John D. Turns Forty | California | Living in Mexico

John D. Turns Forty

My son John is turning forty. I feel a little disoriented. Hey, I'm still just a kid! How can I be father of a child that old? I don't even feel like I'm forty—I am still way too immature.

Jean and I flew up to California for his birthday celebration. OK. Our real motivation was to visit our grandchildren.

John lives in Nevada City, a quaint gold rush town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. We're staying in an over-decorated, over-amenitied B&B, drinking water out of the tap and flushing toilet paper.


Nevada City, CA

Nevada City once was a rough-and-tumble town for the '49ers, a center for placer mining before the state outlawed this particularly destructive activity. Today it is a place for San Franciscans to come for romantic weekends, for UC Berkeley students to use as base camp for outdoor adventures in the Sierras. Recently it's become a retirement haven for retiring Silicon Valley baby boomers.


Broad Street, Nevada City

Nevada City is developing a split personality. Descendants of miners still inhabit disreputable saloons. But these days, the bars share the Broad Street with galleries and New Age shops. Trust fund kids in dreadlocks loiter in front of coffee houses. The town boasts a Thai restaurant and two sushi bars, one good, one excellent, both jammed on weekends.

Returning to the States is always a shock. Looking out of the plane window as we crossed the border at Mexicali, a ruler-straight line dividing dusty brown topography from lush green left no doubt that we were back in the USA. After a hellish hop on Southwest Airlines from LAX to Sacramento (never fly on Friday), we rented a car for the drive to Nevada City. Wide lanes on perfect pavement filled with expensive, sparkly new cars reminded me just how rich we Americans are.

[I'll continue with posts about my trip to the Sierra Gorda. I have more to share about that magical experience. But I'll be writing from California for a week or so.]