What Do We Do In Mineral King?

Posted by on Aug 30, 2013 in Mineral King | 2 Comments

Sometimes in Mineral King we just hang around the cabin, knitting, splitting wood, reading, playing a game called Mancala (I don’t like games but this is a tradition with my annual guest PC, and besides, the marbles are really beautiful), and baking pies in a wood stove oven.

Then we say, “What are we doing?? It is a beautiful day, and we could be out on a trail!”

Sometimes, a hike is just too much trouble. Pack up food, water, be prepared to be gone the bulk of the day, find a walking stick, do you need a poncho or parka, which camera shall we take, can I fit in this knitting in case I’m just sitting around?

So, we opt to not take food or water and just go for a walk.

Look Ma, no packs! It is just a walk, not a hike, after all.

A mighty steep walk. Some parts of the trail to White Chief are so steep that I have to do them on my tip-toes, because it is hard for my feet to bend at the angle of the trial.

As we were heading up the trail, I kept wondering, “Who Moved My Chief?”

Okay, that’s far enough. Can we go back now? It looks sort of as if it might rain.

Good camouflage, Miss Deery.

Weird sky, weird glowing light on Sawtooth, which is behind the darker peak that we call “Sawtooth’s Shadow”, even though its real name is “Mineral Peak”.

Final view of the trail as we hurried back to the cabin – aren’t those walking sticks interesting? Handy if you are heading out, but they won’t keep you dry in the rain.

PC LOVES the rain! I can tolerate it if I have a decent parka or poncho, and Trail Guy HATES to be caught out in it. The whole gamut of rain opinions resides in our cabin, but we are all immensely grateful for any water that falls from the sky.


What Is The California Artist Doing?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in commissions, drawing, General | 5 Comments

Perhaps you’ve been wondering if I am still a California artist. Cruising to Alaska, having fun in Mineral King; is this chick even working any more??

I am working diligently on The Cabins of Wilsonia. You can follow the progress on my other blog, called The Cabins of Wilsonia. (Sometimes my own cleverness just slays me.) Actually, you can follow my thoughts about the process, because I’m not showing everything I’ve finished. Gotta have a little mystery, so people will want to buy the book!

My drawing quota for August has been met, and now it is time to work on some commissions.

I have 2 cabins in Wilsonia to draw that are outside the scope of the book. This is good, because income is good. This is not good, because doggonit, I will have 230+ cabin drawings and now I’m adding to the + side of things!

Nope. not complaining. It is tricky to choose the exact cabins and views that will please the cabin folks and also keep the book from looking all samey-samey on every page.

The entry-way door of this cabin is interesting to me.

Wilsonia cabin door pencil drawing

It is also interesting to the people who own the cabin, but they are more interested in seeing the cabin in its entirety. So, I’ve done a couple of sketches so they can choose. The differences between the two choices are subtle – can you spot them?

sketches for a pencil drawing commission of a cabin

Cruisedays, Tuesdays

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Going Places | No Comments

This is Chapter Six of Fun Things I Will Never Do Again (Unless Someone Else Pays) or “My Alaskan Cruise”.

Juneau might have been my favorite stop. This could be because we were there the longest of all the ports. After visiting the Mendenhall Glay-shee-uh, we went up Mt. Roberts.

Mt. Roberts has a tram, which costs $31 and zips you to the top of a mountain above Juneau. Not us – we are Trail Guy and Mrs. Trail Guy.

We meandered through the streets of Juneau, following a map I got back in the 1980s when I thought I might move to Alaska. (I was an idiot, but let’s not think about that too much.)



These folks in Juneau really take advantage of the long days of sunlight during the summer. We loved seeing the results of the gardening efforts.



Steep streets, steps everywhere.



I was pleased and amazed to see this very place, same view, in the overpriced book that the cruise ship sold about the various ports of call on our journey.



When we got out of the neighborhoods and closer to the trailhead, this was the view.



This is probably just a stream. Looks bigger than the Kaweah River!



Hmmm, that would get your attention in the winter. (There’s a typo in the sign. . . just sayin’.)



It was steep, muddy, uphill and 2.5 miles to the top where the tram is. There are more trails at the top, but we were muddy and sweaty and done. However, we started pretty close to sea level, so this sort of hike wasn’t nearly as huffy-puffy as hiking in Mineral King.



Nice view of Juneau below!



Really really nice views up there!



Hey! There’s our ship!

I told you these cruises are all about the ship, right? We had a tiny sense that we were out there on our own during our long day in Juneau. I’d like to go back and stay a week or two.

Oh – about the tram? We spent $20 at the top of the tram, and showed our receipt, which worked as a ticket for a quick and thrilling descent back to the port.


Wood Stove, Pies, and Friendship in Mineral King

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Mineral King | 4 Comments

(Today’s post is about cabin life in Mineral King rather than hiking. If this is boring to you, tune in again next Friday.)

In a former life, I was a baker. Pies were the specialty of the outfit where I was employed. It was a long time ago. Now I only bake pies for special occasions, and it amazes me that one pie makes the same huge mess as 8 or 12 pies do.

For 27 years there has been no oven at my cabin. Last fall, Trail Guy and Cowboy Bert remedied the situation.

We have some once-a-year neighbors in Mineral King, and over the course of the last 28 years, they have become cherished visitors to the cabin next door. Our friendships have progressed to the point where they are now comfortable hanging around in our back yard! Last year I knew they were coming, so I baked them a pie.

This year, I baked them 2 pies in a wood stove oven!

It was a big project. My dear friend PC peeled and sliced the fruit, I rolled out the crusts, and Michael operated the stove. Honestly, it took all three of us.

We had to rotate them very carefully and thoughtfully. It sounded something like this:

“Don’t open the oven yet. There is one in the back right corner and one in the front left. Pull the front one out and set it on the stove. Then rotate the back right to see if it is getting dark. If it is darker than the front one, take it out. Put the former front one in the back right, but make sure the darkest part is toward the front of the oven.  Okay, GO!”

“Did you reset the timer? How many 10 minuteses has it been? Do you think we can pull them if the crusts look brown?”

The apple pie took 50 minutes and the peach pie took 40. I think both needed more time, but the peach pie got sort of burned-ish anyway. No one complained. All were complimentary. I don’t much like pie (unless a thing is ice cream or dark chocolate, it is rarely worth the calories to me), but I certainly enjoyed the project  process.

It was Cathy, my bona fide Mineral King Expert friend who thought that inverted colanders would be good cooling racks. She was right, of course.

P.S. Homemade pies in a wood burning oven are good campaign props, don’t you think? If you live in the Everett school district, vote for Ted Wenta!


How to Enjoy and Use This Blog

Posted by on Aug 22, 2013 in General, the business of art, Thoughts | No Comments

Big fat happy THANK YOU to those of you who return to my blog, over and over. 

Based on some emails I’ve received, it is time to go over a few things to help you enjoy this blog.

1. Some of you have asked me how to comment.

This is tricky. Some of your computers don’t show the same page view that I see. There is a sentence at the end of each post that reads “Be the first to respond” or “no responses yet” or “# of responses so far”.

This is true unless you are my amazing friend Nikki. I don’t know why her computer shows her a different view. It isn’t personal. Computers are just weird like that.

If you click on those words (hover over them – see your cursor turn into a little hand? This means you can click on it), it will give you a window or a box or something that allows you to type in your comment or question.

Then, it will probably look as if it didn’t work. This causes some people to submit two identical comments, because they think the first one didn’t work. Don’t worry – it goes into a spam folder, and then I go find it and approve it. If you submitted two, I delete one. If you misspelled words, I fix them. I’m just weird like that (sort of an auto-correct function that comes with my brain.)

2. Some of you only care about a particular subject, such as Mineral King, or drawing lessons. 

You can either type the subject into the search box (if your computer is kind enough to show it) or you can scroll down the main page until you see the word “Categories” on the left side; just click on the particular Category that interests you and you will get pages of post headlines, most current on top. You can click on the headlines that blow your skirt up.

3. Several of you have had a little trouble on the main website with the shopping cart. You click on a buy button, and nothing happens.

How annoying! This is because after you choose what you want to buy, you need to click on the word “Cart” at the top of the page. That will show you what is in the cart.


Okay, hope that helps. Feel free to try the cart (you can always close the page if you didn’t really mean to buy something), try the commenting system (you can always close the page if you didn’t mean it),  try the Search box, or try clicking on a category that interests you.

Thanks for stopping by, thanks for making it to the end of this instructional post. Here is your reward:

More Tuesday Cruiseday

Posted by on Aug 20, 2013 in General, Going Places | 4 Comments

Chapter Five of My Alaskan Cruise, or Cruising is a Fantasy Life, or Fun Things I Will Never Do Again (Unless Someone Else Pays)

Our third and final day with feet on Alaskan soil was spent in Juneau, the capital of Alaska. It is disconnected from the rest of the state unless you fly or use the ferry system (or arrive on a cruise ship. . . maybe you could canoe or kayak too).

This day will be divided into 2 parts, because although there were 3 parts to the day, the 3rd part was not photographed. It was a walk through the town at about 9:30 at night. It was light enough to take pictures, but the light was flat.


Just your average view on your average day on your average bus, going to see an average glacier, by the name of Mendenhall, a non-average sort of name.


HEY! We have these in Mineral King and in Three Rivers!


Trail Guy was pleased that there were trails. We walked about one easy mile to Nugget Falls. It was a walk, not a hike, because there was no food in our packs, just cameras and binoculars (and maybe some knitting.)


Who are these people? Just a bunch of Tulare County hon-yocks. That’s Nugget Falls to your right, and the Mendenhall Glacier to the left behind us. (or “Glay-shee-uh” as the ship’s naturalist said.)


Check out those blues! Blue is God’s favorite color. It is mine too. Doesn’t make me holy or anything. Just means I have one tiny thing in common with God.


Hey Trail Guy, it’s easier to hike on flat stuff at sea level, ain’t it?


The bus was delayed due to a Fourth Of July parade. No worries. Waiting is seldom a problem for me. See that yarn? The color is called “Hawaii”. Nope, I think it should be called “Glay-shee-uh”.


List of random thoughts about cabins and Mineral King

For clarification, this blog is about a California artist, me, to be specific. Mineral King is one of my main sources of inspiration, it is in California, I call my business “Cabinart”, there are cabins in Mineral King, and this is The Season in Mineral King.

Any questions? Yes? Click on the commenting line that might say “Be the First To Respond” or “# of responses”. No? Let us proceed. . .

 1. While enjoying the sunset on the Mineral King bridge one evening, I met Claudia and Dustin.

They were delightful, and Claudia told me about a great website whose name I am afraid to type on my blog. It is called cabin {blank}. The blank begins with a “p”, has four letters, ends with “n” and has the word “or” in the middle. It is fabulous photos of cabins from all over the world. Unfortunately, I just can’t put the name in my blog because who knows what sort of firestorm of spam it might unleash! So, put on your thinking caps, figure it out, and type in www dot cabin (that word) dot com and enjoy some wonderful cabin photos.

2. You’ve read about the Nature Trail AKA Wildflower Walk in Mineral King several times on this blog. (Or maybe you skipped those days. . .) While on the trail the first weekend in August, I found yet another flower that I’ve never seen before. It is on the downstream side of this little bridge. On the upstream side of that bridge I discovered a new flower several years ago, a Monk’s Hood. That is a real thrill to this rural regional artist who never goes anywhere (except Alaska twice, Chicago twice and China twice). It is a shrub that makes a berry in the middle of the blossom. Two friends said, “Wild Coffee Berry!” but it doesn’t match the photos I found on the internet.

3. This guy blew past me on the Wildflower Walk with his dog. HIS DOG! There are signs at either end of the trail with a picture of a dog and a slash through it. I overheard the guy say that he knew dogs aren’t allowed on the trails which is why he had to walk so fast. Hmmm, that means you don’t have to follow the rules??

Hike to Empire, Part 2

Posted by on Aug 16, 2013 in Mineral King | No Comments

We left our eight hikers at the bunkhouse ruins just below the Empire Mines in Mineral King.

There are four different mining holes. (Are they called that?) I don’t know if they are separate mines, or entries to the same mine. Some might be enterable, but not unless you have ropes and know what you are doing!

See the rock spires above? Up there are a couple of air shafts that drop down into the mines. Only Scott, the youngest on our hike, ventured up there. He didn’t have to save his knees for the descent as the rest of us older duffers had to do.

Not much to see in there.

The rocks are very interesting at the mine entrances. This particular mine hole was closed with dirt by the Forest Service back when this was their jurisdiction. They didn’t want people falling down the hole. Sheesh!

This is the New England Tunnel. The New England Tunnel and Smelting Company was involved in the mining of Mineral King. I read Louise Jackson’s Mineral King history book twice, and I still can’t remember the details.

There’s nothing to see here, folks – keep moving.

But it looks so cool from the inside out!

Actually, it looks pretty neato from the outside in.

After the mines, we got on the old road. There is a road up there. Really!

We followed the road toward Timber Gap, and encountered about 6 or 7 more people. Turns out we knew them, and right there on the old wagon road that was built by miners, the descendants of some of the miners met up with their cabin neighbors. It was really fun!

Here is the final relic of the day. There was a gate between 2 trees on Timber Gap. These hinges and some wire remain.

Another Tuesday Cruiseday

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 in Going Places | 6 Comments

This is Chapter Four. Thank you for returning. Today we will visit Icy Strait Point, a made up destination for cruise ships.

In 1999, the Tlingit folks in the town of Hoonah on Chichagof Island decided to turn an old cannery into a tourist destination. They spent the next 5 years planning, buying property, spiffing it up, learning about the cruising industry, courting cruise lines and turning a former factory into a terrific place to spend a day, with things to do and see, places to eat and shop, and all of it staffed by very genuinely friendly and helpful people.



They only allow one ship in port at a time. The ship uses its lifeboats to go ashore. We had only noticed these while walking underneath them on Deck 7, the Promenade Deck.





We spent some time walking along the shore, looking at the water and then walking a trail. I was amazed to see the same flowers as we have in Mineral King – fireweed (above), columbine, cow parsnip were among the familiar wildflowers.

columbine cow-parsnip



Trail Guy and I had the unique privilege of meeting one of the people who had the vision for this wonderful destination, the son of a Norwegian captain and his Tlingit wife, a native of Hoonah.



Johann spent some time explaining how it all came about, and he showed us the house where he grew up. He also showed us the retaining wall that looked as if it was made of layers of rock or old wood. Nope! Look at this: (hint – think cannery)


cansWe walked the 1-1/2 mile into the town of Hoonah. The town is only participating in the tourist thing at a small level, but we enjoyed the rainy walk along a nice sidewalk that followed the water.



Look at the size of that ship!

img_2791 img_2792 img_2797 big-ship


No, really, look at that! Can you see the tiny orange dealies on the side all in a row? Those are the life boats.


We didn’t mind the rain, and with that nice sidewalk, it wasn’t muddy. In spite of the exploring, the trip recount keeps being all about the ship. You have to be careful on these cruises to thoroughly enjoy your brief stops, because it really is all about the ship.


Next time, I think I will go by ferry, part of the Alaska Marine Highway. I bet the folks traveling that way look at our giant ship and sneer. They might be every so slightly envious, but they are probably seeing much more of Alaska than we did. (P.S. I just talked to someone familiar with the Alaska Marine Highway and that would be a SUPERB way to see Alaska!)

Trail Guy Led a Hike to Empire in Mineral King

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Mineral King | 8 Comments

One Saturday a.m., it was raining like crazy in Mineral King. Too bad. We geared up, and headed over to the Sawtooth parking lot to see if there were any hardy souls who wanted to visit the Empire mines. We found 2 people in flip-flops, and said, “Nope, not those shoes”. They knew that but were just checking to see if we were going to proceed as planned. Four others appeared, it stopped raining, and we headed up the Sawtooth/Timber Gap trail. (Okay, you can call it the Monarch/Crystal Lakes trail too if you prefer). We figured that if it started raining again, we could either wait it out or head back down. Day hiking is easy like that.

We began as a group of six and eventually the 2 flip-flop wearers caught up (wearing hiking boots.)

Relics can be found around various historic sites. I don’t know what these things are, but they are interesting.

This is the corner of a tram tender’s cabin. Maybe.

Trail Guy referred to the Mineral King History book by Louise Jackson to figure out some of the historical sites. If you love Mineral King, you need that book! Louise used to lead this hike, but asked Michael to take it this year.

Yep, a tram went through here. It hauled buckets full of ore down to the stamp mill. The ore was quite disappointing, and mining didn’t succeed in Mineral King. Now, we love to look for the relics of the past.

We left the trail and headed up to the old bunk house ruins in the fog.

Alice and I got to talking and climbed a bit too high. That is the ruins of the miners’ bunk house down there. I think it is remarkable that we can stand there in the very spot where these old guys lived while searching for gold. (That’s why I am remarking on it!)

Ick. What sort of relic is this?

Ooh, maybe we should have gone to White Chief so we could be in the sunshine!

To be continued. . .