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DEAR READER


Although I have lived in California for almost 12 years, at heart, I take pride in being an Idaho girl and all that it represents. This snow-lovin', ski-bummin', potato-eatin' gal from Idaho has given birth to three children in the Golden State, and they are proving to be the epitome of California kids – definitely not acclimated to cold weather!

My husband and I took them to Alta Sierra Ski Resort and Terrain Park to experience a day in the snow – the fluffy, white stuff my childhood memories are made of. When we left Bakersfield, the temperatures were in the low 50s. But once at the mountain, it was much colder especially for us thin-blooded Californians. My kids were freezing… and they let everyone know just how cold they were. My two-year-old did not stop crying and sobbing, "My feet cold." One mom took pity on us and gave us some of her extra air-activated hand and foot warmers which helped a lot.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to find out just how cold it really was up there, but no one seemed to have a temperature gauge. One mountain staffer veteran who has worked there for 15 years told me, "All I know is that it's cold!" I knew that. She then said, "They forecasted a 30 percent chance of snow, but my nose says it's a 70 percent chance of snow, and my nose knows."

Well, my nose knew it too, and my kids' noses were turning pink. But in spite of freezing "to death" as my kids would have you believe, we had a great time. Alta Sierra is a great family-friendly place for a day in the snow – skiing or tubing. I really like the idea of "visiting" the snow, and for a day, I can reminisce about Idaho!

February brings the quintessence of romance with the celebration of Valentine's Day, a chance to support a good cause for a heart-healthy month, and two days off from school with the celebration of Presidents' Days: Lincoln's and Washington's. In the Kern River Valley, February is also a month to celebrate Whiskey Flat Days. Started in 1956, this grand celebration pays homage to Kern's rough characters of the Gold-Rush days. For five days, February 12 through 16, you can experience a parade, rodeo, Wild West encampment, carnival, frog-jumping contest, and much more. For more information on this annual event, check out Dave Hook's Day Trippin' article on page 15.

Also this month, Tracie Grimes delivers another laugh-out-loud Humor at Home article called, "The Party's Over," on page 7. At a recent doctor's appointment, she was sad to learn that she didn't have a 40-pound tumor to explain her weight gain, but instead she found out she needed to take the weight off the old-fashioned way: diet and exercise. She says "D-I-E-T" is truly a horrible, four-letter word. I agree!

In Joan Haskins's Nanny's Story Time article on page 9, she writes a fictional story inspired by a girl named Hannah Turner. In 2004, Hannah was serving meals at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving Day when she noticed a man who wasn't wearing any socks. She wanted to give the man her own socks; and from that encounter, a non-profit organization, Hannah's Socks, was born. For more information on her real-life story, visit www.hannahssocks.org.

In this month's Mothers, Shakers, and Community Makers section on page 8, I interviewed Don Clark, who also helps the homeless population meet their needs as the Director of Philanthropy at the Bakersfield Rescue Mission. After a long and distinguished career in broadcast journalism, Don is passionate about his new line of work, and he's perfect for the job.

Take some time this February to write your spouse the perfect Valentine's Day love letter, sleep in on one of the holiday mornings, wear red in support of Heart Healthy Month, or bask in the glimpses of the sun. And, if you haven't made a trek up the mountain to Alta Sierra Ski Resort and Terrain Park, I say it's definitely worth the drive, but make sure to dress warm. A snow day may be the best way to spend one of your President's Days. Happy skiing or tubing!

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