Friday, May 26, 2017

Gold Country (part 1)

You know how ideas sometimes take a long time to develop? Well, my wife and I just had the culmination of one of those ideas. I think the genesis of this idea goes back a few years to when I did a series on abandoned places. It certainly put the idea of ghost towns into my head, at any rate. The idea of ghost towns and mining towns has bounced around in our house since I did those posts, which led to some discussion at some point about mining towns, all of which led to my wife and I taking a camping trip through gold country last week. It was educational, to say the least, because, no matter what you think you know, you never really know until you do the thing.

So what do you know about gold mining? I bet you "know" the same kinds of things I thought I knew. So let's talk about some of those things... But not today. Because our first stop on our trip was Sacramento, and I want to share some of those pictures with you.

First of all, they were throwing a protest when we got there:
That's the State Capitol building in the above picture.

The legend of California as it once was:

And we got a private tour of the old Secretary of State's office, which is kind of a funny store... but for some other time:

Then we hopped over to Fort Sutter:
No, it didn't get shrunk. That's a model.

That's Sutter's room, above.

For those of you who don't know, the gold discovery that kicked off the gold rush happened at Sutter's Mill. We went there, too, but that's a different location, so those pictures will come later. The one thing to know about it is that Sutter tried to keep the find quiet, not because he wanted the gold but because he knew what would happen if the word got out. Which is exactly what happened.

More pictures next week...


  1. Loved the pics. Thanks for sharing snapshots of your travels.

  2. I've never been to Sacramento, but one of these days I should make the trip. My niece went for some school thing a few years ago and enjoyed it.

    1. Liz: To Fort Sutter? Or to the Capitol?
      There's some cool stuff in Sac.

  3. I definitely don't know anything about gold mining. I can't believe they used to think California was an island, or that the belief persisted for so long. Did no one ever go there by land?

    1. Jeanne: It was a long time before anyone went across land to get to CA. It was faster to sail all the way around.

  4. That fort looks like it was massive in its day. I visited some old mining sites in Colorado. Can't imagine what it was like to live there.

    1. Susan: I don't have any good way of judging, and only a small part of the fort is still in existence. It feels much smaller from the inside than it looks in the model.

  5. California history is fascinating. Vermont is kind of dull.

    1. TAS: Yeah, it is, though I think many places are more historically fascinating than we would think before we actually start digging into them.
      But CA is probably still more fascinating. Just all the stuff with gold rush alone is pretty amazing.

    2. I suppose you're right. California, though, has been such an interesting cultural crossroads for centuries, really.

    3. TAS: Not as long as you might think. The population of the entire state (not counting Native Americans, because we have no idea of those numbers) prior to the gold rush was less than 10,000. Which is not to say that there were not cultural influences (there were Russians at Fort Ross, Californios (cultural Mexicans living in CA), and the Spanish (mostly through the chain of missions they were building)), but the real influx began in 1849/50 when the population began to explode.

  6. That is 100% my kind of day.

    Getting caught up on your blog now! Saturday morning coffee & blogs!

  7. Got caught up. Now the comments.

    I like the skeleton pics. They remind me of an exhibit we saw at the airport a few years back when we tried to take the boys to look at planes at the airport because we forgot 9/11 had happened and that you couldn't get within a zillion miles of the planes at the airport anymore. *sigh*.

    Which I guess leads into the discussion of rights and the Declaration of Independence. More and more I am disillusioned by BOTH parties. The GOP is terrible but the Dems are terrible, too, and neither of them have really tried to do anything to help out the middle class. Every day -- EVERY day -- I get more and more people into my firm whose homes are still in foreclosure and now their cars are, too, and the government has made LOSING YOUR HOME taxable as income. SERIOUSLY. The fact that Obama did nothing, NOTHING to help people save their houses, ought to doom him to mediocrity as president as much as the failure of Obamacare.

    Because here's the thing...

  8. As bad as Trumpcare will be (and it will be bad, and they're going to allow genetic testing by employers and insurers to help screen out people with potentially genetically-induced pre-existing conditions, so technically you will be denied coverage for a pre-pre-existing condition)(put another way, the older kids will have trouble getting insurance for their kids because they may have genetic links to autism)

    ... as bad as that is, Obamacare was not a fix. The free market (insurance exchanges) cannot fix a market that is not free. People REFUSE to accept this. We intervene in markets all the time. The federal government and Wisconsin's state government have for years subsidized the production of milk, leading to a dairy crisis recently that the government then refused to step into:

    And dairy prices alone are an incredibly complex area of the economy that lay people don't understand aren't part of the free market. Previously, there were price supports: farmers couldsell dairy products to the USDA at a set price:

    That was changed to an insurance-type scheme (scheme used deliberately) that hurt farmers but made money for the federal government.

    This was passed under the Obama administration with the help of the GOP; you know, the Congress and administration that 'did nothing'.

    The point is that we do NOT have a free market for many things by choice or by reality, and health care is one of those things. We don't even have a free market for health insurance, with the exchanges, because if you get health insurance through your employer you can't buy your own, nor would you want to because health insurance is considered part of your pay ('benefits package') so you would still be paying your share of the cost even if you opted out: if your job offers you $40,000 per year plus benefits, and you say 'I don't want the health insurance' they don't give you the extra $1,800 per month you just saved them. You just don't get employer-provided insurance.

  9. So this all gets back to the idea of life as a 'right,' and how that plays into health insurance. The 'inalienable' rights aren't actually meant to be inalienable; the founders decided that you could take them away with due process of law, even life. That's sort of beside the point, though. The point is more 'how do we guarantee that people have a right to pursue life and happiness.' True conservatives would argue that you best guarantee that by removing government inhibitions on the ability to thrive. That's the free-market perspective. Forced purchasing of insurance is a government inhibition on the ability to thrive; it forces me to use my capital for something other than I might choose to.

    But a refusal to force people to pay for health care has ramifications: I can refuse to get health insurance and go into any ER any time and get emergency care. True conservatives would say "we have to get rid of that exemption," and would make medical bills nondischargeable in bankruptcy and collectible through streamlined processes a la student loans. After all, my choice to thrive by not getting health insurance shouldn't punish those who choose other paths by dumping the costs onto them.

  10. True liberals would see the other way: just as Jefferson believed there should be public education, they would see health care as a public good the price of which should largely be shouldered by the government -- not by picking winners and losers in the insurance market, but by setting up a public health care system to compete with and supplement the private system.

    A mix of those is what Obamacare tried to do but the problem was that the GOAL was not necessarily to PROVIDE HEALTH CARE. The GOAL was to get rid of uninsured people. That's not the same thing. Many, many health insurance plans are deeply flawed and don't provide the kind of protection that people want.

    To fix a system, you have to break it into its current components, then decide what your goal is. So take our health care system (public, private, medicare, insurance, ERs, etc.) and break it into parts. Then decide the goal. if the goal is to make sure everyone gets adequate health care, you then have to discard those parts of the system that don't further that, while building new ones that do.

    We will never, ever do that. Never. Americans don't have the will to do it anyway, and there isn't a single politician out there who genuinely wants to 'fix' health care.

    That's why I get so sad.

  11. Briane: So I'll just touch on a few things without much elaboration:

    Sure, the middle class has been left out BUT
    1. The Republicans spend their time trying to "help" the 1%. It's like Mulvaney saying that the new Trump budget was made to give considerations to those paying the taxes as opposed to those benefiting from the programs: He means the new budget was constructed to elevate the rich even more.
    2. The Democrats spend their time trying to help those at the bottom, because they're being hurt the most. It's hard to build social programs that will work themselves up to helping the middle class when the GOP keeps shredding them before they can even help the people at the bottom who need the most help.
    And I can't fault the Democrats for that and, honestly, the middle class whining about being overlooked reminds me too much of the only child who suddenly has a younger sibling and doesn't like not having all the attention anymore.

    As for healthcare, I think the goal WAS to provide healthcare, but the Republicans really hamstrung as much of that as they could, and it was the Republicans who caused the issues that allowed insurers to do what they did after the ACA was passed. I think if Obama could have gotten what he really wanted it would have been single payer healthcare. Which, by the way, has a decent chance of happening in CA soon. If the GOP doesn't scuttle it.

  12. Briane: Also, what Conservatives want is the ability of the rich to take advantage of those who are not. For corporations to, effectively, keep slaves, returning us to the days before there were unions. That's what the call the "free market," some warped economic survival of the fittest where might makes right, because that's what they believe, that having wealth makes one inherently better than those who do not. You know, because they have been favored by God or whatever.