Tuesday, May 22, 2018

2018 FREE & Nearly FREE Summer Activities

Summer is coming! I can tell because my kids are getting ornery and I've given up on making sure all their homework is done. My patience for things like end of the year school projects and finding lost library books is waning.

But summer is less stressful, right? Well, it's supposed to be. The first two weeks are similar to the first two weeks of school. Lots of enthusiasm. We implement the "no screens or fun outings until our work is done" policy, and at first the kids hop on board. But as the weeks go on, they don't want to go anywhere fun. "Do we HAVE to go to the lake AGAIN?" So that's not an incentive. And I've gotten lazy so the screens are more accessible. Every summer I say it's not going to happen. We are going to be productive and still have fun. But this year, I'm just not feeling it. The last several months have drained me. I feel like I've been chewed up and spit back out. (Maybe you've wondered why there hasn't been a new blog post since November 2017?) I've already given up and summer hasn't even started. My "Mom of The Year" award is now completely out of reach and I'm just getting by. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe it's just me. But I know I can't stay this way. I need some incentive. Something to look forward to. Motivation. A goal to reach for. But sitting here whining isn't going to make fun happen. Talking about goals doesn't help me meet them. I love the quote by Thomas Monson that says, "It's not enough to want to make the effort, it's in the doing not just the thinking that we accomplish our goals."

So here it goes. My first summer attempt at "doing". The updated "Free & Nearly Free" 2018 Summer Activities!

**Check out North In Cali's Google Calendar called "Summer Fun - Redding, CA and Surrounding Areas" with most of these activities on it.**

Ranger Programs @ Whiskeytown Lake, FREE (June 9-Sept 3)
I am amazed at the variety of FREE programs offered by the Rangers. Stand Up Paddle Board, Kayak Tours (Daylight & Moonlit), Junior Rangers, Junior Firefighters and Evening Astronomy Programs are just a few.

Fantasy Fountain, Redding, California  www.northincali.com

Fantasy Fountain @ Enterprise Park, Open Daily May 29 - Sept 4, 10am-8pm, FREE
Splash Zone has multiple "water spray features for kids of all ages to enjoy with a volcano that rumbles and erupts with a torrent of water whenever kids want it to." MORE ABOUT FANTASY FOUNTAIN ON NORTH IN CALI’s POST

Barnes & Noble Story Time, FREE, Saturdays @ 11am, geared toward Preschool age children

Family Evening Splash, Redding Aquatic Center, Mon - Thurs, 6:45pm - 8:00pm, 0-2 Years FREE, 3-15 Years $2.25, Adults $2.75
There are other times for public swim, swim lessons and classes, but if you're on a budget, this is the time to go swimming!

Movies In The Park, FREE, Fridays @ Dusk (June 1 - Aug 17) Park Varies - see calendar
Watch some great movies with your family; Beauty & The Beast, Oliver, The Greatest Showman, Thor Ragnarok, Pirates of The Caribbean 5, Coco, Jumanji, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman, Moan & The Goonies

Junior Giants Summer Baseball League, Free, Registration begins April 16
FREE Program that involves over 450 youth participants

Shasta County Farmers' Market, Saturdays, April 7 - Dec 15, 7:30 am - 12:00 pm.  Behind Redding City Hall @ 777 Cypress Ave. (Other markets on different days in different places. Check website.)

Shasta Public Library, FREE
The Library wins this year for the best FREE activities! You will be amazed! Everything from preschool story hour to kayaking on Whiskeytown lake to Game Night and SO MUCH MORE!

Sunset River Jam, FREE, Wednesday evenings 5-8pm (Aug 29 - Sept 26)
This concert series at Anderson River Park entertains and brings professional talent to the North State.

Kids Summer Movie Club @ Cascade Theatre, FREE, Sundays in July, 2pm. There will be games, prizes, costumed characters and chances to win tickets to Cascade Theatre events.

Shasta Dam Tours (FREE!) Tours daily from 9am-3:30pm. Tours take 1 hour.

I have created a Google Calendar called "Summer Fun - Redding, CA and Surrounding Areas" with most of these activities on it. I have added some one time events to the calendar too. Check it out.


Maybe I'll see you at the lake...late afternoon of course...when all the chores are done at home.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Nutcracker : Redding City Ballet

I love the performing arts; musicals, plays, music performances, dance, it's all so magical to me.  When I watch performers do something that requires hard work, sacrifice and bravery, it makes me cry. Every time. And when I personally know these performers, it hits me hard, and I have been known to let a tear slip multiple times throughout a production. 

Redding has a blossoming performing arts community. Practically every weekend, you can find a play, symphony, musical, or dance event to attend. Some people don't realize that even a small city like Redding, has some amazingly talented people in it! 

The Nutcracker : Redding City Ballet www.northincali.com

One of my favorite events to attend every Christmas time is the Redding City Ballet's: The Nutcracker. In this beautiful ballet with stunning local talent, we get to experience something special. Not only do we have the opportunity to see something beautiful, but we get to experience a sense of pride knowing that the great community we live in encourages and allows the performing arts to grow and flourish. 

The Nutcracker : Redding City Ballet www.northincali.com
2013 The Nutcracker: Clara receiving her Nutcracker from Drosselmeyer.

I have seen and experienced first hand, how children and adults alike, can gain great confidence and self worth through performing, and in turn become successful contributors in our community.

2015 Journey To The Nutcracker video

These young (and some not so young) performers are your neighbors, co-workers, friends and students. They live and study here in our beautiful city. Whether you realize it or not, what they do impacts all of us. Only good can come from a community that supports each other in our talents and efforts.

The Nutcracker : Redding City Ballet www.northincali.com
2013 The Nutcracker: Arabian
Find out more about Redding City Ballet on their Facebook page.
Find out more about The Redding Arts Project; the official training school for the Redding City Ballet on their website. www.thereddingartsproject.com

Come join me at the historic Cascade Theater on Dec 8 & 9 (starting at $12 per ticket) and be inspired to begin your Christmas season with grace and beauty. Buy tickets here.

2014 The Nutcracker: My beautiful Angel daughter.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Christmas Tree Hunting

Every year for the past 15 years that we have lived in Northern California, we have always cut our own Christmas tree in one of the beautiful national forests we have here in Northern California.

Well, that's not entirely true. In 2005, I had a newborn baby and I refused to go Christmas tree hunting in the forest. So we went to a tree lot. $80 later we had a 5 foot tall tree that we didn't really like. Q griped about the cost and we both missed the adventure of finding our own tree in the woods.

Christmas Tree Cutting in Lassen & Shasta-Trinity National Forests  www.northincali.com

It's definitely an "adventure". One year I was 8 months pregnant so I sent Q into the woods alone to find a tree while I sat in the car. That was the same year we had to cut our tree before Thanksgiving because the baby was coming and I didn't want a repeat of 2005. (see picture below...pregnancy was not good to me...)

Another year it poured down rain and after we had cut the tree and we still needed to tie it to the top of the car, our friend said, "Let's just leave it here and go get a tree at Walmart."

Some years there's snow up to our knees and other years there hasn't been a snow flake in sight. But most of the time it's in that sweet spot somewhere in the middle. A little snow, a little hot chocolate and a lot of looking for the perfect tree. Some years we find one in a matter of minutes (like the pouring rain year) and other times it takes a little more effort. The kids love it at first, and then start to whine when mom and dad keep looking and looking and looking. "Just pick one!" they cry. But it has to be just right, doesn't it? Christmas depends on it! ;)  But then again...maybe it's not about the tree at all. Maybe it's about creating memories and traditions that last. Maybe it's more about the time we spend together and less about the tree.

Christmas Tree Hunting in Lassen & Shasta Trinity National Forests www.northincali.com

Have I sold you on cutting your own Christmas tree yet? No? Well maybe this will: IT ONLY COSTS $10 FOR A TREE PERMIT. That's right. TEN DOLLARS. You can't buy a half a tree at a lot or store for $10.

I was reminded the other day that not everyone knows that you can cut your own tree. Or maybe they do but it just seems hard. How will we know where to go? Won't we get lost? Do we need a chainsaw? What about 4 wheel drive? No need to wonder any longer.

That depends on where you will be getting your tree.  Decide on the national forest that you want to get your tree in.  We almost always get ours in Lassen but Trinity and Shasta are the other options close to us.  Permits are on sale from November 1 - December 22.  Mailing in an order for a tree permit is an option but I have never done that before. We always go to one of the offices and purchase one. You can only cut one tree per household, but each person can cut up to 5 trees as long as they have different names and addresses for each permit. We always get Q's parents a tree, so we just buy their permit under their name and address.

Lassen National Forest: Click HERE for list of locations to buy a permit.
Shasta-Trinity National Forests: Click HERE for list of locations to buy a permit.

First decide on your forest. Each permit comes with a map of locations where you are allowed to cut trees. (We often pick near Old Station because our family's cabin is close by.) Decide on a general area of the park. We try to pick one that has easy access from a major highway. The map marks even dirt roads showing where you can turn off the highway or paved road.  My suggestion would be to pick an area that has a fairly high elevation. Usually the higher the elevation (to a certain degree) will yield the nicer, thicker, prettier trees.

Click HERE for Lassen National Forest Map
Click HERE for Shasta-Trinity National Forest Map


What about all those other questions you have? Maybe these pro tips will give you some answers.

Pro Tips:
  • Bring food. No matter which forest you pick, there won't be anywhere close by to buy food. So pack a lunch and hot chocolate and make a day out of it.
  • Prepare for snow. Some years there's a lot and some years there's none, but we always bring our warm & waterproof clothes and gear so that we aren't caught by surprise. Don't forget about your feet! Keep them warm and dry!
  • Bring a saw. We usually bring a hand powered hack-saw. You don't need a power tool, but it sure was nice the year my brother in law brought his chain saw!
  • Don't forget your rope! Always tie your tree down for transport home, even in a truck. One year we put both trees (in-laws and ours) in the bed of our pick-up truck. When we got home, we only had one tree. 
  • Check the weather.  This will be the best way to determine if you need 4 wheel drive and/or chains. (We like to look at the Cal-Trans web cams for an idea of road conditions.) We have used all types of vehicles. Most of the dirt roads are maintained fairly well and you only need 4-wheel drive if there's snow. There are also places where you can pull off the side of the highway and walk to find a tree, no off-roading required. 
  • Follow the rules. In order to know the rules, you have to read them. They will be in your paperwork that you get with your tree permit. PLEASE follow the rules. If we continue to preserve our forests by being respectful of how many trees are cut, where the trees are cut, and the condition we leave the area we ventured in, then we will be able to keep this tradition for many years to come.
Do you cut your own Christmas tree? Where do you go? Any tips I forgot?  Leave them in the comments.

Need ideas for more wintertime activities? Check out these posts:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mossbrae Falls

I finally made it up to Mossbrae Falls! I have been wanting to go for a couple years now. A couple years?! Why does it take so long to do some of these things? Sheesh.

Now obviously I'm a little slow on the bandwagon. I have been seeing friends and locals post pictures of Mossbrae Falls for a while. So, I'm not here to say I'm the first, but when I started looking for directions to the falls, I had a hard time finding the info I needed all in one place.

The Stats: Mossbrae Falls
DISCLAIMER: In order to get to Mossbrae Falls, you have to pass through private property. Unless you have permission from the land owner, it is considered trespassing.
Location: Dunsmuir, CA (See map & directions below for details)
Amenities: None. There are no bathrooms, no drinking fountains, just the great outdoors and mother nature.

I really wanted my husband to be able to go with us on the hike, so we had to go when he was off work. Unfortunately the only day that lined up for us to go was the 4th of July. Well, everyone else decided that Independence Day was the perfect day for a hike to the falls too. There were plenty of people at the falls. My pictures are full of people. I saw pictures from friends of Mossbrae Falls on the 5th of July and there was no one in her pictures. Just sayin'.

Here's what you want to know: How do you get there?

Park near the corner of Dunsmuir Ave and Scarlett. We parked up the hill from Scarlett on Dunsmuir Ave. Make sure you are parking in an area that doesn't have a "no parking" sign. Walk down Scarlett (private street) to the bottom of the hill. At the bottom of the hill take a right and go over the bridge. Take a right after the bridge and follow the tracks tot he next bridge. Right before the 2nd bridge there is a trail off to the right. It's somewhat of a steep trail down to the falls. The hike between the two bridges took us about 30-40 minutes with kids in tow.

DISCLAIMER #2: Walking along ANY railroad track is illegal (trespassing) and dangerous.  (Linked HERE is an article about Mossbrae Falls from Jefferson Public Radio and the dangers that are associated with accessing Mossbrae Falls via the railroad tracks.)

Pro Tips:
  • Wear tennis shoes or a good outdoor sandal. The railroad tracks are rocky and it's an unlevel walking surface. I wore a Teva sandal and it worked out just fine. But I wouldn't want to walk that far on the tracks with flip flops.
  • Take lots of water. If you're going in the heat of the summer, it will be hot on your hike. There is very little shade on the railroad tracks.
  • Make sure you do not park on Scarlett. It is a private street and the police give out tickets.
  • The railroad tracks make me SUPER nervous. Be smart: pay attention, keep your eyes and ears alert and stay sober for this hike.

Have you been to Mossbrae Falls? What other waterfalls do you recommend going to?

Read more about these other waterfalls:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Food Truck Friday : Taco Loco

I texted my friend J:

"We are going food truck hunting tonight in the heat. I have a pretty good lead on where to go. Want to come? It will be hot and I can't guarantee that the food will be good. But it will be an adventure!"

And do you know what she said? She said, "Yes we want to!" With an exclamation point at the end! That right there is a good friend.

So was the food good? Did she choose wisely? Let's find out.

Food Truck Friday : Taco Loco Redding, California  www.northincali.com

Food trucks have been a little tricky to hunt down. So when I heard the advertisement on the radio for Friday Night In The Park in Shasta Lake City, I figured that there had to be at least one food truck there. We may have missed something but from what we saw, there was Taco Loco food truck, a snow cone truck that also sold hot dogs and the Old Mill Eatery and Smokehouse had a tent selling tri-tip sliders.  We tried Taco Loco and the Old Mill Eatery, but for now we will stick to reviewing Taco Loco.

We all walked up a little timidly, unsure of what we should order. But I think in the end, we thought that if the truck had "taco" in the name, we best try the tacos.

Our friends J & T ordered a plate of 5 street tacos for $10, (2 beef, 2 chicken & 1 pork) all with mild green chili salsa. They later ordered a 2nd plate of tacos, this time trying the spicier red sauce. (After they declared the beef with green salsa their favorite.)

Q and I ordered similar, except for that our 5 street tacos were 2 beef, 1 chicken, 1 pork, 1 fried pork. Also all with the mild salsa. Also $10.

Luckily we found a picnic table in the shade, enabling us to sit in relative comfort even though it was quite warm out.

Food Truck Friday : Taco Loco, Redding, California www.northincali.com

So back to the question of whether or not our friends made the right choice to come on this food truck adventure. Here's their reviews...

J's review, "In my mind I have a preconceived notion of what "street tacos" should be. When the plate came out, it was exactly what I was hoping for in look and more importantly taste. I would eat it again for sure!"

T's review, "I didn't know what to expect, but I really liked it. Food was great and just like J said, it was just what I thought a street taco should be. Fun to experience something new."

What did Q and I think? Well, we are getting more and more comfortable eating at food trucks and our expectations are becoming higher as we quickly learn that we should expect excellence from them. And once again, we were not disappointed. Taco Loco, we will be back for more tacos and to try some different menu items!

The Stats: Taco Loco
Contact Info: (530) 227-0581
Payments Type Accepted: Cash or Card (via Square)
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/Tacolocoromo/

Location & Schedule: (Summer 2017) 
Northern Roots parking lot: Mon-Fri 11:00am - 4:30pm
Mosquito Serenade (Anderson River Park): Wednesdays, 6:00pm through Aug 23
Sunset River Jam (Anderson River Park): Wednesdays, 5pm, Aug 30 - Oct 4, 2017

Taco Loco is getting a new truck! Check out their new truck below (photo credit: Signarama). Look for it very soon (if they aren't using it already).

Have you had Taco Loco's food yet? What did you think?  Be sure to leave a comment if you know of another food truck we should try.

Check out our other food truck reviews:
Tango Tacos
What The Truck
Yellow Lunch Box 
Roadrunner Grill

**Just in case anyone is wondering, in this review we paid for all our own food and did not receive any compensation of any kind for our honest opinion.**

Friday, June 30, 2017

Food Truck Friday : What The Truck, Road Runner Grill & Yellow Lunch Box

Man, you guys love your food trucks! Thanks for all the love and visiting Way Up North In Cali! Are you following us on social media?

Facebook: facebook.com/northincali
Instragram: @northincali
Twitter: @northincali

If you are a local resident you have probably heard that Todd Franklin is trying to bring "The Park - Patio & Bar" to downtown Redding and Anderson River Park.  To get people revved up and excited about the idea of a food truck park, Todd has been hosting food truck tastings at his home. We were out of town when he did the first one, but I was determined to get to the next one.

Food Truck Fridays : What The Truck, Road Runner Grill, & Yellow Lunch Box  Redding, California  www.northincali.com

Last Saturday, three food trucks were hosted. I was going to review each of them in individual posts, but because we only tried one thing from each truck, I didn't feel like it would be a fair review. So I'm going to take a look at all three trucks in this post.

**Let me remind you that last Saturday saw temperature highs over 110 degrees. And while we are used to high summer temps here in Redding, it's still HOT. No matter how you look at it, 113 degrees is too hot. Too hot to stand out in the sun and order from a food truck. Too hot to wait for the food and too hot to eat it once you get it. (Although, Todd did a very nice job of offering shaded seating near his pool, which is where we sat to eat our food.) But the people need to know if the food truck food is good. So my dear husband indulged me and we braved the fiery furnace of the Redding Sun.**

What The Truck (food truck) Redding, California   www.northincali.com

What The Truck

We ordered the "BrieBQ Burger" with caramelized onions ($10) thinking, "We love brie cheese. We've never had it on a burger before, we should try that." The burger was very good. It tasted fresh and the onions were good. However, there was no brie or cheese of any kind on the burger. Q said, "They must have forgotten the cheese." Later I noticed on the side of the truck that "Brie" is not a cheese but rather the co-owner.  In their defense it did not say "cheese burger". But if I were to make a suggestion, it would be to add brie cheese to that burger. It would be delicious! Had I not thought there was supposed to be cheese on the burger, I wouldn't have any complaints. It was served with a side of potato salad, which was excellent. Definitely home made.

Bottom Line: The misunderstanding of the "BrieBQ Burger" was minor. I can't wait to try more things on their menu! I've heard great reviews from other people about their Blue Cheese and Bacon Jam Burger.

Road Runner Grill food truck  Redding, California  www.northincali.com
Road Runner Grill

Because we were trying to get food from each truck, we ordered a smaller item at The Road Runner Grill. I wish we had ordered more because the Chicken Mango Taco ($4) was delicious. It was sweet and fresh, perfect for a hot summer day. We opted for the grilled chicken rather than the chipotle chicken because I am wimpy when it comes to spices, but I bet the sweet mixed with a little spicy would be great! I would have gotten the shrimp taco if I wasn't sharing with Q, but he won't eat anything that lived in the water...

Bottom Line: Don't share this taco with anyone, you'll want it all to yourself. There are more things I want to try on the menu, so I'll definitely be stopping by for a bite the next time I see them.

Yellow Lunch Box food truck   Redding, California  www.northincali.com

Yellow Lunch Box

This was the truck I was most excited to try. The truck only does special events, but they are the same owners that run the Ma Der Ma Der Sap House & Grill in downtown Redding (which we have not been to). Q really wanted to order the Redding Rib Eye Cheese Steak sandwich, but I wanted to try something "new" and ordered the Hawaiian Chicken Adobo with Lumpia and Rice ($9).  Q was ok with this because he lived in the Philippines for two years where he ate chicken adobo and lumpia often. The lumpia (similar to an egg roll) was very good. I could have eaten a whole plate full of just lumpia. The sauce they served for the lumpia was sweet but with just a hint of spice, but didn't leave your mouth burning.  The rice was sufficiently sticky. The chicken, I'm sad to say was not my favorite. It was a bit dry and I mentioned to Q that I felt like it needed a sauce. He told me that Filipino adobo has a sauce and maybe they forgot to give it to us. (Or maybe Hawaiian adobo doesn't have sauce.)

Bottom Line: I would give this truck a 2nd try. That Redding Rib Eye Cheese Steak sandwich is calling my name!

Well, there you have it. No sugar coating it, just giving you our honest opinion. We spent $23 total for a meal for two people (we shared everything we got), so no complaints about the price. While we may not have loved everything we tried, if I saw any of these trucks serving food I would stop and grab a bite.

Check out our other food truck reviews:
Tango Taco
Taco Loco

Have you tried any of these three food trucks? What was your opinion? What should we order next time? Leave your comments below.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Exit Strategies : A Local Business Review (Spoiler Free)

I began seeing pictures on social media of people holding signs that said things like "We stopped the bomb!" and "We Escaped" and a few that said "We Failed".  A little bit of clicking on pictures and reading comments told me that there was a new trend in the entertainment business called "Escape Rooms". It looked fun, but all these pictures seemed to be of my friends that lived in other cities or were visiting other places, so I forgot about it. Until one night, a few months ago, when a friend texted asking if we wanted to do an escape room here in town. Sure! I'm always up for a good time. And the best part was the experience was being gifted to them, so we would get to try it out for free!

But lets back up for just a minute. Some of you may be saying, "What is an escape room?" Oasis Fun Center states on their Exit Strategies website, "The latest entertainment phenomenon, live escape rooms, make their debut in Shasta County! An escape room is a themed environment where teams made up of 4-8 players attempt to solve mind-bending puzzles and conundrums to accomplish a specific assignment, all in a one-hour time frame."

There were 6 of us. Three couples between the ages of...well let's just say we are fully fledged adults. We arrived at Oasis Fun Center. (Who knew they had an escape room? Not me. But they actually have two!) We were taken upstairs and placed in front of a door. We were offered a few key instructions about time, hints, and what our task was. Then we were told that most people fail.

We were led into a room, the door shut behind us and the timer started. We had exactly 1 hour to find and deactivate a bomb. Anything and everything in the room could be a hint or clue. Some clues were obvious, some were subtle and some were riddles or puzzles.

You guys, I'm a pretty smart person, but I've decided I'm no detective. I started looking for clues in obscure places. I found a couple, but most of the time, I just kept looking at things that were not clues at all. I messed around with one prop for a good 15 minutes, determined that I was supposed to find some meaning in it. I was wrong.  But others in our group, looked in different places. My friend Shelli said one thing she loved about the experience was that she liked working together and seeing each others strengths. It literally took ALL of us finding and decoding clues to solve the puzzle.  Our team mate Marci said she loved how the escape room involved a variety of different interests. There seemed to be something for every type of mind.  We all had a great time! It was really fun to do something so different from our normal date night.

Pro Tips: 

  • Choose your team wisely. You're gonna need some smart friends! Mine are THE SMARTEST!
  • Not interested in deactivating a bomb? You get to pick from 2 escape rooms. You can also prevent a terrorist attack!

So, did we beat the clock? Did we disarm the bomb? We cut it close, but with less than 5 minutes to spare, YES, we Escaped!

Exit Strategies escape room. Shasta Lake, California www.wayupnorthincali.blogspot.com
Blurry Picture Alert! Sorry!

The Stats: Exit Strategies
Location: 3330 Cascade Blvd, Shasta Lake (Co-Located with Oasis Fun Center)
Cost: $25/person or $125 for the entire room
MENTION WayUpNorthInCali Blog and receive 20% off per person making it only $20 each!
Contact: (530) 275-3042 or exitstrategiesredding@gmail.com
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/escaperoomsredding/

This is not a game for children. In fact Oasis reminds us that Exit Strategies was designed for adults. Anyone under 14 has to be accompanied by an adult.

One last question. Just like in my blog posts about Mt. Shasta Ski Park season passes and Disneyland, I always try to answer: Is it worth the cost?  Because let's be honest, $25 is a lot. And I'm not going alone, so now it's $50.  Is it a $50 date? Yes, I think it is WORTH the cost. Do I always HAVE $50 to spend on date night? No. BUT never fear. Terry & Marilyn at Oasis Fun Center are offering North In Cali readers an EXCLUSIVE discount! If you mention that you saw this review on Way Up North In Cali blog, they will give you a 20% discount per person, making it only $20 each. And I almost always have $40 to spend on date night!

Have you done an escape room before? Did you escape? Have you tried Exit Strategies yet? Leave your comments below!