Brews and Blooms in Dunsmuir
By Melissa Wynn
When the wanderlust sets in I always think of good friends, good food and beautiful places. When my friend Lorraine, who lives near Montague, suggested exploring her neck of the woods, I jumped at the chance for an overnight visit and a little down time. I had been eagerly awaiting a road trip with talented videographer Molly Barber, the newest member of our Mountain Valley Living team, so she and I packed up the camera and notebooks and headed North.
I never tire of the beauty of the drive down Highway 44. Stunning views of both majestic Mount Lassen and mysterious Mount Shasta appear between the pines along the way and passing through Hat Creek is an amazing study in the Earth’s ability to recover from a wild land fire. Devastated in August of 2014 by the Eiler fire, this area is rapidly regaining the greenery and beauty wiped away by the flames.
We had arranged to meet Lorraine at the Mount Shasta Brewing Company In Weed (featured in this issue on pg 44). After a fun filled lunch we punched the address for the Cave Springs Resort into the GPS and made our way to Dunsmuir.
We were welcomed with gracious NorCal hospitality from Sylvia at the check- in desk. Exceptionally busy on a Monday, Cave Springs was bustling with activity. Several children were splashing around in the pool and a group of fisherman, sitting out the heat of the day in the shade, laughed and told fish stories on the lawn of this economical little home away from home. The enclosed hot tub is open 24 hours a day so no matter what time you wander in you can soak away the aches and pains incurred on the day’s fishing, hiking or boating adventure.
While we spent a few pleasant hours chatting and watching a movie in front of the air conditioner, I flipped through the guest book and learned that Dunsmuir City Park hosts a beautiful botanical garden and we just had to go.
Perched on ten hilly acres next to the Upper Sacramento River this tranquil oasis hosts a bounty of blooms in a rainbow of colors. It was relaxing to stroll through the various garden areas listening to the birds and the rushing river among the puffy hydrangea and blossoming begonia. Rhododendrons, hostas, ferns and Japanese maples lined the trails shaded by towering pines. Picnic tables, a playground area and good fishing make this an excellent venue for family get togethers. Tucked in the forest it was easy to forget that this peaceful place is a city park rather than a forest retreat. When visiting be sure to bring a camera.
Each year Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens hosts a photo contest inside the gardens. This year the deadline for entries is September 23, 2016. The contest is open to all ages and the gardens are open year-round. For more information visit their website dunsmuirbotanicalgardens.org.
We worked up an appetite hiking around the gardens and wandered our way down Dunsmuir Avenue to the Dunsmuir Brewery Works to grab a bite to eat. Relaxing in the shade of a peach tree heavy with fruit and surrounded by grape vines, we wiled away the evening dining outdoors at this tiny brewhouse. Inspired by the peach tree, we had to start with the grilled peach bruschetta on crispy fresh bread with gorgonzola cheese and served with tall glasses of cold lemonade or icy cola. Several beers brewed on-site are always available at Dunsmuir Brewery Works, including their famous Rusty Spike Imperial Red, enjoyed by a neighboring table.
Our main course choices included the Brewhouse BLT piled high with applewood smoked bacon for me, a tender and juicy Memphis style pulled pork sandwich topped with slaw for Lorraine and tasty street tacos with double soft tortillas and spicy chipoltle sour cream for Molly. A decadent chocolate cake was on the dessert menu the day of our visit but we just couldn’t eat another bite.
We returned to our comfy hotel room at Cave Springs Resort to curl up with a good book and rest after our long day. I strolled around the grounds and wished I could peek into one of the very rustic cabins, standing here since the 1920s. But alas, they were all rented that night. I guess I will have to go back to see the inside of this fun lodging option. A few RV sites and several vacation rental homes are also available through the friendly and helpful staff at the cozy Cave Springs Resort.
The next morning we climbed back in the car and returned to Weed to visit the provocative Living Sculpture Memorial Garden (featured in this edition on pg 68) just a few miles from the area Lorraine calls home. It was a very moving experience and everyone should visit this amazing memorial at least once.
We parted company at the gate of the gardens, bidding farewell to each other, the Veterans and the lovely Mount Shasta.
For a fantastic getaway as fall sets in, grab a few friends, hit the trail of blooms and brews, and follow it to Dunsmuir.
For more Brew stories check out pages 32 & 34.