The best of the rest – some overlooked community gems |

The best of the rest – some overlooked community gems

Mike Drummond, Columnist
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The local newspaper near Clear Creek Ranch published its annual “Best of the County” list last week, sort of like the Academy Awards without all those long-winded acceptance speeches.

The “Best of the County” list isn’t an editorial opinion, and it isn’t scientific; it is based on write-in ballots. Given the publicity potential of winning, I suspect a little ballot box stuffing occurred in a few categories. So if you are new to the area, proceed with reasonable caution.

While I agree with many of the selections, I have no experience is some areas. For example: I cannot render a first-hand opinion on the “Best Bail Bondsman” category. I am hoping most of the people in the county, and especially those with whom I interact daily, cannot either.

If no one voted in a category, it was excluded from the final report. Alphabetically, the M’s were under-represented. Best Mortician and Best Magician were conspicuously absent. A number of categories that could be very representative of this county, like “Best Undiscovered Methamphetamine Lab,” weren’t even listed on the ballot. I’d like to suggest a few others for next year.

How about “Best Front Yard Garbage Dump,” with sub-categories for “automotive” and for “other”? I’d be hard pressed to narrow down those candidates to a top 10 list, and that’s just on the few roads I use regularly.

For “Best Midtown Hole-in-the-Ground,” I predict a tie between the two torn-up gas stations adjacent to the Grass Valley post office. The post office parking lot should win for the “Best Off-Road Traffic Jam.” Every day, hundreds of able-bodied motorists vie endlessly for a few parking spaces directly in front of the building while ignoring a dozen or more spaces on the other side of the same lot.

Heaven forbid they have to waste time and energy on a few more steps to pick up their junk mail! Personally, I prefer the aerobic workout of taking those extra steps to the anaerobic workout of generating steam from my ears while I lurch forward, inch-by-inch, in the left-turn lane.

“Best On-Road Traffic Jam in a Recurring Role” has to be Brunswick Basin during the weekday lunch hour, while Friday night at the county fair takes special seasonal event “Automotive Creep Show” honors.

“Best Intersection” is too close to call. I like the idea of the traffic circle near the college, but judging from all the skid marks across the center median, many motorists are voting to square the circle. The McKnight-La Barr Meadows-South Auburn -Taylorville-Highway 49 confluence is best negotiated warily and with a native guide.

A native guide might be required to find the “Best Skinny-Dipping Beach on the Yuba,” but puritan tourist families with “impressionable” children seem to have no trouble stumbling upon one with no guidance whatsoever.

Other guidance and governance categories: “Best Obscure Biblical Reference” in a letter-to-the-editor written in rambling stream-of-consciousness style. “Best Use of Opaque Jargon and Quasi-Legalese” by a local politician to avoid answering a simple question. Local politics is enough to drive you to drink, so we need to consider a “Best Local Bar that Opens at Dawn” category.

Speaking of morning eye-openers, for “Best Bed and Breakfast, ” (and I know I should say something statesmanlike here), I’m going to vote my conscience and say “my house.” Rumpled jammies and uncombed hair are permitted at our breakfast table. And if a cat or two jumps up to smell the coffee or lick my plate, that’s OK, too.


Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at

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