Photo Courtesy Nakoma Resort and The Dragon golf course
A Treasure in the Mountains
They’re arriving in groups… families and travel partners, tourists and curious “locals”. The attraction is the recently re-opened Nakoma clubhouse, an architectural gem first designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1923. Nestled on a commanding hilltop overlooking the renowned Dragon golf course, Nakoma’s majestic spires can first be spied on County Road A-15 between Portola and Graeagle. Glittering “jewels” on the multi-layered roofline catch the sun’s rays and hint of treasures to come.
A short drive up the winding Bear Run road at the Nakoma entrance monument leads visitors past a tiny community of villas, where fractional owners and vacation renters luxuriate in their 10th tee views. The villas provide a preview of the ‘Wrightian’ drama that unfolds as one rounds the bend to take in the unique clubhouse. Its leaded glass windows and doors compete with the stunning views.
Just steps inside, a magnificent, 10-foot tall dragon, carved from a single piece of exotic wood, reminds us that the architect had recently returned from Japan when he conceived this magnificent building. Nakoma was part of a set of 77 unbuilt structures that the Master had designed but never saw constructed. Although captured on blueprints for the Nakoma Country Club of Madison, Wisconsin, the project languished due to the poor 1920’s economy and the architect’s personal pecadillos… a scandal that greatly concerned the club’s Board members. Gold Mountain’s developers purchased the plans and constructed it in 2002.
Nakoma’s pro shop, bar, grill, golf course villas and Dragon golf course are open today thanks to the efforts of the Schomac Group, this year following a lengthy bankruptcy. A former restaurant and luxurious spa facilities, including indoor pool, will likely be renovated and re-opened in the coming years. In the meantime, Nakoma welcomes corporate retreats, meetings and events.. For more information, call Lynette Ertel at 530-836-5067, extension 115.
By Mary Hasselwander
This is my favorite season. The weather is crisp with hints of snow and fragrant wood from the cozy fires warming many homes. Family and friends make an extra effort to come together to visit, share good times and, of course, good food.
Coming from a large Italian family, preparing the many holiday meals was an important undertaking. The kitchen became a gathering place while succulent foods cooked. The dining room table was where it all came together.
I always wanted a large round table when I had my family. To me there is just something about everyone in a large circle, eating, laughing and sharing memories of a lifetime. Of course, you can do this seated at any table, but I just had this fantasy.
As luck would have it, my family wound up with a large rectangular table. It served us well for 40 years. Visiting East Coast families, friends, children, grandchildren and their friends gathered around it through the years. Good times and sad, comings and goings, life-changing announcements such as engagements and new arrivals, all were spoken around the dining room table. I am glad this table didn’t have the ability to twitter or blog some of the events that took place here!
This past summer, I finally found a round table, right here in our mountain valley area at a merchant’s just a few blocks from my house! It happened totally by accident. My friends and I had just had lunch at this café and, as we were leaving, I commented that the large table we had been sitting at was the kind of table I had always wanted. The proprietor said the table and chairs were, in fact, for sale.
For about two weeks, I mulled it over, picturing my extended family around the table talking, laughing and sharing. I decided to go for it.
Let’s face it, the holiday gatherings we are planning for this season are more than just a setting or the shape of a table. They are about coming together at a very special time of the year with those who hold a special place in our lives, and sharing the joys of this special time.
So, regardless of the size and type of your table and whether there are two or twenty people there, enjoy all the blessings of the holiday season.
By Mary Hasselwander
Can it be it’s the middle of summer and the Fourth of July has come? The cattle have returned to graze in the meadows and the kids are out of school. Motor homes, campers and boats of all sizes have appeared on the roadways as people head to the mountain valley area to enjoy the natural beauty here.
A unique feature of the area are the tourists and part-time residents who return each year. In a coffee shop recently, a newly returned summer couple was catching up with some of the locals. It turns out these couples first met 22 years ago. The summer residents had come to Westwood to witness the unveiling of the Paul Bunyan statue and the events surrounding the first Paul Bunyan Mountain Festival. At one of the festival dinners, they met a local couple whose children were close to the age of their two boys. They clicked and have been getting together over the summers ever since.
The people who reside in this area for part of the year are not a disconnected population. They are a part of the unique community fabric of the mountain valley and bring their own special talents and interests to the communities.
Speaking of the Paul Bunyan Mountain Festival, it is hard to believe that Paul Bunyan has been standing in front of the community center, greeting visitors and locals for 22 years. His exciting arrival and set up at the first festival was an event few of us will forget. A large crowd, along with outside media, gathered to watch the unveiling of the legendary logger. The following year, Babe, his faithful blue ox, joined him.
For many years, the festival has featured a logging show among the activities; however, last year the festival brought a new activity from the Midwest, grass racing with snowmobiles! It was certainly different and promises to be even more exciting this year.
When you add in the spectacular Fourth of July activities in the area, and the Clear Creek Mountain Festival later in July along with plenty of other mountain art shows and festivals, it makes for a pretty spectacular month of activities.
I grew up in New York City. There was plenty of cement, cars, noise, etc. Occasionally, there might be a tree in a little box. Of course, you could go to Central Park and see squirrels and other little critters that ventured out, but my contact with “nature” was pretty limited.
When I moved to the Mountain Valley Area 40+ years ago, the change was startling. First of all, there was no noise: no sirens, helicopters, car horns, people yelling—the usual cacophony of city living. There were no flood lights, street lights or brightly lit storefronts. It was the first in my life that I actually saw the millions of starts in the night sky. I had no idea there were so many. In the evenings, over the years, we sat on our patio at night and just looked at the stars.
Another key item that was missing in the area was traffic. I could drive between towns, sometimes close to 100 miles, and not see another car! Of course, over the years, the area has grown, but it is still a far cry from “city” living.
There is one big difference, however, that took some getting used to. The proximity to Mother Nature and the forest animals here is very up close, especially when it comes to deer. When I first saw signs that said deer area or cattle crossing, I was surprised. I was impressed that deer would know to stay in a certain area and cattle actually crossed at specially designated areas on the roads. Wow! What smart creatures.
Well…I have learned a lot since then and have seen many deer and cattle while traveling in the area. Until recently, I had been very fortunate in avoiding any interaction with deer and cattle. This past spring, however, I hit my first deer in all the years I have been living here. I was fortunate in that my car was repairable and no one was injured, but it is not something I want to repeat again.
We live in a beautiful area and the scenery and wildlife are breathtaking this time of year. Remember, however, the deer and cattle have the right-of-way on the roads. Stay safe and enjoy your travels this summer through the Mountain Valley area! Look forward to seeing you.
A Fisherman’s Winter Musings
By Capt. Bryan Roccucci / Big Daddy’s Guide Service
Well, winter seems to be off to a pretty good start so far here in the northern Sierras. Recent storms have brought much needed precipitation in the form of both rain and snow. To some, winter can be annoying, troublesome, and down right a pain in the butt, however, I have a much more optimistic outlook. This water is vital to replenish all of our watersheds including creeks, streams, rivers and our lakes. Increases in flows and lake levels can only help our fisheries, and after several years of below average precipitation, I welcome it.
Winter can be a great time to catch up on projects and take care of maintenance and up keep of boats as well as gear. When is the last time your boat engine’s water impeller was replaced? Most service manuals say it should be done every year or two depending on the amount of use. How about those boat batteries? Old batteries should be replaced, and if you are storing you boat for a long period during the winter, it is a good idea to occasionally charge them or use a battery maintainer to keep them up and maximize their life and performance. Maybe your favorite reel needs some attention? A good clean and lube will make it feel as smooth as the day you bought it.
Winter is also the sport show season. These outdoor trade shows are a great place to see and experience all of the new products available for the outdoors, as well as to score some great deals on new purchases. The shows are also great places to get ideas about new destinations you might like to fish or meet up with guides and outfitters to book a trip. If you are in the boat market, a sport show is a great place to see a lot of boats all in the same place and meet manufactures and representatives from the companies.
Lake Almanor is a good choice to get in a little winter time trout fishing; with the proper clothing and equipment, as I mentioned in a recent article about layering your clothing, winter fishing can not only be exciting, but comfortable as well. While many destinations in the mountains may have plenty of trout ready to bite, most are un-fishable due to lack of access or regular season closures. Lake Almanor is somewhat special in that regard. The waters of Lake Almanor are open to fishing year round and the lake generally has some open water to wet your line. The last few years the lake has seen some pretty big ice events that have reduced the number of open areas but this is diffidently not the norm. The “powers that be” do a good job of keeping both the boat ramp and parking lot at Canyon Dam open and useable, providing a great point of access for both boat and shore based anglers. There are also quite a few spots on the East shore that are easily accessed by a short walk from the road to the water’s edge. While access is generally good I caution and remind you that Almanor is at 4500 feet above sea level and is located in an area known to get heavy amounts of snow. With that in mind you need to be prepared for it.
Go out, stay in, catch up on some projects, be safe and enjoy winter. Fingers crossed it will be a good one.
About the author: Capt. Bryan Roccucci is a full time professional fishing guide and operator of Big Daddy’s Guide Service. Bryan specializes in year round trophy trout fishing while emphasizing light tackle fishing techniques on Lake Almanor (Jan.-May), Lake Davis (May – June), Bucks Lake (June – Sept.), Eagle Lake (Sept. – Dec.) To book a Spring trip on Lake Davis or any of the other waters fished by Bryan or for more information please visit www.bigdaddyfishing.com or call (530) 283-4103.
Copyright © 2008 Bryan Roccucci All Rights Reserved
By Mary Hasselwander,
If January is the longest month of the year,
February is usually a breeze. There are
fewer days in the month and holidays to
help break up the daily grind.
It is, however, a time when many of us think finances,
which is an “F” word most of us would like to avoid with the
economy the way it is. Since last fall, there has been
enough depressing financial news to last for a while; how
ever, the truth is that this can actually be an incentive for
us to take control of our little financial universe and maybe
make some positive changes.
Whether one manages a portfolio on Wall Street or just a
monthly family budget, we do have a certain amount of
control over how our finances play out.
Most of you have received your state and federal income
tax forms and your W-2’s. Since my income is not in the
upper brackets, I have become lazy over the years, just
doing short forms and getting a little back. This year, I am
making an effort to really go through the form and deter
mine if this is in my best interest or if I should be itemizing
deductions. Even if it only makes a slight difference, it is
When I did my monthly budget in February, which is rela
tively small and uncomplicated, I decided to review my re
curring expenses from 2008 for things such as utilities,
gas, car maintenance, credit cards, to see if there were
areas I could make changes to cut expenses. Again, I did
not find a lot of wiggle room, but I did see a few patterns I
am working to change this year.
One thing I plan to really be more aggressive with is
travel. My children and grandchildren are all over the state
of California which usually necessitates air travel. So far
this year, I know I have a first birthday for my new grand
son, a First Communion for the youngest granddaughter, a
birthday concert for my daughter and a visit back East to
see my mother who is ailing.
Usually I take the path of least resistance and, a few
weeks before my trip, go to my usual airline to book flights.
With airlines cuffing fares and offering other incentives to
attract customers, I plan to “plan ahead” and read the no
tices of fare discounts and deals that I usually just delete.
None of the activities above may amount to any large
cost savings, but the planning is helping me to create a
mindset and be more conscious about spending. This
month’s magazine is focusing on finances, so take time to
look at the articles and see if you can gain some insights
to help you with financial
Don’t get me wrong. I will
never be like the man I saw
on television who recycled
everything, even washing
paper towels, drying them for
reuse, or using a tea bag for
lOcups of tea. I have mylim
its! By the way, for all you ro
mantics, don’t forget
Valentine’s Day is Feb 14—
and don’t recycle last year’s
card. That’s tacky!
By Mary Hasselwander
New beginnings! Of course, every day is a new beginning, but the start of a new year is a time when many of us take stock of where we are in life. What do we like about ourselves? What would we like to change? Do we really have to do something major just because the calendar says it is New Year’s Day?
The truth is, in my case, starting anything on New Year’s Day, has not been very successful. In the past, my tendency was to make a list of several things I would “change” beginning on January 1. At the top of that list each year, was my determined promise to “lose 50 pounds.” I’ll say no more about that!
In addition to the above, I listed other life-changing resolutions such as: making social appointments to keep in touch with friends, calling my family (who are back East) in a regular rotating schedule (I come from a family of 10), being more active in my local church, etc. Looking back now, I realize I was crazy to attempt even one of these “resolutions.” Our daily living evolves from years of experiences and thinking I could make such sweeping changes shows how naive I was.
It has taken me a while, but I’ve come to realize that trying to make small changes, gradually, instead of a grand gesture, improves the odds of succeeding. It was suggested to me, a few years back, that I pick activities that have a beginning and an ending. Something as simple as resolving to clean the attic closet before the end of the month, is a good way to start. It is a project that can be achieved. When that one is done, make a resolution to thoroughly clean out the car within the next two weeks.
As you successfully complete each of these small projects, the sense of accomplishment reinforces your confidence to try doing something that may be more difficult. Even if weight loss is a resolution you want to make for this year, do it in small increments. Instead of announcing that you are going to lose 50 pounds by summer, try committing to five pounds over the next six weeks, or taking a 15 minute walk three times a week. It is far less daunting.
Sometimes family resolutions are successful. Last year, my family vowed to cut electric use by turning off lights and gadgets (such as computers or the television) if we weren’t using them. Each month, we saw a little improvement in the bill and it was very satisfying.
If using the New Year ritual as a starting point for resolving to make changes works for you, go for it; but try small baby steps instead of giant steps. In fact, I think this will be my resolution for 2009!
By Mary Hasselwander, Editor
October has to be the most beautiful month of the year in the mountain valley area. The fall foliage is gorgeous. The mornings and evenings are crisp with the aroma of cozy wood fires in the air.
My little pastel garland around the light post has been replaced by a string of leaves and pine-cones. Summer flower wreaths give way to ones with bright red, orange and yellow leaves. I wonder why I complain about having to rake leaves and pine-cones in the fall and yet I go out and buy these very same things to decorate the inside of my house!
Continue reading Mountain Musings
By Mary Hasselwander, Editor
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. That statement may surprise some of you who know how I love to decorate for Christmas, but it is true.
These days, it seems that Thanksgiving is just the day before the Christmas shopping season officially kicks off, but for me it has always had a special meaning. There are no presents to buy, cards to write, parties to plan and/or attend or other activities that often distract from the celebration of the holiday itself.
Thanksgiving has a simple focus: friends and family coming together to share a meal and give thanks for all their blessings. For many it involves a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Thinking about this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, I look back and see, just in our family, the evolution of traditions that continue to move forward with each generation.
I came from a family of 10, so cooking a Thanksgiving dinner was a major undertaking and, as we got older, we all had to help with the preparations. One thing I remember was that there was always plenty of chopping and dicing to be done to prepare the stuffing. There were no pre-packaged foods. If you needed 20 lbs of potatoes, they had to be peeled! Baking for the holiday was spread over the weeks before the big dinner, ensuring there would be plenty of desserts.
When I started my own family, I brought the traditions from my childhood. As my children got a little older, they wanted to participate in the preparation—especially when it came to the stuffing. Let’s face it; there is something special about putting your hands in a bowl of mushy stuffing and mixing it around. Of course, this meant I had to make sure all four of them scrubbed their hands and did not touch anything on the way to the mixing bowl.
There were a few little mishaps. My older daughter felt the stuffing needed more pepper and decided to open the top of the shaker so it would go faster. You get the picture. Another year, my younger son put one of his little metal trucks into the bowl. I almost missed it when I was stuffing the turkey, but a little flash of blue metallic paint caught my eye at the last minute.
A few years back, my two year old grandson and four year old granddaughter donned little aprons and, with some assistance from my older granddaughter, helped mix stuffing and put it in the turkey. When I look at the picture of the three of them proudly posing with the bird, I realize that this is what Thanksgiving is all about and how blessed I really am.
I wish for all of you a Thanksgiving celebration that is joyous and filled with the love and laughter of friends, family and all you hold dear.
By Mary Hasselwander, Editor
The trees overhead rustled in the late afternoon breeze. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something float down. No, it couldn’t be. As I survey my sun-baked lawn, another one flutters down.
How can it be that the large cottonwoods in my neighboring yard are starting their annual shedding of leaves? It seems like summer just started and now it is September with the start of fall is upon us.
Continue reading Mountain Musings