Mrs. Empire said she drove their Subaru up Iowa Hill Road and that Tommy was “scared to shit” looking at the drop-off into the American River Canyon. Mr. Empire kept telling his wife to “watch out for the goddamn falling rocks” and the hillside.
“That road scared the shit out of me,” said an agitated Mr. Empire. “There were all these hairpin turns and all these ‘locals’ in their Dodge trucks coming full-throttle down the mountain. I think they got a kick out of scaring us.”
Eventually the Empire clan made their way to Iowa Hill and discovered a somewhat barren former Sierra Foothills gold mining boom town.
“You could totally tell this used to be an important place,” said Ms. Empire. “But it’s not that place anymore. Still very interesting. Anyhow Tommy was thirsty after eating a bunch of chicken-fried steak and gravy at Humpty Dumpty, so we stopped at the Iowa Hill General Store.”
According to witnesses at the scene, Mr. Empire exited their late-model Subaru and stood in front of the Iowa Hill General Store for a few minutes, as if trying to figure out where the entrance was.
“I saw him just standing out in front scratching his head,” said bike rider Amelia Jonstead of Sacramento. “I stopped there like I always do to get some water. Eventually he figured out how to get inside. His wife followed him in.”
The Empires made their way into the store, and found what they thought was the kitchen of the caretaker.
“I saw a Best Foods Mayonnaise jar, three cans of tuna, a bag of Tostitos chips and two cans of corned beef hash on this make-shift shelf,” said a frowning Mr. Empire. “It looked like someone’s pantry. I suppose it was for sale. But I just wanted a Coke.”