This is a different kind of Out There, more urban and based on public transportation. Residents of Sonora, Columbia and Jamestown can do their own things on free public transportation every Saturday this summer.
Last Saturday we woke up at 7:30 a.m. and walked over to the first edition of this year’s Sonora Certified Farmers’ Market, in the parking lot across from Sugg House on Theall Street, for coffee and pastries.
Then we walked to the Tuolumne County Visitors Center, recently renamed Visit Tuolumne County and next door to Soma Fitness Studios on South Washington Street, to catch the first free Tuolumne Adventure Trolley of the day, at 8:46 a.m. The trolley-themed minibuses run by Tuolumne County Transit are on a free schedule every Saturday from now to September.
We rode one stop up to Courthouse Park and got off to make sure we would know where to get on later in the day. We walked back to the Farmers’ Market and connected with a friend who wanted to walk Dragoon Gulch.
We added an extra mile or so by walking to the top of Shepherd Street, then down to Snell Street and over to the Dragoon Gulch trailhead at the end of Alpine Lane. By 9:45 a.m. we were up on the new summit trail section, in oak and chaparral woodland speckled with little white blooms called fairy lanterns.
It was cool and cloudy with no rain for the moment. We reached a high point with a bench and an older man was up there admiring the view of downtown Sonora rooftops surrounded by foothills vegetation.
We kept walking and saw purple blooms and seed-bearing dandelions under a curving canopy of manzanita limbs. By 10:30 a.m. we were down by the Dragoon Gulch trailhead at Woods Creek Rotary Park.
We walked up Stockton Street and Bradford Street to see if the Tuolumne County Museum was open, but it was closed. So we walked back to the Farmers’ Market and tried free food samples that included jalapeño jam and brie on crackers at Sugg House, where Leilani & the Distractions were playing live blues-funk on the second-story balcony.
By noon we arranged to meet a former coworker and talked about plans to catch the free trolley to Columbia that evening. Several others decided to drive their own vehicles, but three of us were into the free public transportation so we met in front of Tuolumne County Veterans Hall and Museum after 5 p.m.
It was drizzling rain in the old town. Few people were out and about, but we had friends already at St. Charles Saloon and What Cheer Saloon. We stopped at Jack Douglass Saloon to make sure our friends’ band The Blonde Tells were on schedule to start at 7 p.m., then went up to the Charlie for pizza.
The Blonde Tells started on time and the skies opened up several times during their sets, and the Douglass filled up anyway. We missed the last trolley around 9 p.m. and caught a ride back to Sonora with The Blonde Tells’ bass player.
Reporter’s note: Before I began working for newspapers in the early 1990s, I spent seven years with VisionQuest and Outward Bound as a paid, certified wilderness instructor and emergency medical technician accountable for groups of felony offender teens, court-ordered children and adult Cuban refugees. I am in my late 50s and anyone who walks OK on their own can keep up with me anywhere.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.