Two months before, the Butte Fire had licked the edges of this Calaveras County community, and now it was all too easy to envision the brilliant orange November foliage as flames, the smoke more sinister than the benign curl off a controlled burn... These thoughts came readily because I had just left Murphys, the cute little wine-tasting town off Highway 4, and there in the boutiques and tasting rooms, on Main Street itself, remained reminders that the big fire’s flames had licked too close... Yes, Murphys still stands, with its restaurants and shops and the 22 or so wine-tasting rooms that line its Main Street. It’s a great winter getaway, tucked into the foothills at an elevation just low enough to stay snow-free most of the time (about 2,000 feet) and close enough to ski country so that a 30-minute drive up the road can yield fresh powder for... In Murphys itself, though, you can wear your fuzzy boots and warm coats and scarves while you mosey beneath the trees on Main Street. Tree branches bough over the roadway, and small shops and winery counters fill old spaces that you can imagine once held barrels of dry goods, jars of old-fashioned candy, a postmistress, strong-booted men with long beards.
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