Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Reliving the Gold Rush Days

Steven practicing his gold panning skills

California history is a big part of the curriculum for fourth grade, I volunteer in Steven's class and we've all been learning about the early Californians, the missions, the gold rush, and the ranchos. One of the great things about being a parent is that we get to learn this stuff all over as we help our kids with their schoolwork.

Last weekend the Torrey Hills fourth graders had a parent-organized optional field trip to Sacramento to learn all about the gold rush first hand. We left at 7:30 AM on Saturday and flew home at 9:45 PM on Sunday.

Each child was accompanied by a parent and 18 children went on the trip. A bus picked us up at the airport and we toured the state capitol building, then we ate lunch on the bus as we headed for Coloma in the foothills of the Sierras, where gold was first discovered.

Our campsite on the south fork of the American River

Our camp was in Coloma on the banks of the American River, we slept in tent cabins. When we arrived, the first thing we did was to attend some instruction on how to pan for gold, then we got to try our hands at it ourselves.

Steven posing with a mountain man

There were a series of presentations over the weekend, by a woman dressed up as a pioneer woman (she looked pretty tough and one of the dads told me that all the men were afraid of her), a mountain man, a woman who played a collection of zithers and autoharps, a tinsmith.

A Miwok indian came to talk to us at our evening campfire.

A woman from the Miwok tribe spoke to us about the early California days, and behind her, on the other side of the river, a group of young men shrieked and yelled as they attempted swimming au naturel in the 40-degree waters of the river, much to the amusement and giggles of the fourth graders and the annoyance of the Miwok woman. I was really tempted to take photos, but restrained myself.

Steven and Lauren as deputies helping to defeat the evil villain in the play.

The highlight of Steven's trip was a visit to an old melodrama theatre in Coloma, where two actors performed a play about the Gold Rush and got the parents and the kids involved.

We visited Sutter's Mill, where gold was discovered, then back to Sacramento to Sutter's Mill, and the railroad museum.

It was a fun weekend, but with wall-to-wall activities from early morning to late night Saturday and Sunday, everyone was pretty much beat by Sunday afternoon.

I paid for that weekend by getting sick, by Monday morning I had a fever and couldn't get out of bed, after lots of antibiotics and bed rest I'm working toward recovery, trying to LIVESTRONG like the bracelet says. But right now this warrior woman is moving at a crawl, like the woman on the plane said, "some days it's harder than others".

- Kathleen

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