By Melissa Wynn

Photos By Alain Tomatis Photography

This year I was determined that my Christmas gifts to those I love were going to be heart felt and worth saving. No more slippers and bath sets from big box retailers. So I decided to take a road trip to Paradise in search of the truly unique. This beautiful, small community in the forested foothills of Butte County has more eclectic little shops and antique stores than most towns twice its size and I couldn’t wait to spend a few days browsing them all with an old friend. (See some of our outstanding finds on page 52 of the flip book.)

We decided to meet at the family owned and operated Ponderosa Gardens Motel, our home away from home Ponderosa Gardens Motel Entrancefor the evening. As I pulled into the driveway I was happy to see that this quaint and cozy mom and pop style motel sits tucked away from the main road, giving the feel of a getaway in the woods.

I arrived a bit early so our room wasn’t quite ready. But cheerful front desk attendant Darcy made me feel right at home, offering a cup of fresh hot coffee. I wandered the gift shop, filled with collectibles, found the perfect gift for an upcoming family birthday and sipped my coffee while we chatted like old friends. A rare find is a motel where hanging out in the lobby is as comfortable as a friend’s living room. Owners Sandra and John Klempa celebrated 31 years at Ponderosa Gardens on November 1st of this year and their experience in genuine hospitality permeates the relaxing atmosphere. After dropping our bags in our large and comfortable room, we were off on our grand adventure. Six antique shops (all open on a Sunday) and a tasty Mexican dinner at Meeho’s (See our review on page 15 of the flip book) filled our day with relaxing entertainment and a great Ponderosa Gardens Motel Roomsintroduction to the friendly folks that call Paradise home.

Upon our return we dropped back in at the front desk to pick up some extra coffee to brew in our room and ended up spending two enjoyable hours visiting with owner Sandra and Sally the night desk clerk. They offered us towels for the pool and the hot tub which are situated in the center of the property, hidden from view. After a dip in the pool and a rest on the patio we were ready to climb into our comfy beds and drift off to dreamland.

Ponderosa Gardens Motel Walking PathA beautiful day greeted us the following morning and we couldn’t resist taking a walk down the private paved trail only accessible to guests at Ponderosa Gardens. A key to the gate is available at check in. A lovely continental breakfast including Danishes, fresh fruit, cereal and muffins was waiting when we arrived at the front desk to check out but we were in a hurry to return to our Paradise excursion. I drove away wishing we could stay just one more day.