After a fun food & wine filled weekend at the 22nd ANNUAL LAKE TAHOE AUTUMN FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL, our plan was to explore California’s Mother Lode. It was a gorgeous two-hour drive from Tahoe, and we only got lost twice (a new record) enroute to our final destination: Sutter Creek.
Although there are dozens of historic small towns to choose from, we selected S.C. because the brochures touted it as “the nicest town in the Mother Lode” and Sutter Creek, population 2,500, really did have 2,499 of the nicest, happiest, most hospitable people living there.
Everyone (except one crotchety restaurant owner-don’t know what his prob was) enthusiastically weighed in on where to eat, what to see, graciously supplying us with maps & directions (they don’t trust Mapquest) and even the Vice-Mayor stopped by to welcome us. As you walk the quaint town, with its many handsome old buildings and shady verandas, popping in and out of the antique stores, theaters, galleries and restaurants, it’s easy to imagine miners lining up to buy picks and shovels hoping to strike it rich.
But to really learn about mining, plan on taking the highly educational, highly entertaining one-hour tour of the Sutter Gold Mine. You’ll be given a hardhat as you board the tractor that takes you 1,850 feet into the mine. Charlie, our grizzled guide and a real miner, regaled us with fascinating anecdotes and amusing stories. (Did you know that miners used to sneak gold nuggets out of the mines by sticking them under their long beards with honey, or that many miners are deathly afraid of heights? Charlie refuses to fly!) By the end of our tour we were able to detect “Fools Gold” from the real stuff.
There was many B & Bs to choose from; however, after a long day of mining, we wanted to be sure of a good hard bed and plenty of hot water so we made reservations at Days Inn Sutter Creek where “lasting memories every time you visit” it’s not only their motto but a way of life, and I’ll be danged if it ain’t the truth.
We were pleasantly surprised with the up-to-date amenities, efficient service, and unique country hospitality. It was brand-spanking clean, nice and quiet, with super comfy beds, (we all had a perfect sleep) waking up to a very generous complimentary continental breakfast!
I’m definitely staying here when I return next June for Black Bart Days (which take you back 124 years–to June 23, 1883,) when the whole town partakes in historic re-enactments of Black Bart’s last successful stage coach robbery — and there’s talk of combining it this year with their famous chili cooking contest!