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This is the daybook journal of
Michael Seewald's
Gold Country sponsored series.
Sponsored trip #60

Phase one- April 17th-25th, 2013
Phase two- Oct. ?- Nov. ?, 2013

NOTE: Recent postings follow older ones

So far one set of sponsors of four available have sold
(Marc and Paula Steger), contact us if interested in sponsoring one of these.

April 18th, 2013 (update from McDonald's 10 am).

I made it to the 'Gold Country' yesterday morning to start my 61st sponsored series (one sponsor of four sold so far- I've got three left if interested). Well, after teaching a photo class in Carmel for three days, then stopping at the California Delta for two days for a bit of bass fishing (in 20mph winds w/ gusts to 40- in my 14' aluminum boat- was more work than fun at many times) and staying at my friends home in Davis, Ca., the Olichney's.

Click photo to enlarge.
Did ok at the Delta, but the big ones got away! ;/)

I stopped in Dorado and got some tourist brochures at a Calif. Info Center, then an overdue hairdo at Supercuts, then continued on to Placerville, which will be my base. First thing I did was confirm details on how to ship some of my camera 'gadgets' from home to the local post office here. I'd forgot my photo vest where I keep many of my 'tools'- light meter, cable release, battery, compass, emergency water purifiers, polarizer filter for the 'big lens' (my Hasselblad 40mm lens, which I have to hand hold over the lens, it's a 4x4" piece of glass that takes the glare off of the subject, allowing the true colors to come through), etc.. Valerie shipped the vest last week, but when I got it found out she'd shipped my extra one, with empty pockets- Murphy's Law again!


Click photo to enlarge.

Starting in Placerville, where I had a spectacular breakfast item called 'The Wolfman Jack', as in Wolfman Jack radio fame. It was two pancakes, two eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, and Mel's home fries w/green onions- YUMMY TO MY TUMMY!

Continued from Starbuck's, Placerville (no electricity at McDonalds')
So I then called my friend Bob Bornhoft, from my men's group at NCCC church, and he said he'd ship it for me- thanks Bob, you're the best. Valerie had left it all outside our door for someone to take it, as she works when the same hours the post office is open. I can work without some of it, but it's would make creating easier.

Then I called some number for B&B's, but only left one message. The gentleman called back, and I explained I'd trade art for a room, and he's said he'd look at my website and call back if interested.

I then strolled down main street, seeing a lot of cool old buildings. Found the oldest standing hardware store this side of the Mississippi here- lots of history. Saw the James Powell gallery, a lot of nice photos, and with a tweaking of this or that he'd have a lot of award winners. I should have left a card for the lady working there, maybe he'll take my class to fine tune his compositions.

Also met a very nice studio photographer that just started  her business, Sara with Heracain Productions. She was going blind and then the doctors reversed it, she was really praising the Lord from that experience, I can only imagine; it's something all visual artists hope they never have a problem with, let alone the 'regular public'.

I had almost finished the walk when I got a call from the owner, Jim, of The Davies Family Innl He'd looked at the website and said he'd love to trade a room for a piece, TUL! We made an appointment for 4 pm to see the place. No breakfast included he said, as they are not usually open on weekdays- no problem I said, just glad to have a nice place to stay. When I found the place I was blown away, so nice and quiet. He was super friendly, and said his mom was from Croatia (saw my latest series was from there), and said maybe she'd pick the art.

Click photo to enlarge.

My living room in the main house of the lodge I'm staying at.

I'm staying the 'main house', it's all so quaint, a Thomas Kincaid painting (lots of weddings here, perfect for it- lots of rooms and space). Funny I should think that, Kincaid is from Placerville, Jim told me, and that he'd actually attended a function here. Wow!

After leaving the boat in his parking lot, and hearing one rule was that I had to close all gates to keep the deer out ;/0 I went back to town and looked around some more. In between, I take a look at the tourist brochures. This time I noticed there was a wine tasting/restaurant close by that was open later than most (it was 5:30 and they were all closed), but one called Nello Olivo Winery, and it was close by, so I checked it out. I met the owners son, Ivan Olivo, and he gave me a few sips of various award winners. Only 9 years old, it's won many national awards already. Nello is the oldest boy of 16 kids, and there is a book out about the family from one of his sisters.

The home about the wine tasting room is astounding in beauty. Ivan said he'd call his dad, who is very open to having visitors to to the actual vineyard, and he'd let him know I'd call and come by. How cool, it's usually closed to the public. It's definitely a perk of my job, many doors open to artists that normally would be closed, plus I pray for extra blessings like this, and the trades I've worked out to date.

Then I want out exploring the area, headed to Coloma town, an historic town from the Gold Mining days. You have to pay to park, it's a state park of sorts, but I went through and then went back on the 49 to the south a few miles past Placerville, to Diamond town, then back to McDonald's for some coffee and email checking. It was 9:30 when I finished, and was famished. Nothing was open, except Mels again, and I went for the prime rib special, only $9.99.

Got back to the house by 10:30, and found some gold mining town books, what a history. The place was one bad a.. place back then. As many bad folks as good it said, with a lot of stories of instant justice taking place (hangings). Lots of bad blood, and a lot of animosity towards Indians and Chinamen, to mentions a couple. Slept well, and got up to a very cold place (did not want to waste energy). Showered up and hit McDonald's for coffee and breakfast sandwiches, and stared this page with their WiFi connections, then moved here to Starbucks next door as this place had electric for the computer. It's now 1:30, and time to go exploring...

Update: April 18th, 2013 (from McDonald's 10 p.m.)

I drove out to the Lava Cap winery, the only one Valerie and I had visited when we came out here some 10 years ago for her nieces wedding. We like the quality, and we bought a Muscatel wine for her that she liked (she does not really drink, so it's something for special occasions for her).

Click photo to enlarge.

Megan Lais of Lava Cap winery holds a bottle of Muscat Canelli 2010.

Megan Lais greeted me with a big smile and a warm 'welcome' at the tasting room, she has a very bubbly personality, perfect for her job. Valerie does not really partake of the vine, but does like one on that rare occasion, so I ordered the Muscat Canelli 2010 right off the bat. She offered a wine tasting, and I had about six samples and a meat and cheese plate for $8. She also took me into the store room and bottling areas (many don't bottle their own, they do), but I did not see anything that moved me photographically. Still have not got the camera out, oh well.

Click photo to enlarge.

After shooting a nice image off the 49 I made it back in time
for the 8 o'clock deadline for the pasta special dinner at the Sequoia Restaurant.
 Took a shot of the place w/ the cell phone as I walked in.

I paid up and went out driving through the hills looking for possibilities. I then went to Starbucks and posted the shot of Megan and I on my Facebook business website. Than back on the road. About an hour later, out the 49 south of town, past Diamond town, I found a real nice side lit country scene, cool old oak trees, some cows and a farmhouse. I took three shots, making a triptych. It was a good feeling to break the ice on the creating. I had time, if I hurried, to get to the Sequoia Restaurant back in Placerville, the pasta & wine Thursday night special ends at 8 o'clock.

Click photo to enlarge.

They set the chef up right in the restaurant, so he could cook
your to order with the ingredients there to point to..

I arrived right at 8, saw Ivan downstairs in the wine room, and he said he'd have to ring me up immediately before they closed it, and he did. I then went upstairs and saw the chef cooking the pasta to order; I ordered seafood, mussels, mahi-mahi fish and penne pasta w/ vegetables in a red sauce. A salad and garlic bread finished off the selection, and there were already four small glass of wines at my table, kinda like a tasting- it was a nice way to have dinner.

I met Nello, the owner, when he walked up and asked why I was eating alone. "My lovely bride is back in Del Mar working, and I'm working here" I replied. Once he found out I was an artist that specialized in Italy, we hit it off very well. He invited me to his winery in Cameron Park, just west of Placerville, which I'd been wanting to shoot anyways.

Click photo to enlarge.

After dinner I went and said goodbye to Nello and his son Ivan, pictured here in the tasting room.

I told Nello I had worked out a trade for a nice lodge out of town, and he said I could stay at his winery for trade too, as well as trade wine for art too. WHAT A BLESSING, TUL.


Friday, April 19th / McDonalds- 4 p.m.

Using the WIFI here again. Woke to soft light/ thin clouds. Grabbed my 'Wolfman Jack' breakfast special at Mels and checked to see if my camera tools had arrived at the USPS, not yet. Headed out the 50 towards Tahoe and found a super nice spot to shoot the South Fork/American River. The problem is there are warning signs all over that it's emergency parking only. Well, it's an emergency to me but I'm sure not to the Hwy patrol.

Click photo to enlarge.

I stopped to contemplate a composition here, but opted to keep looking,
and found a spectacular one just further up the mountain. South Fork, American River.

Prayed like crazy I wouldn't be bothered and I wasn't. Reached the summit at over 6,000 ft. and the place was covered in snow, but the light had gone harsh, my thin layered clouds had burned up, so I turned around just where the highway goes down the mountain and Tahoe comes into view. Got back here an hour ago. Had a student need a last minute critique for her San Diego Fair entries so I spent 1/2 hour downloading her images she sent me and re-posting them on my site in a size I could view. We then talked over the phone for my critique, worked out fine.

Praying for more clouds to come back, it was real nice having that soft light today. And what a pretty drive that 50 east is from here.

UPDATE: Monday, April 22nd / McDonalds- 2 p.m.

Well, it's been a couple of days without updates, here they are...

After my Friday afternoon update I drove across the freeway and headed north, back towards Lava Cap winery. I found a road that goes down to a bridge that crosses the American River, it had a spectacular view of the river. One problem, well a few, but the big one was no cable release for the photo. Secondly, the bridge was so narrow that if I did not get off when a car came by, which was every couple of minutes with Friday afternoon traffic headed home, I'd get squished. So I held them off with my hand, and finished the six second exposures w/o the cable release. I used the 80mm, and then the 40mm, which requires me hand holding the polarizer as well as shade it during the exposure. I think it's ok, but most likely blurred, I want to re-shoot it now that I've got my cable release. Drove further north, crossed the river again a few miles down, and made my way back to Placerville by dark.

On Saturday the 20th I started off with finding oatmeal and coffee at the Lodge and making my own breakfast, these nice big ones at the local restaurants are not the healthiest. I then went and got my supplies from the US Post Office, the box had finally come. I feel complete!

I then ran to Sacramento (45 min. drive- Pardee's Camera) to get some Kodak Portra 160 ISO film, they had two 'pro-pack', meaning five rolls in a box, so 10 rolls. It's kept in the fridge, and I then keep it on ice in my ice chest, the color dyes can change and not record properly. Tried to get the normal 'tax free' resale setup, but the guy was 'out of forms', and just gave me a 10% off discount instead. I usually get that with pro-pack purchases anyways, so I was not too impressed with this store.

When I got back to the Sierra foothills I got off in Shingle Springs and started my usual drive/look routine, and while I don't usually have any destination per se, I did see where there was one winery out on the road I choose, Chevalier Winery, and upon arriving an older gentleman asked right away 'How did you hear about us'? I found out it was the proprietor, Pierre Chevalier, who runs it with his wife Jeanette.

"Well, I was driving around and your were on the map in the magazine I use" I retorted. He invited me down to the tasting room, which was further down the road on his property. I'd parked by an old barn, which he later let me explore to my hearts content. It had his old '65 Jaguar in it, and it still runs, although I noticed the expiration was good thru 2005, "I still drive it around this area once a week" he explained.

His wife Jeanette joined us in the tasting room, and we chatted about everything under the sun. They don't get many visitor, they said, no other wineries are on the road, so it's not convenient for them, they like the ones 'bunched together, or new'!

Click photo to enlarge.

Jeanette & Pierre Chevalier, of the Chevalier Winery in Shingle Springs,"
pose for me in front of a photo of the first 'commercial winery' in America, which was across the street from theirs, from back in 1870.

Click on the photo a second time after
opening it, to 'super-size' it and see the photo!


He showed me his cellar, and I was surprised it did not have many cases/barrels in it. He reported he only makes some 50 cases of wine per year, with 5 or 6 acres planted, a real 'boutique winery' it's called.. I got a shot of them next to a large photo he'd had restored, from the first commercial vineyards every started, back about in 1870 or so. She holds there dessert wine, made from red grapes, he holds their pride and joy, a Grand Reserve.

From their website on the dessert wine:

"Ice Icle" is a specialty wine made with naturally frozen grapes. Grapes are picked typically in December or January in the low 20's F.

After wards I continued through the foothills, this area is more gentle. By 8 p.m. I made my way back to Placerville in time to walk some of the 'Third Saturday Artwalk', which finished at 9 p.m..

Sunday morning the owner Jim Davies came by the Lodge, he had to do some landscape work. We shot the bull for awhile first, he told me many stories of how the gold came to me, how it got mined (above and below ground), and some trout fishing stories to boot.

I made it to Calvary Chapel Placerville, which is actually in Diamond, for the 10:30 service. Nice church and he talked on the book of Thessalonians, which really resounds to me since I've traveled so much over the Geek, Turkey and Israel Countries, as well as Italy and Spain, all the place Apostle Paul visited and talked about in his epistles.

Afterwards I decided to head south, towards Angel's Camp, and made it as far as Jackson. Had lunch at Mel's and Faye's Diner (since 1956) where I had a great 'all you can stack on one medium sized plate' salad, and I stacked a lot.

Then drove around the old town center, then east a bit (10 miles), then back towards Sutter Creek, which was were I found Avio Winery. The lady working there had just started, the owners were in Cabo, and she said I could look around all I wanted. At the rear of the tasting room/cellars I found two stainless wine tanks, probably would hold 5,000 gallons, and the reflection off of one was really cool. I got a shot of it with the 120mm, f/22 at 1/2 sec., on tripod w/ cable release, of course. YIPEE!

I then went back to Placerville where I joined friends, the Olichney's, for diner at Mel's Original at 5/30 (had the prime rib special again). They left and I got home at dusk. Wanted to get out early today so I hit the sack early, early for me- 11:30.

Monday the 22nd.

Got up early as planned and out the door a little after 6 a.m., the sun was just lightening the area up. I wanted to drive to Jackson again, the place had such great looking possibilities, but with all the great side light I got nothing move me. Reminds me of the talk I had with a gallery owner in Diamond yesterday after church, she reps her husband and many a time he comes home after driving around looking for a painting to make and says 'nothing move me', you can't force it, all you get is mediocre images if you do.

Stopped at Mel's and had a '6 oz NY steak and eggs' special, $5.49, (includes the great Mels home fries smothered in green onions and toast) cant' beat that. Went back to the lodge, repaired the electrical on my boat (might need it Thursday on my return home- either before sunset, or after- the lights fore and aft did not work Tuesday night). Jim, the Lodge owner, might join me, he says he could use a break, has not fished in years but used to love it. I then took an hour nap and came here afterwards, to do this update. This takes time, as I have to download and adjust the iPhone pics for publishing, here and on my Facebook page. For example, it's now 4 p.m., it took 2 hours. I usually have a digital recorder to make notes, but I left that at home, and besides, if I keep up with this system I don't have to type it out after the trip. I've already got 58 trips I need to do that with! E Gads man!


UPDATE: Tuesday, April 23rd / McDonalds- 4:40 p.m.

Yesterday, after the update, I went south and looked around, the slow drive routine. It's a hassle, as so many folks just zip around these roads, some barely being able to hold the curve. I see a lot of memorials posted along the hwy, and a lot of car debris at places like single lane bridges, where someone did not pay attention that they were supposed to yield. I called Nello Olivo to see if he might be around for me to shoot his ranch, and he called back and we made an appt. for 7 p.m.. Found his place after a bit of a snafu, the GPS unit sent me to a farm that had no road thru it, so I figured out I had to go around finally. The light was nice, but did not see anything to shoot. He gave me a tour, all the vineyards, the cellars (old barn for 36 horses), his wonderful home and his spare house he said I could stay at on my next trip- TUL!

Finished the visit and wanted to hit Sizzler, missing a good steak, but it was 9.30 and was closed, so In and Out was second choice. Got home and to bed by 11.

Tuesday, April 23rd

Up at 6 a.m. and showed, made oatmeal and coffee, and was out before 7, to clear skies, AGAIN! And no end in sight for this great tourist weather. Been praying for storms but the Lord has decided to make me find shots the hard way- to dig them out. I did get two anyways, as early light is always good. Back lit trees over off Pleasant Valley road by Grizzly Flats.

Just before 11 I made it to Mels for the steak and egg special (ends at 11 a.m.), with 2 minutes to spare. I then went to Folsom AAA Auto club for some complimentary maps, as I really did not get any 'official' ones so far. I then followed the road along the lake to the east, and connected to the 49 again, and came back to Placerville. I went to the Sequoia Restaurant to visit Ivan Olivo but he was not in. The restaurant was open, although nobody was around, and I found a shot in the bar area with a great glass partition as the main subject (80%), great light, with a little color for the libation on the bottom, and reflections in the shiny marble bar top. Was with the 80mm, f/11 @ 1/2 sec.. Then shot the mirror behind me, looking back into the glass window, with the camera in the photo. Wide angle (40mm) f/11 -1/4, 1/2 and 1 sec. As I left I noticed Ivan had opened up the cellar, and went and said hi. He gave me some pointer on places that might be cool to shoot, included Tahoe- Emerald Bay (third person to mention it, gotta go now), as well as a town below Angels' Camp, Columbia, that is 'period dressed' by the workers in the town.

Had my afternoon coffee, took care of some business for the home show I'm working this weekend in Del Mar (Photo and Video West) and updated this day-book, so now I'm off.


UPDATE: Wednesday, April 24th / McDonalds- 3:40 p.m.

Went out the 49 south again yesterday afternoon, after the update, and got two nice side lit images of the oak trees. Made it to Sutter Creek town by after dusk, and over to the Sizzler which closed at 9 p.m., got there with 10 minutes to spare. To bed by 11 for my beauty sleep, want to get to S. Lake Tahoe the next morning in time for good light.

Wednesday, today, was up and out by 6:20, grabbed McDonalds' breakfast sandwiches and coffee and headed east on the 50 towards S. Lake Tahoe. Idea is to shoot Emerald Bay, Ivan Olivo, the son of Nello and works at their tasting room, told my yesterday afternoon it was one place not to miss, so he was the third to say so. With that the rule, (three mention it), it headed there. But on the way I told myself 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush' and found two spots worth shooting along the hwy again, both with dramatic strong light coming in from the side through the peaks. The first shot with the 250mm, f/22 @ 1/2 and 1 seconds, with the 400 ISO Kodak VC,, rated @300 ISO.. The second w/ the wide angle, then the 80mm (normal), with the new 160 ISO Kodak Portra from Fresno.

By the time I got to Emerald Bay, the light was way too strong. No clouds as usual, been that way since I arrived here. While going in I found what I  would call 'the prettiest 100 yard stretch of road in the world! It was on the precipice drive between a teal colored lake called Cascade and Emerald Bay, one on each side with the highway on the top with no emergency lanes, just drop off on both sides.


Click photo to enlarge.

The prettiest 100 yards of view in the world- so sayith I.
This is made with the 360 app on my iPhone, check it out.

I've posted this SUPER SIZE, so you can click on it
again once it loads to see it HUMONGOUS.

  Click this link to see the spot on the map:  http://mapq.st/ZsD9Pr

Was way too cool. I got out and got a shot, by parking on the only spot available that you could actually park off road (you'll see in the pic). I then stood in the middle of the hwy to get the shot.

Looked at the map before heading back, and noticed I could go back a different way, so I did. I took the 89 towards Jackson, then the 88, and I MUST SAY it's one of the prettiest drives in the world. So many lakes with snow capped shorelines, fantastic.

I made it to Jackson by noon-thirty and stopped at Mel's and Faye's Diner again, and again, had the all you can stack on one plate salad- yummy.

I made it back to town here by 3:30, and called Nello to see about getting some cases of wine for the art he's ordering, left a message. Also called Jim Davies, the guy with the Lodge I'm staying it, he said he can't join me tomorrow for fishing at the Delta- work. That four letter word that pays the bills, oh well. He said he'd try and stop by tonight and say hi after his late meeting, around 10:30 p.m., told him no problem, being a night owl.

Oh yeah, my helper and new artist at the gallery, Brian Torch, called this afternoon and reported he's going to be on local San Diego TV on Monday, and will mention the gallery, hopefully he gets some action from it, how exciting.

to be continued...

Well, I went and shot some more images for the past few days to finalize this series. The weather was nice until yesterday. GREAT fall color, and saw new towns: Murphys, Jamestown, San Andreas, Angels Camp and Sonora. Lots of great art galleries and old hotels. It was Halloween so a lot of decor was displayed all over town.

Re-connected with Nello Olivo up in Placerville, and partook in their first ever ghost-tour, which entailed a tour through the old church, the cemetery across the street, and the old home the wine tasting room is under.







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