Issue 284 — Our Trip to California

Issue 284    —    The Paregien Journal    —    June 13, 2014

Our Trip to California

by Stan Paregien Sr.

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Peggy and I flew west on Monday, May 12, 2014. We flew from Tampa, Florida to Houston, where we stopped but did not get off. We continued on to Los Angels International, where we did change planes. For about two hours we got to watch the crowded zoo of late/early/stranded passengers milling around. We got on our plane, okay, and continued on to Sacramento.

We arrived at Ione, California (35ish miles southeast of Sacramento) about 3 pm. We got to visit with my only sibling, my sister Roberta P. Fournier, who is two years younger than I. A heavy smoker for most of her life, she had to give the cancer sticks up when she found it harder and harder to breathe, even being on oxygen 24-hours per day. She has come close to dying several times since about 2007, so we feel that each day is a real bonus day for her.

Roberta, known better to me as “Bert” or “Berta,” lives with her younger son, Brad Loffswold, and his family. She is basically confined to the house, except for an occasional mandatory visit to one of her doctors and a rare trip out to a restaurant or such. On those occasions, she has to be pushed in a wheel chair as any walking quickly saps her energy and breath. So she depends a lot on her computer as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family. But there are days, due to rheumatoid arthritis in her fingers, when she is in too much pain to even use the keyboard.

After Brad’s family arrived, we loaded up in two cars and drove to the old gold-mining town of Jackson. It is at the base of the Sierra Nevadas and the terrain always reminds me of those scenes in the TV western “Big Valley,” with rolling hills and lush open range and lots of big oak trees. This time, though, the lack of rain had parched the grass and made prime material for a fire. Roberta and her late husband, Norm Fournier, ran a used record shop (and fan store) on Main Street in Jackson for many years. Even yet, you can ask her anything about records from 1940 to 1975 or so and she can recite book, chapter and verse about it. With me, though, when I hear one of those songs about all I can say is, “Gee, that song by whoever it is kinda sounds familiar, maybe.”

Anyway, we ate supper at “Mel’s Diner” in Jackson. We have eaten there several times in the past. Whether breakfast (which they serve all day), lunch or dinner, they set a fine meal with excellent service. I’m sorry, but when I go there I keep waiting for ol’ Flo (the waitress in the very old TV comedy, “Mel’s Diner”) to strut through the door, yelling back at Mel in the kitchen, “Well, just kiss my grits!!” Ah, that was my kind of sophistical humor and I miss it.

Roberta wanted to go to Mel’s Diner for one particular menu item: a great big chocolate sundae. If I’m lyin,’ I’m dyin’. She and our late mom often went to the local Indian casino for their terrific buffet. And the two of them always started at the important end: the desert bar. So tonight the sundae was her meal. And, what the hey, I was glad to see her enjoy it so much.

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Peggy and I usually stay up in the foothills at the Sutter Creek Days Inn in Sutter Creek, Calif. They have a decent continental breakfast, the staff are always helpful and the rooms clean and the environment quiet. The only drawbacks to that arrangement are the rooms do not have microwaves and no pool . . . and not even a single computer for guests. It is a very small former gold-mining town, but they draw lots and lots of tourists–especially on the weekends and holidays. And the roads in most of the area are narrow, winding and up and down the hills–so it is easy to get locked behind any slow driver.

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One of a half-dozen or so stone carvings in a car-sized plot of land on the south end of town.

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The above building was the Western terminus of the famous, but short-lived, pony express which carried mail between St. Joseph, Missouri and Sacrament, California in what was in that day a record quick time.

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Well, friends, that’s a wrap for this post. Hope you enjoyed the photos.

Oh, hey, one more thing: I am now juggling three different blogs. This one, “The Paregien Journal,” plus my “Stan’s Paradise Report” about live in Florida, plus my newly resurrected blog, “The Cowboy Way: Then and Now.” That third one will feature stories, poems and photos about the Old West and the New West and the people in each. I just posted information about and dozens of photos of the 1987 convention of the Western Writers of America. You may see photos there of your favorite Western historian or novelist.

So when you finish this blog, I invite you to mosey over to the others to see what is new.

–Stan

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