california visitor and tourist guidevisit los angeles californiavisit san francisco californiavisit san diego californiasign up for special offers
California
About CaliforniaHotels and ResortsAttractionsArt and EntertainmentDiningShoppingReal EstateVisitor InformationCalendar of EventsReturn to Home Page

 

Featured Websites

California travel and tourist information California
California Travel Articles

Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of sketchandtravel.com is pleased to have as our guest, Don Baumgart.  Don is a free lance writer and author of It Came From Citrus Heights.

Good day Don and thanks for agreeing to participate in our interview.


Norm:


Don, could you tell our readers something about your personal and professional background.

When did your passion for writing begin? What keeps you going?


Don:

My first job out of college was working for the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, a daily newspaper Harry Truman described as the second worst paper in the U.S. I believe it has improved some since then. I moved to Seattle where I went to work for the Associated Press. I've always liked newspaper work because no day brings the same stories. I drifted into public relations (for the money) and later worked for the Sacramento Bee. Money for food and rent keep me going. And, I really like to write.

Norm:

I understand you are interested in the California Gold Rush and you have written some articles pertaining to this topic. How did you become interested in the California Gold Rush? And, as a follow up, if one were to travel to California in search of the areas where there were gold rush activities, where would one begin? What is there today by way of museums, etc? Could one plan a trip solely based on the California Gold Rush?

Don:

When California commemorated its 150th anniversary I wrote a series of weekly Gold Rush history columns that I syndicated to newspapers. California's gold country generally runs along Highway 49 from Downieville south to Columbia. Many locations have preserved buildings in their original state and there's a lot to see. In Nevada City, Firehouse #1 has been taken over by the Nevada County Historical Society and made into an excellent small historical museum. A few miles further south, outside Grass Valley, the Empire Mine is run as a museum by the state, giving visitors a good look at how hard-rock mining was conducted once the surface nuggets had been harvested. This mine produced $5 million in gold during its working life. Also in Grass Valley visitors will find the North Star Powerhouse Museum where a 30 foot Pelton Wheel is on display. These wheels used water to generate power to run mine equipment.

Norm:

I also understand that you are interested in wineries. If you had to choose 8 of the most unique and romantic wineries you have visited, which ones would they be and why? Please briefly describe them.

Don:

Before Prohibition there were over 100 wineries in the Sierra foothills. They disappeared when alcohol was outlawed. Now the growing of grapes and making of wine is fulfilling the prophecy of one Gold Rush era winemaker who said, "Gold is an important source of livelihood...but it will not last. The wines will be more important."

**** Nevada City Winery is housed in a tin building dating from Gold Rush days and still marked "Foundry Garage." Horses drawing carriages clop down the streets in Nevada City, past California's oldest hotel and on through this charming gold mining town preserved in its historic state. At night gas lights illuminate the quiet streets. Victorian homes converted to bed and breakfast lodging in and around Nevada City make a stopover delightfully restful.

**** Quality wines from other small foothill wineries hold the promise of more good tasting. The Apple Hill country outside Placerville, in El Dorado County, is a picturesque countryside dotted with wineries. A comfortable two-hour drive south from Nevada City on Highway 49 takes visitors past Sutter's Mill, where gold was discovered, and deeper into California's other wine country.

**** El Dorado Winery, like most of Placerville's small wineries, produces estate bottled wine -- their varieties are made from grapes grown in their own vineyards. Their vintages are only available at the winery or in local restaurants.

**** At the Madrona Winery the comfortable wood paneled tasting room is decked with ribbons their wines have brought home. Outdoor picnic tables invite visitors to bring a picnic lunch and complement it with a bottle of wine from the tasting room.

**** Lava Cap Winery's deck with picnic tables overlooks the vineyards, and visitors are encouraged to bring lunches. A call ahead will produce a waiting chilled bottle of wine to accompany a picnic.

**** Boeger Winery is nestled into an orchard, its tasting room in an old stucco-covered stone building with a tin roof, built in 1872. Outside fig trees shade picnic tables, separated by a stone wall from a trickling creek, inviting lunch bringers to the grounds.

California's other wine country is producing wines that are winning gold medals in expert judgings, bringing some of the yellow metal back to its homeland, and providing tasting opportunities to travelers who discover its rich rewards.

Norm:

When writing your travel articles, please explain some of your research techniques, and how you find sources for your articles?

Don:

Going there is key. When I decide on a destination I then query editors on their interest in possible articles. A trip to New Orleans produced a piece published by Porthole, a cruise ship magazine, on what to do in the Big Easy before or after a cruise from there. I subscribe to a weekly e-mail newsletter, WritersWeekly.com, that provides a constant supply of information about publications looking for writers. That has been quite helpful It's where I found Porthole. I sold a piece on the railroad that runs along the Panama Canal to International Railway Traveler, a publication that had published an earlier article of mine on the Napa Valley Wine Train. When I have a travel story idea I run over, in my mind, the magazines in which I have previously been published. That's always a good way to approach an editor: Remember me... Porthole took the New Orleans piece because I had earlier sold them an article on FDR's former yacht, the Potomac, which has been converted to a history cruise ship operating out of Oakland, California.


Norm:


What's your advice to achieve success as a writer? What do you consider your first "break" as a writer? How do you come up with ideas for what you write? What methods do you use to flesh out your idea to determine if it's salable?

Don:

I define success as ink on paper, not money (although that's important, too.) I guess my first break was being hired by the Review as a reporter when I applied for a non-writing job. I try to pick very interesting places to visit, looking for the unusual, and trying to fit the potential story to a specific publication. Editors want short, well written queries they can digest quickly. I never know if a story idea is truly salable until I hear back from an editor. And, I seldom write an article until the idea is accepted, because each publication has individual writing requirements.

Norm:

What does travel mean to you?

Don:

Besides a chance to pay for my vacations, I think travel has a broader aspect: the opportunity to get away from one's everyday life and look back from a distance at what one takes for granted. Some good insights come from the long look.

Norm:

How have you used the Internet to boost your writing career?

Don:

I used to get market tips from a monthly magazine; now I get them weekly, online. And, of course, the submission time is virtually nil. Push a button and the article is on the editor's screen. Research is another Internet bonus for today's writer. I wrote a book on restored historic trains, The Ghosts That Roar, by doing a lot of the preliminary research online.

Norm:

Besides writing for magazines, what other writing gigs have you found profitable or rewarding?


Don:

Probably the most fun I have writing is the work I do for The Mountain Messenger, California's oldest weekly newspaper, published in Downieville. The editor believes there is no such thing as objective reporting, as illustrated by his classic news story lead: If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the Planning Commission has picked out a pair of socks.

Norm:

Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?

Don:

Just a plug for another book I wrote, It Came From Citrus Heights. It's a science fiction travel book, about aliens who show up at a science fiction convention because, who would notice? More information can be found HERE


Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.

to read more interviews and articles by Norm Goldman - Visit sketchandtravel.com - click here



About California | California Hotels and Resorts | California Attractions | California Art and Entertainment
California Restaurants and Dining | Shopping | California Real Estate
California Visitor Information | California Calendar of Events | Visit California Online Home Page

ci-Interactive
all contents copyright ci-Interactive
design and programming by ci-Interactive