Newsletter‎ > ‎January 2019‎ > ‎

Don’t Blink

posted Jan 15, 2019, 4:19 PM by Kristin Snell

by E. Mack, Writer

First time, I did not know; it was only for a couple of seconds. In fact the first several times were mostly the same. It wasn't until I referenced a map some time later that I noticed North San Juan. I guess it was the name that originally got my attention. Wow! I've got to slow down. I was living and working in Lake Tahoe at that time and regularly visited some friends who lived all along historic highway 49. Further explanation unnecessary. That was back in the '80s and I was on my 1980 1100 yamaha: very fun, very [too] fast and my main form of transport back then. Never would have guessed that I would one day call NSJ my home; now, for the last nearly eight years. Happenstance brought me back and subtle allure kept me.

Here are zero traffic lights, only one gas station, one post office, one small grocery, one Nick's-knack's, one fantastic deli, one delightful Mama's Pizza, the fine Ridge Cafe serving delicious original cuisine, and the Brass Rail with pool tables, occasionally hosting live music plus always an abundance of friends and neighbors. There are two other fine eateries: Petersons Corner and Toki's, [which is temporarily closed for renovation]. Each extend promise of now and future excellent dining-out adventures.

There are of course, many others including: High Sierra Metal Works for all that is metal, Sweetland and McNeely's nurseries for all that is garden, or get your car expertly tuned at Lenny's Shop. Of course your spiritual needs are addressed by at least one church and we have the outstanding Oak Tree Library complete on the inside and beautifully illustrated outside with its namesake 'oaktree' set in an iconic mural by a very talented local artist. Then there is the North Columbia Schoolhouse and Grizzly Hill for academics and Milhous for livestock needs and feeds.

We have Milano's Inn to accommodate all of our visiting friends, the open-to-all Oak Tree park adjacent to the library, the Family Resource Center, Willow Springs Yo’Garage, Bali Banjar for Indonesian furniture, etc., and Ananda Village with an assortment of services and activities. We are also very proud and blessed to have Mountain Bounty Farms and others to provide us with locally grown, healthy organic produce. I have my own garden for tomatoes and other culinary and medicinal requisites. Traditional medical, dental and chiropractic are also local. Proximity to larger metro areas is reasonable. Two of the five young Americans I'm proud to call my children live here as well. What more could I possibly want? 

We have our own recycling plant [dump] and two cemeteries to handle the overflow. Although I walk through them with my dog on a regular basis, I'm not planning on taking up residency anytime soon.

At right around 2000 feet the climate in the foothills is for the most part very pleasant. Early spring brings rain and some snow, just enough to take care of things. Late summer comes with the occasional distinct aroma of burning mixed conifer spiced with scotch broom. The ensuing grapevine buzz concerning the magnitude of potential threat from forest fire comes with the smoke. Most are distant enough to rise only to the level of reminder of what could happen should a whim of Mother Nature threaten your space.  Since here, I've only prepared to evacuate once; just last year. It was a wonderful and awesome sight to witness full size commercial jets unload their bellyfull of red retardant at treetop level perhaps a mile from where I anxiously sat with my car packed and ready to flee. Those firefighters certainly deserve major kudos from all of us for the monumental job that they perform for us all. 

Over the last several years I've witnessed the ebb and flow of the seasonal traveling population and the struggle that these mostly young people face. North San Juan is a mecca for that segment of our society. This tiny community has a big heart though. Somehow, it all works out for those folks. Community outreach is huge here in NSJ with a well organized food distribution program for everyone in need, both young and old. It's free with no hoops to jump through. Our NSJ Center sponsors a multitude of venues which cater to all of our residents. Arts and crafts abound here and are encouraged in our community. 

I've tipped my hat already but they deserve another mention-our fully capable local Fire Department as well as our other most important first responders both Sheriff and EMS who each consistently demonstrate their courage, ability and fairness on a regular basis. Last but certainly not least is that group of dedicated, hard-working, brave men and women of the California State Police and Cal-Trans who keep our roads safe and clear and free to travel.

Tons of outdoor activities are also available from a multitude of rivers and mountains both major and minor. The Ridge and our beloved foothills are all there and beckoning us to come and explore and enjoy. Memories waiting to be created abound; your imagination the only limit. 

Though I could never have guessed, North San Juan has added itself along with a big checkmark to my very short bucket list.

At home now, E. Mack