By Melissa Wynn

The first time I heard of an escape room I thought it sounded like great fun. So, when I learned that Chico Escape Rooms had opened in Chico I began to plan my own escape and this amazing road trip to the valley. While making reservations for our luxurious accommodations at Chapelle d’La Artiste in Paradise, owner Melissa Schuster recommended dining at a hopping little Japenese sushi place downtown known as Ikkyu. I took her advice, made a reservation, compared calendars with Molly Barber and we were on our way.

The Escape Room

While making arrangements to visit Chico Escape Rooms I learned that up to eight can participate in a single game and the more players, the more input to solve the riddles. My niece Allyson House and Mike Ashley met us at 3075 Cohasset Suite #2 and four brains strong we walked inside.

Many escape rooms have the goal, as the name implies, to escape from the room in which the game takes place. However this is not always the case. Many other mysteries can be and are solved to “win” the game. The game we chose was such a mystery and our mission was to locate specific items using the clues left for us in the room within the one hour time limit. Owner Nicki Evenson gave us our instructions, a walkie-talkie in case we needed a hint and set the timer for one hour.

Molly found the first clue just a few seconds after we entered and our adventure began. Allison and Mike were both very good at deciphering the clues subtly hidden but recognizable as pertinent to the game.  Near the end Molly and I figured out a big, hidden clue together  and we were sure that was a wrap. But alas, our first guess at the solution was off by one object so we had to get a hint and try a second time. I think we all went in thinking we would solve the whole thing in record time, we are all very smart you see. But in the end we solved the mystery with only two minutes and fifty seven seconds left on the clock which really added to the thrill of this new and exciting live adventure game.

Chico Escape Rooms offers two games to choose from and are open Fridays 5-10pm, Saturdays 12-5pm and  Sundays 12-5pm. Walk-ins will be accommodated with availability. Chico Escape Rooms is also a great place for some fun team building exercises. Businesses, organizations and some groups are encouraged to strengthen their team with special pricing and hours. Business team inquiries are welcome by phone +1.530.636.4475 or team leaders can email Nicki at [email protected]. Visit them online to make your reservations and see what games are on the board this week at Enter promo code MOUNTAINVALLEY and get 10% off your own booking or a gift certificate for a friend. What fun for just $30 a person! We departed vowing to return to try our skills in the other game another day.

Japanese Cuisine

We worked up a powerful appetite searching for clues and treasure, so Molly and I headed for Paradise to unwind with a bit of authentic Japanese cuisine at Ikkyu Japanese Restaurant. Named for a rebellious Zen Monk from the fourteenth century, this eclectic locals favorite serves lunch and dinner with an efficient quickness. We arrived at their new location at 140 Pearson Road at 4:30 on a Tuesday, right as they were re-opening for dinner. We were the first to enter but in minutes nearly every table was filled and patrons with orders to go were coming and going in a rush. Owner Momo and her trusty server Tina greeted each customer with a smile and many with a hug. It was very apparent that since opening in October of 2012 Ikkyu has built a local customer base that is tried and true with some just ordering “the usual”.

Since we were new,  Molly and I decided to try a variety and began our over indulgent meal with a crisp and tender calamari appetizer, cola for Molly and lemonade for me. I ordered a combo meal of Chicken Teriyaki and a California Roll that included a tangy and piping hot miso soup, salad and rice. What made me think I would be able finish all that and a tropical roll besides is beyond me but that is what I ordered. The chicken was tender and the sauce the perfect sweetness but my deep fried tropical roll was the star, stuffed with more chicken teriyaki, cream cheese, pineapple, asparagus and red bell pepper topped with sweet chili sauce and a drizzle of teriyaki. This roll ticks every box for me, crispy, creamy sweet and spicy. It was delightful!  Molly opted for sushi all the way and went for one spicy with the Tina Roll named for our server and stuffed with shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, sweet mango, cucumber, avocado, Serrano chili and tempura crumbs and served with spicy mayo, sweet chili sauce and topped with chopped green onions.  Her second choice was the Lacie roll, also named for a server but a bit on the cooler and creamy side filled with shrimp tempura, a touch of imitation crab and cream cheese topped with tempura crumbs and green onions and drizzled with tasty ponzu sauce. Chef/owner and husband to Momo, Shige really knows his sushi and the rolls he prepares are bigger than expected and oh so delicious. We waddled away,  needless to say, with a to go container full to the top with quite the midnight sushi snack for later. Ikkyu Japanese Restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 2:00pm and for dinner Monday through Saturday from 4:30 to 9:00pm. You can view their full menu and read the story of Ikkyu the zen monk online at


Chapelle d’La Artiste Chateau & Retreat

Full to the brim, we meandered our way to our luxury lodging for evening at Chapelle d’La Artiste Chateau & Retreat. Located on sixteen lush acres on the outskirts of Paradise at 3300 Inspiration Lane this opulent getaway has hosted a multitude of celebrities including Steve Miller and Norton Buffalo just to name a few. Available for rent through Airbnb® this star worthy stay is also on the market for those wishing to own their own little piece of heaven in Paradise.

As we pulled up to the scrolling iron gates I was taken aback by the beauty and attention to detail that touches every corner of this gorgeous place designed to spoil the self and indulge the senses. Towering maple trees were losing their leaves and fall colors painted the grounds with rich reds and brilliant golds. A pair of llamas grazed lazily in the pasture behind the art barn building where owners Melissa Schuster and husband Cliff Jacobson enjoy painting and hosting art shows  and exhibitions. This building that is now much more than a barn also houses a few of the beautifully restored classic cars that are Cliff’s pride and joy.

Originally the home of the Wayland homestead, Cliff and Melissa have transformed this century old treasure into luxury accommodations while still preserving as much of that rich homestead history as possible. This community minded couple are both public servants and have opened their home to many community events and continue to host such groups as the local symphony. The main “Manor House” boasts three luxury bedroom suites furnished with an amazing mix of authentic antiques, original art works by Cliff and Melissa and stunning modern comforts that beg you to stay forever.

Our home for the evening was the one hundred year old “Carriage House” remodeled but original to the Wayland Homestead days. This one bedroom hideaway preserves the farmhouse feel with touches like the original door and ceiling rafters, a cozy wood burning stove and an old claw foot soaking tub smack dab in the corner of the bedroom. Thick, down filled comforters and more puffy pillows than one person deserves immerse the guests in pampered, modern comfort amid the historical decor. Molly and I slept like babies in this land that time forgot like the so many before us that called this wonderful place home.

The next morning Melissa gave us the grand tour and we were mesmerized by all the one-of-a-kind amenities at this famous piece of paradise. Not only is there a lavish outdoor pavilion with a full kitchen for groups or corporate events with an antique wagon table, there is even an entertainment cave, that’s right a cave!. This cool and unique feature includes a full bar, a stage for playing music and a babbling water feature to whisk you away to an otherworldly underground adventure. The pristine swimming pool, tiny on-site chapel complete with stained glass and the eight foot deep koi pond just frost the cake at this sweet retreat that calms the mind and soothes the soul. One could spend an entire afternoon just wandering the grounds and taking it all in.

Reservations for this fairy tale homestead can be made through the Airbnb® website at with a simple search for Chapelle d’La Artiste Chateau & Retreat. Those interested in special events or serious buyers can contact Melissa by phone at +1.530.228.0941. Take the time to spoil yourself and indulge awhile at Cliff and Melissa’s  homey little chapel of the artist. You will be glad you came and leave with your spirit renewed.