I’m a huge fan of the blog La Dolce Vita. The author posts all things that make up La Dolce Vita (literally translated as ‘the sweet life’), and I typically find that she is really inspiring. Today she posed her weekly quote and I couldn’t help but think how much it relates to so many areas in my life – specifically as an Occasional Expat.
“The great opportunity is where you are. The place is under the stars. Every place is the center of the universe…” – John Burroughs
I tend to forget that every day is a new opportunity to find new experiences and broaden my view on the world. This past weekend I drove up to my small hometown of Redding, CA in the mindset that I was visiting for a friend’s Bachelorette party and my Dad’s birthday party. It didn’t really hit me until I read the above quote that my trip back home was an opportunity for me to have a new adventure in my own back yard.
I left early Saturday morning as I was nervous that my beloved, yet aging, ‘Stang wouldn’t make the trip in one piece. Here’s an obvious tip for all of you wanderers traveling by automobile: don’t forget to check out all those creaks and squeaks before you take off! At any rate the impending storm held out and I was able to make it up in a brief 3 hours. Oops. :)
I’m always surprised how I feel when I arrive back in town. Its a strange nervous-excitement. A place that I know so very, very well seems so incredibly new to me. I dropped in to the local Chevy’s to visit my high school best friend. She made me a margarita & we shared some nachos as we got down to the business of catching up. I learned some new things about her in that hour. I realized that people change, but it doesn’t mean that I have to love them any less. I love her very much, and sincerely hope that she makes the changes she needs to be happy someday. <3
After my catchup session I headed over to the Baymont Inn & Suites to meet up with the Bride-to-Be. I have to admit the room was a reasonable rate and it was relatively comfortable for what we paid! There was a pool & a spa available for use, and the staff was kind and accommodating to our needs. If you’re planning on traveling to Redding I recommend looking into this place to stay. It isn’t far from I-5, and very close to all of the shopping & dining on Hilltop Drive.
I’ll spare you most of the gory details of our Bachelorette extravaganza but there are two points to be noticed:
1) Logan’s Roadhouse in Redding does not mess around with their signature Roadhouse Iced Teas. Yes, it’s meant to be a take on the Long Island Iced Tea, but I did NOT expect my drink to come in a 64 oz mug! Here’s a photo of my drink… please ignore the explicit nature of the straw. (Bachelorette parties… I know…)
The food at Logan’s was pretty decent too. Their complimentary yeast rolls are amazing, but be careful not to fill up on them too quickly. I had the Popcorn Shrimp with mashed potatoes & broccoli. I didn’t think to take a picture, but overall the meal wasn’t bad. I’d probably give it a 3 of 5 stars… not fabulously amazing, but definitely not a bad plate of food.
2) The Hen House. Oh dear lord, what is there to say about this ridiculous establishment known as, “The Hen House.” According to my Mom this redneck bar (that calls itself a ‘lounge’) has been around since the ’70’s, however this trip was the first that I’ve heard of it. I honestly cannot find the words to describe this place. They had Karaoke which was a plus, and the crowd ranged anywhere from 21 to 101 years of age which made for some interesting stories later on. A fabulous cocktail waitress in fishnets & a pink pleather jacket walked around selling Jello shots, and a bartender in the back named Sam made me the meanest rum cocktail that I’ve ever encountered in my life. I mean, really, you can’t take ANYONE seriously here, but its a pretty decent spot if you’re looking to have a good time. It is located off the beaten path, so make sure you’ve got your Designated Driver in place!
THE NEXT DAYYYY…
After I woke from a pleasant night of sleep at the Baymont, I said my goodbyes and headed north to visit with my family. My parents hail from the City of Shasta Lake – a 10,000 person town about 15 minutes north of Redding, and 20 minutes south of the Southern-most launch ramp on Lake Shasta.
The City of Shasta Lake, formerly known as Central Valley, started as a small boomtown back in the late 1930’s. In 1937 the US Bureau of Reclamation announced that a, “large concrete dam,” would be built in Shasta County. Workers began flooding to the area and soon residential developments and commercial outlets began popping up all over the place. A lot has changed since the Dam was built, but one of the things that remains the same is the small town feel and charm of the area.
Fun fact: The Big Dipper Cafe was one of the first restaurants in town and still serves breakfast and lunch to locals to this day. :)
All in all the trip back home was well worth the drive (7 hours round trip! eek!) I got to spend time with some good friends & family, and explore a couple of new places that I never knew existed. Mom cooked up a fabulous birthday feast, and of course you cannot beat my Grandma’s chocolate cake. MMMMMMMM SOO GOOOOODDDD.
I was glad she sent a piece home with me. :)
Shasta County isn’t a place for urbanites looking to be urban, but it is a FABULOUS place if you’re looking to get outdoors and relax. I highly recommend house boating (or floating) on Shasta Lake in the summer, and snowboarding at Mt. Shasta Ski Park in the winter. Whiskeytown Recreational Area (lake & forest) is also another great place in Shasta County. Whiskeytown Lake is a bit colder than Lake Shasta, but it has great campsites and is home to Brandy Creek – a popular spot with picnic facilities and sandy beaches.
Remember, the great opportunity lies in where you are. If you’re on a forced business trip, a routine trip back to your hometown, or even just running a mundane errand to the next town over don’t forget to have a little fun and do a some wandering. ;)