Gift Shop Glee @ Donner Memorial State Park

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We had a glorious time at the new Donner Memorial State Park Visitors Center! Built for $9.6 million dollars, I was expecting a day spa and amuse-bouche as part of our visit, but ’twas not to be. ūüė¶

Years ago in my pre-bipolar diagnosis/pre-child days, I worked at a nonprofit called Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks (also¬†known as¬†Friends). Friends supported free educational programs at the Santa Cruz State Parks. Through my job as office manager, and later on as development assistant,¬†I learned about the natural and cultural history of our local state parks.¬†I worked with incredible staff, some of whom I profiled in articles I wrote for¬†Friends‘ quarterly, award-winning newsletter¬†Park Views.¬†Ever since my¬†Friends job I make a point of visiting state parks wherever we travel, whether it be in Tahoe or Hawaii.

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I worked next to the Santa Cruz Mission Adobe at the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, built in the early 1800’s

Thanks to growing up with a father who loved backpacking in the Sierra Nevada and who was was well-versed in California history, I was familiar with the story of the doomed Donner Party.

Today’s field trip¬†brought us near the site of the Donner Party’s ill-fated venture. If you’re unfamiliar with this tragic, stomach-turning epoch of Sierra Nevada Mountain history, this blurb taken from Wikipedia sums it up:

Donner Memorial State Park¬†is a¬†state park¬†of¬†California, USA, preserving the site of the¬†Donner Camp, where members of the ill-fated¬†Donner Party¬†were trapped by weather during the winter of 1846‚Äď1847. Caught without shelter or adequate supplies, members of the group resorted to¬†cannibalism¬†to survive. The¬†Sierra Nevada¬†site has been designated a¬†National Historic Landmark. The state park contains the¬†Emigrant Trail Museum¬†and the¬†Pioneer Monument¬†dedicated to the travelers of the¬†Emigrant Trail.

Donner Memorial State Park is located outside Truckee, California.

(For more info. visit here.)

Whenever I visit a state park I love to check out the visitor center gift shop. Donner’s shop was extraordinary. There were the usual cute stuffed animals like deer, bear, and Tahoe Tessie.¬†

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The Tahoe Tessie Family

There were historical books galore, key chains and coffee mugs. I continued wandering around the spacious store until I spotted a snack section. Feeling a bit peckish, I went to take a look.

To my delight, there was jerky, but not just any old jerky.

Donner Party Memorial Jerky!

Yes, it’s new! It’s cutting-edge! It’s gluten-free!

And Donner Party Memorial Jerky was calling my name. And each packet had a very special name.

There was Spicy Grandpa flavor, Uncle Ned (now in Teriyaki!), Tangy Clara, and Garlic Black Pepper Annie!

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The Breens didn’t make it into the jerky…

I’m pleased to tell you that 10% of Donner Party Memorial Jerky proceeds benefit the Sierra State Parks Foundation.

 

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I was hoping for¬†a red carpet at the entrance and valet service; c’mon –

$9.6 million dollars???!!! And not even a gold-plated toilet or bidet in sight.

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Mmm, mmm good! Spicy Grandpa sure tasted delicious!

And how could I possibly leave out the “Beef Jerky Time” scene from the classic¬†Coming to America?

This post is:

“…just a fantasy
It’s not the real thing
But sometimes a fantasy
Is all you need.”

Sometimes a Fantasy, Billy Joel

Dyane‚Äôs memoir¬†Birth of a New Brain ‚Äď Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder¬†with a foreword by Dr. Walker Karraa (author of¬†Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women‚Äôs Stories of Trauma and Growth)¬†will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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