2020: The Long Strange Trip

We know it isn’t over yet, but what a year, right? We have followed all the governor’s orders since March. We skipped the annual trip out of state to visit our favorite relatives. We’ve spent almost all our time where the heart is (you know — at home), waiting things out.

It’s been very weird to have to dial back our promotions of Sierra County. To think, but not actually come out and publicly say, “Please don’t visit right now, everyone needs to stay home!” We know this would be a controversial statement, and we have never been here to argue, we’re here to promote what’s good and safe and sane. So we’ve mostly sat here silently revising the website every time there’s a case update, a closure, or a cancellation.

Stating the obvious here but the whole thing has sucked.

Many of our businesses are hurting and a few have had to close for good. No spa treatments. No group soaks. No yoga classes. No bellying up to the bar. No Fiesta, no July 4 Fireworks.

And yet we also know how lucky we are. Sierra County’s “three people per square mile” was always a strong suit, depending on who you ask, and boy has it helped us here, with our case count. And as hard as times are financially, most of us have a little experience getting by on a shoestring.

We probably won’t be dealing with a natural disaster, knock wood, worse than the July 26 flood – which, to be clear, wasn’t nuthin’! That deluge created a huge mess for many. We needed the rain…just not that much rain.

flood damage at the fairgrounds

But imagine being alive during a pandemic and also being under threat of a devastating hurricane, or record-breaking wildfires.

We pass the time counting our blessings.

There are still hikes and walks to go on, wildlife to watch, fresh air to breathe, night skies to gaze up at. Our lakes and state parks have been somewhat accessible, granted with limitations that we know have hurt a lot of businesses, and that ruled out weekends at the lake for out-of-staters.

And here we are on the cusp of fall, mostly in one piece still, and still there is no end in sight. Nearly all of Sierra County’s summer and fall events have been cancelled. Justifiably, sensibly. However a few event planners have gotten creative. And businesses have rolled with the changes.

So let’s spend some time on that.

Good News: Outdoor Dining is available and limited indoor dining starts 8/29!

Several of our restaurants have adapted to serve guests outdoors, with social distancing. New outdoor seating has been set up at places like Johnny B’s, Sunset Grill, Grapevine Bistro, Hillsboro’s General Store Cafe, and the Arrey Cafe.

Sierra del Rio‘s giant patio has been open to serve golfers and other diners all summer long, in an atmosphere that’s so close to normal you might even forget the pandemic for a minute.

dine outdoors on Sierra del Rio's huge patio

La Cocina is another restaurant that has made use of its pre-existing patio to serve guests.

Rules at present are that restaurants may seat patrons outdoors, maximum 50% capacity, with tables spaced 6′ apart, maximum 6 people per table. When it starts again, indoor seating will be limited to maximum 25% capacity.

No one can go bowling right now, but you can still pick up pizza or wings from Point Blanc Winery, Taproom and Pizzeria next door to Bedroxx.

Speaking of wine and taps, it’s a darned good time to drink, moderately of course, and T or C Brewing Co. has continued to release new beers throughout the summer, which you can pick up and take home if there are no empty seats on the patio.

Good News/Bad News: Events

The weekly Sierra County Farmer’s Market has continued to operate, with mask-wearing and social distancing now standard. There, you can find a bounty of produce grown locally, in small villages like Monticello, or in the rural farming communities of Animas and Las Palomas. Vendors from all over the county come to sell fresh eggs, handmade goods, or yummy baked items.

Pickamania, a 3-day music festival that’s normally held at the Black Range Lodge in Kingston, has moved online and will be streamed on their Facebook page. The event is usually ticketed, but this year it’s free to watch, with donations encouraged. See the lineup of performers on our annual event page. Pickamania 2020 dates are September 11-13.

Pickamania streaming live on Facebook September 11-13

Ticket sales are open now for the October 14-17 Chile Challenge 4-Wheel Drive Event, which has been held at Caballo Lake State Park for the last several years. Chile Challenge event planners aren’t 100% sure it’s a go; the state park will probably dictate, in the end, whether or not it happens. If it’s held, the usual evening meals and ice cream socials will either need to be carefully planned, or skipped. If event planners discover they cannot hold the event, all ticket sales will be refunded.

Elephant Day, scheduled for September 11, has been cancelled. Everything else is, honestly, very iffy. We’ll update here as we know more, and on our annual events page.

Stay Safe

The year of weird will continue. Please everyone, wear a mask and keep distance between yourself and your fellow humans so we can get back to a new normal. One day we will gather, walk around freely (unmasked!), and maybe even hug again, and we’ll probably appreciate those activities so much more, having lived through this very strange 2020.

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