Well, this past Saturday in Mariposa, Ca was the last Show & Shine (car show) of the season for us anyway. The rainy season (hopefully) is upon us and classic buffs don’t take their treasures out in the rain very often, particularly if they don’t have windshield wipers. RainX goes just so far in a heavy downpour!
The weekend was also a chance for us to visit Mariposa, a town in which we lived for 11 years prior to our move to Foresthill. We drove Daisy (our 41 Chevy) down Highways 80, 99 and then 140 into Mariposa. We opted for Freeways to make better time getting to our destination. The longest part of the drive, Highway 99, is pretty much a nightmare in an older car with stiff shocks – we were worn out by the time we arrived in Mariposa after only a little more than 4 hours of driving. One of these days, the state of California will fix this asphalt embarrassment once and for all. It’s always under repair or reconstruction, but it still seems as if only the heaviest trucks use this highway and constantly beat it down leaving nothing but ruts, bumps and grooves. And then during the winter months, there is the tulle fog that hovers on and over the roadway, making visibility nearly impossible.
To make matters worse, my favorite off ramp to the Castle Air Museum was closed while they once again reconfigure Highway 99. My favorite ramp because it was one of the few left-hand off ramps and it gave easy access to one of the better aircraft museums in California. (Where else can one get close enough to touch a Thermonuclear Bomb?)
Ah well, one of these days I will learn to deal with change! The good news is that the Vista Winery Pumpkin Patch is still an attraction along Highway 140 between Merced and Mariposa. Another one of my favorite things to do during Autumn – stop for a photo-op at the Pumpkin Patch.
Highway 140 proved one more thing – that this terrible drought in California has hit this part of the state exceptionally hard. There are no more creeks, only dry beds along the roadside. What once were pretty ponds that dotted the landscape are now mere mud puddles. The normally golden foothills are now brown and barren. The drive into Mariposa along 140 proved to be a little depressing especially after living here during the “wet” years and enjoying the beauty of the creeks and rivers in the area.
But my temperament improved once we arrived in Mariposa and drove into the Napa Store parking lot to check-in for the Mariposa Yosemite Hot Rod and Custom Car Show scheduled for the next day. An old friend and famed Mariposa photographer, Charles (Charlie) Phillips was on hand to capture some of the many beautiful cars getting set up for a Friday Night Cruise into downtown Mariposa. Another friend, Dan Warsinger who is the Yosemite Wedding Photographer, was gearing up for some Cruise night photos. Seeing these friends from our Mariposa days really set the right atmosphere for a fun weekend.
Friday night’s cruise down Bullion Street and then up 140 (Main Street) was slow but interesting and fun. Most of the cruise parked along main street so that the many people lining the sidewalks could get a better look at the classics, muscle cars, street rods, and antiques that would be judged the next day at the show. We found some more old friends in town and met some new ones (it seems that this happens at every car show). We had dinner with our new friends that evening at Bett’s Gold Coin Sports Tavern who serve probably the best hamburger in the West!
This wall used to be the greeting as you entered Mariposa from the south. Unfortunately, the building burned taking the beautiful mural with it.
The Saturday car show was held at the Mariposa Fairgrounds and the entrants started arriving early in the morning. By the time the show started at 9am, 250 cars were staged and ready to be judged. The parking lot outside the grounds filled to overflowing during the day with spectators coming in to peruse the vintage autos, one-of-a-kind vehicles, many Ford Mustangs there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mustang, a slew of old and new Corvettes, custom classics and Street Rods. The afternoon weather was a balmy 76 degrees, the food was good and the people extraordinarily friendly.
Some of the many Mustangs celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang.
Many spectators brought their dogs to the show and a few were worthy of camera time:
The Borzoi – a Russian Wolfhound that was as friendly as he was handsome!
Here are just a few of the vehicles entered in the show.
1929 Stearns Knight Sedan
1937 Ford Custom (and being judged in this picture)
1939 Chevrolet 2 door sedan
1950 Chevy Pickup
1950 Chevy Custom Classic Convertible
1969 Pontiac Custom Sport Coupe
And then it was time for the Awards Ceremony. Most walked up the hill to the Fairgrounds stage to see who had won awards for their class and then the People’s Choice, Kid’s Choice, and Best in Show awards. The Mariposa Chamber of Commerce outdid themselves in the number of classes and the amount of trophies awarded this year. Our 1941 Chevy (Daisy) won Best in Class (1937-1948 Street Rods), so that topped our weekend off with a bang!
We celebrated the day and the win by going to Bett’s for drinks and another scrumptious dinner, and were soundly asleep by 9pm – thoroughly exhausted from the day in the sun and the miles we walked looking at and taking pictures of cars.
We decided to return home on Sunday via Highway 49 – a much slower-paced and more beautiful highway than Friday’s trip down to Mariposa. Along the way, we were reminded once again of the California drought when we drove past the Moccasin Creek Fish Hatchery and Powerhouse area. Bone dry is an understatement!
And even though there was water in the Don Pedro and New Melones Reservoirs, the story of the drought is told here as well by the waterline far above the current level of water.
This winter is supposed to be an El Nino year, albeit a weak El Nino. Californians are hoping that the forecasters are wrong and that we get a strong and cold El Nino year that produces a large snowpack so that we can begin to recover from the three years of drought.