By Melissa Wynn
Photos by Bill Kelso –
Here at Mountain Valley Living we have a great time scoping out new and exciting places to share with you, our cherished readers, and we are thrilled that many of you are logging on to mountainvalleyliving.com and sharing your favorite mountain getaways with us. This Road Trip to Butte Meadows Mercantile & Resort in the tiny community of Butte Meadows, Ca was recommended, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by Milly Pollock of Chico, Ca. Ironically I was reading that very email when my honey asked where I wanted to go for my birthday. It was a no brainer, lets go spend the night in a cabin at the Butte Meadows Mercantile & Resort. So on the day that I turned 29 (one more time) we slowly made our winding way down scenic Hwy 32.
The mossy slopes of the hillside glistened in the sunlight, soaked by Spring’s arrival and the melting snow. Deer Creek rushed alongside, bulging its banks and calling with a loud, yet soothing roar. We just couldn’t resist stopping to walk along the shore. We must have wandered quite awhile because when we finally arrived at 7473 Humboldt Rd. Butte Meadows Mercantile & Resort, our children had already called, and we found charming owners Bill and Stacy Kelso ready to send a posse for our search and rescue. Stacy came from behind the counter to hug me, relieved that we had arrived safe and sound. How welcoming is that? I felt like a long lost relative they were happy to see. There was a crackling fire in the rock fireplace and a glass of local Bertagna wine, from Son Kissed Vineyard of Chico, with my name on it. I was in no hurry to go our cabin. We wiled away a few pleasant hours chatting with the Kelsos, their lovely daughter LeeAnn and P.A. & Pam Adams, locally known as Mayor and Mrs. Mayor. It turns out Pam Adams is the great local hunter, tagging nice big bucks two years in a row. Mayor P.A.’s claim to local fame came last October when he was crowned Miss Butte Meadows at the Mercantile’s annual Oktoberfest celebrations. They video is priceless. Catch it at: (YoutubeButteMeadowsOktoberfest2009).
Butte Meadows has a year round population of 43 and is tucked way back in the woods. This is no place for convention or rules. Deputy Doug of the Butte County Sheriff Dept., who we also met during our visit, was one of the easily bribed judges to award the top three winners of the Mercantile’s annual 4th of July Patriotic Off Road Parade. We next shared a beverage with local Don Altig, Camp Ranger for 16 years at nearby Camp Lassen. Camp Lassen has hosted Boy Scout camp-outs for more than 75 years and Don has been a Scout for 50 years himself. Beauty Queens to Boy Scouts, Butte Meadows has it all. Several other locals and guests dropped in for the signature pizzas prepared fresh. The special “Jack’s” pizza looked amazing piled high with white sauce, chicken, garlic, bacon, red onion, bell pepper and artichokes (lg $22.50) yummy. Butte Meadows Mercantile & Resort also offers a wide variety of hot and cold sandwiches($7.50) as well as fresh salads ($3.99) and brimming bowls of steaming Soup of the Day($5.25). You can even call ahead for a sack lunch to take hiking, biking or swimming; $8.50 gets you a sandwich, chips, Mac Salad and either a soda or bottle of water. Several groceries, gasoline, beer, the wonderful Bertanga Wines, T-shirts with their own “eat.play.sleep.drink…Repeat and be merry” mantra and souvenirs round out the items available at this home away from home in the pines.
Bill and Stacy Kelso purchased Butte Meadows Mercantile & Resort in September of ’07 and their opening June ‘08 was truly baptism by fire. The Humboldt Fire was raging just a few miles away. Firefighters from all over the country were lined up to protect all the structures in the downtown area. The staff at Butte Meadows Mercantile & Resort consists of Stacy, Bill and LeeAnn Kelso but the Adams and many other neighbors just pitched in to help serve the heroic men and women that saved their tightly knit nostalgic community.
We plan to return for the 4th of July Parade and festivities because I can’t wait to see who challenges last year’s patriotic first place finishers. Butte Meadows Mercantile & Resort offers 4 (soon to be 5) cabin and 4 RV site rentals year round so call early to secure your lodging. We spent the night in the Snowy Mountain Bungalow Cabin($145 per night, sleeps up to 8), a classic cabin in the woods. The Kelso’s left the lights on for us and inviting warmth radiated from the corner woodstove when we stepped in from the charming little porch stacked high with fire wood and home to the BBQ grill and a bit of “patio furniture”. I curled up on the cushy white sofa under a soft and fluffy lap-throw watching tv while my prince charming cooked me a wonderful birthday dinner in the fully stocked kitchen. The entertainment center was also fully stocked with VCR, DVD player, stereo, a deck of cards and poker chips, a monopoly game and even some candles and a lantern, ready to light in case of emergency.
The Kelsos went above and beyond anticipating our every need and comfort from the shampoo and gel dispenser in the shower to the amazing gift basket on the dining room table. These cabins feel like home, lived in and cozy. The beds are stacked high with puffy pillows and draped with thick comforters atop colorful cozy sheets with a fresh downy scent, just like home. We slept like babies after a good movie and some hot chocolate and banana bread from the gift basket. Happy Birthday to me!
Starting in late May, Butte Meadows Mercantile & Resort is open 7 days a week from 8am-8pm, later if the crowd keeps the beer and pizza sliding across the counter. Wednesday nights are all you can eat pizza with salad and dessert as well as friendly games of Wii bowling. Daytime outdoor activities include volleyball, parties around the campfire, fishing and swimming in Butte Creek, hiking the nearby Pacific Crest Trail, occasional 4 wheeler poker runs, and exploring the dense forest back country.
Even though Butte Meadows is a small community the area can host a slew of visitors. If Stacy and Bill get full they will be happy to point you in the right direction to rent another cabin, RV site or campground. Give them a call at (530)873-5016 or send an email to email@example.com to make reservations. You can see pictures of several of the cabins and check prices on their website at buttemeadowscabins.com. Not only did I have a great birthday party with the Kelsos and their neighbors, I made some new friends. Thanks again to Milly Pollock for sharing her favorite mountain hideaway with us. Where is your favorite Sierra Road Trip? Log on to mountainvalleyliving.com and tell us all about it. We’d love to check it out.