postcards from small-town America
As the temperature drops and the weather gives unmistakeable signs of the onset of autumn in Chisinau, we find ourselves revisiting the warm memories of our summer road trip through California. We briefly scrolled through our pictures to pick out a handful of favorites while posting about our adventures, but the bulk of the 5000+ photos we took remain unsorted. Our previous posts focused on the places we visited. Here are a few snapshots of our favorite places through which we simply passed.
Angels Camp — Mark Twain wrote a short story called “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” based on a yarn he reportedly heard at the Angels Hotel in this tiny California town. A century and a half later, Angels Camp still bears the nickname “Frogtown” and pays homage to the great writer with a yearly Jumping Frog Jubilee.
Bishop — A bit out of our way but definitely worth the detour. This place, which S found on Yelp, had excellent all-natural burgers and the thickest milk shakes we’ve ever tasted. All of their ingredients are locally sourced and they make the ice cream from scratch.
Inyokern — D’s favorite town name, this little outpost straddles the Inyo and Kern county lines. In addition to a Mexican restaurant whose kitchen was hamstrung by a lack of most basic ingredients found in Mexican cuisine, its chief claim to fame seemed to be several antiques stores that managed to accumulate an inordinate amount of dilapidated relics that somehow continue to avoid the landfill.
Harmony — Impossibly tiny, this was the smallest population center we passed. This entire town was little more than this sign along an empty stretch of coastal road.
June Lake — Driving down the highway on the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, one passes a whole lot of nothing, so we were pleasantly surprised to find a cute little town at the end of the mountain road that led to June Lake.
Bridgeport — A trailer camp right outside the Buckeye hot springs that was one of the few signs of civilization in this secluded and absolutely gorgeous corner of the Sierra Nevada.
Death Valley — We saw few signs of life in this harsh, arid, and desolate landscape so this sign came as somewhat of a surprise.
Mariposa — Our favorite of the Sierra’s old mining towns, Mariposa somehow managed to avoid the cliched tacky Old Western look. We had the best burger of the summer in a little restaurant along the main drag and were sad that our cramped itinerary did not allow for enough time to sample a few local beers at one of the town’s watering holes.
Those who’ve never been to the United States tend to think of it in terms of the large cities — New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco — that enjoy worldwide recognition. In reality, America largely consists of small towns just like these, which make up the fabric of our country.