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Bateman in SF Chronicle: Battle over pot intensifies in Calaveras County

Bateman in SF Chronicle: Battle over pot intensifies in Calaveras County

Best known for gold, jumping frogs and, more recently, tasty Zinfandels, this rural county (population 45,000), is a battleground in California’s marijuana wars.

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Rolling low and slow across the real America

Rolling low and slow across the real America

By Chris Bateman Amtrak’s Texas Eagle is on the outskirts of San Marcos, getting gas. It isn’t a scheduled stop. “But our locomotive is low on diesel and now we’re waiting for a tanker truck,” the conductor tells us over

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Life in the Mother Lode, Translated for Flatlanders

Life in the Mother Lode, Translated for Flatlanders

This article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 10, 2017, and is reprinted here with permission. Link to the Chronicle story directly here: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Welcome-to-Republican-California-a-land-unknown-10848826.php Welcome to Republican California, a land unknown to city dwellers By Chris Bateman You don’t

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Sonora, Jamestown, Moccasin: Future border towns in State of Jefferson?

Sonora, Jamestown, Moccasin: Future border towns in State of Jefferson?

“So where do you live?” “Well, we’re down at the bottom of the panhandle,” answers a Sonoran. “Right on the California border.” Where you might find a wall. Or an international customs station. Or at least a sign welcoming you

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Cubs clobber curse (but if I’m dreaming, don’t wake me)

Cubs clobber curse (but if I’m dreaming, don’t wake me)

So what do I do now? Over the decades I became practiced, even skilled at chronicling the epic failures of the Cubs. As a longtime fan raised in the Chicago area, I had lived through decades of futility, heartbreak and

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Revamping city slogan: Dumb idea or more than a dumb idea?

Revamping city slogan: Dumb idea or more than a dumb idea?

After a Vision Sonora subcommittee revealed that early lead contenders for the new slogan were “A Small Town” and “More Than a Small Town,” I decided to get more informed fast.

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New Zealand cycle trek finale: Family tale to be continued

New Zealand cycle trek finale: Family tale to be continued

A dad looks back on time well spent.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 12: All aboard for farewell climb over Alps

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 12: All aboard for farewell climb over Alps

Bateman’s Blog After 10 days of cycling on New Zealand’s South Island, Ben and I make the obvious decision: to do it again. But not on heavy touring bikes laden with gear. We’re not about to pedal up the same

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 11: You won’t believe what’s left hanging

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 11: You won’t believe what’s left hanging

Bateman’s Blog Wed., Feb. 10: Wanaka to Queenstown Distance: 50 miles Elevation gain: 25 feet After more than 40 years in journalism, you’d think my instincts would be better. Yet today I pedal right past a bra fence with nary a glance.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 10: Riders find themselves up Kaka Creek

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 10: Riders find themselves up Kaka Creek

Our intrepid cyclists find themselves up a few creeks.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 9: Nation’s ‘darkest, bloodiest secret’ revealed

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 9: Nation’s ‘darkest, bloodiest secret’ revealed

Bateman’s Blog Journalist Chris Bateman, 69, and son Ben continue their 500-mile ride across New Zealand, from Christchurch to Queenstown. Haast (Pop. 279) to Makarora (Pop. Much smaller than Haast) Distance: 107 kilometers. Net elevation gain: 1,052 feet  The elevation line

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 8: Comfort food powers pedalers through Southern Alps

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 8: Comfort food powers pedalers through Southern Alps

The cyclists we have met don’t care how long or short our ride is. They are helpful without fail, giving us tips on the roads, cafés and water sources ahead – along with plenty of encouragement.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 7: Okarito to Fox Glacier

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 7: Okarito to Fox Glacier

Bateman’s Blog Journalist Chris Bateman, 69, and son Ben, 28, continue their 500-mile ride across New Zealand, from Christchurch to Queenstown. Okarito (Pop. 30) to Fox Glacier (Pop. 375) Distance: 51 kilometers.  Net elevation gain: 640 feet    We played tourist today,

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 6: The terrible trouble with possums

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 6: The terrible trouble with possums

Once we got to Okarito we found it had no restaurant and no store. And we had nothing left to eat in our panniers.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 5: New saddle eases ride to Hari Hari

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 5: New saddle eases ride to Hari Hari

Here I am, riding through some of the most beautiful country on earth, and all I’m thinking about is how much my butt hurts.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 4: Dodging kea and low-geared trucks

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 4: Dodging kea and low-geared trucks

Journalist Chris Bateman and son Ben make a white-knuckled descent from Arthur’s Pass to Hokitika.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 3: In search of the mighty moa

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 3: In search of the mighty moa

Journalist Chris Bateman and son Ben make a nine-hour climb from Springfield to Arthur’s Pass.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 2: Land of sheep, paintball and doughnuts

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 2: Land of sheep, paintball and doughnuts

Journalist Chris Bateman and son Ben journey from Christchurch to Springfield, enjoying the scenery and pie along the way.

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New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 1: Father and son embark on adventure

New Zealand cycle trek, Chapter 1: Father and son embark on adventure

A father-son cycling duo reprises a 2008 trek across the U.S., this time on New Zealand’s South Island.

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Ode to a beater truck

Ode to a beater truck

It happened in a Sonora parking lot. The Subaru’s driver obviously didn’t see my truck, because her Outback was heading for it full tilt – in reverse. By the time I hit the horn, it was too late. The SUV

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Water district puts rate hike on spin cycle

Water district puts rate hike on spin cycle

Say your girlfriend has leaned over backwards to please: For months she’s cooked your dinners, cleaned your house and put up with your quirky, irksome friends without a complaint. Yet you know your relationship is on borrowed time and that

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This air traveler’s emotional baggage won’t fit under the seat

This air traveler’s emotional baggage won’t fit under the seat

Can air travel make you cranky? Apparently so.

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Time for parched foothills to seek divine intervention?

Time for parched foothills to seek divine intervention?

  Now that we’ve gone O-for-January and not much better for February, maybe it’s time to rethink T.Y. Atkins’ proposal. Summerville Elementary School’s principal went before the Tuolumne Utility District Board last June and suggested that prayer just might be

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Bladdergate: Hetch Hetchy, media shame the wrong guy

Bladdergate: Hetch Hetchy, media shame the wrong guy

A Hetch Hetchy water planner got in big trouble at tiny Priest Reservoir last week. One of Martin Sanchez’s fellow San Francisco employees blew the whistle on him, filing an anonymous complaint with Hetchy higher-ups.  His conduct—reportedly repeated several times—was

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The skeptic’s guide to man hugs

The skeptic’s guide to man hugs

You lead with your right hand, ready to bid farewell to a fellow guest at your neighbor’s dinner with a firm shake. Then you look up, and the guy is advancing with both arms wide open. Yeah, you met him

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Scrooge McGrouch trash-talks Christmas

Scrooge McGrouch trash-talks Christmas

Now that it’s three weeks in our collective rear view mirror, is it OK to talk about the holiday season yet? I mean talk bad about it. Written evidence perhaps to the contrary, I’m no Scrooge. But I do have a

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In Part 2, Scrooge McGrouch embraces the holiday spirit

In Part 2, Scrooge McGrouch embraces the holiday spirit

As promised – and so you won’t think I’m a cheerless, scowling Scrooge all the time – below is my brief list of things I actually liked about last Christmas. Dorothea’s Christmas: First a confession: Back in ’93, in one of

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A victory for all hen lovers (except roosters)

A victory for all hen lovers (except roosters)

“Let them have chickens,” read a headline heralding the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors’ decision to allow backyard poultry on about 17,000 residential parcels.  “Unless they’re roosters,” the head should have continued, because Foghorn Leghorn and his noisy, randy ilk

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Proper incentives could speed Groveland’s search for new doc

Proper incentives could speed Groveland’s search for new doc

What will it take to lure a doctor to Groveland? That’s the question facing Sonora Regional Medical Center, which for months has been looking without success for a physician to open a full-time practice in the small (Pop. 601) Sierra foothill

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Battle of the backwoods barons

Battle of the backwoods barons

Are you a backwoods baron? Take this quiz to find out.

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Aiming for perfection? It’s much easier than you think

Aiming for perfection? It’s much easier than you think

Let’s talk perfection. A few years ago, it was pretty simple: In bowling, a perfect game was a 300 – 12 strikes in a row.  In pitching, it was 27 outs in a row – no hits, no walks, no

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A training guide for first-timers

A training guide for first-timers

Something went wrong with the dining car north of Eugene. “A mechanical problem,” said the steward. “We should have it repaired in Portland and be ready to serve you dinner.” But they didn’t, and instead we Amtrak passengers got take-out

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Confessions of an Uninformed Voter

I USED TO know everything about politics and elections. Friends would ask me how obscure state propositions would affect their pocketbooks and which cemetery district candidate would best take care of Aunt Mabel’s grave. But after 38 years on the

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Let’s get stinkin’ serious about saving water

Let’s get stinkin’ serious about saving water

So now the Tuolumne Utilities District is telling us it’s for real: We really do have to cut our water consumption in half if we are to make it to the next rainy season with as much as a few

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Are you an optimist? Here’s the real test

Are you an optimist? Here’s the real test

Monday, March 31, 2014 – Today is Opening Day, and the Chicago Cubs were already two games behind before taking the field against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Dodgers took a pair of actually-counts spring games from the Diamondbacks at the Sydney

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Memories of a short-lived soccer career, circa 1964

Memories of a short-lived soccer career, circa 1964

I was flipping through my high school’s quarterly alumni magazine when a photo caught my eye. I quickly paged back to Page 33, and there it was – Shattuck School’s 1963-64 soccer team in resplendent black-and-white. In the first three

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How could a guy forget sex in the parking lot?

I wrote not one but two blog posts about it nearly a year ago. Not only did it get TV, newspaper and online coverage across the nation, but spurred speculation the barbecued chicken that may have inspired it included a

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2013’s  Bottom 10 List

2013’s Bottom 10 List

February’s here and you thought you could finally kiss 2013 goodbye. Well, that’s about as likely as keeping your pie-in-the-sky – or pie-off-the-plate, for you dieters – New Year’s resolutions. Just when you thought you’d seen the last of those

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The test he’s trying to forget

The test he’s trying to forget

I’m in our pantry, scanning the shelves. “What the hell did I come here for?” I ask myself.  “I knew just seconds ago.” Or maybe I run into you on Sonora’s Washington Street.  “Chris!” you say. “Great to see you

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Rose Bowl dinner? Plate of humility with a side of excuses

Rose Bowl dinner? Plate of humility with a side of excuses

On the plus side, on January 1 I kicked one more item off my bucket list: Go to Pasadena and see my alma mater play in the Rose Bowl. On the minus, my actual bucket-list item was “See my alma

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Amid holiday rush, a scant nod to mall gunfire

We were in the Cost Plus World Market checkout line with a couple of bottles of Arrogant Bastard Ale when some arrogant bastard – or gang banger, crankster, meth head, dirtbag or nutcase – fired a few shots. They rang

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If lights twinkled but no one saw … did they really twinkle?

If lights twinkled but no one saw … did they really twinkle?

 “When are you going stop?” My wife asked the question as I was trimming a deck railing outside our living room with yet another 10-foot-long helping of electrical good cheer. “When I run out of strings,” I snapped back. And

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Tale of the Mystery Miner

Tale of the Mystery Miner

In 1955, Kyle Atkins and two cousins found a dead man in a remote cabin near Jamestown. In the newly released Winter 2013/14 Issue of Friends and Neighbors, Atkins tells of that boyhood fishing trip gone awry. Fifty-eight years later, Chris Bateman picks

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Thanksgiving IQ test: Ranking turkeys’ so-called brainpower

Thanksgiving IQ test: Ranking turkeys’ so-called brainpower

Yes, but how intelligent are they? It’s a fair question, but one that went unanswered in my lengthy discourse on wild turkeys last week. With Thanksgiving looming and humankind traditionally disinclined to eat animals that rate higher on the IQ

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It’s just as you feared: The turkeys have taken over

It’s just as you feared: The turkeys have taken over

Thirty years ago, you never saw them here in the Mother Lode. Even two decades back sightings were highly unusual, inspiring gasps and finger-pointing that a bear or mountain lion might prompt today. Then, as the century turned, the fortunes

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Frozen yogurt for the canine palate? Ask dogs if they care

“Frozen Yogurt For Your Dogs Is Back! Stop In For A Pint Today.” At first I couldn’t believe the sign in front of a pet store in the Chicago suburb where I grew up and where my mother still lives.

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The mysterious case of the disappearing blog

The mysterious case of the disappearing blog

I’m supposed to be guest speaker at the Sonora Writers Retreat, a late September gathering of local authors and poets. Trouble is, until today I hadn’t written a thing for months. What’s more, I’ve actually enjoyed this unforced, voluntary vacation

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Taking forced inventory of a two-ton rolling office

Taking forced inventory of a two-ton rolling office

Do you know what’s in your car? For a very few of us, it’s almost nothing. These people vow at the dealership to keep their new cars pristine, and they’re kept sterile to a fault. Registration, proof of insurance, an

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Naked frolicking, golden vibes at Twain Harte lovefest

Naked frolicking, golden vibes at Twain Harte lovefest

It reminded me, eerily, of Woodstock. Longhairs frolicking naked, splashing in pools, emerging soaked to the bone, eating anything available and continuing, relentlessly, to enjoy all the pleasures life threw at them. Remarkably, doing so in apparent peace and harmony.

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At Jamestown barbershop, it’s beer-thirty all the time

At Jamestown barbershop, it’s beer-thirty all the time

Once again, I was born too late. Or quit drinking too early. Because now I can’t take advantage of a great deal at Jamestown’s Old Town Barber Shop:  free beer with a haircut. You read that right: At the Old

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