STYLE, ART, CULTURE, + EVENTS OF THE SOUTH VALLEY JUNE 2017
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A Traveler’s Oasis
A Secret Garden Under the Oaks
Visalia welcomes thousands of visitors each summer from around the world, thanks to nearby tourist destinations.
8 Letter from the Executive Editor 10 WordPlay
A MEDITERRANEAN SUMMER The Vintage Press
Chef David Vartanian shares his Armenian roots with us by preparing a special Mediterranean feast.
12 Refl ections of Visalia— Visalia: No Stranger to the Stagecoach 44 Charity—CASA of Tulare County: Once Upon A Dream Gala 48 Hidden Gem—Claremont: Community, Cars, and Pies—Oh My! 52 Literary Arts—Bill DeCarteret: Mountains, Mules, and Memories 56 Happenings
ARIZONA A Wild Road Trip Through the Southwest
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Photographer Trisha Dean takes us on a road trip to see some of Arizona’s most popular tourist traps.
COVER: The Sommer home in Visalia sits on two-and-a-half acres of beautifully manicured grounds, surrounded by 49 majestic oak trees. TOP: Originally from the East Coast, Donna and Barry Sommer wanted the exterior of their home to have a Cape Cod feel.
Go is rgeo ou u rG sG if t if t to Wr Yo app u! in g
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DMI Agency 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 Karen Tellalian Kelly Lapadula Malynda Parsons Greg Bitney Marcie Vagnino Chris Bly Kaci Hansen David Vartanian Diane Slocum Lisa McEwen Sue Burns Terry L. Ommen Trisha Dean Malkasian Accountancy LLP Gary Malkasian CPA Jeffrey Malkasian EA Maria Gaston Melissa Olson Melissa@DMIAgency.com 801 W. Main St. Visalia, CA 93291 559.739.1747 • Fax 559.738.0909 Lifestyle@DMIAgency.com www.VisaliaLifestyle.com Issuu.com/LifestyleMagazine Facebook.com/LifestyleMag Instagram: visalialifestyle
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COUNTERTOP LOCATIONS 210 Cafe AMCC Arts Consortium Arts Visalia Ashoori & Co. Jewelers Blend WIne Room Bravo Farms Smokehouse Café 225 Chad Clark Hair Salon Charcuterie Chelsea Street Boutique Citizen's Bank CreekSide Day Spa Skin & Laser Center Downtown Visalia Alliance Ed Dena Auto Center, Visalia Exeter Chamber of Commerce
For Such a Time Boutique Franey's Design Center Fugazzis Glick's and Co. ImagineU Children’s Museum Janeen’s Furniture Gallery Kaweah Delta Hospital Keller Williams Reality Max's Cookies Metropolis Day Spa Michael's Custom Jewelry Monét’s, Exeter Pacific Treasures Premier Medical Clinic Renaissance Salon Sage Salon Salon 525
Sherman & Associates Tazz. Coffee The Gardens at Cal Turf The Looking Glass V Medical Spa Velvet Sky Visalia Ceramic Tile Visalia First Assembly Visalia Fox Theatre Visalia Marriott Visalia Medical Clinic Watson's Wildflower Café, Exeter Williams, Brodersen & Pritchett, Attorneys at Law Windows Plus, Inc. Wyndham Hotel
Visalia Lifestyle Magazine is published monthly and is distributed via direct mail to nearly 13,000 homes in the upper-middle and high-income neighborhoods in Visalia. An additional 2,500 copies are distributed at various distribution points around Visalia, Tulare, and Exeter. Views expressed in columns are those of the columnist and not necessarily those of DMI Agency or its advertisers. Circulation of this issue: 15,500 © 2017 DMI Agency
Over many years, Barry Sommer has planted and maintained a beautiful garden, filled with a wide variety of plants and flowers. 6 LIFEST YLE | JUNE 2017
FR O M TH E
eep close to nature’s heart… break clear away once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” – John Muir Considering June is Great Outdoors Month, there’s no better time than now to visit the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Established by Presidential Proclamation, Great Outdoors Month encourages us to get active in our parks and forests. Just recently, I laced up my own
hike, we met people from Australia, Germany, and Kansas City, all with the same awe struck look on their faces. Being so close to these magnificent trees and trails situates Visalia beautifully as a tourist destination. You can read more about our booming tourism industry in, “A Traveler’s Oasis” on page 16. If you like to be outside, even to simply take in the beauty that surrounds you, then you’re going to love this month’s Home Tour, featuring the home of Donna
There is such a sense of pride in knowing our community turns out for events to support causes they believe in, or perhaps to support an organization their friends believe in. Thank you for being generous and kind to others— we are proud to call you friends. E X E C U T I V E
E D I T O R
K A R E N
T E L L A L I A N
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SUBMIT A STORY IDEA, CONTACT ME AT KAREN@DMIAGENCY.COM
hiking boots, filled my pack with snacks, and hit the trail for what was supposed to be a short, five to six mile trip. What I didn’t know at the time, is that my friend and hiking accomplice forgot to factor in the extra loops we planned for that day, resulting in an additional five miles. Despite sore legs, the 10-mile journey past Crescent Meadows, Tharp’s Cabin, and the Trail of the Sequoias was well worth the extra effort. The weather was perfect, the meadows green, the waterfalls ﬂowing; it was a terrific day. If you haven’t been up there since we’ve had snow and rain, I challenge you to make this the year. From hiking to horseback riding, there’s something for everyone in our beautiful Sequoias. On our
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and Barry Sommer. With vast, meticulously groomed grounds and 49 perfectly placed oak trees, one could sit in the backyard for hours. And, they do. Trust me when I say you won’t believe this yard, or turn to page 22 for “The Sommer Home: A Secret Garden Under the Oaks.” We are so blessed to live in the South Valley, with great neighbors, friends, and a sense of community. So often as we are working on our next round of features, we recognize people in the photos. There is such a sense of pride in knowing our community turns out for events to support causes they believe in, or perhaps to support an organization their friends believe in. Thank you for being generous and kind to others— we are proud to call you friends.
Your Home. Your Look.
559.625.8884 220 W. Main St., Visalia www.janeensfurniture.com
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WO R D PLAY News on writing, books + the world of publishing
hether someone is graduating from kindergarten or receiving an advanced degree from a university, books can provide an inspiring or fun read to set the graduate on his or her new path. For graduates from four to 18 years old, fbmarketplace.org recommends Oh, the Places You’ll Go — yes, by Dr. Seuss. With its advice that “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose,” the book can inspire readers of any age at a time of transition. Readers who are seven to 15 years old may find inspiration in Mr. Browne’s precepts in 365 Days of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The book features conversations between an English teacher and his students, ending with quotes celebrating the goodness and power of people’s wills. For inspiration on what can be achieved against all odds and expectations, the website recommends Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly, for graduates from 13 on up. The book tells the true story of African American women whose mathematical skills were indispensable to the success of the early space program at NASA. VALLEY WRITERS Mai Der Vang’s debut poetry collection, Afterland (Graywolf Press, April), is the winner of the 2016 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, selected by Carolyn Forchè. Vang also won the Corrente Poetry Fellowship while studying for her MFA at Columbia University. Her BA in English is from UC Berkeley. She was one of the editors of How Do I Begin: A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011). Among many other publications, her poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, The Missouri Review, and 10 L I F E S T Y L E | J U N E 2 0 1 7
Ninth Letter. She has published essays in the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and other papers. She has had residencies at Hedgebrook and is a Kundiman fellow. With an affinity for the souls of those who lived it, her poems portray the Hmong devastating exodus from Laos and resilience in exile in the U.S. Pat Hunter and Janice Stevens have released the third in the series of their illustrated books on Highway 1. The
first installment featured the highway north and the second was on the central portion. The new book takes readers along as An Artist and a Writer Travel Highway 1 South. The book was published last month by Quill Driver Press and features more than 130 original watercolor illustrations by Pat Hunter. Janice Stevens is the writer of the title. The book is more than a travel guide, but it does include detailed descriptions of places to see, eat, and stay along the way, combined with deep cultural awareness and personal reﬂections. WRITERS IN RESIDENCE Information on applications for
the writers in residence program at Hedgebrook became available midJune with a deadline of July 25. The writers are housed in private cabins on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, free of charge, for a two to six-week program. Applications must include writing samples of seven to 10 pages. The application fee is $30. Details at: hedgebrook.org/writers-in-residence. WRITING CONTESTS The Writer Magazine has a free downloadable guide listing almost five pages of summer contests. Many of the deadlines have passed for this year, but most contests repeat annually. You can find it at writermag. com/summer-writing-contests. Still open for submissions is the Harold G. Henderson Awards for Best Unpublished Haiku presented by the Haiku Society of America. Entries may include up to five unpublished Haiku. Deadline is July 31. Entry fee is $7 per five haiku. First prize is $150 and publication in Frogpond and the HSA website. Details at: hsa-haiku.org. Another open contest is the Red Hen Press Fiction Award for an original story with a minimum of 150 pages. The deadline is August 31. Entry fee: $20. Prize is $1,000 and publication. Details at: redhen.org/awards-2. Other contests include the Serena McDonald Kennedy Award for Fiction, Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, and several with deadlines in September and October. THE LAST WORD “You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.” – Tom Brokaw
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NO STRANGER TO THE STAGECOACH
n the history of the old west, the stagecoach holds a special place, and rightfully so. After all, this iconic mode of travel played a significant role in the opening and development of this new land. Not only did the legendary vehicle help settle the west, but it specifically played a big part in early Visalia history. Transportation options for commercial travel in Visalia and elsewhere were oftentimes limited, and the stagecoach
was there to fill the gap. At various times Visalia had regular stage service to places like Bakersfield, San Jose, Gilroy, Hornitos, Keysville, Mineral King, and Millwood with connecting service to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and beyond. But not all of Visalia’s stage services were California based. In the 1850s, when the federal government was looking for a way to connect the eastern part of the country to newly T EXT
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settled California, it turned to east coast transportation entrepreneur John Butterfield and his ﬂeet of stagecoaches for help. On September 16, 1857, the U.S. government signed a $600,000 contract with Butterfield who, under terms of the agreement, would create semi-weekly stagecoach mail service to California and have it ready to go within one year. Butterfield’s route would follow a
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The marker located on Main Street between Court and Church streets.
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course through the southern portion of the country, taking advantage of the moderate climate and lower altitudes. The mail service would technically begin in St. Louis where westbound train service was already in place. Letters would travel by rail from there to Tipton, Missouri, then go by stage. The westbound path would go south, drop down into Arkansas, and go through what is now Oklahoma. Continuing south, the route would enter Texas and begin a wide westbound swing through what is now a small part of New Mexico and Arizona. It would enter California and turn north through Los Angeles, Fort Tejon, the Tulare Valley (now called San Joaquin Valley) and on to San Francisco, the end of the line. The entire route would stretch more than 2,800 miles and have about 140 way stations, evenly spaced to give drivers and passengers a chance for a stretch and refreshment break. The stops would also allow for changing tired horses. On Sept. 15, 1858, Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company began service with two bags of mail bound for San Francisco. The venture had attracted media attention and on the inaugural trip, a newspaperman was also on board. His name was Waterman L. Ormsby, a reporter for the New York Herald, whose assignment was to document and report on his trip over the entire route. When Ormsby boarded the stage in Tipton, a small crowd had gathered. Obviously disappointed, he noted as he left, “Not a cheer was raised as the coach drove off…they could not have exhibited less emotion.” From Tipton, Missouri to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, the route followed existing roads for the most part, so travel was easy. After that, it got much more difficult. Many sections had no clearly defined travel path as the route crossed hills, washouts, swollen rivers, and soft desert sand.
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Ormsby didn’t get much sleep as the coach jarred and lurched over the rough terrain. Often the food and water was bad, and at times the dust became intolerable. Ormsby wrote while in Texas, “There is an old saying that ‘every man must eat his peck of dirt.’ I think I have had good measure with my peck on this trip.” Summarizing his journey up to that point, he called his adventure “roughing it with a vengeance.” The stagecoach arrived at Fort Tejon in the early morning hours of Oct. 8,
then dropped down into the Tulare Valley and entered Tulare County (Kern County was not yet formed). Tulare County had a number of way stations, the largest one being in Visalia. The town had the distinction of being one of the few timetable locations on the route, which meant the town was listed on all schedule literature. The stage rolled into Visalia at about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, 1858. Ormsby noted that the town consisted of “a few adobe houses” situated in an oak grove with about 500 residents, a number of which were New Yorkers. He was presented with a glass of
lager, and clearly was impressed. Despite the late hour, word of the stage’s arrival spread quickly, and soon a sizeable crowed had gathered. As the stage prepared to leave, the locals gave the departing visitors a loud send off with an “anvil salute.” Ormsby, obviously pleased with his Visalia reception, wrote, “The reports [anvil salute explosions] were quite as heavy as those of an eight-powder [a cannon].” He further wrote, “This was the first evidence of any enthusiasm along the route since we left Fort Smith, and the rousing cheers they gave us as we drove off at 11:50… ought to be remembered in the history of the town, so I here immortalize them.” On Oct. 10, the stage arrived in San Francisco and the driver dropped off the mail bags at the post office. The mail had arrived on schedule and Ormsby’s adventure was over. The entire trip had taken 23 days and 23 ½ hours. It was a milestone. Historical sources noted that Ormsby had been the first person to ever make the trip across the plains in less than 50 days. For the next three years, the southern route of Butterfield’s stage line carried mail and passengers across the country, and Visalia was proud to be part of it. But the experience was short lived. In 1861 the route became a casualty of the Civil War. Travel through the southern states was unsafe, so the line was abandoned. A few years later, railroads would push across the continent. In 1973, to commemorate Visalia’s place in Overland Mail Company history, a historic marker was mounted near the site of the Butterfield stage stop, located on the north side of Main Street just east of Court. Years later, the marker’s bronze stagecoach illustration, which had been part of the marker display, was removed from the granite boulder, and this year the Tulare County Historical Society installed a new bronze illustration plaque to replace it.
A portion of the route through Tulare County.
A TR AVELER’S
hile students are out of school and families are enjoying a more leisurely pace, one area
parks, local culture, or a sports event.
close proximity to Sequoia and Kings
Drive east on Highway 198 and it’s
Canyon National Parks. Thousands of
not uncommon to see visitors parked
guests choose to make Visalia their
of activity in Visalia is experiencing
on the side of the road, marveling
base camp for their national parks
a dramatic increase—tourism.
at mature orange trees while posing
adventures, hopping on the Sequoia
for photos (and even sampling
Shuttle for a stress-free journey east.
Day, Visalia and its surrounding towns
citrus). Stop at a produce stand or
Still others shop, dine, and stay in Visalia
welcome an inﬂux of visitors from
a farmers market, and you’ll hear a
to experience life in what Mayor Warren
around the world. Sit down to a meal
multitude of languages and accents.
Gubler describes as “Middle America.”
From Memorial Day until Labor
at one of your favorite restaurants
Just like locals, tourists also capitalize
“When I go to other countries, I like
and you’ll likely notice a guest sitting
on Visalia’s ideal location: smack dab
to see the ﬂashy tourist sites, but I also
next to you who is here to witness
in the middle of the state between
like to see how normal people live,” he
the area’s famed agriculture, national
Los Angeles and San Francisco, in
explained. “For example, our historic
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Visalia’s Downtown Farmers Market takes place every Thursday from late spring to early fall. Photos by Roger Gonzales.
IS Approximately 400 stairs lead to a beautiful panoramic view at Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park. Photo courtesy of NPS photos.
The Visalia Towne Trolley provides a nostalgic ride through downtown for residents and tourists alike.
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downtown feels much like what it did in the era of the Old West. We’re the oldest city between Stockton and Los Angeles. You can also get a feel for farming and what it is that we do here. We are the bread basket of the nation. That’s what Visalia has to offer—a quality of life that is Americana.” The value of tourism to local government budgets cannot be understated, as confirmed by recently released statistics compiled by Dean Runyan Associates, a national firm that generates market and economic reports. In 2016, Tulare County tourists generated more than $380 million in destination spending—a number that has climbed from $214 million in 2000. Tulare County charges a 9.8 percent nightly tax at hotels called a Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). In 2016, it totaled more than $6 million. More than 5,000 jobs are supported by visitors, the majority of which are in the hospitality industry. In 2016 alone, more than 1.8 million people visited Tulare County’s two national parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. “We appreciate the tourist dollar,” 18 L I F E S T Y L E | J U N E 2 0 1 7
Visalia’s Rawhide Baseball Park welcomes fans from near and far to watch professional baseball. Photo by All Drone Solutions.
said Mayor Gubler. “In addition to benefiting our merchants and hoteliers, we also generate revenue for the city. It’s a clean, non-polluting way to help business in town.” Michelle Wiebe, owner of Pacific Treasures and Gourmet on Main Street, said her store has seen increased business due to tourists staying in Visalia, the majority of whom are on their way to visit the world-famous Giant Sequoias. “Tourists love to shop, period,” said Michelle. “It’s nice to have them visit and they are delighted by our downtown. Visalia has a good sense of community, and it is very apparent to them.” Michelle said her staff will converse with the shoppers, who often ask for dining recommendations. Quizzing their likes and dislikes, Michelle said they offer restaurant referrals, and quite often, the same shoppers come back again the next day to say thank you. “Anybody would agree that it is a benefit to have tourists in town. We really appreciate them,” said Michelle. Convincing visitors to take one of the highway exits for Visalia or
a neighboring town is the work of Suzanne Bianco, director of the Visalia Convention and Visitor's Bureau and a member of the Sequoia Tourism Council. “Visalia is marketed as the gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, as a foodie paradise, and as the number one ag-producing county in the country,” said Suzanne. “We know that many tourists are headed to the parks and we strive to pull them off the highway and into our town.” There are a multitude of reasons to stop in Visalia, according to Suzanne. Top among them is a chance to enjoy downtown Visalia, with its walkable streets, boutiques, cafés, craft beer venues, art galleries, a weekly farmers market, and an irresistible trolley. Tourists enjoy taking in “America’s Game” at the Rawhide Stadium, where the Visalia Rawhide, a Single A professional baseball team, delights fans with an up-close-and-personal experience. Families with little ones can enjoy interactive exhibits at ImagineU Children’s Museum in downtown, where they’ll play and learn about life in the Central Valley.
Visalia’s ImagineU Children’s Museum offers interactive and educational experiences for children of all ages. Photo by Taylor Johnson Photography.
As part of the Sequoia Tourism Council, Suzanne works in concert with representatives from around the county who have a stake in tourism, such as chambers of commerce. Pooling their resources, the partnership represents the area at three travel and adventure consumer shows a year in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Thousands of people attend these shows looking for their next vacation destination, Suzanne said. In addition to capitalizing on its ideal location, playing host to events is another way to attract visitors. Mayor Gubler said signature events, such as the Visalia Senior Games, held each spring, also bring tourists to the city. “We had people from 90 different communities in California come to Visalia,” he said. “Now that’s tourism!” Competitors also traveled from as far as Texas and Washington to participate in the games, which featured track and field events, swimming, pickle ball, and archery competitions for 20 L I F E S T Y L E | J U N E 2 0 1 7
those age 50 and older. The mayor said events such as the Senior Games, and especially February’s World Ag Expo, bring guests to town for a specific reason. The Visalia Convention Center also plays hosts to a number of national and regional events, ushering in visitors from around the country. He would like to see the area host more events like these to further increase tourism’s economic impacts. In the meantime, as locals go about their daily summer routines, Mayor Warren Gubler encourages folks to keep an eye out for visitors, and take the opportunity to be a diplomat for the area. In fact, pick up some of the many brochures offered at the Visalia Convention and Visitor's Bureau office downtown and have them handy. “Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation,” he said. “Many of our visitors speak three or four languages. Find out about their culture and their lifestyle, and even point them in the right direction to help them enjoy their time here.”
Brewbakers Brewing Co. is a popular dining spot for locals and tourists alike. Photo by Danny Klorman Photography.
In downtown, Crawdaddy’s restaurant attracts visitors who are drawn in by the building’s French Quarter architecture. Photo by Danny Klorman Photography.
FUELING FOR THE GREATER GOOD.
559-651-1760 | 8601 W. RO OSEVELT AVE., VISALIA CA 932 91
The Sommer backyard features lush gardens, a quaint gazebo, canopying oak trees, and an AirBnB guesthouse by the pool. 22
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THE SOMMER HOME
A SECRET GARDEN UNDER THE OAKS
P H O T O S
D A N N Y
K L O R M A N
P H O T O G R A P H Y
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hen you grow up in a place like New York City, home looks a lot different than it does in California. Home in the city often comes in the form of a cramped apartment with no backyard, no swimming pool or garden, and certainly no pets. Despite only knowing life within the context of apartment living, at just 11 years old, Donna Sommer had a very different vision for her future life and home, and it looked uncannily close to the future she has today. Donna and Barry Sommer, both New York City natives who came to Visalia in the late ‘70s, live on several acres of land in Visalia, shaded by exactly 49 oak trees. When the couple first arrived in Visalia as young newlyweds, they were amazed at how much space they could get compared to living in New York City. In fact, just three days before Barry accepted a job in the Central Valley, they had settled into a small apartment in Queens with one bedroom, one bathroom, and absolutely no parking. “In Visalia, we initially moved into 24 L I F E S T Y L E | J U N E 2 0 1 7
a three bedroom, two bath, brand new rental house on a quarter of an acre, so we were like, how is this possible? It was cheaper to rent a large house here than it was a small apartment in Queens,” said Barry. For Donna, the most unexpected culture shock came in the form of three consecutive weeks of perpetual sunshine. Never in her life had she lived three weeks without a drop of rain. “Every morning I would say to Barry, ‘another sunny day,’ and he would be just as surprised as me,” laughed Donna. “One day I was at Sears, and I said to the cashier, ‘I just can’t believe it hasn’t rained!’ She looked at me and said, ‘Honey, it doesn’t rain here for six months.’” It was at that moment that Donna realized they had moved to a desert. With plans of eventually relocating to the Bay Area, where they had friends and family, Visalia was never meant to be a long-term settlement. They even traveled to San Francisco every other weekend for the first two years of living
here. With the establishment of great jobs, wonderful friends, and a good quality of life for their growing family, Visalia, with its wide-open spaces and everlasting sunshine, became home. As Donna and Barry advanced in their careers, they purchased unchartered riverfront property in Three Rivers with the dream of building a home there. However, after the addition of two little ones and increasingly demanding lives, the idea of commuting back and forth between Visalia and Three Rivers each day became less appealing. The couple searched for something closer to town that still provided a nature experience. While the natural landscape of Three Rivers would be hard to beat, they came across a property surrounded by 50 magnificent Valley Oak trees. To their luck, they only had to remove one tree to make way for their home. “That was due to a really great layout from the landscape architect,” said Barry. “One oak tree was right in the middle of where our kitchen is,
A spiraling staircase, designed and built by a close friend, leads up to a loft that overlooks the main living space.
HOME HOME TOUR TOUR
The Farleyâ€™s 800 sq. ft. apartment is tastefully decorated in simple dĂŠcor with colorful accents.
Both of the guest bathrooms in the house have been recently remodeled.
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A built-in fish tank can be seen from both the main living space and the closed-off family room.
The main living space features a river rock fireplace, unique vaulted ceilings, and teak wood furniture pieces, which were built by Barry himself.
With an open concept design, the large kitchen flows into the living room.
so we just had to remove that tree when we built the house. We typically call the property ‘49 Oaks.’” Both hailing from the East Coast, Barry and Donna wanted to incorporate a Cape Cod style of architecture to their home’s exterior. Its design was also inspired by a colleague of Barry’s, who had just built an open concept home with bedrooms on opposite ends of the house. Another unique feature that struck their interest was installing a loft above the living space. “As the kids got older, we figured there would be 100 feet between the kids and our bedrooms, so we liked that,” said Barry. “And we liked the open concept layout, which wasn’t very popular at the time in the mid-1980s.” While the exterior of the Sommer home looks as if it belongs on the Eastern Seaboard, the inside resembles a mix of mid-century modern and contemporary design. The home’s sunken living room, wood-framed windows and French doors, unique asymmetrical vaulted ceilings, stark white walls, and teak furniture accents achieve a unified meshing of these two classes of design. The complex, vaulted ceilings throughout the main living space may look like an architect’s masterpiece, but in a way, the design was a happy mistake. “When they were framing the structure, it framed out like that, and we took a look at it and we thought, ‘wow that’s really interesting,’” said Barry. “The ceiling was supposed to come down from there, but we said, let’s just leave it that way. So these rooms have really complex ceilings with an interesting look that creates
a lot more space in here.” And while this particular “mistake” turned out to work in their favor, there were a few other bumps along the way that delayed construction. When their initial contractor abandoned the job three-fourths of the way through, Barry and Donna were forced to finish what was left. Barry took on a lot of the work himself when it came to installing cabinets, running the electrical, and even building most of the furniture. “It was unexpected, so that was a lot of work and it sat for several months with nothing happening,” said Barry. “I’d come after work every day and do some work, but it was really dark because there was no one living back here yet… it was a difficult time to see the house not get built.” A few other unique features include the spiral Douglas fir staircase leading up to the loft, the closedoff family room with a window overlooking the main living area, and a built-in fish tank that shares a wall with both the dining room and the family room. “To have interior windows like that in the family room was really unique at the time,” said Donna. “We thought it would be great if the kids could have a room to hang out in where we could see them through the window, yet everyone still had their own space.” Finishing the interior of the house was a labor of love, but it isn’t the only place where Barry has shed some blood, sweat, and probably a few tears. Over the years, Barry has transformed two-and-ahalf acres of waste-high weeds into one of Visalia’s most lush and beautiful private gardens. From LIFEST YLE | JUNE 2017
the canopying Ginkgo biloba tree in the front yard to the Dogwood and Flowering Maples in the back, it is a true “secret garden,” where every square inch has been thoughtfully and meticulously landscaped. While the shade of the 49 oak trees can certainly be credited for a portion of the garden’s success—especially in such a hot climate—the real credit goes to Barry’s consistent potting, pruning, planting, and ultimately, passion. “I’m out in the yard probably about 20 hours a week,” said Barry. “But it’s not work, it’s a passion. I grew
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up in the Bronx where we didn’t have a single ﬂower, but I always had an interest. In college I had plants in my dorm, and whenever I traveled, I would carry plants.” For Barry, the garden is a constant work-in-progress. In 2006, he spent a year apprenticing at Sierra Designs under Dan Veyna to learn more about landscape design. Through that experience, he had the opportunity to work on several Green Acres properties and has applied much of that knowledge to his own yard. “Some people golf, Barry gardens,”
said Donna. “What’s really amazing is that every bush and every plant that’s been put in this ground, he’s planted himself, and our oldest daughter helped him put in all of the Oleanders. There have been times, especially this time of year on the weekends, when I could just stay out here all weekend long.” For Donna, the home they built together is a dream come true. Literally. Long after their home was complete, the couple came across an old grade school project that Donna had made in sixth grade.
The pool house, which is now an AirBnB rental, features an open shower, a loft bed, and two bathrooms.
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The assignment was an autobiography about her life, projected 20 years into the future. For the assignment, Donna cut out magazine pictures of what her house would look like one day—it was a Cape Cod style home in California with dormer windows and a fenced-in swimming pool with a cut out on the left side. Fast-forward to Donna’s present, and both her home and her life look eerily similar to the future she planned when she was just 11 years old. “There were a lot of parallels like that when I did that project,” said Donna. “I wrote about a lot of things that you don’t really do in New York, like going skiing and having a dog and a pool. It was a great exercise to pull out after we moved here. I had totally forgotten about what my house looked like.” Barry, who is a professional counselor and psychologist, says there’s a lot of evidence to show how setting clear and specific goals can be the key to achieving success. “I think there’s real power in setting a vision for your future,” said Barry. “Successful people are goal setters, and Donna was a goal setter when she was 11.” Donna and Barry are living proof that goals lead to success, both personally and professionally. Not only is Barry a psychologist at a private practice in Visalia, but he is also the Director of Advancement for the Lindsay Unified School District, a teacher for Tulare County Office of Education’s IMPACT program, and a professor at Columbia University in New York City. Donna serves as the Administrator for TCOE’s IMPACT and iLead program, and is currently the Executive Director for the California Center on Teaching Careers, which is a statewide digital platform based in Tulare County. Over the years, the couple has also stayed busy hosting guests in their home from all 30 L I F E S T Y L E | J U N E 2 0 1 7
over the world. Recently, they designated their pool house as an AirBnB rental, thanks to some encouragement from their youngest daughter who works at AirBnB in San Francisco. What initially started out as a restroom for their oldest daughter’s backyard wedding, has been transformed into a fully functioning guesthouse. The structure’s unique open shower and stainless steel spiral staircase are just a few of the features guests get to enjoy. “The little casita is kind of modeled after our house,” said Donna. “If you look at the physical structure inside and out, it resembles this house. There is a sleeping loft and a spiral staircase that our son-in-law built.” Perhaps what guests appreciate the most about their stay is spending time in the garden. And who could blame them? In addition to AirBnB visitors and wedding guests, the Sommer backyard has also played host to several fundraisers for Family Services of Tulare County and the Tulare County Symphony. “Having the symphony here was a treat,” said Donna. “The best part was when they would come out in the afternoon to practice; I would just sit out on the deck and listen.” Both Donna and Barry find a lot of peace out in their yard, whether it’s through gardening or simply relaxing under the arbor. In the midst of busy and sometimes hectic lives, there’s nothing quite like coming home to relax under a canopy of oak trees, surrounded by nature’s most beautiful works of art. “When days are long, I enjoy coming home and being in the garden working,” said Barry. Donna added, “This place provides a calm that we wouldn’t be able to get in a big city if we worked as much as we do now. Coming home here after a long day at work or on the weekends is really a blessing.”
The pool house overlooks an expansive pool and garden.
An outdoor kitchen provides a great space for BBQs with family and friends.
The Sommerâ€™s son-in-law built the spiral staircase in the pool house, which leads to the loft bed.
A charming gazebo invites guests to enjoy views of the garden.
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ne of the many cultures that make our area unique is the local Armenian inﬂuence. From the food to the people to the hospitality, many of us have been positively impacted by this culture’s vibrant and ﬂavorful characteristics. Flavor, perhaps, is among the most impactful. Chef David Vartanian of The Vintage Press doesn’t always break out his Armenian roots, but when he does, we’ll line up for it. As a special treat, David is sharing some of his most popular Mediterranean recipes including lulu kebab, lamb shish kebab, a cucumber-tomato salad, and rice pilaf with brandied apricots. But let's not forget about the grand finale: a mouthwatering, cherry crisp. Whether you’re hosting a summer kick-off BBQ, graduation party, or intimate gathering, these recipes are the perfect way to celebrate.
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MARINATED LAMB SHISH KEBAB INGREDIENTS 1 leg of lamb, boned 1 onion, diced 1 C parsley, chopped ¾ C dry sherry 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tsp salt 1 tsp ground black pepper ½ tsp lemon pepper ½ C olive oil Assorted vegetables of your choice: onion, bell pepper, tomato, mushroom, eggplant, squash DIRECTIONS Remove all fat and connective tissue from the leg of lamb. Cut the meat into one and one-half (1½”) inch square cubes. Add onions, parsley, sherry, and additional seasonings. Add the olive oil and mix well. Let the meat marinate for 12 to 24 hours before cooking. Skewer the meat with a combination of onions, bell peppers, tomato, and mushrooms. Grill over a hot fire basting with melted butter until desired doneness is reached. Serves six to eight. TO MAKE IT A SANDWICH: Remove the meat from the skewer and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place meat on a warm piece of peda bread. Add sliced tomatoes and garnish with 1 tablespoon of chopped onions and parsley.
RICE PILAF INGREDIENTS 2 oz butter ¼ C Vermicelli 1 C Uncle Ben’s rice 1 ½ C chicken broth, boiling ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ pepper DIRECTIONS Melt the butter in a medium-sized pot. Add Vermicelli. Cook until Vermicelli is golden in color. Add the rice. Add the boiling chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Stir. Cover with a lid and place in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
CUCUMBER-TOMATO SALAD WITH FETA INGREDIENTS 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded & sliced 4 Roma tomatoes, cored & diced 1 small red onion, diced ¼ C chopped parsley ½ C crumbled feta cheese 3 T red wine vinegar 4 T olive oil Salt & pepper DIRECTIONS In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add vinegar and olive oil. Add feta cheese. 34 L I F E S T Y L E | J U N E 2 0 1 7
BRANDIED APRICOTS WITH TOASTED ALMONDS INGREDIENTS ½ C whole, toasted blanched almonds 1 C dried apricots 2 oz butter 1 oz brandy DIRECTIONS Combine toasted almonds, apricots, and butter in sauté pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add brandy and cook another 2 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf.
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CHERRY CRISP INGREDIENTS
Fruit Mixture 4 C cherries, pitted 3 T sugar 2 T lemon juice 1 C water 2 T cornstarch
6 oz unsalted butter 1 C brown sugar 1 C dry oatmeal ¾ C ﬂour Pinch of cinnamon
DIRECTIONS For the fruit mixture, combine the cherries, lemon juice, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer for 3 minutes. Add the cornstarch to thicken. Let cool and then divide the fruit mixture into six individual ramekins. For the topping, combine the butter and brown sugar together and mix. Add the oatmeal and ﬂour and mix together until crumbly. Spoon a generous amount of the topping onto the fruit filling in each ramekin. Bake at 350 degrees until golden and bubbly. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
LAMB LULU KEBAB INGREDIENTS 1½ lbs ground lamb 1½ lbs ground chuck 1 yellow onion, diced 1 small bell pepper, diced ½ C parsley, chopped 2 tsp ground cumin 2 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp ground black pepper 2 tsp Kosher salt GARNISH ½ C onion, diced ¼ C parsley, chopped DIRECTIONS For the garnish, mix together the onion and parsley and set aside. Mix all remaining ingredients together. Divide the meat into 12 four-ounce portions. Form into log shaped kebabs and place on bamboo skewers. Grill the meat over a hot fire for about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and garnish with the chopped onion and parsley. Serves 6.
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Goldfield Mining Town.
A WILD ROAD TRIP THROUGH THE SOUTHWEST DAY 1: ON THE ROAD TO MESA, ARIZONA
as much amazement as Dominic was. There were several dinosaur replicas, but also quite a few real exhibits. Dominic's favorite was the 20-foot waterfall.
ur 1,570-mile journey began with an SUV packed to the brim: suitcases, a stroller, cameras, and a mini mart variety of snacks. Along for the ride were my husband, Shaun; my mom, Marion; my dad, Jose; and our seven-month-old son, Dominic. We were setting out on an adventure to see many of the sites that Arizona has to offer. I know, I know; you’re probably thinking we are crazy for taking an infant on such a long trip. But, crazy or not, we embarked on our journey, excited to expose our son to new experiences, even at such a young age. With all of the inevitable stops along the way to refuel, change diapers, and stretch our legs, the planned 11-hour drive turned into 14-hours. In the end, I think the adults cried more than the baby did. Our first destination was Mesa, Arizona. Everyone was tired and dreading the task of unloading the SUV after such a long drive. But, it ended up being a comical game of reverse Tetris.
DAY 3: TOMBSTONE
DAY 2: GOLDFIELD MINING TOWN The Goldfield Mining Town is nestled in the hills of the Apache Junction Trail, just north of Mesa. As you walk into this old mining town, you are transported back to a time when everything was simple; the only structures that remain are a country store, church, saloon, and the mine. Goldfield was a
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The site of the infamous O.K. Corral gunfight.
booming settlement, up until a ﬂood came through in the late 1800s, which completely shut down the town. During our tour, we took an old, hand-levered elevator down into the mine. The guide said the mine goes approximately 200 feet below ground, but he took us about 20 feet down. Dominic was wide-eyed with a look of amazement on his face the whole time. After Goldfield, we visited the Natural History Museum of Mesa, which has one of the largest dinosaur exhibits in the United States. My dad, Jose, was in just
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Day three was bittersweet. My grandpa, who passed away about a year ago, always dreamed of visiting Tombstone. He had a love for old west movies, so he would have enjoyed watching the dust roll through the wood planked walkways. To honor his memory, Dominic and I placed a picture with a note in the old straw and mud walls of the O.K. Corral, which was one of his favorite places in all the movies. The note reads: "Papa, we finally made it to Tombstone. You are with us in spirit. We didn't make it before you passed, but I know you are with us here today. We wore blue for you.” Strolling along the wooden walkways of this old west town, you can feel the history and can imagine all the people who walked these streets 150 years ago. When talking with the locals, it seemed every building we visited was haunted in some way. The Bird Cage Theatre is probably the most haunted and is one of the last original buildings left standing. Opening in 1881, it has survived two large fires that wiped out many businesses and ultimately led to the town’s demise. Throughout its early years, The Bird Cage Theatre served the town as a theater, saloon,
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gambling parlor, and brothel. Today, the building has 15 bullet holes inside and is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. When we watched the gun fight reenactment in the O.K. Corral, we were impressed with how well Dominic did with the "gun fire" shots. The “good guys” and “bad guys” were interactive with their audience, and even took turns holding Dominic for pictures. While we sat along the dirt road that runs through the center of Tombstone, we watched a beautiful horse-drawn carriage go by as the American ﬂag ﬂapped in the wind; every so often, the wind would pick up in the street and swirl around the dust, just like it does in the movies. My grandpa would have loved it.
DAY 4: DOLLY STEAMBOAT AND WUPATKI NATIONAL MONUMENT On day four, we decided to take a cruise on the Dolly Steamboat, which seemed like something out of a movie. As we boarded, the captain of the boat greeted us. Of course, we were the only family with a baby, so fellow passengers couldn’t help but chuckle at our sevenmonth-old in a life jacket. The captain actually made a space just for us next to him in the front of the boat so that Dominic wouldn't have to wear the life vest the entire 1.5-hour boat ride. As we ﬂoated along the Canyon Lake, we were lucky enough to see two baby bald eagles. They were in a nest perched up high on a slender rock formation. Around the corner was a ram, standing on the very edge of a 1,200-foot cliff. After the cruise, we ventured out
to the Sunset Crater and the Wupatki National Monument. The Sunset Crater has two large lava ﬂows that were created by the eruption. The Bonito lava ﬂow covered an area measuring 1.8 square miles and the Kana-A lava ﬂow migrated nearly six miles down into a valley. Driving the windy, 35 mile stretch of road, it was apparent that this eruption was massive as dark, black lava rock seems to be the ground cover for as far as the eye can see. The Wupatki National Monument tells the story of the Sinagua Indians who built the small pueblo villages in Wupatki, which were occupied by about 1,200 natives. It was amazing to see the ruins of these ancient people. One of the site’s attractions is called “The Blowhole,” where visitors can stand over the Indians’ underground water
As you walk into this old mining town, you are transported back to a time when everything was simple; the only structures that remain are a country store, church, saloon, and the mine. T R I S H A
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The Sunset Crater.
Wupatki National Monument.
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Dominic helping the captain aboard the Dolly Steamboat.
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source, which creates a blast of cool air. With the Apache Trail and a few onelane bridges in our rear view mirror, we headed to Williams, AZ. Along the three-hour drive, the temperature went from 88 degrees to 58 degrees within a matter of minutes. A cactus-covered desert landscape soon changed into mountains filled with small pine trees. Once in Williams, AZ, we walked right out onto the iconic Route 66 from our hotel room, and it was like stepping into a bygone era. Soda fountains, diners, quirky hotels, classic automobiles, and unique shops lined “The Mother Road,” just as it was back in its prime. With its preservation of an authentic, small town atmosphere and history, Williams is the perfect place to “get your kicks on Route 66.”
Boarding the Grand Canyon Railway with a stroller, backpacks, snacks, and a baby was comical, but once on board, the entertainment and passengers were taken by Dominic’s laughter. I think he was the entertainment at times. The 2.5-hour train ride was a great way to see the countryside. Once we arrived at the Grand Canyon, our breath was taken away by this massive “hole in the ground.” It is truly an unbelievable feeling that can’t be expressed with words. The view of the “disordered” canyon strikes the human perception and the mind gets lost in the rich colors and mosaic view of the majestic Grand Canyon. I can’t wait to visit again when Dominic is older.
DAY 5: THE GRAND CANYON
Rounding out our road trip was a quick walk around the Meteor Crater.
It was finally Grand Canyon day!
DAY 6-7: METEOR CRATER AND LAS VEGAS
It is nearly one-mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and more than 550 feet deep. Standing on the rim, the wind blows strong enough to knock you off balance. The crater is more than 50,000 years old, yet is the best preserved in the U.S. Our last stop was Las Vegas. We walked the strip, grabbed some food, and watched my parents jump off the top of the Stratosphere on the SkyJump “ride.” My mom was so excited, but my dad, not so much. It was a scary 855 feet! After they landed their death jump, the grandparents watched Dominic so Shaun and I could have a night out. We were so tired that we walked the strip and called it a night by 1:30 a.m. That’s an early night in Vegas! Finally, home sweet home. While we enjoyed every minute of our trip, being away, for even just a week, truly makes you appreciate what you have at home.
Strolling along the wooden walkways of this old west town, you can feel the history and can imagine all the people who walked these streets 150 years ago. T R I S H A D E A N The Hoover Dam.
LIFEST YLE | JUNE 2017
The Meteor Crater.
The Grand Canyon.
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Guests of all generations came to support CASA.
Chef David Vartanian of The Vintage Press.
Enthusiastic gala guests enjoying the evening.
C A S A
(L to R): Howard Broadman, Carol Meyer, and Marty and Jenny Zeeb.
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ONCE UPON A DREAM GALA
hen it comes to CASA of Tulare County’s Once Upon a Dream Gala, it’s about more than just the décor, atmosphere, or entertainment; the focus is all about helping the abused, neglected, and abandoned children in our region. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. In Tulare County alone, a group of more than 150 volunteers become sworn officers of the court in order to speak up for children who are
dependents on the system. When a child has experienced neglect and is facing adoption, foster care, or being placed back into their home or with a relative, who is going to keep their best interest in mind? Through CASA’s efforts, many of these children now have a voice in court. On Friday, May 12, Tulare County residents showed up to the Visalia Convention Center dressed to the nines and ready to support CASA P H O T O S
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of Tulare County during their 23rd annual Once Upon a Dream Gala. With approximately 460 people in attendance this year, the fundraiser has grown exponentially since its inaugural event, which took place at the Visalia Mall 23 years ago. Now in the main Exhibit Hall of the Visalia Convention Center for the third year, the gala was catered by The Vintage Press and featured an amazing live auction. Several items included a Napa wine
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tasting trip, vacation packages to Mexico, a beautiful diamond pendant set from Michael’s Custom Jewelers, and even an 11-week-old Maltese puppy. A total of 20 live auction items raised nearly $100,000. To round out the evening, former CASA Advocate Stephanie Burrage spoke about her experiences and the immeasurable impact that an advocate can make on a child’s court case. “Her story is amazing and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” said JoAnn Bol, event coordinator for CASA of Tulare County. “From foster parent to adoption to CASA Advocate, Stephanie has seen all sides of the system and what a difference it makes for the children who have a CASA advocate on their case.” Thanks to so many donors and supporters, monies from the Once Upon a Dream fundraiser cover onethird of CASA’s yearly budget. The final numbers from the event were still being totaled at time of publication, but JoAnn expects it to be another successful year. “There are two people that, if not for them, this fundraiser would not be the success it is,” said JoAnn. “My thanks and gratitude go to Mike and Joan Carpenter for the time, money, and resources they commit to this event each year. CASA is truly blessed to have Mike and Joan as part of our CASA family!” With the addition of CASA’s new Executive Director Paul Moore, the organization has seen some exciting changes and has added several new events to their calendar. In March, CASA held their first ever 5K run, and currently they are in the works with the City of Visalia to bring a firework show back to town. On July 4, they will host a daytime/nighttime extravaganza at Groppetti Stadium. There will be food truck vendors, hot dog and pie eating contests, live music, water slides, dunk tanks, and a firework show.
Madison Carpenter with the Maltese puppy.
(L to R) Iris East and Kellie Black.
(L to R) Lana Cooper, Chris Ormonde, Michelle Davis, and Kim and Rick Wescott.
(L to R) Amy Shuklian and Harry Wood.
For more information about CASA of Tulare County, visit casatulareco.org.
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One of the many wonderful silent auction items.
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Pies for the annual Pie Festival, hosted by I Like Pie Bakeshop. Photo by Sue Burns.
CL A R E CO M M U N I T Y,
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C A R S ,
The Classic Car Show in downtown Claremont. Photo by Sue Burns.
esidents of Central California enjoy the advantage of living where great getaways are only a few hours’ drive in any direction. Motor three hours south and east and you’ll arrive in Claremont, an utterly charming destination to add to a weekend wish list. Tucked in at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, the city charms visitors with its beautiful architecture, arts, wilderness and cultural locales, and culinary options. With its small-town feel, one would never guess that the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles is just 30 miles east.
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The town was created in 1887 when the Santa Fe Railroad built a Victorian train station and a hotel to entice visitors and settlers to the area. Over time, the lands became home to seven colleges, citrus groves, and ranches; at one time, there were four citrus packing houses along the train tracks. The ranch houses, built from indigenous fieldstone, are one of many architectural highlights to be seen. Adding to the skyline views are 25,000 city-owned trees, some of which date back to the turn of the 20th century; as a result, Claremont has been the recipient of the National Arbor Day Association’s Tree City USA Award for more than 20 years. The nationally recognized Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate schools, are an attraction of their own. Pomona, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer Colleges,
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Claremont's historic train depot, rebuilt in 1927, now houses the Claremont Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of Discover Claremont.
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Claremont Graduate University, and Keck Graduate Institute all have their own independent campuses and styles, and supply a steady stream of social and intellectual activities. Combined with the fame of its trees, the town has earned its affectionate nickname as “The City of Trees HIDDEN GEM and PhDs!” Claremont is small, but the community aura is big; the calendar is filled with activities that engage residents and visitors alike. From the weekly Farmers and Artisans Market (the largest in the Inland Empire) to craft beer and vintage wine walks, to folk and midsummer Shakespeare festivals, there’s always something fun to do. Many of the events take place in and around the commercial center of town known as “The Village,” where there are dozens of unique shops, offices, restaurants, art and antique galleries, and even a spa or two. The annual Pie Festival, hosted by Annika Corbin, owner of I Like Pie Bakeshop, is one such event, and was my delicious reason for visiting Claremont with friends. Combining a pie contest and tasting with a classic car show, activities for children, and a street fair showcasing local goods and artists, the Pie Festival, which has grown exponentially each year, draws thousands to The Village. On four stages throughout the streets, guests enjoyed music, entertainment, and presentations from local “bakers and makers,” including pie guru Kate McDermott, author of The Art of the Pie. The pie contest was a pivotal aspect of the event, with 50 pies entered by local bakers. They were tasted by a lucky group of professional pie judges, food bloggers, chefs, and (in
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more restaurants, nightclubs, a circus trapeze gymnasium, and Thoreau’s Bookshop, where we perused a wonderful selection of used books and, through our purchases, helped the store support a nationwide prison literacy project. As part of the Pie Festival, several stores throughout The Village offered sweet and savory Scripps College Rose Garden. Photo courtesy of Discover Claremont. pie recipe cards to patrons, some of them new Annika’s words) “everyday people.” creations and some heirloom recipes. By She invited me to visit the judging at the end of the day, we had a collection The Back Abbey restaurant, where of 19 pie recipes to bake at home. I saw the impressive assortment of With more than 80 gourmet fruit, custard, and cream desserts. restaurants, cafés, and bakeries, The Classic Car Show doubled as a Claremont is a virtual world tour of competition, and of course, there was a cuisines, with Afghan, French fusion, pie-eating contest for kids. Awards were Tapas, Italian, an old-fashioned ice cream presented at the end of the afternoon, store, and of course, I Like Pie Bakeshop but with so many things going on all among the myriad of choices. During the festival, one street was lined with food booths and trucks, and an outpost from I like Pie. We savored a French café-style lunch at Le Pain Quotidien and stopped in at Cheese Cave in the afternoon, where the friendly and knowledgeable staff assisted us in selecting gourmet cheeses and foods for cocktail hour. Several hotels, offering accommodations and price ranges to suit varied budgets, are conveniently located in the area. Hotel Casa 425, a small, modern boutique hotel and lounge open to the public, is ideally around, the wait passed quickly as situated in The Village, with an my friends and I enjoyed the day. enclosed, tranquil courtyard steps We browsed through antique and away from shopping and dining. vintage treasures at Barbara Cheatley There is more to discover in Antiques and Jacqueline’s Home Décor Claremont than can be seen on one and found fanciful home and kitchen visit. After being drawn in to the goods at Speckled Hens. Eclectic sights, sounds, and community spirit fashions were plentiful at Maple of the town, I am anxious to return! Boutique and Playlist Clothing. Strolling through the restored 1909 College Heights Lemon Packing House, we found
For more information, visit discoverclaremont.com.
INSET: The Claremont Farmers Market. Photo Courtesy of Discover Claremont.
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The Mineral King Pack Station with the Farewell Gap in the background.
Packing mules at Mineral King.
A painting of the Mineral King lodge, post office, and store.
BILL DECARTERET Mountains, Mules, and Memories
ill DeCarteret has a lot of respect for mules. Where people think they’re stubborn, his experiences tell him they’re smart; he should know. Bill had his first taste of working with mules as a Boy Scout and wound up running his own pack stations for 25 years. Now, he has written a book compiling his years of handling stock, teenage packers, and the visitors who hired his services for work or pleasure. Mixed in is a generous dose of his love for the mountains and good fortune at living the hard, but rewarding, life that allowed him to call Mineral King his summer home. His stories in Mountains, Mules and Memories provide an education on the ways of horses and mules, insight into turning kids into responsible adults, and psychology on dealing with the general public and government
officials. The quirks of each provide some amusing yarns along the trail. Bill can’t say whether or not his love for the mountains started in 1929 when his parents drove him and his sister to Huntington Lake for his first camping trip, because he was only three months old at the time. However, it didn’t take long for the lure of the mountains to enter his blood. When he was about 12, he started attending the Boy Scout Camp Mirimichi at Huntington Lake. After three years as a camper, he served for two summers on the junior camp staff. Although Bill had no experience with livestock, he was caretaker of the burros that were at the camp so scouts could learn about packing. After one summer of leading burros on foot, Bill bought a horse, which he used for the pack trips during his second year. When camp was over, T E X T
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he carried his experience into his first job working with mules at Vaud Cunningham’s High Sierra Saddle and Pack Station. By then, he was hooked. “I think packing in the Sierra is almost as bad as prospecting,” he said. “Once it gets in your blood, it’s there.” This was despite early experiences with people, like the group of 15 or 20 men from an oil company who arrived about four hours late and drunk to the gills. Their gear, including a large supply of bottles, exceeded what they had been allowed, so it took extra time to get packed. After one overloaded pack dumped along the trail, a barelyconscious drunk had to carry some six-foot tent poles, which he held crosswise on his saddle. Passing through trees, the poles caught and he was scraped off his horse like scales on a fish. He lay motionless on the path. Bill writes: I yelled to Joe, “Stop!
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urge to get back to the mountains. I think we just In 1958, he bought the Mineral King killed the guy!” Pack Station and began learning what Joe, with a lot it took to be the boss. His first lesson more experience was on putting together the financing than his teenage to make the purchase and set up companion, figured operation. Thanks to the good will and the guy was too trust of ranchers Emmet and Adolph drunk to die and Gill, he got the $15,000 he needed. loaded him and After his first year of operating an his poles back on the horse. When the all-male facility, Bill had a girlfriend over-burdened mules finally reached the camp, the ungrateful campers only managed to complain about how late they were. Experiences like this seem to be the exception, because most of Bill’s stories deal with gracious visitors and friendly valley neighbors who would always lend a hand. “You know, most of the people who go to the mountains are a little different,” he said. “They’re not demanding, they enjoy the mountains, they see the beauty.” Perhaps also, as time went LITERARY on, Bill learned how to deal ARTS with the few people who could be difficult, such as the inspector who told him he had to make his outhouse at the pack station ﬂy-proof. The summer of 1947, after graduating from high school, Bill took a job as packer at Ray Buckman’s Mineral King Packing Company. After a summer of adventures, he was scheduled to continue working during deer season when he made an unforgiveable mistake. He asked Ray for a raise and was fired on the spot. By then he needed a fulltime job anyway, so he hung out at Southern California he was serious about, enough that he Edison’s Big Creek project until they planned to ask her to marry him as hired him. This not only let him stay in soon as he had the money. A friend the mountains, but on weekends he convinced him not to wait. He wanted could again pack for Cunningham. Bill to accompany him on a cattle He worked for Edison at Big Creek and venture in Nevada. If he brought other mountain stations for five years, Marilyn along, they could get married then transferred to their substation near there. Only they would be leaving at 4 Visalia. During his years with Edison, a.m. the next day. Somehow, Marilyn he was married and divorced. Once accepted this proposal and they went. he was on his own again, he felt the
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Marilyn said that living at a pack station sounded pretty good to her. “I’d had a horse since I was young and I thought, ‘gee, I get to go up there and ride horses all summer,’” she said. “Little did I know that he was really looking for a cook. No, it was wonderful. The best years of our life.” One important activity at the pack station was training 15- or 16-year-olds the skills required of a packer and the responsibilities that went with it—at first all boys, but by the ‘70s girls also, and in 1975 an all-girl crew. The newer recruits worked around the pack station, gradually taking on more chores, learning about packing and caring for the animals, until they were ready after two or three years to take a party out on the trail alone. “It was just between them and the man upstairs to make sure everything went properly,” said Bill. “The stock was taken good care of, people had a good time, and they were safe. It was more responsibility than they would ever have again in their lives.” “Some of the parties we had, you could see a little concern when a 17-year-old kid was going to take them out for a week,” he said. “By the time they came back, they were exchanging addresses. Those kids proved themselves in a hurry.” The young crew became like family to the DeCarterets. They call them their kids. The former employees still get together with “Mom and Dad” sometimes. One of the “kids” visited from Alabama just last month. Also helping out were their own children, Kelly and Emmet, and occasionally Bill’s daughter from his previous marriage, Bonnie. It was Kelly who inspired Bill to write his stories. “The idea was that someday I would get a little binder and I’d write these things down,” he said. “She’d have them to pass on to her kids. One thing led to another, and now we have a book.”
TOP: Bill DeCarteret during his packing days.
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T H E AT R E & A R T S ARTS VISALIA GALLERY—“CREATURES BIG AND SMALL” Throughout the month of June, Arts Visalia is pleased to present the annual Visalia Art League membership exhibition entitled, "Creatures Big and Small." On display will be art pieces by a number of Art League artists, in a variety of media, including oil and acrylic painting, watercolor, photography, drawing, and sculpture. When: Now-June 30, Wed.-Sat., 12-5:30 p.m. Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: artsvisalia.org
VISALIA PLAYERS PRESENT “BUDDY—THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY” Buddy Holly—the man, the music, the legend—lives again in “the world’s most successful Rock ‘n’ Roll musical.” The show tells the story of Buddy Holly’s short, yet spectacular, career. It features the classic songs, “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be the Day,” “Oh Boy,” “La Bamba,” “Chantilly Lace,” and many more. When: June 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 & July 1 at 7:30 p.m.; June 18, 25 & July 2 at 2 p.m. Where: Ice House Theatre, 410 E. Race Ave., Visalia Contact: visaliaplayers.org
FORM AND FUNCTION EXHIBIT AT ARTS VISALIA In July, the Arts Visalia gallery will present their annual Form and Function 3-D exhibit featuring four local artists: Shirley Crow, Dave Griswold, Buddy Jones, and Brent Mosley. The theme of this year’s 3-D exhibition is the use of recycled and/or repurposed materials. When: Throughout July, Wed.-Sat., 12-5:30 p.m. Where: Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia Contact: artsvisalia.org
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FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK Every month, the Arts Consortium presents First Fridays to explore the Visalia Art District. During the walk, you’ll experience a diverse range of local art in the downtown Visalia area. Check out the website for more information. When: July 7, 5–8 p.m. Where: Arts Consortium, 400 N. Church St., Visalia Contact: artsconsortium.org
SECOND SATURDAY ARTISAN MARKET AT THE LOOKING GLASS From now through October, The Looking Glass in Visalia will be hosting a “Second Saturday” artisan and crafters fair. Come out and enjoy a day of shopping from local crafters. When: July 8, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Where: The Looking Glass, Court and Caldwell in Visalia Contact: thelookingglassvisalia.com
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DIVERSIONS & EXCU R S I O N S DOWNTOWN VISALIA FARMERS' MARKET Every Thursday evening this spring and summer, stop by downtown Visalia to shop local at the Farmers' Market. Buy fresh produce, plants and ﬂowers, and a variety of goods and handcrafted items. Also, check out the year-round Farmers Market on Saturdays at the corner of Caldwell and Mooney Blvd. When: Thursdays, now-Sept. 21, 5-8 p.m. Where: Downtown Visalia at Church and Main Streets Contact: visaliafarmersmarket.com
BLUES, BREWS & BBQ Come out to downtown Visalia every first Friday of the month for a night of live music, dancing, refreshing brews, and lots of fun. The entertainment on July 7 will be Shari Puorto. Proceeds from this event benefit Visalia Emergency Aid Council. When: July 7, 6-10 p.m. Where: Garden Street Plaza, downtown Visalia Contact: 859-3682
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BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS AT THE FOX
PRIDE VISALIA PRIDE Visalia is a celebration of diversity, inclusion, and acceptance, not only for LGBT+ people, but for an entire community. The Source LGBT+ Center is proud to be a hub of resources, education, and support for our LGBT+ population. Our hope is that you can feel the love we have for the cities of Visalia and Tulare and Kings County. There will be food trucks and vendors, exhibits, entertainment, a kid's zone, education, outreach, but most of all, you. When: June 24, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Where: The Old Lumber Yard, 300 E. Oak St., Visalia Contact: Nick Vargas, nick@ thesourcelgbt.org or pridevisalia.org
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20TH ANNIVERSARY COMEDY JAM Perico Productions is celebrating their 20th Anniversary Comedy Jam starring Roberto Rodriguez, Jesus Sepulveda, Quinn Dahle, Shayla Rivera, and Motown & More. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online. When: June 24, 8 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: foxvisalia.org or 625-1369
Hands in the Community announces the appearance of legendary performers Blood Sweat & Tears (BST) at the Visalia Fox Theater. BST is the first group to successfully fuse rock, blues, pop music, horn arrangements, and jazz improvisation into a hybrid that came to be known as “jazz-rock.” Some of the band’s memorable hits include: “You Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” “And When I Die,” and “God Bless the Child.” Seats for the Blood Sweat & Tears concert can be reserved at the website below. Sponsorships are available. When: July 15, 8 p.m. Where: Visalia Fox Theatre, 308 W. Main St., Visalia Contact: foxvisalia.org or call Hands in the Community, 625-3822
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DARK SKY FESTIVAL
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Come out to the parks for the third annual Dark Sky Festival! Share your passion for the night sky and astronomy during this fun weekend. Special programs will be taking place all weekend, including star programs, telescope demonstrations, and campfire talks. All programs are free and open to the public. Events will take place in the parks, as well as at Lake Kaweah and in the town of Three Rivers. When: July 21-23 Where: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Contact: exploresequoiakingscanyon.com
C H A R I TA B L E EVENTS
BOOTS, BREWS AND BACON FEST
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The Visalia Convention Center’s inaugural Boots, Brews and Bacon Fest will take place indoors this summer. Festivities will include craft brew tasting, live music from Brandon Pasion and Leaving Austin, local restaurants featuring their best bacon bite, $1,000 cash prize for the best bacon bite as voted by the attendees, and pub games. Partial proceeds will be donated to Visalia’s roller derby team, the V Town Derby Dames. Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door.
This year's 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza will be benefiting CASA of Tulare County. Bring the family out for pie eating contests, hot dog eating contests, water slides, games, food, music, and of course, fireworks. CASA looks forward to seeing everyone at this event, celebrating our nation on Independence Day. CASA is accepting donations to help keep this important community event in Visalia going. The firework show is sponsored by the City of Visalia.
When: July 29, 6-10 p.m. Where: Visalia Convention Center, 303 E. Acequia Ave., Visalia Contact: visaliatix.com or 713-4040
When: July 4, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Where: Groppetti Stadium, 1717 N. McAuliff St., Visalia Contact: 732-1970
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V Town Roller Derby takes the track against Beach Cities Roller Derby at Roller Towne in Visalia. Doors open at 5 p.m. and wheels roll at 5:30 p.m. with the Darlings taking on the Sea Vixens. Then at 7:30 p.m., the Dames battle it out against the Riptide Rollers. There will be rafﬂe baskets to benefit Valley Oak SPCA. Tickets are only $10 in advance, $12 at the door, and kids 10 and under are always free. Tickets can be purchased at Roller Towne, The Crystal Barn, The Loft Thrift Store (Fresno), from any skater, or from Brown Paper Tickets. When: July 15, 5:30 p.m. Where: Roller Towne, 510 S. Linwood St., Visalia Contact: Call 733-8686 or visit vtownderbydames.com
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