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Spring is in the air — time to plan a day trip

Despite the rainy days of late, as I sit at my notebook computer to write this morning, robins and goldfinches are chirping in the garden. The sun is shining through a break in the clouds and all seems right with the world. Once again, I’m away from the noise of the TV/radio/Internet. I can ignore the buzz of the iPhone as I listen to the bumbling of the bees in my cherry trees.

There may be a few more rain showers in the forecast, but I’m ready to start planning a few day trips. One is on my “to do list” every year … but this year I’ll need to be ready to jump at the opportunity quickly.

Daffy for daffodils
McLauglin’s Daffodil Hill Ranch in Amador County will be opening when the rains clear out. This place is a regional favorite, and should be on everyone’s “Bucket List.”

Daffodil Hill is in a beautiful alpine setting at an elevation of over 3,000 feet. With pine trees, an old barn, wagon wheels, and rusting mining equipment and farming tools, it appeals to anyone with a love of nature. Flowers are everywhere, with pea-fowl, chickens, pigeons and lambs making themselves at home.

The story of Daffodil Hill is very romantic, and it is a perfect springtime tale. The ranch is not a commercial enterprise, nor is it formally publicized or promoted. The ranch has been owned by the same family since it was acquired in 1887 by wagon pioneers Arthur McLaughlin and Elizabeth “Lizzie” van Vorst McLaughlin.

In the early days of the Gold Rush, Daffodil Hill was a regular stopping place for teamsters hauling timber from the Sierras down to the Kennedy and Argonaut Mines, and for eastbound travelers heading for the Comstock Lode on the Amador-Nevada Wagon Road (Highway 88).

In 1887, after coming west from New York and Ohio, Arthur and his wife, Lizzie, began to plant the first daffodil bulbs in their spare time. The bulbs have since been lovingly nurtured.

More bulbs are added each year, with the help of private donations. Today, the bulbs number more that 300,000 and include not only 300 varieties of daffodils, but also a large number of other varieties of bulbs and flowers, as well.

The ranch is closed right now, because the garden paths and the parking lot are still pretty muddy. The storm of March 17 brought snow down to 2,000 feet and The Hill is at 3,000 feet. Last year, it was only open for six days – another snowstorm finished the blooms.

However, the farm is hopeful that it can open on April 1 and be open through Easter this year. All that is needed is a little sunshine.

Nature is saying, “Wait,” and my heart is going, “Open! Open! Open!”

This day trip is just 30 to 40 minutes down Latrobe Road to Amador County’s beautiful wine country — another side benefit of the trip, I will admit.

There’s nothing like the scent of 300,000 narcissi in bloom. The hills are green, the air is fresh and you just can’t believe that we live so close to all this natural beauty. This is a great place to take the kids, but plan to leave pets at home as they aren’t allowed on the grounds of Daffodil Hill.

Once it opens, The Hill will be open Monday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free, the only charges may be from local youth groups raising funds in concession stands across the road. Call (209) 296-7048 to make sure the ranch is open, and visit www.amadorcountychamber.com for directions.

You just can’t beat a day out of the house this time of year. Let the spring cleaning wait for just a day. Take a look at your “Bucket List” and decide to cross something off this weekend or next. Get out and explore your world.

Send your event for consideration in Susan’s column to slaird@handywriting.com.

Short URL: http://www.villagelife.com/?p=18737

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Posted by on Mar 26 2012.
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1 Comment for “Spring is in the air — time to plan a day trip”


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  1. What a charming article about Daffodil Hill and its history. I can’t wait to take a leisurely drive up there to enjoy the first days of Spring.

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