Since 1975, Helm of Sun Valley has outfitted outdoor enthusiasts with seasonal supplies, rentals, and gear from brand-name manufacturers. Prepare for a snow- surmounting winter with a trove of cold-weather essentials ($20+), including gloves, socks, hats, and metronomes that keep chattering teeth on a steady beat. Ski- and snowboard-rental packages ($20+) equip thrill seekers for the slopes, whereas thorough tune-ups ($35) and an array of other services ready personal planks for airborne adventures. Patrons can also mine the store's racks for specialty items such as snowboarding pants ($100+), or attempt to impress neighbors and fanciful pool floats with high-end outdoor furniture for summer months.
In 1976, two UC Davis graduate students bought 20 acres of land in the highly arable Capay Valley. One of the students, Kathleen Barsotti, was working toward her master's degree in ecology and was determined to grow vegetables and fruits in an eco-friendly way: organically. The organic-food movement hadn't yet entered the public consciousness, and Kathleen worked overtime to convince restaurants, stores, and consumers of the taste-able merits of her process. Over time, given the possible health and environmental benefits of certified organic food, she succeeded. The farm sprouted to 300 acres to accommodate the increased demand. Today, a second generation runs the farm as well as a shop inside San Francisco's Ferry Building. Dubbed Farm Fresh To You, the store furnishes customers' bags or portable cornucopia horns with all sorts of soil-sprouted goods, including heirloom tomatoes, sweet peas, and fresh asparagus. The farm also teams up with fellow Yolo County and Pacific Northwest farms to deliver boxes of seasonal produce to area homes.
Californian abodes can emulate the relaxing, laid-back atmosphere of the tropics with the island-inspired, eco-friendly home accoutrements found at Element Home Furnishings. Many of the items in the shop's unique collection were imported from exotic locales or supplied by local businesses. Multicolored flip-flops, banana-leaf journals, and scented candles immediately evoke vacations on the beach, and a selection of artwork invites a second look with signs made of surfboards and vibrant paintings of Hawaiian landscapes. The shop's furniture show room unveils beds and tables constructed out of sustainable materials, such as plantation-grown mahogany and teak, and towering divider screens made of bamboo wrestled from the jowls of a panda.
Caution stand-up paddling encourages seasoned surf-riders and new-wavers alike to take to the waters with a multitude of nautical recreation equipment. Test ride a plethora of watery rides from the 2011 collection as you learn the ins, outs, ebbs, and flows of riding a stand-up board, a hybrid craft that combines the sleek style of a surfboard with the regal dignity of a paddle staff. Friendly instructors guide students through one hour of instruction, followed by one hour of self-paddling through the calm waters of Santa Cruz Harbor, dispensing wisdom nuggets on basic paddleboarding techniques, postures, and proper etiquette when courting eligible waves. If weather permits, aquatic athletes can take to Monterey Bay to more closely commune with otters, seals, and dolphins. For 14 days post lesson, newly enamored paddlers can apply a $120 credit and opt to adopt their own pet board from Caution's stable of coastal fillies (board prices start at $1,115). See the online store to peruse the collection. Classes are based on availability, so call ahead to secure a spot amongst the gentle swells.
Celebrating a decade of showcasing independent filmmaking from around the world, the 2011 Santa Cruz Film Festival presents 167 films from 33 countries, with 67 films hailing from the Greater Santa Cruz/Monterey area. Festivities kick off Thursday, May 5 with a gala opening for the dark love story Prairie Love and continue until Saturday, May 14, when the city-sized velvet curtains close with Ruffo, a somber look at a surf legend's struggles with addiction. Other films include the tattoo-artist documentary Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World, and Under the Boardwalk, an analytical history of the game Monopoly and the countless world wars fought over who gets to be the car.