So here we are, barely over 30 minutes drive from one of the most amazing National Parks in the USA and what do we do? We visit Coulterville, population 200, and we are happy as Larry.

It is actually not quite off the beaten track. This is not only "49ers" country (part of the old mining towns of the 1849 gold rush) but also John Muir territory (naturalist, author and conservationist).

After popping into the visitor centre and the saloon of the old hotel we spent some time at the park waiting for the swimming pool to open. After a quick dip (not much to do: no paddling pool and, like Palo Alto, no toys or flotation devices allowed -  though nice and cool and much appreciated in this heat) we visited the history museum and Whistling Billy, a steam train used by the miners. We also popped in to the local cafe for a coffee and some ice cream, visited some shops and showed our faces at the John Muir Centre. But the real highlight of the day was just talking to the locals, telling them about our adventures and finding out how people really live out here. In most senses this is what tourism is really about, rather than visiting famous landmarks.

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