Adventures in the Old West

Last night I got home from attending my sister Elise’s wedding. If you knew my sister, you’d know it’s not at all an insult to say she’s kind of a hippie-stoner.  In fact she would probably tell you that herself. So her wedding, held outside an Old West hotel under a handmade wooden arch with a ceremony performed by that guy with the giant beard you see below, was perfect for her.

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The wedding was held in Sheep Ranch, California, which is about two hours east of Sacramento, and definitely in the middle of nowhere. It was named for the sheep, but in 1860 gold was discovered, and the town was soon bustling. George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst, bought the main mine, and pulled more than 4 million dollars worth of gold out of the ground. The Pioneer Hotel, one of two hotels in town, provided rooms, women, and alcohol for the gold miners. In 1942 the mine was shut down, and Sheep Ranch faded back into obscurity. Today there are officially 32 residents, and many times more sheep.
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You can’t just book a room anymore (there are no employees), but the Pioneer Hotel still stands. It is owned by a friend of the groom’s family, so everyone stayed in rooms, or in tents out back.

The interior of the hotel is filled to the brim with curios. Farming and mining implements, animal skulls, and antique furniture are everywhere.
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The bar, occupied in this photo by my sister’s friends, is supposedly where Mark Twain spent some time writing.

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Through that doorway with the beaded curtain is the poker room. It has bullet holes in the walls, probably from some heated card games.

Below, some of the many angry taxidermied animals that covered the walls. That deer is extremely disapproving, isn’t it?

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A few more phone shots, because there was just too much cool stuff on this trip.
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Left: Crater Lake, from the plane ride over Oregon. Right: More taxidermy!
Left: A sheep licking my husband’s hand. Right: New sandals, and painted toes.
Left: An ancient dog and its scooter in a nearby town. Right: The hotel in 1904. It hasn’t changed much.
Left: The infinity dress I whipped up for the wedding. More on that soon! Right: A real reward poster.