Mariposa County is a county in central California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,251. It is located in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, north of Fresno, east of Merced, and southeast of Stockton.
The county’s eastern section is the central portion of Yosemite National Park which accounts for a good percentage of the counties operating income in TOT (transient occupancy tax).
Mariposa County is known as the “Mother of California Counties.” While the first Legislature was awaiting Statehood in the year of 1850, it met and created the structure of the new state. It made Mariposa the largest county covering one-fifth of the state. From that original county, a large portion of middle California, all or part of 11 counties were eventually created. There are no incorporated cities in Mariposa County; and residents are proud of the distinction of having no permanent traffic lights anywhere in the county. My time here uncovered many hidden “gems” in the county, worth a visit to check them out for yourself.
It is always great to find a good mechanic when your home has 4 wheels. Bob Blackburn who owns and operates Mountain Automotive & RV Center in Mariposa is just such a find. Bob and his wife Janet are great folks to work with and Bob installed a “steer safe” on my motorhome as well as fixed a few various nuisance problems. Bob is also a jeep enthusiast and one look at my stock Jeep Wrangler and we were engrossed in an animated conversation about all the modifications that I could (and should) do to the jeep. Even better, he asked if I wanted to help with the installation! So after ordering the necessary parts and scheduling a day for installation you could find me learning the fine art of jeep mechanics as we installed a two inch lift kit. It was a great way to spend the day and I would recommend Bob to anyone traveling through here that needs work done on a vehicle or an RV.
Took a trip down memory lane while Jerry was visiting after Christmas and headed over to the California State Mining & Mineral Museum. Back in the early 2000’s I worked here as the first Park Superintendent to manage the museum after it came to State Parks from the Department of Conservation. It was a wonderful opportunity to take a “diamond in the rough” and build a museum worth State Park designation. The best part of that job was certainly building relationships with the local community and creating a great team of dedicated staff. It was my pleasure to see that Randy (who I hired as an Interpreter when I was there) was still at the museum and was happy to give us a great tour of the collection. I encourage everyone that passes through this area to stop and and visit this gem of a museum, it houses the state’s official mineral collection and has beautiful and informative displays.
And who could miss a view of the “Fricot Nugget”, a rare and beautiful specimen of crystallized gold discovered in the American River in 1864. This 13.8-pound gold specimen is the largest remaining intact mass of crystalline gold from 19th century California, when these finds were usually were melted down for their gold value. This specimen has special meaning for me as I twice helped to return it to it’s home in this collection here in Mariposa.
“Genius is the gold in the mine; talent is the miner who works and brings it out.” – Marguerite Blessington
Keeping fit while here has given me opportunities for new ways of exercising. As the nearest pool is over an hour away in Merced (more about that later) I needed to find another way to get my morning exercise. So it was only natural that I join my Mom when she attends the local Mariposa Jazzercise class. This has been great for me as I often have two left feet when it comes to coordination. Each class I attend seems to get easier to follow along and the room can get quite crowded with Jazzercisers of all ages and abilities. The owner Malina was kind enough to give me a special rate while I was in town. In fact at Jazzercise is where I met Rita who hikes with the local Sierra Senior Hiking Group (more on that below). Rita and I were able to get in a good dog hike after class one day before the rains hit again.
“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.” – Cicero
Well even though the closest pool is in Merced, an hour away, I had to make the drive down on New Years Eve to get in my annual New Years 5k swim. I started this tradition I think about 7 years ago while swimming with a great group of folks in Monterey and when I left there I have been making a point of continuing the swim every New Years since. Swimming 5k (or 3.2 miles, or 220 laps) is not for the faint of heart. It took just under two hours of swimming and I felt that I had accomplished a great goal to ring in 2017.
“Swimming is normal for me. I’m relaxed. I’m comfortable, and I know my surroundings. It’s my home.” Michael Phelps
The rural character of Mariposa County makes for great outdoor opportunities. Yosemite National Park aside, there are lots of good hiking areas many of them along old logging goldmining or homestead dirt roads. I was able to download a good hiking book written by a local woman, Chery Davis called “Mariposa Hiking Adventures” and learned about some of the lesser known hiking locations. Most of these hikes allowed dogs so Cory was able to join me.
“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” Thomas Jefferson
There is also a good hiking group in the area called “Sierra Hiking Seniors” that try to get out twice a week for hikes around the area. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to join them this time around but will definitely look them up next time I am in town.
One last not to be missed stop while in Mariposa County is the Yosemite Bug Hostel. They have a great restaurant (the June Bug Cafe) that combines informal hostel atmosphere with good healthy food (and don’t forget the craft beers on tap!). Located in Midpines just a few miles up highway 140 from the town of Mariposa it is a convenient stop when traveling to Yosemite. I made a point of visiting there twice this stay once to celebrate Matt’s Birthday and Graduation and the second time as a farewell dinner before he left on his PA road trip.
Packing up and heading south on Thursday – it has been a great way to spend the holidays and thanks to my parents for putting in RV hookups, a very comfortable place to park my home on wheels.