Ready for a challenge?

Have we got one for you—20, actually

The warm weather is here, and the Wildcats have left their dens (for the most part), leaving Chico a little calmer than usual. But just because students get a summer vacation doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who get a little adventure.

We at the CN&R have constructed a challenge for our readers. Following are 20 things to do that are particularly perfect for the summer months. Instead of just sitting indoors enjoying the air-conditioning (though you can do that, too), get out and experience what makes the North State such a wonderful place.

The activities range in difficulty, but none is knee-jerk obvious—we know you’ll be going to Thursday Night Market, so what’s the challenge in that?

Over the next three months, do as many things on this list as you can. If you’re particularly inspired, document that you’ve done them by taking pictures and notes—maybe even keeping a journal—and submit your conquests to us by Aug. 1.

Whoever has completed the most tasks on this list will win our grand prize, a bike from Campus Bicycles. (Runners-up will get a little something, too. Tiebreaker: the best chronicle.) We’ll also select the best photos and journal entries to be published, so even if you can’t complete all 20, please submit what you have done.

We’ll be participating too, so maybe you’ll see us at karaoke night or bare-bummed at Brown’s Hole (though, naturally, we aren’t eligible for the grand prize).

Go forth, faithful readers, and explore!

□ 1. Learn a water sport

Windsurfing is so cool. There’s nothing like watching riders jamming across rippling water, their wet hair whipped back. Actually, there is something better than watching: doing.

Anyone who’s ever wanted to learn how to windsurf (or kayak, canoe, row, wakeboard, etc.) can take lessons at the Forebay Aquatic Center at Thermalito North Forebay State Park in Oroville. The facility is open into the second week of October, operated by Chico State’s Associated Students and the California departments of Parks and Recreation, Water Resources, and Boating & Waterways.

Promoting water-based activities is the aim of the center—sailing is even an option! In addition to lessons, youth summer camps and special events (think birthday parties and leadership training) are available. Visitors can also rent equipment and head out on their own. Students get a discount. For more info, visit

<br /> Teddy Malibu’s

□ 2. Try two new Tacos a week

There are 13 weeks to go before Chico State is back in session. That’s 13 weeks worth of chances to roam this hot, quiet, small-town and reacquaint oneself with the ridiculous selection of really great tacos (especially at the many taco trucks) that Chico has to offer, without going elbow to elbow with the most passionate patrons.

There are two major hot spots—the south side (Chico’s “flavor district”) and the west side (budget central)—plus a few smaller hot spots to round out these 25 recommendations (that’s about two per week).

South side: Start with the Tacos El Pinolero truck on East Park Avenue, dog-leg over to the El Grullense truck on Park, and head toward downtown: El Rey (465 E. 20th St.), Tacos Cortez (1530 Park), Tacos Tijuana (1441 Park), Crazy Taco (1205 Park), Amigos de Acapulco (820 Oroville Ave.), La Cocina Economica (905 Wall St.) and the mighty El Paisa (Eighth and Pine).

On the west side, you can start at Five and I with the legendary Tacos de Acapulco, scoot up Fifth to Teddy Malibu’s at 1002, then over to Tacos Tonaya 2 (244 Walnut), moving north to the other El Paisa (Walnut and Second), Fiesta Tacos (Nord and West Sac), La Familia (1008 West Sac), and the other Tacos Tonaya (Nord and Stewart).

You also have to try the Tapatío wagon at Longfellow and First Avenue, the new Crazy Taco next door inside Tony’s Market, Adanbertos inside the old Taco Bell at 969 East Ave. and plus the Esplanade string—Burritos El Corporal (3005), El Grullo (2409) and Tacos Puerta Vallarta (just south of East Avenue). Plus, there’s the downtown trifecta: Tres Hombres (100 Broadway), Aca Taco (133 Broadway) and Chronic Tacos (119 W. Second St.).

Eat, compare, maybe find a new fave. Just hitting half of these during the summer will be a feat!

□ 3. Smooch in public

You’re walking down the street and see some couple making out, really going at it. What do you do? Turn away, disgusted. Smile, and shake your head. Tell them to get a room. Heck, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

That’s right: Grab your special someone and plant one on him or her. Go for it! Right in the middle of a crowd.

If that’s not your style, here’s another idea: Pack up a picnic lunch with all the essentials (miniature bottle of wine, local cheese and fruit) and surprise your loved one with a spontaneous—and romantic—outing in a shady thicket somewhere. Eat, feed each other, but most important, give into your desires! Make sure you bring along a blanket and avoid poison oak (memorize this: Leaves of three are bad for me).

<br /> Community Park

□ 4. Hone your artistic eye

City leaders periodically trot out the distinction Chico holds as one of the top 10 small art towns in the country. Whether you agree with that assessment or question its author’s credentials, it’s hard to ignore the creative sensibility that permeates the community. Many acclaimed artists have settled here, and you’ll find a lot of them participating in the monthly art walk known as Art 1st Saturday.

As the name indicates, the event takes place on the first Saturday of each month. Galleries, studios, coffee houses and other places open their doors from 4 to 8 p.m. to welcome the curious and the connoisseurs alike; some offer free refreshments, too. It costs nothing to look, though the artisans do appreciate patronage …

(Shameless self-promotion: The CN&R publishes a map of monthly participants the Thursday before each Art 1st Saturday. Yet another reason to pick us up. End of sales pitch.)

□ 5. Become a ‘cream connoisseur

What’s better on a hot summer day than ice cream? Maybe sorbet, if you’re lactose intolerant, but not much else.

Chico boasts an array of creameries—some local, some national. Which is best? Ah, that’s for you to decide!

CN&R readers tend to share the love with Shubert’s (178 E. Seventh St.) and Jon & Bon’s (300 Broadway; 1722 Mangrove; 1008 W. Sacramento Ave.) when it comes to Best of Chico voting, but there’s a reason Ben & Jerry’s (855 East Ave.), Cold Stone Creamery (146 Broadway) and Baskin-Robbins (241 W. East Ave.; 668 Mangrove; 2009 Forest Ave.) continue to thrive in town. Then there’s the gelato at Powell’s Sweet Shoppe (121 W. Third St.) … and oh, of course, all the varieties at Rite-Aid, née Thrifty’s (220 W. East Ave.; 650 Mangrove).

So much to sample—what a delicious dilemma!

□ 6. Take a day trip into history

Spend a few hours in the 19th century. Ride up into Butte Creek Canyon, turn left at the Honey Run Covered Bridge, and continue on about five miles to Centerville. There you’ll find the historic Centerville School and the Colman Museum. Both are open Saturday and Sunday afternoons from 1 to 4, and offer an intriguing glimpse into pioneer and Gold Rush life. The museum, which is chockablock with historic artifacts, is named after the late Lois Colman, a lifelong canyon resident and co-author of a history of the area.

A little farther up Centerville Road is the historic—and beautiful—Centerville cemetery, which has grave sites dating back to the middle of the 19th century. To top off the afternoon, mosey up the road to where it crosses the Centerville flume. Park and walk along the flume, which supplies water to the historic Centerville power plant. It’s easy hiking, and the canyon views are spectacular.


<br /> Feather Falls

□ 7. Head up the hill

When it’s more than 100 degrees in the valley, it’s nice to escape to a cooler clime. One exists just up the Skyway. Paradise isn’t exactly arctic, but you’ll shave off 5 or 10 degrees by heading to higher elevation, and there’s a lot to do in the forest town.

The downtown area—north and east of the Pearson/Skyway intersection—boasts a collection of shops (particularly antiques) and eateries. Railroad-themed Community Park is just up the street from the Gold Nugget Museum on Pearson; tree- and trail-lined Bille Park is off Bille Road along Butte Creek Canyon.

About all you’ll miss is Joy Lyn’s Candies, which closes during the summer, but there’s always fall through spring for that.

□ 8. Get to know Chlotilde and Charlotte

Past Paradise and Magalia, along the Skyway, is the mountain village of Stirling City. It’s a former mill town founded in 1903 by the same company that owned the Diamond Match plant in Chico—indeed, to supply timber to that plant.

Harry Merlo, who grew up there, went on to become president of Louisiana-Pacific, once one of the world’s largest timber companies. In 1987, he built a park there to honor his mother, Chlotilde, a war widow who came to the town from Italy in 1920 with one small son. She married a widower, Joseph Merlo, with two children, and together they had three more sons, including Harry.

With its ponds and flowers set among the pines, Chlotilde Merlo Park may be the prettiest little spot in Butte County. It’s open May through the first week in October from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., but call 873-1658 on weekends to make sure it isn’t closed for a wedding.

And while you’re in town, stop by the historic hotel and say hi to Charlotte Hilgeman, its owner and the unofficial mayor of the village. She’s a hoot.

□ 9. Get on the bus

Whether you need to get to downtown Chico or downtown Oroville, or even all the way out to Orland or down to Biggs, there are buses aplenty that are painfully underutilized. Even if you’re a bike commuter, try to take this challenge. It costs very little, supports our transit system and saves on gas (or sweat).

Log onto for a map of bus stops, routes and schedules. There’s also information on linking with buses that go to Glenn and Plumas counties.

Where you go and who you meet is part of the fun.

<br /> Bear Hole

□ 10. Witness the beauty of Feather Falls

So what if it takes an eight-mile round-trip hike to get to Feather Falls? It’s worth it to witness fresh mountain runoff barreling through a granite chute and crashing more than 400 feet to the Middle Fork of the Feather River. Plus, you’ll get the added bonus of bragging about getting up close to one of the most breathtaking sights in Butte County.

The hike through the Plumas National Forest is pretty wondrous, too. Keep an eye out for salamanders and other cool critters. You can do it! Just take plenty of water, some snacks (maybe a picnic lunch) and sign in (and out) at the trail head.

From Highway 70 in Oroville, take Highway 162 east (Olive Highway) for 6.7 miles. Turn right on Forbestown Road for 6.3 miles and left on Lumpkin Road for 11.4 miles to the marked entrance.

□ 11. Visit three remote swimming holes

Now, it’s safe to say that nearly everyone who lives in or around Chico has been to One-Mile. Many have been to Five-Mile. But what about all the other glorious swimming holes? Some—i.e. Alligator Hole—are easier to get to than others—i.e. Brown’s Hole—but how much more satisfying is it to relax after a nice hike in the cool waters of a not-so-populated spot than to fight for parking and join the bajillion other swimmers at One-Mile?

There are many places to choose from, so take your pick. There’s Bear Hole, Salmon Hole, Honey Run Swimming Hole and countless others that aren’t even on the map, including some along the Feather River, that are much more hidden and exclusive.

Swimsuits are advisable but sometimes optional … look around before dropping trou.

□ 12. Sing in public

There are several potential levels of time and energy required for the execution of this challenge.

You could take a few guitar lessons, learn a chord or two (at Sid Lewis’ Acoustic College, maybe?—, invent a melody to hum over the top, fashion a few words about summertime, shove those words into the melody, then visit an open mic and blow everyone away with your fearless soul! (Try Open Mikeful at Has Beans on Thursdays at 8 p.m., or the new Café Culture open mic on Wednesdays, at 7 p.m.)

You definitely get bonus points for that approach, but if you’re not ready to make that kind of commitment, then take the readymade approach available via the karaoke listings each week in the CN&R’s Nightlife section. Belt your little rock-and-roll heart out in front of a built-in, fun-loving and forgiving audience.

If you’re already a performing musician, just check the box and move on.

<br /> Sacramento River

□ 13. Listen to a full album uninterrupted

If you still own and play vinyl records, chances are you also still enjoy finding a cozy corner of the house (maybe with an over-stuffed bean bag chair?), wrapping your head in headphones, closing your eyes and being transported by your favorite music, rising only long enough to flip to side 2.

With advances in music mobility, and especially with the pick-and-choose mentality born of mp3s and mix CDs, the sustained pleasure of listing to an album in its entirety while doing nothing else has largely become a thing of the past. The good news is that you don’t have to have a proper vinyl album to revisit the experience; you just have to stop moving for one hour.

Throw in, say, the re-mastered CD of Queen’s A Night at the Opera or The Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin and disappear on a head-spinning, stereophonic journey.

□ 14. Appreciate the Sacramento River

Admit it: You or someone you love lives a couple of miles from the Sacramento River and never gets out there. What are you/they thinking? Beloved by anglers, this waterway is a great place for other recreational outings, including wildlife observation. The banks and trees are the perfect environs for migrating seabirds, such as American pelicans, as well as native species: bald eagles, osprey, otters and beavers.

Several state park sites just west of Chico (and across the river in nearby Glenn County) provide access to walking and hiking trails, bank fishing, as well as swimming holes and launches for boats and small vessels, such as kayaks.

Ever gone tubing? It’s cheap, fun and is practically a rite of passage for Chicoans. Buy or rent a tube from a local liquor store, take plenty of drinking water, slather on some sunscreen, and hop in the chilly water at the Irvine Finch River Access. Triple-digit heat instantly fades. Ahhhhhh.


□ 15. Visit three parks in Tehama County

There are 25 parks in our neighboring county, and you probably haven’t been to most (if any) of them. Maybe you’ve visited the Ide Adobe State Park, off I-5 north of Red Bluff, during Ide Adobe Days (a terrific event, by the way), but that might be about it.

You can Google “Tehama County CA parks” to find a complete list, along with maps. In addition to Ide Adobe, we like Ayers Park, which is on an island in the Sacramento River in the heart of Red Bluff, and the Tehama County River Park, on the Sac directly across the road from the Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area.

The 14-acre Tehama County River Park is one of the nicest picnic parks on the river. It’s got a large beach, plenty of picnic tables and grills and a small playground for the kids. Shaded by large oaks, it’s quiet, pretty and, best of all, free!

<br /> Emma Wilson Elementary School

□ 16. Dunk a basketball

Can you rock the cradle? Know how to double pump? Got enough hops for a windmill?

The percentage of the population that is tall enough or athletic enough to actually clear a 10-foot hoop with a basketball in their hands is very small, but being small of stature or vertical thrust does not mean you can’t experience the satisfaction of throwing one down. Luckily for Chico’s ground-dwellers, we have Emma Wilson Elementary School (1530 W. Eighth Ave.), where in addition to the traditional standards, there are 7- and 8-foot varieties to bring the air up there down here.

The short rims mean you don’t have to be Daryl Dawkins to pull off a glass-breaking, rump roasting, bun-toasting, wham-bam-I-am jam! Just, please, stretch first.

□ 17. Camp out

There’s something magical about sleeping outdoors, without the luxury of a bed or personal restroom. There’s no buzz of the TV in the next room or blaring of police sirens, just the sounds of nature—the chirping of bugs at night and birds in the morning.

Whether you head out to the coast or up north to Mount Shasta or even stick around Butte County, there are plenty of beautiful campsites well worth the price of admission. Check for a list of campsites by region, with a list of amenities and contact and rate information.

Don’t forget the bug spray!

□ 18. Refresh your romance in Ashland

World-class theater, fine restaurants, a charming town—Ashland, Ore., is a terrific getaway and ideal way to freshen up a romance that’s gotten, well, humdrum. Spend a weekend here with your honey, and you’ll fall in love all over again.

Start with the plays. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s outdoor Elizabethan Theatre opens next weekend (June 2-4), showing Henry VIII, Much Ado about Nothing and Don Quixote, and there are always several plays in performance in the intimate New Theatre and the 600-seat Angus Bowmer Theatre.

Have an intimate dinner before the play, then go out for a nightcap afterwards at one of Ashland’s many fine watering holes. Stroll the charming downtown by day, or take a side trip to Crater Lake or raft the Rogue River.

For more information on the festival go to Click on “Your Visit” for lodging, food and similar links.

<br /> Butte Humane Society

□ 19. Pet some lonely pets

Here’s a feel-good, do-good challenge. If you love pets and have a bit of time to spare, local animal shelters have the ways and means to make use of that nexus. The Butte Humane Society in Chico, along with the Northwest SPCA in Oroville and the Paradise Animal Shelter, always can use assistance.

Dedicated souls help with cleaning and caring for stray pets, but you don’t have to get your hands dirty—you can just walk a dog or help socialize a cat. Who knows, maybe you’ll find a friend to take home.

Shelters can be sad places for animals and people alike. Volunteers make a big difference in creating a positive, loving environment.

□ 20. Find the Bidwells

Sure, you know where to find Bidwell Park and Bidwell Mansion. Do you know where to find John and Annie Bidwell themselves (i.e. their graves)? Do some sleuthing.

While you’re on Google, see how many places with Bidwell in the name you can find in Chico, then check ’em out. Our editor is partial to Bidwell Pediatrics (1601 Esplanade, Suite 4), but there are plenty of other places, such as Bidwell Perk (664 E. First Ave.), Bidwell Presbyterian Church (208 W. First St.) and … oh, wait, the Google thing; we’ve said enough.


Entering the contest

To take us up on the challenge—and have a chance at winning the bike from Campus Bicycles—log the activities you try with written notes and take some photos to back ’em up. The person who completes the most tasks will get the grand prize; in the event of a tie, CN&R editors will evaluate the journal and photos to decide the winner.

The deadline for submission is Aug. 1.

The preferred method is to deliver or mail a CD-ROM containing the journal and photos to our office: 353 E. 2nd St., Chico, CA 95928.

Alternately, you can e-mail: <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,99,104,105,99,111,101,100,105,116,111,114,64,110,101,119,115,114,101,118,105,101,119,46,99,111,109,34,62,99,104,105,99,111,101,100,105,116,111,114,64,110,101,119,115,114,101,118,105,101,119,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script> (noting “Summer Challenge” in the subject line). Please send the journal entries in one e-mail and each photo in a separate e-mail. So our server doesn’t overload, please limit e-mailed photos to five.

Format: Save the Word documents in rich text format (RTF) and the photos as hi-res JPEGs (300dpi).

Have fun out there!