Wake up HAPPY in the Coloma-Lotus Valley!

I grew up in Glacier National Park in the breathtaking State of Montana. I have lived and traveled all along the west coast, living as far North on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State bordering Canada, to the Baja border of San Diego offering Panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. I have lived in small Inland and Coastal towns in Washington, Oregon and California, that have left lovely and memorable impressions, but it wasn’t until I moved to the Coloma-Lotus Valley that I truly found home.

Over 7 years ago my husband & I took a year long assignment in Lotus, California just 1 mile from the historic 1849 Gold Rush Town of Coloma, California. We thought we’d check it out for a year and then move on to another place, which fit our nomadic lifestyle. Then one year wasn’t enough…there was just so much to see and do! So, we decided to extend our position and stay for another year. But we continued to fall deeper and deeper in love with the area; the history, the recreation, the community and residents, the weather, the proximity to mountains and cities and oceans, but all tucked in the quiet Sierra Foothills with the South Fork of the American River running right through it.

I was having coffee with my husband the other morning who prompted me to write this blog. I told him that every morning I rise to my feet and pull open the curtains to reveal one of my favorite views in the world, my back yard! For nearly 300 days of the year the sun is shining on the river sending sparkles through the whitewater. The hills change from Spring green, to speckled orange and purple from poppies and lupine, to a golden hue from the Summer heat. I feel so fortunate to have found this gem of a place that truly makes me “wake up happy” nearly everyday! Now, if I could just get our families in the Northwest and New England to move closer to our Coloma-Lotus paradise!

Recently, a few of our local businesses were “secret shopped” by some travel writers that seemed to share my extremely biased view of the area. Check out this article to learn more:
Discovering a Luxurious Hideaway in the California Gold Country

Until next time…happy trails and CHEERS!

Think globally, but shop locally for the holidays!

Believe it or not, the holidays are here! The Autumn leaves are changing color, the Sun is long gone by 6:00 PM, and the evenings are chilling off to Winter temperatures. This means it’s time to start thinking about Christmas shopping!

The department and grocery stores in our larger surrounding cities are already decorated  in jingle bells and garland, and stocked with the latest toys and technology, but right here in our back yard there are opportunities to find great, hand-crafted, locally made gifts and treats!

The LoCol Farmer’s Market is still open, but has changes location and times. It is still held every Sunday but is located in the Grange at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park at 319 State Highway 49 in Coloma. There is free 30 minute parking behind the grange for customers. Research has proven that we are not an early rising community, so the new hours are from 10-2. Perfect for us sleepyheads!

I checked it out last Sunday and was happy to find, knitted goods, jewelry, ceramics, soaps, crafts, candles, gourd art, glitter tattoos, fresh sweet and savory baked goods, tamales, salsa, and crepes and omelettes to order! The charming French man representing Sierra Rizing Bakery was playing beautiful guitar too! If you are anything like me, I think you’ll find this market lovely to attend, and easy to support! They will be open Nov. 11,18 and Dec. 2,8,9 and 16, but will close over the Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends.

Before or after you visit the Farmer’s Market on Sunday Nov. 18th, make sure and stop by the First Annual Holiday Boutique at Enchanted April Inn located at 5950 Salmon Falls Road in Pilot Hill. This Boutique will feature over 18 vendors to cater to all your Christmas shopping and stocking stuffing needs, and some of the proceeds will benefit the All About Equine Animal Rescue. This event is from 10-3, located at a beautiful venue and proceeds benefit a good cause…which always makes shopping more fun!

Also, don’t forget CHRISTMAS IN COLOMA is coming on Dec. 8-9!  I hope to see you around town at these great events, but if not, have a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day! Cheers!

Family fun, Farmer’s Market & River flows!

The Coloma-Lotus Valley is your Summertime destination for BIG FAMILY FUN! Here are just a few of the things you can experience while you’re in town: hiking, biking, white-water rafting, nature walks, gold panning, wine tasting, live entertainment, historic park tours and more! Our little valley, tucked along the banks of the South Fork of the American River, is a premiere recreation destination and outdoor playground for kids and adults of all ages! We are just a short drive from Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, Reno and the Bay Area.

With guaranteed river flows Thursday to Tuesday through Labor day, the South Fork of the American River offers some of the best family friendly rafting on the west coast. Check out the whitewater pages on this site to find information about rafting and kayaking companies and opportunities.

If splish-splashin’ in the river is not your cup of tea, you can can try a sip of wine while wine tasting at one of our region’s vineyards. There are also hiking trails that are open to hikers, cyclists, equestrians and dogs.  Take an interpretive tour through the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, rich with history and mystery! At the end of the day, you can choose from many great restaurants, most of which offer live music and outdoor venues open to all ages, or you can even see some live local theatre!

Whether you pop up a tent, pull-in in an RV, rent a cabin or even a teepee, there are many riverside camping options for you and your family. If you are looking for a little more luxury, you can rest your head at one of our sensational B&B’s, Inns or hotels.

We’ve got everything for the perfect family weekend get-away, including a NEW Farmer’s Market. The LoCol Alliance has organized a great Farmer’s Market every Sunday from June through October! Located in the parking lot near Green Giant Hydroponics & Garden Center from 9:00AM-1:00PM every Sunday, you will find fresh produce, local olive oil, cheese, plants, art, jewelry and more. The Garden Center also provides live music and a bounce house for the kids! I have even heard rumors of delicious snow cones…always a treat to beat the heat!

The Coloma-Lotus Valley: truly a destination for all ages! Come visit and see for yourself! We hope to see you soon!

Coloma-Lotus Comunity Slogan/Tagline Contest!

CALLING ALL KIDS, COMMUNITY AND KIDS-AT-HEART:

The Coloma-Lotus Chamber of Commerce is looking for wordsmiths and creative thinkers, or anyone who loves the Coloma-Lotus Valley, to submit their ideas for a slogan to appear on several proposed gateway signs at the entrances to the Coloma-Lotus Valley.

The slogan should be a short sentence or phrase that conveys the recreational and/or historic nature of the valley. An example would be: Home of golden adventures, Feels like home, A river runs through it, etc. Be creative, have fun and get the whole classroom, office or family involved!

The winner will be featured on the new and improved www.coloma.com website and may have other local press opportunities as well!

Submit entries to: signcontest@coloma.com (please put Slogan Contest in the subject line) or mail to Coloma-Lotus Chamber of Commerce

Attn: Slogan Contest, P.O. Box 608, Coloma, CA 95613.

Deadline for slogan submission is June 8, 2012.

Thank you for your interest and participation!

Dominic Pugliese
Vice President
Coloma-Lotus Chamber of Commerce

Sutter’s Mill Meteorite Mania

On April 22, 2012, a bright fireball was seen over parts of California and Nevada at approx. 7:51am (PDT). This fireball heralded the arrival of a mini-van sized space rock which entered the Earth’s upper atmosphere and burned up over Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California, and dropped meteorites across streets and backyards throughout the Coloma-Lotus Valley. These meteorites are now being found by professional hunters, landowners, and average folks alike. It’s as though a second gold rush has hit the Coloma-Lotus Valley!

NASA, SETI and BBC are all in town, as well as scientists and enthusiasts from all over the country! There have been news vans and conflicting information about how to identify and handle these rare “space rocks.” It was one of the rarest types of meteorites to fall to Earth — a carbonaceous chondrite, the earliest solid material to form in our Solar System more than four and a half billion years ago, before the planets, including the Earth, formed.

This meteorite has rocked (pun intended) our quiet little towns! According to UC Davis Geology Professor Qing-zhu Yin, this meteorite could be one of the most scientifically important to fall to Earth since the late 1960’s. NASA is anxious to learn as much as possible about the meteorite’s fall and origins. Since the impact, more than a dozen pieces have been recovered, weighing around 100g. There are also indications that the fragments may be degrading fast with regard to future scientific analysis due to exposure to moisture and temperatures, so it is very important to recover as much of the meteorite fragments as soon as possible. Time is of the essence!

How to spot a meteorite:

  • Black-greyish look, with a molten glassy fusion crust with goose bumps, and often with cracks
  • If pieces have broken off, the interior should show some specks of minerals — those are the first solid condensates of our solar system
  • They should be distinct from local rocks and surrounding environment.

If you think you have found one, please note that they are extremely fragile and should be put in a jar with some sort of desiccant; they are quite vulnerable to moisture and will turn to dust if not taken care of properly. If you find what you think is a meteorite, try to avoid touching it with your hands. Roll it into a piece of aluminum foil and also include a bit of dirt from the location where found it. If you should decide to share it with SETI/NASA, the scientists can separate out the meteorite material from earth material. Also please make a careful note of the location where it was found (preferably GPS coordinates) and the size in grams/cm.

Email a photo to Peter Jenniskens, so he can determine if this is the real thing or not. Peter will then assign a number that will be accessible on his website, even if you’re keeping the piece or selling it to a collector. He understands the motivation for selling these, although he’d love some samples for scientific study. As has been pointed out, this meteorite is special not only because of its size but its unusual composition.

Here’s his contact info:

Peter Jenniskens
Tel.: 1-650-8100216
Email: Petrus.M.Jenniskens@nasa.gov

http://airborne.seti.org

There are also dozens of collectors that will happily purchase your ‘space rock’ for top dollar, should you choose not to donate it to science. Normally a visit to our beautiful valley has you looking up and around at all the panoramic views, but lately everyone is looking down, just hoping for a little piece of big history!
Happy Meteorite Hunting Folks!!!

Coloma-Lotus Gateway Sign Design Contest

The Coloma-Lotus Chamber of Commerce is looking for skilled artists and/or craftspeople to submit their design ideas for gateway signs welcoming visitors to the Coloma-Lotus Valley.

Entries should include a design sketch and cost estimate, including labor. The sign must be durable, maintenance free and non-illuminated (not requiring power). It should convey the spirit of the Coloma-Lotus Valley as an historic and recreational destination.

The sign must be clearly visible to passing drivers and no larger than 32 square feet, but can be any shape. Be creative and think “out of the box!” Have fun!

If your design is chosen you (and your team, if applicable) should be able to construct the signs in a timely manner. If your design is selected there will be press opportunities and you will be featured on the coloma.com website.

Submit entries to Coloma-Lotus Chamber of Commerce, Gateway Sign Design Contest, P.O. Box 608, Coloma, CA 95613 or to signcontest@coloma.com. Please put Sign Design Contest in the subject line. Deadline for design submission is May 18th, 2012.

Fall and Winter Delights in the Valley

Below the Snow & Above the Fog: A Year-Round Playground

fall on the South Fork; photo by Mark Leder-AdamsShhh! Maybe the great year-round climate should be kept a secret, but the news about the fine weather is too good not to pass on. Now that the summer whitewater rafting & kayaking season has peaked, the equipment is tucked into storage and guides head back to college, Costa Rica or other destinations, locals relish what many consider the finest times of the year.

fall in Marshall Park; photo by Donna McMasterAs temperatures cool, the lucky Coloma-Lotus valley residents who remain here, along with savvy campers and RVers, find plenty to do. Hiking, bicycling and other land activities become more attractive. Fall colors peak in October and November, when black oak forests and riverside cottonwoods blaze with orange and yellow. Savvy visitors love this time, often fitting in a visit to the valley with a trip to Apple Hill, local ranches, and wineries — all of which beckon with great savory attractions.

Winter, with its gentle, life-giving rains, is a time for indoor holiday activities, such as Christmas in Coloma, winter winery events, and local business open houses. In January, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park celebrates the anniversary of the first California gold discovery. See our calendar for more local events.

morning mist surrounds Emmanuel Church; photo by Betty SederquistAny long-time resident of the valley has heard this question from outsiders: “How much snow did you get this year?” and that local resident will give the usual answer: None. Very occasionally the valley will receive several inches of snow, to the delight of local children. However, we’re at a surprisingly low elevation — the river is at about 700 to 750 feet above sea level. Even that slight elevation, however, is enough to protect the valley from the dreary tule fog that plagues the Central Valley. So winters here are delightful, typically characterized by winter rains, frosty mornings and localized river mists that dissipate as the sun rises. For more information, forecasts, and links to road conditions, visit our Weather page.

Do come to Coloma-Lotus year-round for gorgeous natural beauty, delectable agricultural and culinary offerings, as well as our arts, history, and culture. Many restaurants, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and other lodgings are available year-round and generally are uncrowded. The B&Bs; are beautifully decorated for the holidays. You’re welcome to visit, and enjoy, any time!

Adapted from an article by Betty Sederquist. Photos (top to bottom) copyright © Mark Leder-Adams, Donna McMaster, and Betty Sederquist.

Wildflower Walk in Coloma Sunday Afternoon, April 6

An afternoon of spectacular wildflower viewing in Coloma will be hosted by Bill and Robin Center and led by Sierra Nevada Alliance staff on Sunday, April 6, from 1-4 pm, in Coloma. This is a benefit for the Sierra Nevada Alliance. The blooms should be perfect, so come on out to enjoy each other’s company in a beautiful place and raise some money for a great cause.

There will be two walk options. The easier walk will be less than a mile long and will involve about 200 feet of vertical ascent. The harder walk will be about two miles long and will go down to the river and back, which is about 1000 feet of vertical. Both walks are on narrow trails. The views from both walks are spectacular! All you need is hiking boots, walking clothes, sunscreen and a water bottle. Camera, binoculars, etc. are optional. NOTE: The walk will go off rain or shine, so bring your rain gear!

The walk is open to the first 50 people who respond – any and all ages are welcome and encouraged! Feel free to invite friends. However, please leave pets at home for this one.

The suggested donation is $40/person, kids 12 and under free. Directions to the Coloma location will be provided upon RSVP.

Please reply to Kay@sierranevadaalliance.org.

Article by Sara SK. Thanks to Mark Leder-Adams for letting us use his photograph of poppies above Third Threat on the South Fork of the American River.

Dance Workshop in Lotus D’Or Studios Sat. March 8

Great artistic offerings continue at the Lotus D’Or Studios on 7312 Hwy 49 in Lotus. Lotus D’Or Studios promotes dance, yoga, performing arts, music & culture in the Coloma-Lotus Valley.

On Saturday, March 8, from 1-2:30 pm, Cynthia Johnson will offer a beginning/intermediate level West African Dance Workshop – no experience necessary! Participants will be introduced to West African Dance-style movements and song in traditional dances “Fanga” (Nigeria) and “Kpatse” (Ghana). The class will be held in Suite B and costs $15.

Cynthia Johnson has been passionate about African dance for over 30 years, and has taught locally and in Humboldt County since the 1980′s. She has been teaching African Dance at American River College for the past 7 years, and at Folsom Lake College for 3 years. In 2005, she spent 4 weeks in Ghana, West Africa, traveling and studying dance. She is returning to Ghana this summer, and bringing some students for a dance/drum tour. Cynthia is in the process of forming a samba parade group to perform at street fairs. For the past 3 years she has taken students to dance in the samba parade at Carnaval San Francisco, and always welcomes eager participants!

For more information about the Lotus D’Or Studios, contact Cintia Bonham at cintia_escobar@msn.com, or at 530-919-3704.

by Sara SK

Think Global but Shop Local!

gourmet olive oilMany artists, stores and businesses in the Coloma Lotus Valley are ready to help with your holiday shopping. Shopping locally saves gas, time and money by staying close to home. Many businesses have extended hours to make gift-buying easier. Consider these local choices:

Gold Hill Olive Oil: Just releasing their new 2008 locally grown and crushed olive oils, many varieties available.

The River Store: Christmas trees, wreaths, mistletoe, kayaks, boating gear, and free cookies made by Dan Crandall’s mom!

The Golden Gecko Plant Nursery: Gift cards, stocking stuffers, items for the home gardener, Golden Gecko T-shirts, sweat shirts, and aprons.

The American River Nature Center: Nature books for adults and children, or click here to purchase books through Amazon.com and donate to this non-profit organization.

Andie Thrams nature calendarGold Rush Mercantile: Period clothing, hats, aprons, bonnets, a large selection of books on gold rush history, music, children’s toys, and genuine gold nuggets.

Wine: Need wine for holiday parties or hostess gifts? Stop by and taste at Venezio, Gold Hill, or David Girard Wineries, or choose from the bottles available at the Riverside Mini-Mart.

Sierra Rizing Bakery: Gifts from the kitchen; jams, jellies, syrups, delicious dog biscuits, and a wide selection of Gold Hill Olive Oils.

Andie Thrams Art- Andie has just produced her new 2008 calendar with a nature theme.

To find out more about these and other local shopping options, click here. Shop local and save time, money and gas!

by Sarah Canfield