My Weekend in Nevada County

Photo from the book Deeper Than Gold

On Friday afternoon, my family drove up to Nevada County to visit my step-mom's parents in Grass Valley. Saturday morning we drove to Empire Mine State Park for a family portrait. I had never been to Empire Mine before, but unfortunately we didn't really get a chance to look around. We took the portrait on the well-manicured grounds and walked around the gift shop. While looking at the interesting rocks and knick-knacks in the shop, I spotted some carved rock hippos, which happen to be my sister's favorite animal of all time (no doubt, pictures of the various hippos she acquired this weekend will appear on her hippo blog soon!). Surprisingly, they had a variety of different stone hippos for her to choose from. She bought a pink-colored rhodonite one.

I found some bear fetishes carved from various stones with a description about what they signify. Bears are my favorite animals. The first time I saw a bear was while hiking with my dad near the Clark Fork trail head off Highway 108. I just knew I'd see one while hiking and I kept turning around, expecting to see one behind every tree. Then on the way back, after reading on some boulders in the middle of the river, we saw a bear cub pawing a log. My dad wanted to take a picture, but I suggested we leave in case the mama arrived. The second time I saw one was in Yosemite last June after hiking Half Dome. A big brown bear was on top of a set of boulders near a campsite. Some rangers came chasing after him as he crossed the road right in front of us and bounded into the forest. The third time I saw a bear I was with my aunt, uncle and cousin in their car on some backcountry road off Highway 108. A cub ran across the road and scampered up a tree. I hope to see more bears in the future, but not too close-up!

My dad pointed out a book in the gift shop called Deeper Than Gold: A Guide to Indian Life in the Sierra Foothills by Brian Bibby, photography by Dugan Aguilar. It tells the stories of different Native American tribes who once inhabited the Sierra Foothills (some still do, of course!), along with interesting anecdotes, myths and many beautiful black and white photographs. I've read almost half the book so far, and I've learned a lot! It was interesting to read it while staying in the foothills because it describes old Native American village sites and various cultural locations that are found throughout the area, including a village that used to sit right where Nevada City's downtown area is today.

I had never heard of the Nisenan ("nish-ee-non") people, who lived in the Grass Valley area. I read a myth in the book about Bear and Deer that offered an explanation for why a particular boulder in the foothills was so tall. The rock is called Aalam, which means "the tall/long rock." The myth can be found on page 61 here. The book says Aalam can be viewed from Lime Kiln Road off Highway 49, which we passed on the way to my step-mom's parents house. We planned to visit it when we left.

After leaving Empire Mine, we drove into Nevada City for lunch. The farmers market was about wrapping up, but we had a chance to walk through it. The people in Nevada City are interesting, "granola," as my step-mom said. It's a cool little mountain town. My sister and I decided we would live there.

The Nevada City Classic was this afternoon, so all over town, storefronts had bicycles and posters for the 50th anniversary. My dad loves cycling, as you can see by this picture.

We had lunch at South Pine Cafe, which has a vegetarian-friendly menu! I ordered a vegan BLT sandwich with tofu bacon. It was delicious!

Later that day, my dad and I drove back into Nevada City and walked to the theater. My dad had read the paper that morning and had seen that past winners of the Nevada City Classic would be at a reception in the theater at 5:30. One of the names listed as a past winner was his 5th grade teacher, Mr. Bob Tetzlaff, who actually won the first and second Nevada Classics in 1961 and 1962. My dad had him as a teacher in 1965. My dad spoke with him for a bit and told him that now he loves cycling, too. It was neat that he got to say hi to him and say thanks for being an inspiring teacher and cyclist. Another acclaimed cyclist, John Howard, walked up to talk to Retzlaff as we were about to leave. My dad was classmates with the famous Fred Markham, who was mentored by Tetzlaff. How cool!

Bob Tetzlaff, left, who won the first two Tour of Nevada City Classic bicycle races, talks with race founder Charlie Allert at the inaugural race in 1961. Photo by Bob Wyckoff.

My dad with his 5th grade teacher Bob Tetzlaff

Here's are some articles about the Nevada City Classic and Bob Tetzlaff:
- Past masters of the Nevada City Classic by Brian Hamilton
- A Classic from the start by Brian Hamilton
- Nevada City Classic History
- Coverage from today's classic, including an interview with Bob Tetzlaff and John Howard

This morning after breakfast at South Pine Cafe in Grass Valley this time, we walked around downtown and ventured into an antique shop. I found a book called Place Names of the Sierra Nevada by Peter Browning, which has explanations for various place names in the area. It seemed like something interesting to read while hanging out around the cabin with my mom's family, who has visited a lot of places near Pinecrest, so I bought it.

We drove out of Grass Valley down Highway 49 and turned right at Lime Kiln Road, hoping to see the aalam rock on the side of the road. We drove two miles before turning around. We didn't see it anywhere. I just looked on GoogleMaps to try and see if I could spot it, but no such luck. And it's not mentioned anywhere on the internet. Hmm... Here's a picture of the rock from the book, taken by Dugan Aguilar.

Thanks for reading,
Happy Father's Day!

Green Gal


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