The Lisa & Clark Expedition:  Old Places and Familiar Faces, a West Coast Road Trip.

In which intrepid road trippers Lisa & Clark go in pursuit of historic hotels, old friends, rusty auto parts (the more the better), wineries, and gardens. And maybe a dress or two for Lisa, because she just can’t help herself.

Looking for the beginning of the trip? Start here.


Sunday, June 3
Sonora; 0 miles driven by us


A quiet day, the ongoing heat having sucked the energy out of us all.

We did make it to a historic park called Rail Town, in nearby Jamestown, however. By chance there was a gathering of a steam club engine going on, so the air was filled with the thumpings and whoopings of engines, pumps, and belts. Several movies have been filmed here, including Back to the Future III, the one that takes place in the late 1800s.

steam engine

Clark asks questions about an engine, to the delight of the owner.


I never thought I was into trains, but these were super cool.


Clark and Brian explore the roundhouse, where the trains are turned around. They look like Mennonite mobsters in this photo. Men in Hats, The Movie.

One guy had the replica Bugatti he’d built on display. See the VW logo between the headlights? That’s because the engine is a VW. Clark tells me that they sold these kit cars some twenty years ago. The panels are all fiberglass, etc; there’s nothing original on the car, but that makes sense because if this car were an original, it would be worth several hundred thousand dollars.

The most fantastic Bugatti, in my mind, is the one that spent 70 years at the bottom of Lake Maggiore, in Switzerland.


It was still pretty, kit car or no.

We drove to the old, “Queen of the Sierra” gold rush town of Murphys for lunch, and I found a straw hat to replace my usual piece of headwear. I’ve had my original straw hat for something like eight years; it’s been to the Amazon with me, to France, to Belize… but I’ve had to sew it up a couple times, and the elastic in the headband has rotted and fallen out. It’s been on borrowed time, and I’ve been looking for a replacement.


Old hat.


New hat. It doesn't have the same rakish angle possibilities as the old one, but we all make sacrifices. I shall learn to wear it.

We also did some wine and port tasting in Murphys. I hadn’t had port before (shocking, I know), but liked the port we had at Domaine Becquet so much that we bought a couple bottles: the tawny, and the chocolate port. Yes, chocccccccolaaaaate. It didn’t hurt that the woman behind the counter was so jolly and fun, and chided me that I shouldn’t wear my hat (my new hat!) because it hid my eyes. Yes, I’ll buy your port. Yes, please, nice jolly woman!

The rest of the day was devoted to quiet time back at the house, consumption of cherries, and a somewhat disbelieving listen to the weather forecast where they warned of snow.


We were scheduled to leave in the morning and drive through a pass in the Sierras… you know, the Sierras… where the Donner Party got snowed in and ate each other.




More of the Lisa & Clark Expedition:

Day Nine

Day Eleven


Who are Lisa & Clark?

Lisa’s latest novel,

Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells, from Simon & Schuster


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