and then toured the Chinese Temple, garden and display, all depicting the colorful past of Oroville’s Chinese population. We drove to Chico and Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park and toured the completely restored home of General John Bidwell and his wife; he became rich as a gold miner but later turned to his love of farming. We drove to the Holiday Inn, and returned home on Monday, stopping at Medford for lunch after dropping off Betty Harralson.

Thanks to our good-humored driver Larry Edwards, and to all the other adventurers who included Ethel Allen, Ewart Baldwin, Mary & Richard Bentsen, John & Marian Borchardt, Billie Brown, Judy Dobell, Doral & Rose Marie Etter, Betty Haralson, Dora Harris, Barbara Hasek, Ray Jensen, Dodie Leppmann, John & Lenore McManigal Barbara & Walt Miller, Lois Nelson, Frances Newsom, June Smith, Vera Woolley and leaders Bette Hack & Liz Reanier.

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