Our Beautiful Daughter

Our daughter, Chelsea, was born March 21st, 1996. As most of you can attest, children are one of the greatest gifts you will ever experience. I am writing this blog today because I think it’s important to let her know how special she is to me and how much I love her.

Chelsea was born in San Rafael, California. On some level she still romanticizes about that time, that home, and all that is associated with the best part of growing up. I remember planting over a hundred tulips in the garden outside our living room. We’d roll the stroller out side to sit next to a makeshift table as my dad and Kathy’s dad would bask in the love for their granddaughter, as grandparents do.

Chelsea has her mom’s heart and my sense of humor. This, coupled with a rapier wit makes Chelsea a wonderful conversationalist. Well, as fate would have it Kathy took Chelsea to Colorado to live with her grandmother and learn the Inn business. Fran, Kathy’s mom, had a very successful Inn in Evergreen Colorado. At that time I was bound and determined to start an Inn of my own in the gold country of California.

With my dad’s help I opened the All Seasons Groveland Inn (which still functions today) in 1998. I remember at the opening Chelsea was dancing in the driveway to the delight of the patrons that came to see this old Victorian turned into a magical place. During that time Kathy and I decided to go our separate ways which proved to be challenging to say the least.

As Chelsea grew up there were bumps in the road but Chelsea has the heart of a champion and persevered through the obstacles that helped build her character. Fast forward to college and Chelsea graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (pre-law). Before she graduated we found out about a program that enabled students to pick a University they’d like to attend for a year outside of the state they live in for the same tuition as though she lived in that state. Surprisingly she chose my alma mater, Chico State, in California.

Chelsea ended up living in the same dorm (Craig Hall) I lived in when I went to Chico State. As many do, Chelsea fell in love with Chico and found her best friend there, Syd. After graduating from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Chelsea and Syd went on an amazing trip to Europe. They both had saved for their “European Vacation” and were excited to go on the adventure.

Chelsea ended up falling in love with Germany. Many are afraid to follow their dreams and end up wondering, “What if?” Not Chelsea… she went to Germany and became quite proficient in the language. She loved it there but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Chelsea had found and adopted a couple years before the most amazing dog named Floyd.

Missing the dog (her grandmother was taking care of) she made her way back to the states to see Floyd. I’m sure she missed her family too but I have to admit that big Great Pyrenees, Floyd, melts the hearts of all those he comes in contact with.

Chelsea applied to law schools when she came back and was accepted by the Northern School of Law in (yes you guessed it) Chico. Now she starts another chapter going to law school so eventually she can provide free advice to those in her family that supported her along the way…. or at least a discount.

Simplicity is a Wonderful Thing… PAZAZ™ Style!

Sometimes I look out the window and marvel at the beauty that surrounds me. Other times I’ll take a drive towards a destination I can hardly wait to see. Along the way I view the majesty of the trees, streams and rock formations that blend into a painting etched in my memory like a landscape by Cezanne.

Taking a drive can be a therapeutic exercise if you create the ambience that sends you into a spacial consciousness that wakes every fiber of your being. The music, the car, the chosen drive that releases the pheromones that opens your mind to focus on how special that moment in time is. So often because of time constraints related to a job, an appointment, or some other time obligation we miss what’s right in front of us. How simple it could be if all we had to think of was enjoying and appreciating those things we so often take for granted.

If you get a chance I highly recommend that you fly into Boise, Idaho. Then, rent a car and drive the five hours to Orofino, Idaho. The 253 mile trek will take you on highway 55 along streams and rivers that flow year round. There are multiple places to turn out to enjoy a picnic lunch, bottle of wine, or even a nap to revitalize your senses. The highway winds past some of the most beautiful vistas you can imagine. There is even river rafters at certain points that will remind you how lucky you are to be in your car.

After traveling other winsome highways like the one in California or coming up over the top from Placerville to South Lake Tahoe on the 50… I can honestly say that the 55 from Boise to Orofino is a magic carpet ride. All great trips start with the planning. If you plan to take this trip make sure to stop at Deli George or Gandolfo’s New York Deli in Boise Idaho for to go deli food that will make your stomach sing. There are a plethora of liquor stores in Boise to find just the right bottle of beer or wine to perfectly pair your deli meal.

Then, when you reach the Clearwater river you are only a short jaunt away from Orofino. You must stay at the Best Western River’s Edge in Orofino for a luxury hotel experience. Several of the suits are a thousand square feet with a sunken living room, dining room, double sided fireplace with a 40ft balcony over looking the Clearwater river. The room also includes a hot tub, jacuzzi tub, and full breakfast. All for around $220.00 a night. AMAZING!

There is a small downtown in Orofino that offers some very good dining choices and a nice walking path along the river. On the other side of Orofino is the Dworshak dam. The dam is located approximately four miles northwest of Orofino. The Dworshak Dam is the third tallest dam in the United States and was completed in 1973. There are many hiking trails and some quaint towns in the area to explore. The larger towns of Lewiston, Clarkson, and Pullman Washington are only about 40 minutes to an hour away. These towns I just mentioned offer excellent arts and crafts, dining, and hiking options.

So when your in need of a get-a-way to a no mask state that offers kindness from strangers, the beauty of nature, and the relaxation far from the maddening crowd… Enjoy your trip to Idaho to embrace the simplicity of life we so crave, and tell them Jack sent you. And they’ll say, “Who Dat?”

What’s Really Important?

What’s Really Important?

Have you ever asked that question when faced with the vicissitudes of life? If we live in a corrupt society that is run by big business, pharmaceutical companies, and the one world government agenda… then what is the narrative that brings us back to our comfort zone?

Perhaps it is clinging to the past, the rear view mirror, with the unsolicited quiet meadow we sit in (in our mind) that brings a peaceful mantra to mind. We can escape to places we’ve never been to bring about changes we’ve never expected. If we can get back to “What’s really Important” perhaps in some small way we just made the world a better place… one human stepping stone at a time.

Here are a few inspirational quotes from Deepok Chopra that illustrate that very point:

    • “Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.”
    • “You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.”
    • “Look at the world as a reflection of your inner state.”

The bandwidth on experience takes us from those events that have shaped our lives, to the moment we live in, and finally the vision we dream of for our future. As we expand our awareness, seemingly random events will be seen to fit into a larger purpose. That purpose is a path we choose every moment of every day that winds around obstacles which in many instances we can’t predict. Those obstacles can strengthen our resolve or momentarily defeat our purpose as we connect with the soul within that guides us towards our destiny.

A song, a conversation, a book, a poem, anything that places us on a track to accomplish a greater goal is a connection with humanity. That connection puts into perspective the importance of the decisions we make in the moment that reflects whom we are.

To make those important decisions is like a chessboard filled with multiple choices that can move us towards our goals or farther away. Each piece we move involves a myriad of intellectual and emotional caveats that brings into light the definition of the path we choose. Every step is a calculated risk that brings us the joy we seek or the pain which makes us stronger. In either case it is a classic win win. Why? Because from the abyss of failure we learn a valuable lesson which can eventually guide us through dangerous, uncharted territory.

For many the joy in life is the regiment of repetition. Go to work, come home, rinse and repeat until you are granted two days off. Then, do it all over again until retirement. In between there are birthdays, holidays, and other celebrations. When we are young there are many weddings… as you grow old those gatherings center around “Celebrations of Life.” In both cases you are surrounded by friends and family that are a remembrance of times and places associated with each face so important in the evolution of our own life.

Each stage in life reflects the act of a play. The introduction, the opening act, act one, etc. Then we can view this play that unfolds before us to understand the decisions that have helped create the happiness, sadness, and hopefully personal growth that mentors us towards our final curtain call.

When we drill past the minutiae of unimportant events, circumstances, and trivialities, we are left with “What’s really Important.”

You ask, “What is that?” It is to love, and be loved in return.

This blog is sponsored by PAZAZ™ “The Magic of Cooking”, kitchen tools for the discerning chef. Please go to www.pazazshop.com to purchase these AMAZING kitchen tools.

Another Home Run, Candle in the Woods Style!

If you remember, (and that would be quite a stretch to remember any one of my over 200 blogs so far), my blog about The Candle in the Woods restaurant, “The Greatest Meal I’ve ever Had!” Then, you would remember the intoxicating flavors and descriptions of the passion and creativity I experienced that fortuitous night I was introduced to this very special restaurant.

Let me take you back in time to give you just a little bit of history. Chef Dave Adlard’s accomplishments go beyond the realm of the culinary arts. Chef Dave was also a gymnastics coach at the highest level, coaching three world champions over the course of his illustrious career. Although officially retired from coaching he’s the meet director for the annual Great West Gym Fest and is still involved in teaching.

Apparently he’s been involved and finished iron man competitions (thought he looked familiar), has been on the Food Network, and has taught gymnastic clinics around the world. That focus and attention to detail has translated to an extraordinary culinary experience for those lucky enough to sit at the table at the Candle in the Woods in Athol, Idaho.

Another aspect to this night of food, wine, and fun was the staff Chef Dave has assembled to perform the culinary duties. These chefs range in age from 22 down to 16 years old. Each chef provides the skill, attention to detail, and the work ethic to accomplish new dishes rotated into the evenings festivities on a daily basis. The chefs and front of the house staff are as follows:

Sous Chef Sarah Kitchings

Chef de Partie David Sharon

Exec. Commis Benjamin Givens

Commis Ethan Storm

HCT Eli Storm

Chef Emeritus Keli Cain

Sommelier Noelle Loparco

FOH Traci Hasselhuhn

Trust me… that precise and detailed manufacturing of new dinner items is not done in almost any other kitchen in America. I would say any other kitchen because that’s closer to the truth but there might be some kitchen, somewhere… maybe in a galaxy far, far, away.

This latest meal on Valentine’s Day was another culinary home run. I will simply list the food and wine course by course except for a couple courses that require further interpretation:

      1. Steak S’more and Tuna Tartare Nibbles served with a Valentine’s Day Champagne Cocktail

      2. Nachos Three Ways – Potato, Yak, and Ostrich served with a Chalk Hill 2017 Rose, Sonoma

      3. Short Rib Ebelskiver with Rhubarb and Ancho Maple Syrup served with Ormarine 2018 Picpoul de Pinet, France

      4. Smoked Quail Egg and Roasted Bone Marrow served with Renaissance 2014 Semillon

      5. Coconut Curry Soup served with 2019 Rombauer Chardonnay, Carneros

      6. Intermezzo – Pickled Huckleberry, Fresh Raspberry, Bacon and Balsamic Ice Cream with Togarashi Macaron served with Schramsberg “Mirabelle” Sparkling Rose, Napa

      7. Filet Mignon with Tableside Hot Rock Scallops and Tabasco Grits served with 2015 Acumen Cellars Estate Merlot, Napa

      8. Lobster and Crab Cannelloni in Sambuca and Lemon Cream with Homemade Bread served with 2017 Patton Ridge Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

      9. Second Intermezzo -Sorbet with Sparkling Sugar served with Isenhower “Jongleur” Petite Verdot, Walla Walla, Washington

      10. Lamb T Bone with Roasted Potato and Asparagus served with 2011 Cairdean Cellars “Acquantance Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

      11. Double Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse, 2005 Chateau d’Yquem, France

      12. Cheese and Chocolate Strawberry, served with 10 year old Tawny, Portugal

Several courses blew my mind. The Lobster and Cannelloni in Sambuca and Lemon Cream with Homemade Bread left me barely able to mutter a single word. I was like a baby that wanted more but could only drool to express its complete satisfaction with that perfectly assembled course. That course and the Lamb T-Bone served flamed at the table made me a complete vegetable. Those dishes provided me an out of body experience that still has me waiting to descend to earth. And if that wasn’t enough… pouring the 2005 Chateau d’Yquem propelled me to the land of make believe where anything is possible. Unbelievable!

All the courses were magnificent in their composition and presentation. The segue to each course was the monologue provided by Chef Dave. The humble beauty of the discourse woven with stories that span the horizon of real life experiences enhancing the meal and bringing the evening into the realm of a memory you will never forget.

First Time / Last Time – PAZAZ™ STYLE!

Do you remember that first kiss? The first time you saw an ocean, a waterfall, or snow? The list is long of all the things you’ve seen for the first time in your life. Do you ever think about those times and reflect on the feeling you had when beauty unfolded before you? Do you ever think about the child within you? The unbridled happiness, inner peace, a type of blissfulness we try to re-capture our whole life.

I’ve sat on mountain tops, beaches, even climbed trees to ponder just that question. I think the only answer is that when we are young we are not beset by the stress of all the achievements, defeats, and responsibilities that define whom we are today. When we are young we live in a bubble that knows no boundary. We live in the moment, able to focus on the simple importance of discovery without limitations. Our world (when we are young) lives in a fantasy with no doors or windows. No one can peer into that very special space within our mind which isn’t afraid to honor our imagination.

I remember my report cards and the written comments by my teachers, when I was in elementary school. It’s funny because many of my friends had the same comments written about their ability to focus and listen to their teachers:

“Jack (or fill in the blank with your name) could do better if he wasn’t staring out the window missing valuable lesson instructions.” I’m paraphrasing of course but you get the message. At that moment in time I was more focused on the bird I was watching outside the window, or perhaps the squirrel making it’s way to its nest. Whatever it was, my attention wasn’t grabbed by the droning on of a teacher eyeing the recess bell as closely as I was.

That certainly was a magical sound during my young life… the recess bell. I would become a world class sprinter making my way to the playground to participate in a myriad of sports, archaic by todays standards, but ones that truly defined our physical activity. Prison ball, soft ball, kick ball, four-square, jump rope (mainly for girls), hop scotch (mainly for girls) and tether ball.

Those were the carefree days of discovery that live in our memories forever. Our old friends we haven’t seen since those days and the important experiences shared with them we will never forget. Then, somewhere along the way some of those experiences became our last.

But before they became our last we tangoed on the edge, dangling off the road, without a compass to bring us back to our comfort zone. We made it back much richer for the experience with the understanding “That’s how legends are born.”

What is the benefit, to go for it without a net, believing that the journey is the reward? And yet when that enriched timeless event becomes something you will never forget… how much is that worth?

Do you remember the last time you went sailing, did an exhaustive climb, played racquetball, or ventured outside of your comfort zone to places you’ve always dreamed of seeing? Are those trips in the back of your mind you’ve been putting off only irritations dismissed with some excuse? Or, is it now, in this moment, our time to have an epiphany? In our twilight years it is time to make new friends, go to new places, and reach new heights of discovery. Because… within the realm of discovery and change we can unharness the possibilities we deserve.