Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Julian, CA

Gold mines and apple pies-this is the draw for Julian.  It has that brand of touristy charm that, as a traveler, can make you feel like you should either be in grade school on a trip with your parents who are carrying a check list of local historical attractions...or in your retirement age, staying at a bed and breakfast and going to bed at 8pm.  I guess one end of that spectrum must resonate with me because I was totally into it.  And it probably didn't hurt that, when we visited Julian, I was in the midst of a bit of a gold mining obsession.
The historic mining town is clinging to nostalgic notions and packed with souvenir shops, bakeries, and wine tasting rooms.  And when I say that, I'm not trying to sound snotty- there's a dark part of me that actually likes this sort of thing.  Horse drawn carriages roll up and down the main street carrying tourists and if you walk next to them you can pick up on the guide's speil.  It starts to feel weird after about a block, when the passengers start watching you instead of the sites, but you get over it.  There was an unexpected standout shopping-wise- a little record/vintage clothing shop housed in building that contained an old well.  It was aptly named, The Old Well.

Nitpicking aside, we didn't go there for the apple preserves and bags of chocolate coins- we went for the Eagle Mining Company gold mine.  Dude, the gold mine is awesome.  Your guide, Kim, is awesome.  Walking through the dark narrow tunnels that are stacked on top of each other is awesome...and a little creepy.  And, if you've ever complained about the physical tribulations of having to work at a desk all day, you'll feel like an a-hole.  There's a "Company Store," on the property which has a few dusty display cases full of news clippings and iron pyrite.  Plus- you can pan for gold there and pretend you're the real deal.

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