"You know Dad, this is a really good Father's Day with you."
I'm pretty sure that was the best gift my husband could have received.
Mother's Day weekend, the boys took me to Muir Woods and Monterey for an adventure. Not to be outdone, we came up with another adventure for Father's Day...panning for gold! As far as the boys are concerned, gold is the real reason we came to California anyway. The boys surprised him with the trip.
It turns out, gold country is about a 2 1/2 - 3 hour drive from San Jose at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Luckily it's a beautiful drive through mountains and farm land. I found this great website with a list of different state parks to visit: : Visit California: Gold Rush Adventure. I discovered that you can pan for gold in any California State Park. The only problem is that I didn't want to actually pan for gold. I wanted a tourist trap where we would have a much better shot at finding gold.
We settled on Columbia State Historic Park. I am so glad we did. It was an amazing day! For Virginians, I compared it to Colonial Williamsburg. It's a historic town with real businesses. It just so happens that the businesses are focused on an authentic, historic town. And for $10 a kid, you are guaranteed to find gold.
It's so authentic and so original, that many movies have been shot there including "High Noon," and almost every Clint Eastwood western.
We walked around the town, had a good, leisurely lunch in the hotel saloon, and - of course - panned for gold.
We got our pans and waited for our lesson. Our instructor has been panning for gold since the '70s. He made it look so easy.
But we had success! See those tiny little flakes in the pan? That's gold!
Gold Fever! I was surprised. I thought the boys would pan for a while and then give up and move on. Boy was I wrong. They were as happy as could be panning. My husband had a great time helping them and sharing their excitement. There were lots of hugs going around.