How to provide options to 80-100 pilots in a very small town has been on the mind of Comp. Director Jugdeep Aggarwal. This week I met Jug in Dunlap, CA to do a bit of informal recon and planning for the upcoming U.S. Paragliding Nationals. We made a visit to the St Nicholas Ranch in the Dunlap Valley. The facility is associated with a Greek Orthodox monastery and very well maintained and organized.
Jug's goal is to provide the best experience for all pilots. A couple of the issues each pilot needs to deal with during a competition week are those of lodging and food. In the Dunlap area this is a bit of a challenge. The lodging available at the various small motels is, to be generous, 'very rustic.' Those that want to camp can find spots in many places around the valley but there is no WiFi and services are generally a bit gritty. Another concern is the need for transportation and transit times from the campsite to HQ each day. Additionally there are only a few small places to eat in the local area.
When I saw the facilities that the St. Nicholas ranch provides, and the willingness to work with us the staff showed, I knew that the best place to stay in the valley during the comp would be the ranch. Here's what they offer:
Jug has decided to offer an option for an 'inclusive' plan. I know what you are thinking, THAT WILL BE TOO EXPENSIVE! I'm not trying to sell YOU the plan but I'll tell you why I'm for it - It pencils out. If a clean, comfortable bed is available at a competitive price and the chow hall serves good food across the hall, why sleep on the ground and drive all over the valley to eat cold pancakes? This place is a gem in Dunlap and I can't believe I haven't discovered it until now!
It has been decided that The Ranch will be the headquarters for the meet and it was logical to offer an inclusive package that allowed all participants the option to sleep and eat dinners and breakfasts at the ranch. This spot is the perfect place for pilot meetings and briefings as well as social events around the BBQ pit, ping-pong tables, and the pool.
I can, without hesitation, endorse this facility as the best spot in Dunlap to base our competition. I will also go out on a limb and say that you will enjoy staying at the Ranch. I'll be staying at the site and eating the home cooked meals in the dining room. Why? Because I know the quality is there and because it will "get stuff out of my way" at a very comparable cost to the sub-standard alternatives.
For those of you concerned with the Ranch's association with the Church, I understand where you are coming from - I was there and asked, "what are the rules?" Is smoking allowed? YUP (outside) How 'bout alcohol? No Problemo. The only restrictions the site has is (smirk) NO FIREARMS. Oh, and no dogs.
If you want to have an enjoyable first comp of the 2009 season, come to Dunlap and see what I'm talking about.
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