Friday, April 22, 2011

Used to be Mining Town

The kitchen cabinets had just been refinished.  The house stunk like chemicals.  With freshly painted surfaces and a stinky house last night wasn't the time to eat in but to eat out.

After a brief husband/wife conversation of where do you want to eat, I don't know where do you want to eat, well I am in the mood for this this and that, Well I'm not in the mood for this this and that I want to eat there, we finally ended up driving 20 minutes west to the old mining town of French Gulch.  French Gulch is just a tad bit past the lake where the sailboat is moored.  Nice drive by the lake and through the forest.

There's not a lot going on in FG.  A few live there.  A post office is located in an old building that once housed a store (now defunct and for sale).  A saloon operates from about 11 in the morning until 6 or 7 in the evening (pretty tame and not like the old days I'm sure).  It's an original that has been operating since the goldrush days.  

The main fixture in town is the FG hotel and restaurant.  It was bought by a couple of partner guys from Seattle a couple of years ago.  They've learned the hard way what it's like to run a business like this in a town populated with people who don't eat out a lot.  No doubt it's been a tough tow to hoe for these two.

We get there and try to open the dining room door.  Sign says use the bar entrance which we do.  Dark place.  A couple of people eating.  One of the owner dudes who serves and doesn't cook (his pard does all the cooking) says be seated anywhere in the bar as the dining room is closed. 

I order an 8 ounce sirloin, baked potato, vegetable, salad with honey mustard dressing, Wifey orders a mushroom chicken deal with the same sides. 

About the time we ordered another couple, obviously local (he's wearing a red shirt, yellow suspenders and a large tan broad rimmed hat ---like a miner dude would wear), sits at the table next to ours which is already occupied by a young man that they knew.

Just as we were served the young man at the neighboring table begins recanting the film he had just watched.  It was about WWII, Jews, concentration camps and what have you.  It was like a blow by blow, detail by detail description of the film.  He went on and on and on and on and one in a tone loud enough to be heard by every one in the room.  There was no holding a conversation.  Wifey and I kept looking at each other through this blow by blow movie review both thinking will it ever end?

Finally I stand up, look at the neighboring table and say, "How many minutes until this movie is over?"

The boy looks taken aback, the couple smiles knowing what I was referring to.  He says it's done and shuts up.

If that wasn't enough the guy next to us adopts Wifey and I as his two new best friends.  He talks about things wayyyyy out there, things you and I never think about.  The remainder of our dinner was filled with his thoughts about this, that and other things that honestly....I could care less about.

We finish our meal.  I head to the bar to pay the tab.  The new friend follows, sits at the bar and continues his conversation with Wifey which now is about the fact that they both love the same book store and could never live without it. 

I pay up.  We shake hands with the man in the red shirt and suspenders and walk out to the car.

The meal was great with exception of the canned green beans (these partner dudes should know better). On second thought maybe the canned beans were part of serving an authentic gold rush meal.  Miners probably didn't have fresh vegetables and likely ate out of cans.  Hmmmm.  But did miners like green beans?

Whatever the case, we'll be back if for nothing else but to support the two guys who are hanging onto their business by their fingernails.

When we eat at the French Gulch Hotel again we'll probably bump into our new friend and have another one of those conversations.  Not a bad thing.  Maybe I'll learn something.

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Whiskeytown Lake, Very Northern California, United States