The Mother Lode. For me this name conjures an image of an intergalactic flying space turd. Kind of a horrifying image, right? But perhaps I watch too much Futurama. A Mother Lode is a principle vein or zone of mineral veins, typically gold, silver, or ore. In California, the Mother Lode is an area in the southeast Sierra Nevada extending from El Dorado County in the north and Mariposa County in the south. This area produced more gold than almost any other area in the United States in its heyday. Now it is an area that relies on tourism to bring in money and has a number of state parks devoted to the story of gold.
Our journey centered on Toulumne and Calaveras counties. The majority of Toulumne county is taken up by Yosemite National Park. As we were venturing out on Memorial Day Weekend, and I already have a Yosemite trip planned for later this summer, we wanted to avoid crowds and experience the rest of the area. Toulumne county is small: it is home to approximately 55,000 people and has only one incorporated city, Sonora, which is also the county seat. In spite of its small size, Toulumne has a lot to offer the tourist, especially one who is a state park and California history enthusiast such as myself.
Getting to Jamestown, and the rest of the Mother Lode, is an easy drive from the bay area. It takes about two and a half hours in good traffic, plus there are a number of In 'N Out locations which are an essential to any California road trip. In fact, I only eat In 'N Out on road trips.