Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms
The tiny town of Mount Shasta is well-known through-out the western states for its natural splendor – the 14,000-foot mountain serves as one of the true wonders of the world, sitting high above a series of long dense alpine forests that line all four corners of the countryside.
Needless to say, tourists flock to the area in droves, coming at all times of the year to enjoy an array of activities that include skiing, hunting, snow-boarding and various water-sports.
However, the choices don’t stop with the ‘things to do’ column. Once you hit town and plot your itinerary, you’ll still have to decide where to stay; our choice for lodging that truly matches its surroundings is the Mount Shasta Ranch Bed and Breakfast.
This splendid lodge was built in 1923 and originally served as a thoroughbred horse ranch, the place standing as a testament to simpler times when farms dotted the hillsides and families worked the land – generation after generation.
In short, this isn’t your typical boutique inn that’s been created to be romantic or historical or quaint. Instead, Mount Shasta Ranch Bed and Breakfast isall these things because it was born this way – its beginnings tied to the evolution of a community and its people.
Travelers who end up staying here are boarding at an inn that’s had a thousand former lives (with a thousand different stories passing before the altars of its eyes): Step through these doors and you’re stepping back to a time when life was as simple as having enough food on the shelves and enough wood in the barn to stave off the mad fangs of winter.
In sum, Mount Shasta Ranch Bed and Breakfast is not about making a pretentious statement, but rather, it’s about inviting you to share in the layers of its beautiful history (the things you take from the experience meant to be as personal as the sight of your own reflection in this morning’s mirror).
There are four huge rooms in the main house and they mark the centerpiece of the property. These rooms come outfitted with sofas, chairs and tables, and they appear like studio apartments – spacious and luxurious, with a true ‘down home’ feel. Guests will immediately be taken in by the array of antiques and the plush oriental rugs which create a nice blend of ‘taste’ and ‘comfort.’ In addition, large private bathrooms encourage guests to languish through their shower-rituals. The inn also boasts a separate carriage house with additional rooms. The carriage house was originally the “bunk house’ for the ranch hands, and owner Bill Larsen has worked to transform it into the living shadow of the main house: Five rooms outfitted with comfortable queen sized beds, TVs and corner sinks share two bathrooms – the carriage house a ‘communal cottage’ of sorts that also features a separate kitchen and long dining room table (for those who want to forego restaurant meals and forage for themselves).
There are countless noteworthy intangibles about this place that will stimulate a return visit to ‘the ranch.’ First off, the daily breakfast served up in the main house’s dining room is both hearty and good. Don’t come down to eat expecting a banana and piece of toast. Instead, each day brings a different entree: Omelets, fruit-filled crepes, pancakes and waffles are often featured along with coffee, juice and fruit. Portions tend to be quite filling (and many find that a meal like this only requires a light lunch to follow). We were also quite impressed with the comforts in the grand living room of the main house: A huge rock fireplace adorns the room making for the perfect place to sit and talk (or rest in peaceful solitude). There is also a piano and game room with pool and ping-pong tables offering a recreational hide-away. Other amenities include host-wine and snacks; and a long porch at the front of the main house where one can lounge, watching life go by in undisturbed quiet.
LOCATION: Positioned at the edge of Siskiyou County’s centerpiece city, Mount Shasta Ranch Bed and Breakfast is only a few miles from Lake Siskiyou and Castle Lake, here at the flank of one of the most scenic alpine forests in California. For those who crave the outdoors, this inn is as good as it gets. Simply, staying here is like a camp-out in a ‘stared’ hotel: Swim or fish in full view of Mount Shasta and then come back to recline with all the creature comforts of home.
THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA: This area is known for cross-country skiing, snow-boarding, fishing, deer hunting, swimming, boating, mountain climbing and hiking. If you’re the ‘outdoor type,’ this place is a bare canvas and you’re the artist. In terms of local food hot spots, forego tourist-mania and try Mount Shasta Super Market (corner of Alma and Chestnut Streets near downtown) for really good deli-fare at reasonable prices. Owned and operated since 1997 by Keith Cool, Mt. Shasta Super offers a wide-array of both fresh and smoked meats (together with a multiplicity of cheeses). In addition, Cool and his staff are known for their lunchtime sandwiches; they run between five and six bucks and come stacked with generous portions of ultra-fresh fillings (the salami and pastrami with pepper-jack on a house-baked roll are the real standouts). Mount Shasta Super is also a full-service grocery store that stocks many gourmet items and cooks-up rotisserie chicken daily (with barbecued tri-tip, chicken and baby-back ribs on Fridays and Saturdays that draw throngs for miles).
EXTRAS: Prominent extras include a full breakfast; near-by walking trails; spacious veranda; and ample open space for get-away quiet time.
PRICE: This is where Mount Shasta Ranch Bed and Breakfast really sets itself apart from the competition. In a town (and county) sometimes known for deep price gouging, the owners must be applauded for offering an affordable alternative to the I-5 motels. Prices range from $50-$110. Additionally, a stand-alone cottage that sleeps 6 is available for families, with cost ranging from $130-$180. Price based on availability, room-location, room-size and number in party.
Go to www.stayinshasta.com for information.
John Aiello is the Editor and Publisher of The Electric Review, which he founded in 2001.
Feli Mercado, who was born in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, is a freelance writer versed in food, travel and the arts; she now resides in Northern California.