Cousin Elizabeth

My trip’s cross-continental pivot point* is Downieville California, where my cousin Elizabeth lives. After this, it’s all EAST.  When I was a senior in college and studying in Florence, I went to visit Liz, who was [a] pretty newly married [b] living in Paris and [c] pretty pregnant.  She calmly drove me around the Arc d’Triumph and showed me Paris.  So of course it makes sense that she now lives in the mountains above Sacramento in a tiny town? As I drove up the mountain, I got it. I can be a bit slow.  This place is gorgeous.  Downieville is a tiny town that got discovered by kayak-enthusiasts and bikers.  Sports heaven.  Their home is between two rivers, the Downey and Pauley Creek. So on one side is a water fall, on the other a fast flowing river:

Pauley Falls–the ‘little falls’

Their home is built where everyone thought no one could build, a ‘rock pile’ above the river.  It’s amazing, and includes an upper deck and a lower, sort of ‘secret’ deck right on the river, where the temperature is measurably lower.  The river is running too high and fast to bring the dogs down, but is marvelous. And the sound of it is loud in the house, in the best possible way.

View of the house from the back deck: river to the left and down

Liz and Mark have two dogs, both goldens, one Calli’s age, one a very spry 13, Keeley Blue (a Gaelic name) and Reddey.  Calli is really happy to have puppy buddies:

Keeley welcomes cousin Calli
Calli and 13 year old Reddey

Keeley and Calli had a slumber party last night going from room to room, inhibiting everyone else’s sleep.

This morning, Liz and I walked over to the waterfall and then drove around Downieville.  Then we went on a “view drive” that was just stunning.  The Sierra Buttes are (oh god, surely there can be more variety to these adjectives than SPECTACULAR) well they are:

Sierra Buttes
Sierra Buttes with a happy Jeanne and a dog sick of the car

We drove through all the little towns in the area and saw enough mountain lakes to more than make up for my not seeing Weaver Lake in Kings Canyon: Sardine Lake, Salmon Lake, Packer Lake, and Gold Lake.

Sardine Lake
Packer Lake
Gold Lake

We drove to Frazier falls

On the way to Frazier Falls
Frazier Falls

Here’s the video, which gives you the wonderful sound:

Frazier Falls

Then had lunch in Graeagle (Grey-eagle) in the shady back garden of a cafe with a view of pasturing cows and horses. We  had yummy gazpacho and salad and incredible iced tea:

Liz and Calli at lunch
Calli posing patiently at the lunch cafe
Main Street Graeagle

Finally, we drove through the Sierra Valley and over the Yuba Pass that divides the Sierra Valley into Eastern and Western parts.

Sierra Valley
At Yuba Pass

It was less a day than a series of dazzling glimpses of natural beauty. Plus a day of catching up (I’ve always loved Liz and it’s so good to fill in the past too many years).  We solved many of the world’s problems in a day.

*with thanks to Richy for the better word choice!

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