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   The name has become synonymous with the areas where the Kaweah River flows. From the high reaches of the Sierra Nevada where mere flakes of snow create five rivers. To the foothills where the rivers provide sustenance to flora, fauna and, yes, humans. To the Valley floor beyond Lake Kaweah where measured amounts of water still trickle along the historic river route.
   Central to Kaweah Country is Three Rivers, where three of the five Kaweah River forks converge. Other Kaweah Country communities include, from highest elevation on down, Wuksachi Village, Ash Mountain, Kaweah, Lemon Cove, and Woodlake.
   For the past nine years, The Kaweah Commonwealth has published “BEST of Kaweah Country,” based on a readers’ poll distributed each spring and submitted by residents, business owners, and visitors. It’s the annual opportunity to celebrate the people and places that make this region great.
   The result is a multiplicity of voices and personalities that capture the essence of what’s BEST in Three Rivers and all of Kaweah Country. The input of so many locals is indispensable because, after all, who knows this area any better?
   So read on to receive inspiration on where BEST to feast, partake in retail therapy, play outside, make new friends, and tour the sights.


This is an all-important category and it varies annually, based on the whims of the poll respondents. This year, the accolades go to the newest restaurant owners in town, Efrain and Martha Ponce, at the Sequoia Cider Mill. Martha just does what comes naturally: creating home-cooked meals for family, which now includes all of Three Rivers and its visitors.
   The Pizza Factory took second place; We Three Bakery came in a close third.
As much as the Family Dining category varies, the Romantic Dining stays the same. Gateway Restaurant retains its grip on the romance side of things.
   The restaurant sweeps this category each year, so it’s a given that this place oozes romance year-round. Show up on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or any other Hallmark-card holiday and reap the flowers and bubbly that are growing and flowing for the most perfect of dates.
   Wuksachi Lodge came in second and Orange Blossom (Highway 198 near Exeter) garnered third place.

Location, location, location. Gateway just can’t be beat in this category either. It’s prime real estate where the East Fork roars into the Middle Fork and the restaurant’s decks capitalize on these rapids. For a more temperate climate, stay inside as every table in the dining room, also boasts a river view.
   Under the oaks at We Three is another favorite, as is the ever-expanding patio at Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant.

It seems as though everyone has discovered Sierra Subs and Salads. So this is the place to go to get a meal deal, but it’s not the last category they’ve won or placed in this year.
   Voters also like the prices at Sequoia Cider Mill and say they get good bang for their buck at Super Taco (Woodlake), too.
Folks think that when it’s someone else’s treat, the Gateway is the place to go to hand over the tab.
   When someone says “My treat!” voters will also venture up the hill to Wuksachi Lodge or down to the flatlands to Orange Blossom.

To start the day off on the right foot, stop by We Three Bakery. In the 2005 Best of Kaweah Country, readers were lamenting that the bakery stood closed. By poll season last year, We Three was newly renovated, open, and winning in its categories once again.
   Sequoia Cider Mill came in second; Hummingbird Cafe took third.

Hand it to Sierra Subs and Salads for providing meatless choices. Selections include the Potwisha Portabella or Mountain Mozzarella sandwiches, Greek or Veggie D’Lite salads, Vegetarian Quesadilla, Eagle View Vegetarian or Clover Creek pizzas, and veggie burgers. When the weather cools, look forward to a variety of soups, too.
   Also, go meatless at Anne Lang’s Emporium and, tying for third, We Three (one voter specified the Tofu Scramble) and Hummingbird Café (another voter recommended both the Pear and Greek salads).

Maybe it’s the salsa. Perhaps the whole beans. Or is it the sauce, the tortillas, or the original recipes that combine all of the above? Whatever it may be, Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant is a favorite for those craving the hot and spicy South-of-the-Border flavor.
   Newcomer Sequoia Cider Mill came in second; Super Taco placed third.
The definition of “factory” is “A building with facilities for the manufacture of goods.” And the one “Factory” in Three Rivers is Pizza Factory, where the manufacture of pizza occurs seven days a week.
   The take-n-bake pizza at Sierra Subs placed second; River View was a close third.

If they dare put “Subs” in their name, then they better make fantastic sandwiches. And apparently voters think they do. Unseating Anne Lang’s Emporium for the first time in the history of the poll is Sierra Subs and Salads. With names that reflect Kaweah Country, the sandwiches include the Alta Peak Club, Black Bear Grill, Manzanita Melt, Tokopah Turkey, Cherry Falls Chicken, and River Rock Rye.
   Anne Lang’s, the community’s mainstay for sandwiches, came in second; Pizza Factory placed third.
Oh, and they put “Salads” in their name, too. Sierra Subs and Salads has the largest selection of this healthy, refreshing dining choice that’s offered anywhere in Kaweah Country. There’s everything from the traditional Chef and Caesar salads to the creative Chinese Chicken and Chicken Bacon Ranch salads.
The new deli salads are all homemade: Redbud Potato Salad, Buckeye Broccoli Salad, Slicky Slaw, Bobcat Bean Salad, and Paradise Creek Pasta Salad. And Sierra Subs helps diners break the habit of potato chips with their sandwich by substituting upon request a deli salad with the purchase of a Meal Deal.
   Anne Lang’s deli delights came in second; We Three was third (one voter recommended the Grilled Chicken Salad.)

Voters like to the end to their meals BEST at We Three Bakery.
   Those with a sweet tooth may also head to Anne Lang’s Emporium and Gateway.
If it’s fresh from the oven and sinfully delectable, then it must be from We Three Bakery.
  Voters also mentioned the fresh-from-the-oven selections at Nectar Java and Juice and Sierra Subs.
For the all-American meal, head to River View Restaurant.
   Voters also recommend biting into beef on a bun at We Three and Cider Mill.
Whether really rare or well done, try the cuts at Gateway, voters say.
   Orange Blossom is another place to go for a steak-out, as is Wuksachi.
Pack it up and take it with you at Sierra Subs and Salads. It’s all made to be taken out to your kitchen table or on a picnic in the park.
   Also, bring dinner home from Pizza Factory and Serrano’s.
The familiar aroma can be detected from a mile away, which makes it irresistible. In fact, someone stopping in at the post office nearby might get a whiff, then end up taking home the entire meal from the Village Market’s weekend barbecue.
   Voters also like it off the barby by Lions Club members and at Bearpaw High Sierra Camp (11.5 miles in on the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia National Park). Said one voter of the Lions Club’s skill at the barbecue, “Their pork loin is the BEST!”
The name has changed, but the coffee stayed the same at Nectar Java and Juice (formerly The Cabin). Three Rivers’s only independently-owned coffeehouse remains the favorite place to grab a jolt of java.
   Voters also like to sip a cup at Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs and Anne Lang’s.

Homemade is just better, even if it’s someone else making it. For the most refreshing treat in town, head to Reimer’s Candies, Gifts and Ice Cream to take a lick.
   Anne Lang’s also is a favorite for the frozen creation. Orange Blossom came in third.

When people throw a party but want someone else to take on the food prep, it’s Sierra Subs and Salads that takes the order.
   Other favorites for hire to feed the party guests are Anne Lang’s and Dan and Sharon Bullene.


To be forever reminded of Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, stop by Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs for the perfect memento.
   Voters say also stop in at Three Rivers Drug and the Foothills Visitor Center in Sequoia National Park.
   One voter also mentioned that a souvenir may also be found at any “Kaweah Commonwealth newsstand.” We concur.
Take the grocery list to Village Market voters say.
   Three Rivers Market took second place. The new WinCo supermarket (Visalia) came in third.
Anglers should stop in at Three Rivers Mercantile to find the hooks, lines, and sinkers necessary to catch the big one.
   Rack ‘Em Out (Lemon Cove), owned and operated by a couple of fishing fanatics, is also a favorite stop, as is Kaweah General Store.
Year after year, the BEST buy can be found at The Thingerie, the nonprofit thrift store owned and operated by the Three Rivers Woman’s Club.
   Shoppers looking for a bargain can also find it at My Sister’s Closet. Voters also like the great deals on thousands of items at Three Rivers Mercantile.

Original works that are homegrown can be found at Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs.
   Another venue for artwork by local talent is the annual Redbud Festival, held each May. Heart’s Desire came in third.

Find the perfect gift at Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs.
   Presents may also be purchased at Reimer’s Candies, Gifts & Ice Cream and Heart’s Desire.

Rosemary’s Remembrances is where to go to find something new that’s old.
   The Lemon Cove Antique Shops is another “old” favorite. Also, treasures may be found at Barby’s in Three Rivers.

Take your pick between Sequoia Gifts & Souvenirs and Three Rivers Drug. Voters say these are the places to go for Three Rivers and Sequoia fashions.
   Three Rivers Market also offers a unique selection of T-shirts that advertise the town we like BEST.


The Tokopah Falls trail (Lodgepole, Sequoia National Park) and Mineral King are the best places to take a walk in the woods.
   The Ladybug Trail at the end of South Fork received second place; Congress Trail was third.

Another tie. North Fork Drive and the Mineral King Road took top honors for the perfect place to pedal. One voter commented that North Fork Drive is their favorite bike ride “when bull dog owners control their dogs.”
   The BLM’s Salt Creek Trail and Kaweah River Drive received honorable mention.

To enjoy le pique-nique extraordinaire, pack the brie and truffles and head to Mineral King to find the perfect spot.
   Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park received the second-most votes; Lake Kaweah is another favorite place to spread the blanket and open the basket.
   One voter said, “Anywhere that the altitude makes the temperature perfect.”
Cold Spring in Mineral King is where folks say they want to pitch their tent most often.
   Buckeye Flat, near Hospital Rock in Sequoia, took second place. Kaweah Park Resort, a private campground in Three Rivers, came in third.

There’s a new playground in town called Our Place, and it’s the BEST place to let the kids be kids. There are swings and slides and weekly programs for kids provided by community members.
   Sequoia National Park came in second place, with votes being received for Crystal Cave, Lodgepole, Giant Forest Museum, Crescent Meadow, and Mineral King. In other words, the BEST place for kids is outside!


St. Anthony Retreat’s Gift Shop received the most votes by a margin of one. Since newspapers aren’t very good at keeping secrets, here are all the BEST-kept secrets in Kaweah Country:
   Slicky, Creekside Yarns, Lake Kaweah, We Three has WiFi!, a great massage, Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast, backpacking opportunities, Jerky This!, River Inn, Three Rivers, Community Presbyterian Church choir, river swimming, Wadaba the local West African drummer, Cort Cottage, the independent film section at Chump’s, backyard at the Buckeye Tree Lodge, Ice Cream Social, Annie’s Mountain Dogs, and free magazine exchange at the Three Rivers Library.
   And there are many voters who can be trusted to keep a secret, because they write: “I won’t tell!”

Here’s another category where every business that received votes deserves a mention for offering stellar service and giving Kaweah Country its friendly reputation.
   Sequoia Gifts and Souvenirs received first place in this category; Chump’s Videos and DVDs came in a close second. Here are the rest of the friendliest places on Earth:
   Three Rivers Mercantile, Heart’s Desire, Three Rivers Market, Village Market, Sierra Subs and Salads, Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce visitor center, Pat O’Connell’s Service, Gateway, Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast, Plantation Bed and Breakfast, Three Rivers Drug, Century 21 Three Rivers, and Three Rivers Chevron.

The Sequoia Gifts / Sierra Subs / Creekside Yarns triplex won this category once again this year. Reimer’s Candies and Chump’s Videos and DVDs tied for second.
   But, again, everyone who received votes deserves special mention for their efforts to beautify Kaweah Country:
   Three Rivers Mercantile, Heart’s Desire, Nectar Java and Juice, Three Rivers Market, Anne Lang’s, Wuksachi, Sierra Garden Center, Century 21 Three Rivers complex, Nadi’s Studio, and Silver City.


The BEST place to lay your head besides home sweet home is Lazy J Ranch Motel.
   Coming in second and third, respectively, are Comfort Inn and Suites and River Inn and Cabins. Also receiving votes are: Sierra Lodge, Lake Elowin Resort, Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia Motel, and Buckeye Tree Lodge.

Wicky-Up Ranch Bed and Breakfast on the eastern outskirts of Woodlake consists of a historic house on an organic citrus ranch. And Monica Pizura, who owns the ranch and B&B with her husband, Jack, is a direct descendant of the original developer of the property and, obviously, a wonderful innkeeper.
   Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast and Plantation Bed and Breakfast received honorable mentions.

The BEST place to stay when traveling with the kids is Lazy J Ranch Motel.
   Other kid-friendly locations are Comfort Inn and Suites and River Inn.

The number-one choice year after year for the most rustic lodging is Silver City Resort. This is most likely the case because it’s a cabin that’s clean and comfortable.
   In second place are the tent cabins at Bearpaw High Sierra Camp. In third place is Lake Elowin Resort.

Voters say the pool at Comfort Inn and Suites is the most refreshing place to take a dip.
   In second place is Lazy J. And in third place, and certainly deserving of mention, is Three Rivers Bed and Breakfast. This local lodging facility is owned by the community-minded husband-and-wife team of Catherine Launey and Peter Sodhy. The philanthropic couple noticed that Three Rivers doesn’t have a community pool for children to splash and play in during the hot summer months, something that is a traditional summer gathering place in so many small towns across America. So they took action. Each Tuesday morning this summer, the Three Rivers B&B pool is open to the public... for FREE!


To make a new friend or two, head to River View Restaurant and Lounge. It’s the social-gathering hot spot.
   Also socialize at Nectar Java and Juice, the second-place vote-getter. And proving how many locals have a hand in this poll, third place goes to the Three Rivers Post Office. Show up weekdays around noon to meet the essence of Three Rivers community members as they make their daily mail run.

They have been playing world-class jazz for 30 years and are a name synonymous with Three Rivers. High Sierra Jazz Band transcends all genres of music as folks of all ages and from all walks of life voted them the BEST local band again this year.
   In second place is Buckeye Flatts. Tied for third place is Wadaba and the Traditional West African Drum Ensemble and Faena Brava.

People like watching the bands at River View BEST. The facility actually has two venues from which to choose, indoors and outside on the riverside patio.
   The second favorite is Lions Arena. In third place is the Three Rivers Memorial Building.

It’s a tie, which makes perfect sense because these are two of the BEST springtime events anywhere: Jazzaffair and Redbud Festival.
   Three Rivers Roping rides into second place. In third place is a Three Rivers tradition for more than a half-century, the school’s Fall Carnival.
River View is the BEST place to be at 5 p.m. To quote one voter, “Duh!”
   Wuksachi Lodge is another place to hang out for a very enjoyable 60 minutes. Tied for third place are Sister’s Mountain House (Badger) and Orange Blossom.
   Adding new perspective to a happy “hour,” a vote was received for “Church” and another for “when the kids are being good.”


Paul Bischoff of Sequoia Sightseeing Tours was voted the best person to hang out with to learn the lay of the land. (For more on Paul, see this week’s “Neighbor Profile” on page 4.)
   Frank Root, who owns Kaweah White Water Adventures, came in second. In third place is Sequoia Natural History Association, which offers various expert instructors for its annual field seminar program and also includes this year’s winner, Paul Bischoff.

There’s no place like it in the world. Take a drive from Three Rivers to the General Sherman and General Grant trees and you’ll realize why the Generals Highway was named, as well as voted BEST scenic drive.
   The Mineral King Road drove away with second place. South Fork Drive garnered third place.

Of the 23 different listings received, 11 of them were park-related:
Sequoia National Park, Giant Forest, Moro Rock, General Sherman Tree, Crystal Cave, Mineral King, Congress Trail, Wuksachi Village, Tharp’s Log, Hospital Rock, and Giant Forest Museum.

The General Sherman Tree is this year’s must-see attraction in Sequoia National Park.
   After viewing the largest tree on the planet, take a jog to the summit of Moro Rock before heading down to Crystal Cave.
   Other votes received include: Big Trees, Grant Grove, Tharp’s Log, Giant Forest, Mineral King, Crescent Meadow, Congress Trail, and the backcountry.

The little, teeny, itsy, bitsy Kaweah Post Office is most voters’ favorite piece of history. This local State Historical Landmark was built in 1910 and is a lasting vestige of the Kaweah Colony, a 19th-century utopian experiment. The post office is still in operation today.
   Tharp’s Log, located near Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park, came in second place. The Three Rivers Historical Museum took third place.

Once again, we bid farewell as the sun sets on the BEST of Kaweah Country 2007. Moro Rock ran away with this category… again. Lake Kaweah came in second, which as most commuters know, contributes much to a sunset and a moonrise. Little Baldy, an easy 1.75-mile hike off the Generals Highway in Sequoia National Park, came in third place.
   And then there’s the early-to-hit-the-sack voter who wrote: “In bed!”



THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
(559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118
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