For explanation of the name of the place, see here. Otherwise, we shall ignore and move right along. This was our second visit, and the second time we had tried to reserve in the Iron Horse loop, only to be moved when that loop got closed. This time it looked like it was just for the sake of compacting campers during off season months. I did not see anything about renovations or upgrade work. They moved us to a fine site, so no complaints, it’s just a little odd we never seem to be able to camp over there.
I must say, driving Highway 4 past Copperopolis in the dark is not my favorite thing to do. That highway is a 50 mile stretch of two lanes with no marked turnouts or passing lanes. About 8 miles of it, before you get to the junction with 49, is pretty narrow and twisty, which is fine in the daylight, but not something I wanted to rush after sunset. So, to the string of cars behind me, I’m not going to apologize. I was driving at a speed that ensured I would not crash and ruin everyone’s evening, even if it might have felt frustrating for you. No one honked or did anything obnoxious, mind you. I just projected feelings onto them that may or may not have existed. But the important thing is, we arrived safely around 7.
Saturday Richard biked, following 49 to Parrots Ferry Road, then up Red Hill Road. About 2 miles of that was gravel, but he said it was a nice shortcut. I spent much longer than usual writing a report. When there is too much cell service, it’s not always a good thing. as I tend to get distracted. He didn’t get back until the late afternoon and we decided to go out to dinner in the cute little historic town of Angel’s Camp at a Mexican restaurant called, Cascabel. That was very fun! You can tell this is a town that is booming with tourists in the summer time, just by how many amenities and good restaurants there are along Main Street. There is even a movie theater. I would have totally opted to see the new “Terminator” movie, but Richard remembered that the entrance gates to the recreation area close at 9pm. That was really really lucky, because I had missed that sign completely. We would have found ourselves walking 2 miles from the kiosk to the campground, in the dark, probably complaining about how not worth it that movie was.
Sunday we got to explore nearby attractions because of the three day weekend. First we drove out to the trail head for Natural Bridges. This is a 1 mile, descending trail down to a cavernous water passage that continues underground. They say you can swim to the other side and that it’s about 250 feet to go all the way through. We didn’t try that, but we did quite enjoy the cave-like formations and constant showers of water coming through the ceiling. It was very beautiful and definitely worth the mile back uphill.
After that, we drove over to look at the bridge on Parrot’s Ferry Road. Apparently, it was one of the first ever built to use a light weight kind of concrete, which allowed its span of 650 feet to become one of the longest prestressed concrete bridges in the US. You can see the section in the middle that started to sag after it was built, but they reinforced it, and is supposed to be just fine now. We didn’t drive across, but that was not for fear of collapse.
Our last stop for the day was at the Moaning Caverns Adventure Park. Though they boasted an impressive zip lining course, we opted to stay on ground. At least for the moment. We did sign up for their tour of the cavern and were warned that it was 235 steps down, plus the same back up. I was thinking regular stairs. It turns out the first 65 or so feet is very small steps through tight cracks, leading you to a landing that overlooks a huge space, and a drop to the bottom of another 100 feet. That part is accessible only by traveling down a unique, 10-story, metal spiral staircase, constructed in place back in the early 1900s. We were reassured lots by the tour guide that it was welded, super safe, and carried millions of tourists every year. So we went for it. Obviously, going back up was another story, but at least it was worth the sore thighs of the next morning. The cavern is truly awe inspiring. There are plenty of beautiful cave formations to look at and the more adventurous people can even continue downward on the Expedition Tour, using ropes. Nope. We’re good, thanks.
Monday we reluctantly departed for home and the only noteworthy thing is that we took an alternate route, along Marsh Creek Road, behind Mt. Diablo. I’ve lived in this area 25+ years and have never been on that road. It was lovely, though a bit narrow and windy, and definitely not faster than taking 4. Still, kinda cool to see new roads in my own back yard.
Wonderful three day weekend! We will definitely look to go back during winter months when it’s not hot.
Total miles: 118.9, 16.1 mpg, 3 hours 30 min. Site 100 Big Oak. Nice site and level too. Great solar, view of the lake, no hookups, strong LTE for both of us. Good dump on site. They ask for $8 fee, honor system.