(This is part two of two on our trip to Gold Country.)
We arrived at Columbia State Park just as the sun was setting. We quickly found our Bed and Breakfast, The Harlan House, which was more than adorable. We had the “wine cellar” which means we had a lot of space, the whole downstairs and the back yard.
We had time to take a quick walk up to the old school house and then to the cemetery. Katie was interested in the old graves and she quickly figured out that people were buried in the cemetery that had once attended the school. Kind of heady stuff!
After dark, we walked into town for dinner where there was one! restaurant open. The one downside to a State Park run town, there’s not a lot of commercial space for after-hours eating. But the Mexican food was tasty and we had a great walk home.
After dinner, we made our way through a totally quiet, actually an empty “town” with no one there but a single cat who delighted in our attentions. While we walked home, we heard what I thought was a dog a short distance away in the dark. We adjusted the flashlights to see a small group of deer right in front of us, eating the neighbor’s plants. Wow!
The next morning, we got to town early to explore all the park exhibits before the stores opened up. Katie got to hand-dip a candle and then we decided to pose for an “old timey” photo – two kick-butt broads in mining town garb. The woman who ran the fabric store sold Katie a bonnet (that she never took off) and we got to do some gold panning. Katie actually found some gold!
But the highlight of the trip – as far as Katie was concerned – was the stagecoach ride. We went once together and then she had to do it one more time. I can’t believe how rickety a stagecoach ride actually is – I have no idea how the pioneers did it. It had to be very fatiguing.
The people in town were so great about working to be authentic and dressing the part. They provided entertainment and education. The went slowly and were very friendly. We loved the blacksmith and his shop was fascinating. We like poking around all the old buildings and the State has put together a nice little museum with a good souvenier shop.
We came home by way of Chinese Camp – a slight detour off the highway. We were looking for ghosts but mostly found abject poverty that was sobering and depressing.
If you go to Columbia – and you should – the one thing you should know is very few vendors take credit cards in town. I didn’t have enough cash and I didn’t bring a debit card to get more. It was a little stressful. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful place to move slowly, walk around, shop, eat and feel like you are living in the Gold Rush days.
Home School POV
The State of California actually has three lessons plans you can use to supplement your visit.
As for us, we did a lot of reading before our trip and along the way. But the big thing for school is I asked Katie to actually write a three page report based on some aspect of the trip. She’s completed her rough draft and we are working to get it to final. It’s interesting to see what made a last impression. Bar none, the people she met along the way had the greatest impact. Thank you Charlie!