Monday, July 23, 2012

A Step Back In Time

A row of red cottages line the main street.

I passed through Graeagle about 32 years ago on my way backpacking up to Rock Lake in the Las Plumas National Forest. After a few days of eating freeze-dried food, I was ready to return to the small mountain town and find the closest restaurant. It turned out that the closest and the only restaurant was a small red log cabin cafe across the street from a row of similar looking red and white cabins. In a flash, I hopped up on a stool at the lunch counter and dove into a big bowl of spicy chili. I have held that memory near and dear for a longtime. This time around, when Darrell and I arrived in town, one of the first things I spotted was the Graeagle Restaurant, untouched by time.  It was comforting to find the same place, run by the same family, serving the same chili, at the same counter decades later. Even the waitress acknowledged working at the Graeagle Restaurant for the past 37 years. It has always been a family run business. Our waitress's brother, also the Fire Chief, now runs the place. It is reassuring to know that some things never change. 

Same cafe, same counter, same chili, most likely the same waitress!

I fell in love with Graegale all over again, all the better this time 'round because I got to share it with Darrell. In his youth, Darrell was a mountain man and ice climber, and this part of the Sierras - treasured by his hero John Muir  - offered him a chance to start hiking again.

A busy day at the Mill Pond in the center of town. 
Fed by the Feather River, the water is clear and warm.

Is it possible for two salty dogs and their vizsla to find happiness miles inland from the ocean? Apparently it is, because we ALMOST "Swallowed the Anchor" here. What's not to love, plenty of space to stretch out, quaint red cottages lining the main street, a small market offering the essentials, swimming and fiddler concerts on the Mill Pond, log cabins among tall pines, and friendly faces with a collective consciousness of preserving the land. And that's not all, above us, walls of towering granite rising more than 6,500 feet towards the sky, inspiring meadow vistas with grazing cattle and horses, pristine streams and rivers and lakes galore. And, Oh those Lakes! All 50 of them, with hiking trails circling around pools of sparkling sapphire water, clear as they are cold, and full of trout. I love trout, and now so does Spark. Darrell, not so much, but he is our willing fisherman. (Check out our trout dinner in the following post.)

The Mill Pond is not only in the center of town, 
it is the center of activity morning to night. 

Wednesday nights are music nights. 
Residents and visitors gather round eating ice cream or sipping on 
root beer floats and listen to fiddling.

Graeagle is rich in history, and it’s a history local residents are proud of and strive to preserve. As you enter the town there is a carving a Chief Graeagle welcoming visitors. The sign informs the reader that Graeagle is a planned, balanced, and protected community. The sign ends with an Indian prayer about judging others.

Our time at Graeagle reminded us of all that is good about America. The area embodies the concept of "personal responsibility". There are very few posted “NO” signs, instead the implied message is, "Please Do" rather than "Do Not". I guess with a summer population of 2,000 plus and full-timers numbering less than 800 folks, communities can afford to be more loose on rules. One of the many reasons we'll be back next summer.

The Mill Pond
A Palomino, a Paint, and a Chestnut happy to be grazing in splendor.

D happy to be fishing. 
We managed to hike to five lakes, another 45 to go.

1 comment:

  1. Sarah, this all looks so fantastic! I love your blog! Best of both worlds for you and D., So happy you are enjoying your retirement and each other.