Bliss is Redding, California!

Courtesy of Travels with Bliss, Article by Susan Hartzler, Photos by Susan Hartzler.

 In the majestic mountain and lake filled region in the north eastern corner of California lies Redding and Shasta Cascade, one of America’s most spectacular, pristine and DOG FRIENDLY regional destinations. Boasting 300+ days of beautiful weather a year, this area is rich in culture and heritage offering boundless outdoor recreation with magnificent landscapes and breathtaking vistas. From towering volcanoes, alpine ranges and glaciers to endless waterfalls, lush forests, pristine lakes and roaring rivers, this travel destination is one of a kind. Known as the trail capital of California with over 200 miles of hiking, (many dog friendly), Redding is an outdoor adventurers dream. Not only are they known for endless trails, but with an abundance of nearby lakes, rivers and streams, everything from kayaking and paddle boarding to boating and fishing is available here. On top of the trials and the rivers, California’s Shasta Cascade contains seven national forests, eight national and state parks, and several mountain ranges including the Trinity Alps, the northern Sierra Nevada and the California Cascade range. Not to mention two massive glaciated volcanoes: the dormant 14,162 foot Mt. Shasta and the still-active 10,457 foot Lassen Peak. Among the first cities covered by, this breath-taking region is brimming with dog-friendly hotels, resorts, restaurants, shops, tours, historic sites, dog parks, cabins, and vacation rentals.

There are plenty of areas for dogs and their owners to explore where rivers, mountains, wildlife and spectacular scenery collide. There are also dog-friendly events including the annual Ducky Derby, Art in the Park and the Bark, Wine and Brew celebration. On a recent visit, Bliss had a blast! She went paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking and Whiskeytown National Recreation area where beautiful sapphire-blue waters are surrounded by mountain peaks. At the end of the day, Bliss fell right to sleep at TownPlace Suites, a dog friendly hotel that is convenient to Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Redding Civic Auditorium, within close proximity of Sundial Bridge, Whiskeytown Lake. We stopped for lunch at Wilda’s Grill, a dog friendly low-key restaurant and the home of the Buddha Bowl a favorite local dish, featuring gluten-free (highly addictive) concoction of brown rice, red beans, chicken or tofu, avocado, shredded cabbage, jalapenos, cilantro and two sauces (a sesame and soy-based dressing and a spicy garlic chili aouli). YUM! Check out this slide show of Bliss in Redding!




A Beautifully Painful Fall Shasta County Day

This is a repost with permission of Bruce McConnell’s blog on Sonoma County’s Press Democrat. Thanks for riding with us, Bruce!

After riding in Levi’s Gran Fondo, I had not planned on riding another big ride for some time. That changed quickly last week when several family members and friends encouraged me to participate in the Shasta Wheelman Jamboree Century held this past Saturday in Palo Cedro, which is just east of Redding. Lucky for me that I had a few days to convince myself that it would not be as hard the King Ridge Gran Fondo.  I obviously have lost most of my functioning brain cells, because I could not have been more wrong.

First of all, let’s get the Redding myth that it is hotter than pits of Mordor out of the way. Yes, between Memorial Day to Labor Day it is crazy hot, as thermal heating of the interior valleys scorches the landscape while our coastal area is bathed with the cool onshore afternoon breeze. However, the other nine months of the year are even more desirable in my view than our Sonoma County weather. If you flip over to the back of the Empire News section in today’s newspaper, you will see that Redding was cooler yesterday than all of our county’s weather except for the immediate coast.

Redding is more known for mountain bike riding around the three area lakes than road biking. With the development of the Sacramento River trail to Shasta Dam and the establishment of community-wide bike lanes, that perception is changing. Rolling out of Palo Cedro with my riding partner for the day, Tim Jenne, we proceeded through soft rolling grasslands scattered with cows as the early morning sun rays poked over from Mount Lassen to our east.

Shasta Wheelman is a small dedicated club which presented itself in an intimate way to the 200 or so riders as we rolled through the various rest stops. Well supported, the final stop of the day was staffed by the couple who were married by Levi on Portuguese Beach during the 2013 Gran Fondo.

As nice as everything and everyone was, this ride was painfully hard. The suffering was partially offset by the landscape of riding under shaded forest canopies, lush meadows and flowing water through numerous creeks.  I had forgotten what rushing water sounded like. Occasionally the views would open up with sweeping views of Mount Shasta and the Trinity Alps in the distance. Being able to view wide open spaces for 50-75 miles in the distance really broadens the senses.

Finally, in early afternoon, Tim and I found our way to the final climb of the day, Buzzard’s Roost. I don’t make this stuff up and it was aptly named! For some reason, the forest disappeared and we were exposed in the sun on the brutal 13% steeps. I did see buzzard’s there and thankfully I did not become their afternoon meal. The rest of the climbs were just as insanely hard, but nicely tucked into the forest. When we finally emerged out to Oak Run Road for the long descent back to Palo Cedro, my saddle felt that it was made of porcupine quills. I will never forget to take chamois cream again!

After high fives at the finish, 103 miles and 9,000 feet of climbing, it was time for the pool! If you are a complete fool and find enjoyment in suffering on the bike the way I do, here is the link for the ride.

- Bruce McConnell


Read the original post here.

Big Bike Weekend Rolls Into Redding

It’s getting to be a familiar sound to locals: the deep, rumbling purr of hundreds of motorcycles pouring into hotel parking lots across town, as their riders converge on Redding for its annual 3 day celebration of all kinds of big bikes and the culture that goes along with them. Big Bike Weekend, and all its sights and sounds, will be back in Redding October 10-12, 2014.


These leather-clad road warriors have impeccable timing- October in Redding is a gift straight from the gods. Caught somewhere between summer and fall, October offers all the delight of Redding’s famous perma-sunshine, sparkling on the river and flashing through trees as your bike zooms through scenic mountain roads, without the heat of summer. Long evenings offer opportunities to take the bike out through Redding’s beloved backcountry roads, and mild days make it easy to enjoy Big Bike Weekend’s many activities…or ditch the bikers and join some hikers at Whiskeytown Falls. Visitors can also trade the leather jacket for a life jacket and take one of Redding’s SUP tours or raft rides. Those interested in a different two-wheeled ride can try Segway tours across Sundial Bridge, and through it all, the city serves up its usual assortment of wining, dining, and live entertainment.

Besides the usual Redding recreation, Big Bike Weekend offers special activities including contests, vendors, competitions, tours, live music, and dancing. (And camaraderie, of course. BBW has that in spades.) There are 3 days, but all levels of bike interest and ownership are able to fill the schedule: a Remembrance Ride, training courses, a Strongman competition, performances by the Wicked Wahines, Raffle Runs, Show & Shines, Ladies Rides, an appearance by UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock, Bike Show competitions, fundraisers, and The Cal-Neva Competition Series (police motor riders).

If you have even the vaguest notion that you won’t want to miss a town full of big bike fun, book your hotel now. This growing event is already incredibly popular and rooms fill up fast. Plus- you wouldn’t want to miss Redding in October!

Get the full scoop on Big Bike Weekend at the Visit Redding events calendar.

Lakes Were Made for Races

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and its namesake, always-full lake, draw visitors year ’round. In addition to its inherent beauty- plenty come just to sit and stare- it offers hiking, biking, history, fishing, swimming, camping, exploring, waterfall viewing, sailing, waterskiing and boarding, wildlife viewing, and of course: running and paddling… sometimes for medals and bragging rights. For the particularly ambitious, two of Whiskeytown’s races are taking place in one weekend!

For the waterborne: the 2nd Annual California Paddle, September 20. This day of SUP fun invites all ages and abilities to paddle as fast as they can in several races and relays on Whiskeytown’s beautiful waters. Choose from a 1 mile race, 3 mile race, 9 mile Powerhouse race, relay, or kids race, all setting out from the beloved Brandy Creek Beach. Paddlers ages 0-12 are free! Races are encouraged to come to town Friday and take advantage of special deals from WASSUP Board Sports, and wind down on Sunday with On Water Yoga. But you might be booked Sunday because you’re also racing in…


The 39th Annual Whiskeytown Relays, September 21! This 2 or 4 person run around the lake lends itself to lots of team camaraderie along with laughter and fun. Join in the historically great event and score a Technical T, lunch, lots of goodies, and, if you and your buddies are speedy enough, awards for the top 3 places in each category. The starting and finish lines are at Brandy Creek Marina, and the course takes advantage of Whiskeytown’s classic good looks. Find your 3 fastest friends and register soon, the first 25 teams to sign up will be entered in a drawing for an all day rental of either a patio boat or a deck cruiser compliments of Oak Bottom Marina (valued at over $200).

Two days, two ways to race, 1 beautiful location. Must be Redding!

On Board with WASSUP

Courtesy of Enjoy Magazine, Story by Jim Dyar, Photos by Brett Faulknor

Phil Keester feels like a pioneer of sorts.That’s because in addition to the sport of stand up paddleboarding being fairly new, the idea of standing on a board while navigating the Sacramento River is definitely uncharted territory for most.

Keester, who began his WASSUP Board Sports business last summer, believes there’s a whole segment of recreation that’s yet to be fully explored in the North State.

“I think there’s a lot more fun to be had out here,” says Keester. “I love paddling on flat water, but for me it’s more fun being on a river. It’s got something for everyone.”

Although stand up paddleboarders are already tackling class 4 and 5 whitewater rapids (aggressive water), Keester sees a big market for easier trips like the Sacramento River through Redding, Anderson and beyond. He took about 200 people on guided trips last year and expects an even more robust season for stand up paddleboarding this summer.

Expect to see people standing and gliding down the river near the Sundial Bridge as the community celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the iconic footbridge in June and July.

“One thing I really like about operating on the river is we’re in front of everybody,” Keester says. “This summer is exciting with the Sundial Bridge anniversary. We’ll have a presence out there every day.”

When people see Keester and his friends on the river, the common refrain has been, “That looks like fun.” The boards are stable enough for most anyone to balance on and not go plunging into the river (unless they choose to), he says. The company also does trips and instruction on Whiskeytown and Shasta lakes.

Although the water temperature of the Sacramento is indeed brisk, Keester doesn’t consider it unbearable. He did several trips this winter in board shorts and light clothing. In the blazing summer heat, a dip in the river can be a refreshing way to stay comfortable.

“People have a healthy respect for this river and that’s good,” he says. “I respect any body of water.”

Growing up around the surf culture of Southern California, Keester loved being in the water but never fully mastered the difficult sport of surfing. Stand up paddleboarding is different, however. About 70 percent of the people he took out last year were first-timers.

“The first time I was on a board was 15 months ago,” Keester says. “I’ve always liked the surf culture and this is similar to that, although it’s actually a lot easier.”

Keester’s company is operating within Redding’s Boardmart, where paddleboards will be sold and rental trips coordinated. Teaming up with Boardmart, which has been in business in Redding since 1995, forms a bond that should help both businesses. The store sells and rents skateboard, wakeboard and snowboard gear as well as selling swimwear and casual clothing.

“It’s a whole different demographic for us and hopefully it will help expand our store,” says Denise Craig, co-owner of Boardmart. “We’re not just for teens.”

Keester says people have responded well to the company’s name (“wassup” was a popular catch phrase from a Budweiser commercial) and its colorful graphics. Rental trips range from $20 to $150. The hope is that some people get hooked by the sport and consider buying boards and other equipment through WASSUP.

The company is a dealer for Glide paddleboards of Salt Lake City and NRS paddling outfitters from Moscow, Idaho. Boards range from 9 to 14 feet and prices go from $800 to $1,900.

Although paddleboards are new for Keester, the business of being on the water is something he’s done for much of his life. He began sailing in the Caribbean in the late 1970s, and has worked as a commercial captain and in boat yards and sailing venues for the better part of 25 years, including sailing in the Mediterranean.

From 1992 to 2003, he has participated in four America’s Cup events (the World Series of yacht racing) as a member of the U.S. teams America3, AmericaOne and Oracle/BMW Racing. Keester worked as procurement and logistics manager for most of those teams.

“To participate at the highest level of any sport is a thrill,” he said. “I grew up reading and dreaming about sailing. Those years were definitely a highlight of my life. But I’ve found my passion again (with stand up paddleboarding). I’m on moving water again, although this time it’s on fresh water.”

Book your tour today at or by calling (530) 945-4945.