So, a little known fact about me…I actually grew up in Southern California. Despite this fact, my family and I never really ventured to places like San Francisco or Sacramento (though we did visit Napa once and it was beautiful). I really wanted to go to Portland Vegan Beer and Food Fest this year, and I found out my sweet friend Kayle in Grass Valley was also planning to go. We kept planning one a time where I could visit her town, and this was the perfect opportunity. Kayle was super generous to let me stay with her for a few days until we flew up to PDX together, which was a one-way ticket for me.
I flew in to Sacramento Airport, which is pretty small compared to Denver International. It’s about an hour’s drive to Grass Valley from Sacramento, so Kayle (who picked me up) and I stopped in Rocklin along the way at this cool little restaurant called Baagan. Everything here is made with really good ingredients and tastes a lot healthier than some of the other food I’ve had out. After we had some great soup, burgers and this incredible dessert we drove the rest of our way to Nevada City. I was in awe of the tall fir trees, fresh scents of nature, cool breeze, and roads that seem to go on forever. I can confidently say this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited so far.
On my first full day in Grass Valley, we got to visit Animal Place — one of the largest sanctuaries (600 acres) I’ve been to yet. This place is home to over 200 residents including pigs, goats, sheep, cows, chickens, roosters and even rabbits. The tour guide let us feed the pigs their favorite summertime treats including fruit and veggies, and watching a pig eat is a sight to see! What I love about Animal Place is that there is a ton of information everywhere about why we shouldn’t use animals for our own benefit.
From cows, to chickens, to goats and sheep – what they produce naturally is not ours to take. Pigs can grow to be 900lbs, like one of the sweet residents Wilbur, and there is no such thing as a “teacup pig” The more eggs a chicken lays, the faster they age and it is a stressor to their system to be constantly laying. Animal Place has real-life gestation crates by the entrance to show people what kind of living spaces many animals are forced to be in for their entire lives. It is such a contrast from the wide-open sanctuary, where the animals get to experience sunlight, fresh breeze and plenty of room to run around.
After having a splendid time at the sanctuary, Kayle and I drove around for a while and decided to make a trip to the South Fork area of the Yuba River. This river has a lot of history, and has been acclaimed as a place with healing powers from locals and visitors alike. There was something about this place that was truly calming, even with a larger group of people swimming and hiking nearby. If I lived here, this would be a wonderful place to just sit and meditate and take in all the sights, sounds and scents of nature.
Not far from the Yuba River location that we were at (there are MANY cool spots along it to visit), was the town of Nevada City. This place used to be a mining town in the 1850’s, so it’s full of cute victorian homes and shops. Although don’t let the old exterior fool you, there are many coffee shops (equipped with wifi) and new vegan-friendly spots to visit like Treats, Ike’s Quarter Cafe (which was unfortunately closed when we were there), Sopa Thai and more! Aside from the food and caffeine there are cute vintage clothing shops and even a vegan-friendly Aveda salon in case you’re in need of a haircut.
It gets very hot in Nevada City during summer days, but as the evening approaches things start to really cool down. For dinner, Kayle and I visited California Organics which is located inside a natural foods store. This place was very accommodating to vegans with their offerings like burgers, a delicious curry slaw and even some dessert options!
And now, I’ll leave you with a couple more photos of Grass Valley and Nevada City. Stay tuned for my next post on vegan dining and traveling around in Sacramento!