Walking In The Footsteps Of Giants

About a week ago my wife and I took a road trip out to Northern California.  We stayed in the town of Angels Camp.  It’s a small town that once was at the center of the Gold Rush.  My interest in history, particularly the 1860-80s is what drew me here along with our mutual love for the outdoors, (there’s giant sequias nearbye in a state park.)   The fact that Angels Camp was at its peak back in the 1860-80’s was exciting but most of all was the fact that Mark Twain once spent 88 days nearbye in a cabin on Jackass Hill.  Its here where he drew inspiration for his famous story ‘The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’ which made him a household name.  Not too far from where we stayed in Angel’s Camp was a marker which stated Mark Twain’s cabin.  We took a gravel road uphill to it, and found it sitting just off the road.

Although you can’t go inside, its surrounded by a fence, and it’s actually a restored/rebuilt cabin (the original deteriorated over time) it was still awesome to know that this is where he lived and that the area/people were an inspiration to him not just for the one story but for a life time. 

The whole town of Angels Camp prominently reflects Twain’s influence and time spent there.  Numerous schools and medical centers are named after him.  As well as there are numerous frog sculptures throughout the town.  In fact the frog jumping contest still continues to this day during their county fair in May.  I believe its been going on since 1923.

We also went to the town of Columbia, part of which is a restored gold mining town.  IT was pretty awesome to see all the old buildings as they appeared back in the day, and see the various exhibits.  It was also neat that the folks working in the various shops dressed the part of the era.  The fact that the saloon was still a saloon and the theater still a theater and etc was nice to see.  Rather then puttting a Starbucks in there, or a McDonalds.  We even got to take a stagecoach ride while in Columbia which was pretty awesome.  Loud, bumpy and dusty.  Definetly fun.

We also ended up going out to San Francisco.  Along with other stops we went over to City Lights Bookstore and Publisher.  If know anything about the Beats, (Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg, etc) you’ll know that City Lights is the mecca of the Beats movement/culture.  It awe inspiring to set foot in it, considering the history of the giants of the Beats that once gathered there.  When I was in college the Beats had a big influence on me.  Perhaps not in subject matter but in their passion for the written word and for Art in general.  Their perspective on life was very relatable, and their drive for creative expression was too. 

Overall, the vacation was a lot of fun.  It was great to spend time in a small town with a lot of history and a sense of tranquility you don’t find everywhere.  I liked the fact that we generally didn’t see a lot of other people, it wasn’t overly touristy in general. 


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