If you can stand just one more post about Yosemite . . .
This one is bookish!
Every year when we begin the journey home from Yosemite, many of the families in our large group of campers stop for lunch in the picturesque Gold Rush town of Groveland, California:
We often eat lunch at The Iron Door Saloon, est. 1851, which purports to be the oldest continuously operating saloon in California. We don’t really choose to eat here because of the age of the saloon. We like to eat here because the sign says, “Families welcome” and the owners don’t give us mean looks when a large group of adults and children stumble in covered in dirt and smelling like campfire smoke (maybe much as the gold miners did in 1851, come to think of it). We are always offered a table and hot food, which tastes delicious after three days of camping in cold and rain.
This year, we parked down the street from the Iron Door Saloon, and as we walked down the street, these two intriguing signs captured my interest:
The arrow on the sign beckoned to me, telling, no — commanding — me to detour up a small alley in between buildings. I really wanted to follow the sign and find some books, but my family was hungry for a hot meal at The Iron Door. All through lunch I thought about the sign and wondered what kind of books would be at the end of the trail where the signs led.
After lunch, I got a great idea. I figured out a way to distract my family for a short while so I could go and browse among the books. I saw this sign and pointed it out to Tom and Huck, who immediately begged their father for ice cream.
While Thoughtful Husband and the boys enjoyed their ice cream, I wandered up the alley behind the saloon to discover the hidden bookshop:
It was a nice shop, with both reading copies and antiquarian books. The man working there told me that the store, open by chance, is owned by a man who works as a translator in Yosemite National Park. He inherited the books from his father and decided to run this little shop to sell off the books. I went home with four new purchases. I had never really considered there might be an antiquarian bookshop in this small town in the Sierras, yet here it was! Once again, the words of Larry McMurtry’s character Cadillac Jack, “Anything can be anywhere,” were proven to me.
Anything can be anywhere — even behind California’s oldest saloon.
See you in the stacks!