Inspiration Post #23: Mariposa and the real Jelley’s Valley

I’ve already mentioned that one of my inspirations for The Tin Box was a former mental hospital. Other pieces of the story came from a family road trip. I recently drove that same route, so I thought I’d share a few pictures.

This is the very real town of Cathey’s Valley, California. Population 300 or so. Like Jelley’s Valley, it’s located in the grassy Sierra foothills. (In case you’re wondering about the name of Colby’s town, there’s a real Jelly’s Ferry–no second e–way up north in California. I liked the name.)

This bus stop is right across from the general store/post office (you can click on these pics to see them bigger).

And so is this gas station. I’m hoping the employees at the Texaco are a little friendlier than Donald Hall, who bears some ancient grudge against Colby’s family.

And this, of course, is the store and post office. Colby’s place doesn’t have a name, but the real one is the Oasis. It’s definitely the center of this little town, as well as a handy stopping point for people heading to or from Yosemite. Note the bulletin board outside the post office. Also, my Mini looks a little out of place there, although I can imagine Colby buying a similar car if he ever gives up on Bunny. As for the mail truck on the left, I think that’s exactly what Colby’s aunt drives.

There’s no Mexican restaurant in Jelley’s Valley (but there is a feed store). If Dos Hermanos really existed, it would be right where that sedan is parked. (Yes, you can buy gas at the Oasis too, but not from Colby. He’s busy enough as it is.)

Another shot of the store. Can you imagine Colby popping out that door, maybe joining William for a cold drink at that table?

The real post office is separated from the store by a wall, and the counter isn’t quite the same as in Colby’s place. It’s pretty close, though.

When William wants to do more shopping than Colby’s place allows, he heads into Mariposa, home of the Butterfly Festival. Both Mariposa and the festival are real.

No Frank’s Grab ‘Em in Mariposa–but you can buy Uggs. It’s a cute little place, isn’t it? I love these old mining towns. Highway 49 in California is lined with them.

Imagine Frank’s Grab ‘Em and the Java Joint just across from this gas station. They’re not really there of course, but they exist pretty firmly in my mind!

I hope you’ve been enjoying this series of inspiration posts. They’re going on hiatus for a little while because I’m about to head overseas for several weeks. Instead, I’ll post some pictures here from my travels in Poland, Croatia, and Bosnia. So stay tuned! Also, I have several new releases lined up, so check back here for news on those.