The car slows to a dead stop at the Intersection of W. Main and Church Street. “Where to?” asks Duke. Turn left I tell him, sitting behind him, while Massimo sits in the front passenger seat, fiddling with the car’s radio controls.
“Ok!” Duke exclaims. I hear the sound of the blinker ticking as we wait our turn. A man in a red pickup truck crosses the intersection heading our way. The man must be in his early forties; he’s got a mustache and wears a white Stetson hat. He tips his hat as he drives past us. “Howdy!” says Massimo in a playful way. We all burst out laughing as Duke makes the left turn.
The road to Nevada City is long and windy. I guess we better get used to it because we are heading to a town called Rough and Ready, which incidentally was Duke’s old chat room username.
“I think we might be taking the long way,” I tell Duke. Should we turn on the GPS?”
“No, we’re fine. We’re taking the road less traveled,” Duke says with a wink.
Ok. That’s comforting, I tell myself. No maps or GPS. Here goes nothing. Not only is the road windy but the road’s slope changes dramatically. The road undulates creating a momentary blind spot ahead. “Whoa! Slow down” I urge, as a cyclist appears on the road ahead. Duke swerves to avoid the cyclist. “That was close!”
Don’t blink or you’ll miss the town of Rough and Ready. We pass a western looking movie set on our left. We see a saloon, a post office, a mill. The level of detail is insane. And just a stone throws away is the town’s fire department. It’s a gorgeous red brick building with three huge doors befitting the shiny red fire trucks inside.
The road leads us back to highway 49. And we realize that we should’ve taken a right turn instead of a left in the beginning. One of these days, we might just take another wrong turn and have it turn into a horror movie.
Finally, we exit the highway and find the main drag, Broad Street blocked due to a parade. “What’s going on here?” asks Duke. “I don’t know. Everyone’s dressed like they’re from the 1800s. Are we in the twilight zone?” I ask. Massimo starts humming the soundtrack. We drive past them while scratching our heads and trying to figure out what holiday they are celebrating. We follow the detour and find a 3 hour spot next to the town’s library. The first order of business is to find the nearest public restroom. I guess Duke had too much iced coffee and water at lunch, now he’s frantically searching for the nearest bathroom. He walks ahead of us and stops to ask for directions from this Victorian looking woman. He nods vigorously as the woman tells him to take York Street. We finally catch up to Duke. “Did you ask her where the nearest outhouse is?” He ignores me and proceeds to walk down York Street. “Ah, there it is!” Duke says enthusiastically.
We go in Spirit House, a store that sells fine jewelry, clothing and imported goods from South East Asia. I strike up a conversation with the woman behind the counter. As it turns out, today is Constitution Weekend (September 9, 2018). I guess the three of us need to brush up on our American history. “We just love our silly small town parades,” she says with a glint in her eyes.
Nevada City has a slightly bigger Main Street area compared to Grass Valley. It is evident in how much wider the streets are here. When you do visit, check out their historic downtown district (Broad Street). Both sides of the street are lined with interesting shops, bars and coffee houses. If you have a sweet tooth, check out Nevada City Chocolate Shoppe. If you’re looking to just unwind and have a cocktail, try Golden Era. For us coffee connoisseur, check out The Curly Wolfe Espresso House. They have a bathroom there, just in case you’re in a bind like Duke.
The Other Side
We walk down the street towards the bridge crossing the freeway. There we see another annual tradition called Duck Race in its 27th year. The difference between this side of town versus the other is night and day. There’s a live band playing “Brown eyed girl”. There are People drinking wine and kids running around. The atmosphere here is light and fun. “I think this is the fun side,” I yell to the guys over the boisterous crowd. Have you ever read The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens? No? Neither have I but I imagine that’s what’s going on between this side of town and the other side. One side likes tradition. The other likes rock and roll!
The race is about to start. The announcer standing on the deck overlooking the creek is motioning everyone to watch. The three of us make our way to the fence just above the creek. They’re about to release the ducks. I find a spot behind this tall lady with a glass of white wine. A glass of wine is perfect right about now, I tell myself. To get a better view, I stand on a hay bale. The view above is perfect. I get an unobstructed view of the creek below. The excitement is impalpable. The announcer starts counting down “3…2…1!” and blares his horn. The sound of the horn is deafening and so are the screams of the little tykes. I don’t even have a horse in this race, duck rather, but I’m rooting for the blue duck. “Go!!!”
“Let’s stop by Dutch Brothers on the way home,” I suggest. Everyone is in agreement. “Let’s come back around Christmas time. It’d be nice to see the town decorated in full Victorian theme.”
#nevadacity #roughandready #constitutionweekend #duckrace
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