After taking the kids to Columbia to pan for non-existent gold, I took them to see the biggest nugget in the United States, this 44 pound gold nugget at Kautz Winery in Murphys.  I’ve been there many times with out-of-town visitors but not with young kids. They were impressed,  but more impressed with the sensitivity of an assay scale where they could put a single penny on the scale and watch it re-balance.

They liked the life-like sculpture of a California black bear, a critter they are familiar with. Bears are common in Alaska and to their culture, which is Inupiat. When the kids recently moved to Colorado, some of their new found friends didn’t know what an Eskimo was. And the kids are still unfamiliar with some fruits, as in:  “I thought cherries were red?”   They were eating St. Anne’s. And an apricot, they were unsure if it was a small,  un-fuzzy peach or a plum. Nome, where they lived,  is very isolated. Their mother is always amazed by the plethora of flowers in California, and Kautz’s Winery is a treat for the eyes with lavish gardens.

Our next stop was Stories And Stones, a store in Angels Camp that carries huge geodes, jewelry, bones, arrowheads and  all manner of gem stones and shells from around the world. They also have a skeleton of a grizzly bear. Stories and Stones is a wonderful, educational place to take children. Their small allowance goes a long way. They can  pick out pretty polished stones for twenty-five cents, or fifty cents and up,  and get a bag with a tag of their little treasures. Alyssa and Amanda chose mood rings and a couple of small gem stones. Angelo, chose magnetic rocks, an arrowhead, and shells. Selection is so much fun here.

Part of the day was spent working puzzles, learning Mexican Train Dominoes and playing cards. At age five, Angelo needed some help with the puzzle. They spent most of the afternoon playing in Murphys Creek and listening to the music in the park. Kids instantly make friends with other kids.

They compete to help out with table-setting and emptying the dishwasher. I told them they did a perfect job and they hammed it up for a  picture. I look at the paltry pictures I took and think to myself, how many opportunities  do I have to take cute kid pictures?  Kids are such hams and I’ve not taken many  of them as we go about our day. But, maybe that’s  a good thing. After all, it isn’t about pictures, it is about enjoying their visit. (Note:  kids move FAST.)



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