In the middle of the night, we are awakened by loud voices outside … Not sinister, mostly giggly and girly. It’s two am. They need to shower. The plumbing isn’t quiet. It clangs. They chat.
Two turns to three and I lie awake.
Eventually I fall asleep, and wake again in the morning: nine am. Too late to do anything. We can’t bike, as The Child’s bike tires need to be inflated, we need breakfast, we need directions, and so on. We have plans to go garnet mining, but that, too, is out: it’s too far to get this late of a start.
I force myself out of bed. My whole body aches. Especially my right leg, the one nervously pressing the gas pedal the entire day before.
I wake the child. We head out to the diner with the spaceship in front, and they bring us a tasty fried breakfast. In between eating that and purchasing a harmonica, we decide to do something else. The day is slipping away.
The Child chooses zip lining, so we bike over to the place, and learn that although there’s no age minimum, there is a weight minimum: ninety pounds.
I’m not sure how much the child weighs but if I could describe her in a word, its teensy. I’m pretty sure that the pixels needed to generate the word teensy on your computer screen weigh more than she does.
The Child is crushed. I just ate a big breakfast, she says hopefully. I don’t have the heart to tell her that I don’t think she ate twenty pounds worth of eggs.
I suggest the mine tour. We’d been told that there was a mine tour where you could pan for gold at the end, but apparently that’s the one in another town, which I’d have to drive an hour to get to and – well, no. We hop on the trolley for the local tour. The Child says hello to the other child on the tour, a large girl about the same age. The girl does not reply.
We find ourselves at the entrance to the Sierra Silver Mine. A retired miner leads the tour.
The mine is cold. I guess we should have expected it, but we didn’t and so didn’t bring any warm layers. The Child huddles against me for warmth. My arm starts to hurt and I can’t take pictures – mostly because of my aching arm, but also because I can’t quite work my new used camera. I take several blurry pictures.
It drips in the mine. She shivers.
She says, I want to be done. I think I’m going to throw up.
The miner turns on the equipment and we are blasted with noise. She weeps.
He turns on another jackhammer-loud machine. She sobs.
The miner doesn’t notice, but the other girl does, and gives The Child a mean look that says “Baby.”
I think, I bet you didn’t have any trouble getting on the zipline.
Finally, we are done. We go back to town. We stop in a tea-shop-slash-antique-store, and order tea.
Each table in the tea shop is a period piece, set with period china and silverware in assorted patterns. My tea cup is more than a bit dirty, and as I’m trying to decide whether I have enough energy to ask for a replacement, The Child discovers a rack full of vintage hats.
Excuse me, she says to the waitress. Can we wear those hats? While we eat?
Of course you can, comes the reply.
The child chooses a fashionable black brimmed hat with gold trim and Minnie Pearl price tag dangling from it for herself. For me, a cherry red broad-brimmed hat with red flowers and a long red veil. I look like an old movie that’s been badly colorized. The child looks adorable.
My tea arrives and is unnervingly cold, even though I just watched the girl heat it. The Child dives into the accompanying tray of sweets, price tag fluttering about her head.
There is a pair of costumed mannequins seated at the table next to us.
A woman walks by, and mistakes us for mannequins.
We love this place! We practice mannequin poses to fool other passers-by.
We don’t fool anyone else, but we do get a lot of compliments on our fabulous hats, so we decide to wander the antique store. I am thinking I will have to spend the time hovering over The Child, saying, don’t touch, don’t touch, but instead she wanders off and I overhear her talking to salespeople, learning about old waffle irons and rustic tools and looking through albums of unidentified antique photos.
We leave with a vintage hand-crank eggbeater and a 1914 toaster.
Day one, and we’ve already found the best souvenirs in town.