The 17-strong staff at Sattva Yoga, Pilates & Ayurveda brings an abundance of experience and certifications to each class, whether yoga, Pilates, or Barre. KCRA awarded the wellness emporium the title of Best Pilates Studio in 2010 and nominated it as a finalist for Best Yoga Studio in 2011. The team gears its yoga classes toward helping participants achieve tranquility, while directing their Pilates focus toward strengthening core muscles both in clients and in apples. They also teach two variations of Booty Barre, one meant to augment a Pilates regimen with its cardio component, and one that builds on both yoga and Pilates with long, fluid dance movements.
The founders of Adventure Connection believe in magic. Not the trickery of the stage or spells cast by mysterious neighbors, but of the spiritual, environmental, and economic boons of the rivers they have spent their lives traversing. More than 25 years ago, a group of believers came together to share their love and passion for the rivers of California, building a company that combines whitewater rafting, wine tasting, and camping along the waterways they love.
Over the course of the last two decades, the staff has guided boats of up to 18 people through the rapids of the American, Kaweah, and Tuolumne Rivers, coasting through mild ripples or white-knuckling class V rapids. Groups often leave the rafts behind to explore the scenic countryside and renowned wineries of the surrounding El Dorado region or to pitch tents and sleep under the stars.
Since breaking ground for Viña Castellano in 1999, the Mendez family has built an empire of Spanish wines complete with a treasure trove of gold and silver medals. Along with winery foreman Derek Irwin, the family specializes in the complex flavors of Tempranillo, Syrah, and Verdejo grapes. In the tasting room, visitors can sip new pressings and old favorites, and pick up a fine cigar to hilariously slip into a packet of exploding cigars.
At Mother Lode River Center’s 19-acre riverside camp, wooden bridges and river-stone paths crisscross beneath the shade of heritage oaks. For 40 years, the staff has upheld a mission of conserving this verdant expanse along the American River through recreational and educational programs. Leading half- and multiday whitewater-rafting trips on the South, Middle, and North Forks, guides ride with paddlers into Class III and IV+ rapids. Back on land, Mother Lode's team helps guests overcome real and perceived barriers through obstacles on the ropes course. Practicing what it preaches, the center adheres to sustainability practices such as heating water using solar energy, operating vehicles that run on 100% waste vegetable oil, and letting wild tents forage freely on the campgrounds.
Donna Hunter started whitewater rafting as a hobby, but after spending 15 years as a social worker in San Diego, she was drawn back to the river as a career. With a few friends for support and a goal to start a rafting-adventure company, she went to night school and honed her business skills. Today, with some of her staff boasting more than 20 years experience leading tours, Donna orchestrates trips down various forks of the American, Merced, Kings, and Tuolumne Rivers to pit participants against rapids as high as Class V. Certified guides lead these tours in Hyside self-bailing rafts and inflatable kayaks, with some rafts holding up to eight people.
Wilderness guides also connect their guests with civilization, often combining rafting excursions with wine tastings and trips to local vineyards. On these overnight trips and other multi-day rafting excursions such as family gold-panning trips, they build relationships with their guests, garnering a clear idea of their paddling skills and the amount of time they've spent practicing in their washing machine.
The company?s camp boasts tent cabins?with names like Eagle's Nest and Falcon's Nest?which populate riverside clearings between picnic tables, swimming holes, and volleyball courts. A camp shop prepares guests with river gear, and hot-water showers let them wash off river water. When not seeking action on the river, staffers organize camp entertainment, such as live music, games, and visits from a local gold panner who demonstrates his craft.
Every year, on the weekend just before Thanksgiving, the Mountain Mandarin Festival unites crowds beneath the Gold Country Fairgrounds' autumn-leaved trees to celebrate fresh crops of mandarin oranges. Throughout the event, family-centered activities keep visitors of all ages entertained, including cooking contests, professional-chef demonstrations, and live musical performances. Also on hand, Placer County growers dole out thousands of pounds of fresh mandarin oranges, and more than 200 vendors showcase gifts ranging from lotions and candles to artist-crafted jewelry.