A Week in Angels Camp Episode 6: Another New Melones Lake Hike, Mark Twain Cabin, Angels Camp Historic District

On April 17, 2021, our last full day in Angels Camp, called for another hike at New Melones Lake, a visit to downtown Angel’s Camp, and a peek at the Mark Twain Cabin.

Another New Melones Lake HikeA

We started our hike at the Tower Climb Trail, except instead of climbing we descended toward the lake, enjoying the shade from the oak, sycamore, and other trees. Yellow, lavender, and pink wildflowers joined the winter vetch in showing off their blooms.

Yellow Wildflower
Lavendar Wildflower
Pink Wildflower
Violet Wildflower
Winter Vetch
Wild Blackberry Bush

The trail continued onto the Carson Creek Trail that follows the outline of the lake in a W formation, providing us with more views of the lake.

Trail along Carson Creek
New Melones Lake View
Another New Melones Lake View

Our final transition was on Fire Access Road and here is where we needed to climb back up to where we parked, stopping in shaded sections to catch our breath.

Mark Twain Cabin, Historic Landmark No. 138

We had trouble finding the cabin at first. There were two stone bases and plaques on the side of the road as we headed south. One plaque stated the location of the cabin was only a mile ahead and the other one stated it was a ½ mile. Yet we didn’t see any cabin. It wasn’t until we came from the other direction that we realized we had to take a road off Highway 49 to get to Jackass Hill Road and the cabin.

Mark Twain Cabin

Although the cabin is a replica, it contains the original chimney and fireplace. While hiding out for 88 days as a guest of the Gillis brothers, Samuel Clemens gathered material for his famous short story “Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” and semi-autobiographical book Roughing It. I’ve heard many writers say they get their best material from exploring new locations and meeting new people. I need to read these stories again to see how Twain worked in the colorful characters he met while in Angels Camp and the surrounding area.

Robinson’s Ferry State Registered Landmark No. 276

On the way back from Mark Twain’s Cabin, we stopped at an overlook for another view of the lake. A plaque commemorates the ferry transport John W. Robinson and Stephen Mead established in 1848 for freight, animals and persons across the river. They charged 50 cents for each passenger, horse, jenny or other animal. In 1856 Harvey Wood purchased interest in the ferry and then property nearby, which was maintained by the Wood family until 1911.

Robinson Ferry Overlook

Also at the overlook is another plaque in honor of “Mr. Mother Lode” Archie D. Stevenot who was the founder of the Mother Lode Association in 1919. The Mother Lode created California’s first highway association. In 1976, the plaque mentions 100-year capsules placed on July 23, 1976 by Golden Chain Council of the Mother Lode and Grand Council of E Clampus Vitus. I’d sure like to look inside those capsules. Since I’m not likely to live until 2076, I’ll have to use my imagination to figure out what they have placed in them.

Angels Camp Historic District

Our last stop of the week was Angels Camp Historic District. Famished from our hike and search of the Mark Twain Cabin, we selected Cascabel Restaurant for a Mexican lunch. Our meals had a distinct flavor from other Mexican restaurants where we’ve eaten, but definitely enjoyable.

This town is filled with Mark Twain and “Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” references. They sure are proud of their association with the author. Like the stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, one cannot miss the plagues embedded in the sidewalk that announce the Angels Camp’s Walk of Frog Competition Winners throughout the years.

1955 Winner Thunderbolt
Modern Day Jumping Frog

As if we hadn’t walked enough already, we cruised up and down the main street, which is part of Highway 49. We noted how much narrower the road was and had driven several times the part that pinches down and runs through a residential area where houses stood right at the street edge.

Yikes! Our rig barely fit down this street

Here’s a sampling of the buildings along Main Street in Angels Camp.

Other activities in and near Angels Camp:

  • Download a walking and auto tour pamphlet from gocalaveras.com.
  • Take the walking and/or the auto tour
  • Visit Angels Camp Museum and Carriage House
  • Go spelunking at California Caverns
  • Wine taste at Prospect 2 Wine Company
  • Have a picnic at Utica Park
  • Hit a little white ball around a golf course
  • And much more

The next day, we headed home to unpack, clean up, and relax after our whirlwind week at Angels Camp exploring Highway 49. Stay tuned for our next adventure, a return to San Diego, Chula Vista to be exact.

Safe Travels

A Week at Angles Camp, California, Episode 1: Blam! “What was that?”

It had been a long twelve months hiding from the coronavirus, six months since our last adventure, and we were ready to hit the road. We selected Angels Camp RV Resort in Angels Camp, California, for our one week trial run. The morning of April 11, 2021, our excitement increased as we traveled over the Altamont Pass and through Tracy, with visions of a picnic lunch outside our rig. We transitioned onto Interstate 5.

Blam! “What was that?” I said. “Blown tire,” Jon said, more calmly than I would have expected.

He put on the emergency flashers, changed lanes, and pulled off on the narrow shoulder. Cars and semis zipped past so fast, one after the other, he couldn’t get out of the cab. I confirmed the tires on the passenger side were okay and walked around the back. I waited for a break in traffic before sticking my head around the corner to see a shredded mess clinging to the left rear trailer wheel instead of a stout tire.

It could have been worse

Fortunately, the next exit was within a quarter mile, so we limped to the off ramp and found a spot where Jon could jack up the trailer and exchange the tire. There’s never a good time or place to have a blown tire, but we felt fortunate it blew when it did. A tire problem in the middle of nowhere with no place to pull over would not have been an ideal situation. And the gas station and Subway store across the street were a comfort in case we needed something.

The tire had taken out most of the insulation above it and dug a hole out of the OSB material of the floor as well. Jon had to pull and cut away the remaining shreds so they wouldn’t tangle up in something else once we got back on the road.

Instead of our planned picnic at our RV site, a Subway sandwich had to suffice. With the tire changed, mess picked up, and tools and caution triangles stowed, we continued our drive to Angels Camp.

Office building with restrooms and showers

After hooking up to the water, electricity, and sewer, we stood outside with the remote and crossed our fingers as we extended the room slider. Thankfully, it opened fine. Then I went inside to find the floor not so fine. A hole next to the dinette exposed the ground under the trailer. Did that tire know Jon needed another project to keep him occupied?

Spilt milk? No, a hole in the floor.

Fortunately, we only had to close the slider about six or seven inches to keep any wandering critters out of the coach.

Settled in for the week and damaged accessed, Jon enjoyed his leftover Chinese dinner and a glass of beer.

Oh, what a day this has been

And a walk around the park helped him decompress.

Equipment and storage barn

A short trail wraps around a marshy area with a pond and skirts along the adjacent farm fencing.

A herd of cows and this longhorn steer populate the farm.

Moo! Munch, munch, munch.

Across the street from the RV park, stands (or should I say crumbles) the Romaggi Adobe. A restoration project started in the 1940’s never materialized. Another began in early 2000, and today it appears at a standstill. The website referred to on the posters is no longer in service.

Romaggi Adobe doesn’t look too bad from this view.

The latest news I could find was an article dated April 22, 2014, in the Calaveras Enterprise. It included a photo of a newly paved access from State Route 49, a brief description of the planned renovation, and a plea for donations. It’s sad to think the donations did not come in as planned. The building and surrounding property have historical significance related to the Gold Rush and mining enterprises.

A closer look tells a different story.
Did squirrels insert these acorns, or people intent on creating art?

The premium tent sites looked like cozy places to camp. Most of them included a driveway or generous parking area, a covered patio area with fire pit, and an equally sized area for a large family sized tent. They also come with water and electricity. With the pool nearby, it could be a pleasant place to stay even during the summer.

Premium Tent Site

We ended our walk around the park with a stop at this seating area that overlooked the RV sites.

A place to watch the sunset in the evening.
Home sweet home

Mother Nature must have known we needed a pick-me-up after our day, so she treated us to one of her beautiful sunsets.

Gold country sunset

Next up: A drive to Jackson to drop off the bad tire that suffered a tread separation, obtain a replacement, and explore the town.

Safe Travels