Tag Archives: California

Do You Grow?

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It was in the last days of my second season as a camp host when I went to the group campground to check in the astronomy club staying there for the weekend. When I asked around, I was told the person who’d made the reservation had not yet arrived. A nice guy in my age group offered to sign the permit, so I wrote down his address and other pertinent information.

I meant to give him a fire permit too, so using their camp stoves would be legal, but I realized hours later that I’d forgotten to do so.

The next morning when I went back to the group campground, I had the fire permit ready for the same guy to sign. I’d simply copied the man’s address from the camping permit onto the fire permit. When I found the man and asked him to sign the permit, he jokingly asked if I’d memorized his address.

I explained I’d copied his address from the camping permit. Then he asked if I planned to visit.

I began to wonder if the man was flirting with me. Men never flirt with me, so I’m not sure I could recognize flirting if it actually happened. His being in my age group made flirting more probable, but I decided he was just being friendly.

I told him I couldn’t visit because I didn’t even know where his town was.

It’s in Santa Cruz County, he told me. We have a big organic farm. You could park your van on our farm.

(I don’t know exactly who the other people included in his “we” were.)

I made a bland comment about it must be nice to live on a farm. Then I  said, Do you grow…?

I meant to end the sentence with something clever, but nothing clever came to mind. (That’s what I get for I opening my mouth with no plan on how to end what I’ve already started to say.) Instead of ending the sentence with something at least reasonable, if not clever (beets? pumpkins?) I simply let the sentence hang there unfinished.

Then I realized, Santa Cruz County and Do you grow? when taken together have a definite marijuana connotation. What if he thought I was asking if they grew weed on the organic farm?

I’d never ask a stranger if he grew pot. It seems like a rude question, even in California, seeing how marijuana is federally illegal and all. It’s none of my business if someone is growing weed. It’s safer for everyone to keep marijuana cultivation on a need to know basis, and I don’t need to know!

I’m not sure if the man recognized my awkwardness. He started talking about the zucchini he and whoever else lives on the farm grows. He told me all about the big, big zucchini.

Any flirting that may have been going on was entirely incompetent.

 

The Grand Theatre (Tracy, CA)

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When I was out walking the self-guided tour of the historic buildings of downtown Tracy, CA, the coolest place I saw was the Grand Theatre.

img_7412According to the walking tour brochure,

The Grand Theatre was built in 1923 by German born John Droge to present vaudeville acts and then-silent motion pictures. The first “talkies” were show in 1929. Remodeled in 1940 in an Art Deco style, the movie house continued until 1977. In 2007 the city restored the theater complex and it was reopened as The Grand Theatre Center for the Arts.

According to the theatre’s website (http://atthegrand.org/AboutUs),

The classical Grand Theatre, designed by architect Albert W. Cornelius, opened on August 11, 1923 as a premiere vaudeville half-house in the area.

The facility received a major remodel during its heyday between 1939 and 1941 (under the Allen’s ownership), garnered with bold new art deco features including a sculptural marquee designed by Alexander Cantin and futuristic mural by Anthony (Antoon) Heinsbergen. Between the mid-40’s and 1977, it functioned as an eclectic movie house with occasional live performances.

This municipal interdisciplinary arts center is the only one of its kind in the state of California offering professional and community-based fine arts programming through arts education, exhibitions, performances and rentals of all kinds, in a single complex, and is one of only small network of similar facilities in America.

The 37,000+ square foot facility opened in September of 2007, hosts 50,000 patrons a year and is currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary Season. The Center is owned and operated by the City of Tracy and managed by the Cultural Arts Division in the City Manager’s Office.

img_7400I went inside to have a look around, and was surprised to find free Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) activities underway. I grabbed a free piece of pan dulce and exited the building.

There were some cool murals on the theatre’s 7th Street wall. They caught my attention, and I stopped to give them a good look.

The murals are part of the Tracy Mural Project. According to the project’s website (http://atthegrand.org/TracyMuralProject),

The Downtown Tracy Mural Project began in the summer of 2015 in conjunction with the Tracy Artwalk.  The Project invites local and regional artists to create murals and street art at 7th Street and in Jackson Alley on the walls of the Grand.  This innovative project features temporary murals owned by the City of Tracy. They remain on display from weeks to years, rotating as new works are presented.  The public appreciation of these projects has led to futhur interest to create murals at other locations in downtown Tracy.img_7397

Several themes have been explored in a variety of media, ranging from spray paint to wheatpaste, energizing the streetscape and celebrating the arts in our community.  We are open to any ideas which add interest and excitement to the downtown district!

I really liked the robots decorating the wall during my visit.

I also liked the mural featuring the wolf and the crow. The mural was painted by Ilena Finocchi. According to Finocchi’s website (http://www.ilenaf.com/ilenaf.com/Pub_Art/Pages/Tracy_CA_Mural.html),

In nature, the wolf and the crow can be frequently found in each other’s company. They have been linked together in play and in foraging for food. The crows fly ahead of the wolf pack to locate food, and the grateful wolves leave behind food for the crows. This symbiotic relationship between the two species is mutually beneficial.

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    In developing the Grand, citizens and civic leaders looked more than a decade into the future to see the community’s needs and goals. They, much like the crow, flew years ahead and decided that reviving the arts at the Grand was the cultural nourishment that Tracy needed. They raised money and awareness to rebuild and reopen the Grand as the creative hub for the City of Tracy. The wolves soon followed and the Grand reopened with support of the community.

    Since opening, there have been many hard working crow-like staff members who have had the foresight to keep the Grand evolving with the changing needs of the wolf-like hungry community. The mural is a way for me as an artist to assume the role of the crow and through the art let the community know about the dedication and hard work of the staff at the Grand. The Grand has become a positive and powerful force in the community, not only in participation in the arts, but also as a cultural jewel to draw new businesses and corporations into town.

    The mural is a celebration of the long road of hard work and the driving force of the arts and its positive impact on the community.

The other cool mural is “Planet of the Apes” Kenney Mencher.

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According to the Tracy Press (http://www.goldenstatenewspapers.com/tracy_press/news/more-music-murals-for-artwalk/article_2350e088-2e8a-11e6-94fe-e3e964b2ff82.html),

Mencher, who is the Grand’s artist in residence this summer [2016], will create a streetscape with a “Planet of the Apes” theme on Seventh Street. Wilson said the piece will provide a photo opportunity for visitors to pose on a bench with the mural wrapping around them.

From what I surmise, Mencher painted the robots too.

The Tracy Press also reported in the aforementioned article,

The murals are designed to be temporary projects, lasting from a few weeks to a few years.

I’ve grown to think of murals (especially murals approved by a municipality) as permanent. As the Merry Pranksters proclaimed, art is not eternal. Apparently the murals in Tracy prove this idea to be true.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

Tracy Historical Museum and Downtown Walking Tour

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I was house sitting in Tracy, CA,  staying with two adorable little dogs and working on my book. Other than two daily thirty minute walks with the pups, I mostly stayed indoors. After five or six days in the house, I decided I had to get out and do something different.

img_7363I’d checked out the things to do in Tracy before I rolled into town, and there wasn’t much on the list. However, I did see there was a historical museum in the town, and admission was free. Score! I headed to the Tracy Historical Museum (1141 Adam Street) on my day out.

The museum is housed in a building that was originally a post office. Built in 1937, the building became a rec center in 1967. The museum took over the space in 2003.

The museum is very clean, bright, and well organized. The img_7365information given is easy to read. The long, narrow room on the left houses display cases on either wall. The artifacts in those cases are described adequately; I felt I was able to really understand what I was looking at and its context within the area’s history. When I explored the main room in the middle of the museum, well, not so much.

In the middle room, artifacts were grouped in sort of vignettes. There was a kitchen vignette complete with life-size housewife mannequin, a mannequin dressed in a nightgown and sleeping cap, and a child-seize mannequin dressed all in white. (Was the child mannequin wearing a nightgown? A baptismal gown?) There was also a “farming” vignette, showing implements for working the land from back in the day. 

My problem with these vignettes is that various items from various time periods are displayed with little explanation of what they are, what they were used for, or what time period they were used in. For example, the caption for a photo of the kitchen vignette from the museum’s brochure reads,

img_7372Kitchen display of household goods from the late 19th–early 20th century, among period photographs, artifacts and memorabilia from Tracy’s railroad and farming heydays.

Although “late 19th–early 20th century” narrows things down a bit, it’s still a little broad. There’s no indication if a cup from 1873 is sitting next to a plate from 1913. Also, items seem to be displayed willy-nilly. Why is there a rolling pin on a table that otherwise appears to be set for a meal? What are those items jumbled on the shelves beyond the table?

What’s the difference between an old “household good” and an “artifact”? Doesn’t throwing (or even placing carefully) household goods, photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia all in one display make for quite a hodgepodge? The Tracy museum seems to be working under the false assumption that every old item it  owns must be displayed at all times, whether or not it can help tell the story of the town’s history.

img_7374Past the kitchen display is a small display of old dolls. Creepy! Especially creepy was the life size (“five foot”) doll sitting in a rocking chair. There were explanatory notes with this doll. The notes are in the photos, and I was able to zoom in and read them. The doll’s name is Leila. She is named after Leila Smith whose “1880 dress” she is wearing. The doll was made in the late 1980s, which means she’s younger than I am. The wicker chair the doll is sitting in “was donated by the Cordes family,” but no indication is given as to who the Cordes family is, why they might be important, how old the chair is, or why it might be historically significant. img_7373

My favorite items in the museum are in a back room. In addition to an old bank vault and other office equipment, several antique typewriters are on display. The typewriters look to be in good condition, and it seems as if a modern writer could  sit down in front of one of them and churn out the Great American Novel.

img_7371In the museum, I found a brochure for “Historic Downtown Tracy.” The brochure includes a map and information about “the Historic Buildings of Downtown Tracy.” I like self-guided (translation: free) walking tours, so I decided to follow the route in the brochure.

According to the brochure, Tracy was founded on September 8, 1878 and was incorporated in 1910.

In the 1870s, the Central Pacific Railroad…moved its operations from the Ellis coaling station at the foot of the Altamont hills, three miles eat to the junction with the rail line from Martinez…Tracy was…built around the intersecting railroad tracks…

img_7416I walked the tour in reverse of the layout in the guide because I started walking from the museum instead of driving to the starting point on E. 6th Street and beginning there. The first historic building I saw was the Tracy Inn. The brochure says,

When the transcontinental Lincoln Highway was routed through Tracy along 11th Street, the Tracy Inn was built to capture the trade of motorists.

The Tracy Inn was designed in the California Mission Style and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

After walking several block on Central Avenue, and passing the Grand Theatre (which will get a post all its own),I turned down 7th Street to img_7393see the old city Hall and Jail, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places. The brochure says,

This uniquely designed building housed the courthouse and city hall from 1900 until 1917  and the jail until 1940. Those arrested were held in two jail cells and faced the judge in the single room courthouse for sentencing. More serious criminal cases were sent to the county seat in Stockton.

No indication is given as to what exactly is unique about the design of this building.

img_7402After another walking another block on Central Avenue, I turned down 6th Street and followed it down to stand in front of the building which originally housed the West Side Bank. This building is also on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the brochure,

Abe Grunauer, a leading merchant, landowner and Tracy’s first Mayor, started the West Side Bank in 1910. The Neo-classical Revival architecture features Corinthian pillars, an arched entrance with a copper door frame and a blue limestone facade.

I wouldn’t say I had a bad time at the Tracy Historical Museum or on the walking tour of the historic buildings of downtown Tracy. However, I wouldn’t say I had a lot of fun either. I kind of felt as if I were on an assignment for a class. I suppose someone really interested in California history would enjoy such an excursion a lot more than I did.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

The Stagg Tree

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According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_giant_sequoias, the Stagg Tree is the fifth largest giant sequoia in the world. It is the largest giant sequoia in the Sequoia National Monument within the Sequoia National Forest, and the largest giant sequoia outside the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

img_6582The tree’s Wikipedia entry [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stagg_(tree)] says the Stagg Tree is located

in Alder Creek Grove in California‘s Sierra Nevada mountains.

The tree is NOT in Deer Creek Grove, as was stated on another website I looked at. (I have visited both the Stagg Tree and Deer Creek Grove, and they are nowhere near each other. They are over 40 miles apart!)

According to the tree’s Wikipedia page, the tree was first called the Day Tree, presumably in honor of “L. Day” who

noticed the tree in 1931 and, with help from two others, made measurements of it in 1932.

In 1960 the tree was renamed in honor of

Amos Alonzo Stagg (1862-1965), a pioneering football coach at the University of Chicago who spent much of the last several decades of his life coaching in Stockton in the nearby San Joaquin Valley.

The Wikipedia page also says img_6584

Wendell Flint, the author (with photographer Mike Law) of To Find the Biggest Tree, measured it in 1977 as follows:

Metres Feet
Height above base 74.1 243.0
Circumference at ground 33.3 109.0
Diameter 1.5 m above base 7.05 22.9
Diameter 18 m (60′) above base 5.6 18.2
Diameter 55 m (180′) above base 3.8 12.5
Estimated bole volume (m³.ft³) 1,205.0 42,557.0

Presumably the tree has grown in the last forty years and is even larger than these statistics indicate.

The Stagg Tree grows on private land, but when I visited in the summer of 2016, the tree was accessible to the public.

The tree can be reached from Highway 190, which passes through Camp Nelson, CA and on to the small community of Ponderosa. (Another website I looked at says some navigation systems suggest accessing the tree by turning onto Wishon Drive [County Road 208] toward Camp Wishon. Apparently the road suggested is unpaved and closed in winter. This route is probably not a good idea for most cars.)

From Highway 190, turn onto Redwood Drive. (Redwood Drive is only on one side of the road, so you don’t need to know if you are turning left of right. Simply turn onto the road, which Google Maps also labels as 216.) When you get to the first fork in the road, stay left. At the second fork in the road, stay right to stay on Redwood Drive. At the third fork, stay left to stay on Redwood Drive. (If you take the right fork, you will be on Chinquapin Drive and you will be lost! If you do get lost, ask anyone walking around how to get to the Stagg Tree. The locals know how to get there.) I believe there is a sign pointing in the direction of the Stagg Tree at img_6598the last fork in the road.

If I remember correctly, the pavement ends before the parking area. Keep driving on the dirt road until you img_6597see the sign that says you’ve reached the parking area for the Stagg Tree hike. After you’ve parked, you have to cross a gate to start the hike to the tree. The gate may be closed and locked, but unless new signs say otherwise, it is ok to cross the gate on foot and walk to the Stagg Tree.

There are several signs along the path marking the way to the Stagg Tree.

The walk to the tree is fairly easy. It is not wheelchair or stroller accessible, but healthy folks with no mobility issues should be able to get there and back with no problem. The path is fairly flat until the last fork to the left . The path that branches off from the last fork is a bit steep (downhill to get to the tree, and uphill to get back.) Again, folks with no mobility or health issues should be able to make it to the Stagg Tree and back with a minimum of stress.

img_6587The Stagg Tree is not a heavily visited area. When I visited, I was the only person there. As I was walking toward the tree, another group was leaving, and as I left, another group was arriving, but I got the Stagg Tree all to myself for at least thirty minutes.

I’m not sure why the tree is less visited than other attractions in the area. Maybe drivers are leery of making a drive taking them so far off the main highway. Maybe most tourists who aren’t big into hiking are hesitant to go on a infrequently populated, unpaved, slightly steep trail. Maybe folks who are regular hikers think the short, easy hike to the Stagg Tree is beneath them.

In any case, I enjoyed my time alone with the Stagg Tree. It’s a great tree to visit to get away from the crowds and experience the sites and sounds of nature. Its size is quite impressive, and it’s fun to tell friends about seeing one of the largest creatures on the planet.

I took all of the photos in this post. The Stagg Tree is the giant sequoia in all of the photos.

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You Got Shoes to Wear

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Sometimes I see women in my age group who look homeless or at least very poor, and I think, That could be me. Sometimes I see women in my age group pushing overflowing shopping carts or riding bikes upon which recyclables have been fastened, and I think, That could be me. Sometimes I see women in my age group walking down the street talking to themselves (or to someone I can’t see), and I think, That could be me. I sometimes see women (in my age group or otherwise) flying a sign, and I think, That could be me.

I’m poor and I live in a van now, but I’ve been 100% homeless and there have been days when I’ve had zero money to my name. I’ve never pushed a shopping cart or tied my money-making enterprise to a bike, but I’ve walked through towns with all my earthly possessions in a ridiculously large pack strapped to my back. Sometimes I do talk aloud when no one else is around, until I catch myself doing it and close my mouth before a stranger labels me crazy. I’ve flown signs, panhandled, asked strangers for what I needed to survive. I could be those women I see because I have been their sister in poverty, a sister of the streets.

During a recent visit to San Francisco, I saw a couple of women and thought, That could be me.

I was walking down the sidewalk next to Mission Street, near the 16th Street BART station. Two women about my age were walking in front of me. Between them they were hauling a huge, red plaid, thick plastic tote bag, something probably designed to transport laundry into and out of the washateria. I didn’t see what was in the bag. I really wasn’t paying much attention to the women, even though they were yelling at each other. Then I looked over and noticed the woman on the left was wearing socks but no shoes. It startled me more than if she’d been barefoot.

Walking on a dirty city sidewalk in socks with no shoes really said living on the margins to me. Had she lost her shoes? How? Had they been stolen? Did she not have the few bucks to go into one of the several thrift stores on Mission Street and get a pair of shoes? Did she own shoes but for some reason I can’t fathom chose to only wear socks?

I could have asked her; she was right in front of me, but I didn’t want to be nosy. Her footwear (or lack thereof) was none of my business after all. I didn’t want her to think I was judging her (although I guess I was). I didn’t want to offend her. And while all of those reason for not talking to her were true, I also didn’t want to admit publicly or to myself that her situation could be my situation.

I feel like I’m doing ok right now. I’ve got my van. my little comforts, my small saving to get me through to my next job, and my seven pairs of shoes (which I know is a ridiculous number for a person living in a van to own.) But I know I’m one road disaster or health crisis away from being back to having nothing. I know friends would help me if they could, but things are rough all over.

I look at these women in my age group, women living on the margins of society as I am, and I think, That could be me, not with disdain, but with a little fear. Maybe some of those women are happy, and it’s not my place to assume they’re not. If they are happy, More power to you, sisters! But when I see women who don’t seem to be doing very well holding their day-to-day living together, I remember to be grateful for the shoes on my feet (and the extras stored away), my narrow bed, the roof of my van over my head.

Thanks to Robert Hunter for the title, a line from “Here Comes Sunshine.”

 

Alien Fresh Jerky

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I don’t know exactly what this is supposed to be, some kind of alien, I guess, but it greets visitors as they approach the Alien Fresh Jerky store. The world’s tallest thermometer can be seen in the background on the left. (Read my post about the World’s Tallest Thermometer here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/17/worlds-largest-thermometer/.)

I only stopped in Baker, California because I’d read there was a penny smashing machine at the Alien Fresh Jerky store. I have a friend who collects smashed pennies (or at least she did once–I may be behind the times), so I thought I’d stop and get her a fast and cheap souvenir.

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Many huge aliens stand above the Alien Fresh Jerky parking lot.

It was a contributor to Roadside America (http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/10296) who alerted me to the possibility of smashing a penny. D. Pruiksma said on 10/10/2010,

Just across from the World’s Largest Thermometer, Alien Fresh Jerky has it all. There’s jerky, T-Shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets, strong political opinions and, of course, a place to smash a penny with one of four Alien Fresh Jerky imprints. And, let’s face it, what self respecting roadside attraction would be complete if one couldn’t smash a penny. Once they had that, they knew Alien Fresh had arrived.

Roadside America also said the store had a

self-serve, “sample” counter. Mmmm! (use the tongs).

I’m not a huge meat eater, but I did plan to try some free jerky samples.

I took some photos before I went into the store. There were lots of fake aliens at the Alien Fresh Jerky store, both inside and out. I found lots of opportunities for taking free photos of fake aliens. The store has aliens on the roof. There’s a car full of aliens in front of the store. Huge aliens stand above the parking lot. A dozen or img_7712more aliens live inside the store. Yeah, aliens galore.

There’s apparently a plan to build a UFO hotel. In 2013, the Roadside America team wrote,

The manager didn’t laugh when we asked about how the new “UFO hotel project” is going — he said that it was underway for 2013. The plan, publicized in late 2012, is to build a 3-story, saucer-shaped motel with a pool resembling an E.T.’s head. If all goes well, Baker will be promoted as the “Gateway to Area 51″…

img_7722When I stopped by the store in early December of 2016, there was no hotel onsite, UFO themed or otherwise. There were signs behind the store advertising the hotel and an empty lot beyond the signs, but no clean, comfortable (or otherwise) rooms. The vacant lot looked as if it had maybe been leveled, but no one should plan to stay at the (nonexistent) hotel any time soon.

Not only was there no hotel, when I went inside the store, I found no jerky samples and no penny smashing machine. Oh sad day!

There was a lot of jerky for sale in the store. Lots of snacks like nuts and dried fruits were also available. There were beverages for sale too. All the food and drinks seemed overpriced. I didn’t buy anything.

I did consider having the alien in the machine tell my fortune, but in the end, I decided to keep my dollar. What could a fake alien encased in plastic possibly tell me about my future?

There are fake aliens all over the store. I saw Yoda, as well as at least a dozen of the dudes with big heads.img_7727

The Alien Fresh Jerky store is a must-see spot for fans of aliens, but I probably won’t stop there again. I don’t need to see another fake alien because I saw enough fake aliens in this one convenient location to last a lifetime.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

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The driver alien turns its head.  Yowza!

The Frogs of Calaveras County

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These frogs live in front of one of the stores in Murphys Main Street business district.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Mark Twain. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read anything substantial written by him. Sure, I’ve seen quotes by Mark Twain (although I can’t think of one), but I don’t recall reading any of his novels or even a short story. (In 10th grade English class, the kids with overprotective, over-Christian parents read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or maybe The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. My mother signed the permission slip, so I got to read Brave New World instead.)

I know Twain is supposed to be funny, with a biting wit, but I’ve never been able to get into his writing. I think my my enjoyment is blocked by his Victorian Era syntax and word choice. Reading Twain’s writing feels too much like schoolwork to me.

In any case, when I went to California and first heard someone reference Calaveras County and frogs, I had only a glimmer of what it the speaker might mean.

I’ve learned a couple of things since then.

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This frog lives in front of one of the stores in Murphys Main Street business district.

The title in question is “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Celebrated_Jumping_Frog_of_Calaveras_County), it

is an 1865 short story by Mark Twain. It was his first great success as a writer and brought him national attention.

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches is also the title story of an img_75811867 collection of short stories by Mark Twain. It was Twain’s first book and collected 27 stories that were previously published in magazines and newspapers.[1]

It turns out that Calaveras County is a real place. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calaveras_County,_California) says,

the County of Calaveras, is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 45,578.[3] The county seat is San Andreas,[4] and Angels Camp is the only incorporated city. Calaveras is the Spanish word for skulls; the county was reportedly named for the remains of Native Americans discovered by the Spanish explorer Captain Gabriel Moraga.

Calaveras County is in both the Gold Country and High Sierra regions of California.

I was excited when I got a house sitting gig outside of Murphys, CA. You guessed it! Murphys is in Calaveras County.

Murphys is proud of the county’s famous frogs, even though Twain’s story is set down the road in Angels Camp. Mark Twain lived in Murphys for a spell, which probably increases the civic pride.

Frog in front of the library

This frog lives in front of the Murphys public library.

I suppose “lived in” is a relative term. The guide on the free Saturday morning walking tour I went on explained that Mark Twain lived in Murphys for “88 days, less than three months.” I guess it would be less impressive for the town if word got out that Twain vacationed in Murphys or spent a season there.

The Murphys Historic Hotel (http://murphyshotel.com/history/) is proud to claim Twain at the top of their list of “notable guests” who stayed at the hotel “during its early years.” Apparently visitors can  view a copy of Twain’s  “original registration” signature in the hotel’s lobby, but the website is mum as to when and for how long Twain stayed there.

The town of Murphys (population 2,200) is proud of its county’s froggy heritage. I found three frog sculptures as I explored Murphys downtown. (All three are featured in this post.) However, I didn’t see any information about the artists who created the frogs.

Heck, Calaveras County is so proud of their frogs, they feature them on their recycling bins.

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I guess it helps to be known for something if a town wants to attract tourists.

I took the photos in this post.