It was May Day, the day before I left for Abbey Country, and from there back to Nevada City. I won’t return to the farm for a month. So much to do, of course, but a perfect day to do none of it. A perfect Back Yard Day, as we call it. We were not born farmers; it does not come naturally for us. We are adventurers, travelers, passionate lovers of roads rarely traveled. Since Lightcap Farm is an alpine farm, it is too soon to do much anyway. It hasn’t snowed on the blooming dogwoods up our way yet. We decided to take Foote’s Crossing to Casey’s Place in Alleghany, a restaurant and bar we’ve visited several years running.

Casey’s Place endured a hard winter in 10-11. Several feet of snow damaged the roof and foundation. We’d recently heard from a waitress at Peterson’s Corner that Caree was opening the place up again–so we and Elvis the dog hopped in the truck to go investigate.

Headed down Foote’s Crossing to the Middle Fork, water seeps out of the rock wall along the road. On the other side of the road, a sheer cliff, hundreds of feet down.

The Middle Fork of the Yuba near Foote’s Crossing.

Along the way, we stopped at a mining claim we know along Kanaka Creek. (The creek is another friend of ours.) Since it’s not a patented claim, we are allowed to visit. She was in her spring glory, but a bit cold for swimming.

Foote’s Crossing Road ends in Alleghany, or begins there, depending on how you look at. Once in town, we wind through several side streets (the burbs) to get to down town and Casey’s Place.

Downtown Alleghany and Casey’s Place

I still have a lot to learn about the history of Casey’s Place. I know the Caseys lived in Alleghany and ran the bar for many years. For the last 20 years, it has been in Caree’s loving hands.

We were glad to see Caree and impressed with all she’d accomplished in a year. The foundation and kitchen have been repaired, and she’s about to begin serving food again. She also had exciting news: she’s purchased the Casey’s old home, within walking distance, and will open it up this summer as a bed and breakfast.

We chatted about many things. Would it snow again? “It hasn’t snowed on the dogwoods yet,” Caree said, and we nodded. The phone rang a few times, and she answered a variety of questions about the goings-on in Alleghany. “This is the only business in town,” she said, “so I get a lot of calls about the [Sixteen to One] mine and other things.” She addresses each question cheerfully and thoroughly, the unofficial Chamber of Commerce for the town she loves.

In addition to the repairs, Caree has made some improvements. She’s added this wall, separating the pool table from the fire place room, which boasts cozy Victorian furniture and a big round table. She also has free wi-fi now. My face lit up when she said this, and Mr. Lightcap smiled and said to me: “This place is beginning to sound like a writer’s retreat.”

Chef, tavern owner, entrepreneur, artist: In her “spare time”, Caree has been finishing this mosaic.

Since the kitchen at Casey’s Place was not quite open when were there, we reluctantly said good-bye. I’ll be back this summer to take photos of the new bed and breakfast, learn some more history, and taste some of Caree’s incredible food. We headed back on Highway 49, stopping at our favorite roadhouse, Peterson’s Corner, for Taco Tuesday. Filled to the brim with my beautiful back yard, I was ready to head to the high desert I love: Abbey Country.

Peterson’s Corner: view from the dining room looking out to the bar.