in them thar hills of Sonora

Sonora, in the morning

Last weekend we went to Yosemite, for some hiking. Also some waiting in line in the car for ages to get in. It was going to be a very hot weekend after a hot week. I had been busy doing soccer tryouts every day, and it happened that our long planned weekend away in Yosemite coincided with picking the squad. Thankfully we got it done, with a fair bit of text and email back and forth between me and my assistant coach, who did all the legwork while I was gone. We had planned to go to Yosemite a while ago, because you need to make reservations these days, to limit the crowds. Plus we were staying at the Yosemite Lodge, which needs to be booked well in advance. It takes a long time to get to Yosemite, it’s full of long twisty roads, so we decided to stay the night before in Sonora, a historic town in the foothills of the Sierras. I had never been to Sonora; I didn’t really know anything about it, if I’m honest. so it was a pleasant surprise to find such an old town. It seemed very much like the sort of town that would spring up in the hills during the Gold Rush, you remember that, where they rushed with all the gold. Side note, I use to the think that Ian Rush was a historical time when people would go to Wales or somewhere and dig up nuggets of Ian, etc and so on. So I imagined Sonora as the classic frontier town, and since there were several bail bonds offices and criminal lawyers and courthouses and saloons, this was obviously true and this Burnt Oak lad was now in Cowboy Land. Sonora was in fact founded during the Gold Rush by Mexican miners from the Sonora region, and the town and area have been the backdrop for many films and TV shows, like the A-Team, Little House on the Prairie, and even Back to the Future III. On our evening stroll after dinner we passed by a few different bars, now that the CDC have said people can eat and drink inside no problem, masks were generally off and people were reveling. I didn’t go and revel anywhere, but if I did, I’d love to have entered with my mask on, and a cowboy hat, and have everyone stop talking as I stood in the doorway and walked slowly up to the bar. We stayed at the historic Sonora Inn, which we was once the Victoria Hotel (1895) before being remodeled in the Spanish style in the 1930s as the Sonora Inn. I drew in the bedroom after dinner (below), and down in the lobby there was an antique wall telephone like you would see in old Bugs Bunny cartoons or something. The woman at the front desk told us about the history, and we asked if it were haunted. “Yeah, it is, she said tentatively, as if to say “no it isn’t but I’ll say it is”, or maybe it was so haunted she didn’t want to reveal in case the ghosts caused trouble, I don’t know. I have an over-active imagination about ghosts and cowboys. Apparently though there were old tunnels underneath that connected to all the old buildings in town, and if they aren’t haunted then well I don’t know what is. For dinner, we ate at a pasta place (it is a shame that the chef did not also have imagination) and walked about the town. Outside one bar, a well-oiled man with a thick American accent heard my accent and called out to us, asking where I’m from. I told him, and it seemed he knew his England, and had gone to school in Cornwall. We didn’t stop to chat more, but we referred to him afterwards as the Cornish Cowboy, or the Pirate of Penzance, or the Bodmin Bronco, or Texas Truro, again the imagination running away with me like a stage coach pulled into a canyon by a pack of crazy mules. It would be nice to go there for longer and explore a bit more (if my cowboy obsessed mind could handle the excitement), but we only had the evening, and so I got up early next morning before breakfast to do some drawing (“I do my sketchin’ before breakfast…”), before we set off for Yosemite. Yee hah, varmints.

Sonora Inn hotel room  Sonora Inn old phone