Tractors, Trains & Shipwrecks – Yesteryear Recollections of Sonoma County

TractorsTrainsBy (the late) Donald R. Richardson

For a variety of reasons, it took several decades to bring this collection of vintage tales to fruition as their author, Donald R. Richardson, passed away in 1983; but his daughter, Donna Richardson Robbins, was determined so Tractors, Trains & Shipwrecks – Yesteryear Recollections of Sonoma County (DRR Press, 132 pages, $18.99) is now arriving in local stores, a collection christened “Tom Sawyer-like” by leading historian/Press Democrat columnist Gaye LeBaron (her full quote appears on the book’s back jacket).

Spawned by his daughter finally receiving his handwritten stories recounting his youthful exploits while growing up in the seaside hamlet of Stewarts Point, these originals of his comprise Part 2 of the book and are accompanied by vintage black/white photos dating back to Richardson’s birth in 1914 which are sprinkled throughout—creating a memorably immersive experience for the reader of these step-back-in-time tales set in the 1920s, 30s & beyond.

The grandson of Herbert Archer Richardson who arrived in Sonoma County from New Hampshire in 1876 with 40¢ in his pocket and went on to amass 25,000 acres, Richardson was one of nine students attending the one-room schoolhouse in Stewarts Point, rode the train from the coast to Santa Rosa High and back weekdays, and modern conveniences were decades away – for example, they stored their ice packed in sawdust while he was growing up.

Having served as Stewarts Point Postmaster along with running the family’s longtime general store there, Richardson was also County Supervisor, president of the Farm Bureau and Wool Growers Association, and a professional forester in addition to holding other agricultural leadership roles, both locally and on a statewide basis. A rancher by trade, Richardson was also an early and avid environmentalist and dedicated steward of the land. He spent his entire life in Sonoma County and the book includes reflections on his later years as well as he penned this collection after falling ill a short while before his death.

His firsthand anecdotes include memories, yarns, and tall tales and provide a truly unique backward glimpse into a bygone era right here in our coastal backyard. The new title is being retailed at four Copperfield’s Books locations, the Sonoma County Museum, and the Classic Duck in Montgomery Village et al.—nearly 30 locations in Sonoma and Mendocino counties thus far. For more information on Tractors, Trains & Shipwrecks – Yesteryear Recollections of Sonoma County and to see the growing roster of retailers, please visit:

Click HERE to buy on Amazon.Com

22nd Annual Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival

BodegaSeafoodHeld on a rugged, rural ranch, a few miles inland from the spectacular Sonoma Coast, the Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival is both sophisticated and down-home. It has garnered the reputation for being one of the premier art, wine/beer and food festivals in California. This annual benefit attracts thousands of foodies, art aficionados, wine and beer connoisseurs and music lovers to picturesque Watts Ranch in the village where Alfred Hitchcock once filmed his classic thriller, “The Birds.”

A bevy of restaurants and catering companies offer a bounty of seafood dishes and other edibles. Options like barbecued oysters, crab cakes, Key Lime calamari, fish tacos, albacore wrapped in bacon, grilled salmon, fish and chips, fresh crab cocktails and crab Louies are just a few delicious items on vendors’ menus. The festival focuses on seafood, but there are plenty of meat, chicken, and vegetarian options to please all pallets, as well as sweet treats, so this is a food lover’s dream event.

The Wine and Microbrewed Beer Tasting is always a huge draw and this year will be the largest tasting yet: with over 35 wineries and 20+ microbreweries. The tasting is a wonderful mix of known companies, as well as many small boutique wineries and up and coming breweries. Previous participants, such as Alexander Valley, Cline Cellars, Jacuzzi Family, Korbel, Frey Vineyards, Lagunitas, North Coast, Bear Republic, Sierra Nevada, and Speakeasy will be joined by many newcomers to our tasting such as Kobler Estate, Kelley & Young, Full Sail Brewing and Founders Brewing, to name a small handful. The tasting is $20 for a commemorative wine or beer glass and 6 tastes. The festival also has a Wine & Microbrew Store where wines and beers sampled in the tasting are available for purchase.

The quality of the art and fine craft is unrivaled in Sonoma County and beyond. This juried show attracts artisans from throughout California and other parts of the country. The festival aims to appeal to a broad range of attendees, by providing a mix of higher end fine art and craft and more moderate ranged craft work. The event producers are artists themselves, and know the ins and outs of doing shows from both sides, having each traveled to do festivals for over 30 years.

3 stage of entertainment give festival goers a full day of musical and non-musical diversion. This year the Main Stage headliners are blues legend, Tommy Castro on Saturday, and Motown rockers Pride & Joy on Sunday. The Waybacks are an exciting addition to the line-up as are the Bootleg Honeys, John Allair, and many more. Non-musical entertainment includes the hilarious Captain Jack Spareribs, Calvin Kai Ku and Merry Mary.

This is a fun family event so there are jumps, slides and rockwall, face painting, as well as ceramic painting for kids. New this year is the giant trampoline-ride Wake Attack. We also have the “color-in giant mural” for all ages. It depicts many favorite photographs shot at the festival over the years which have been converted into black and white images to fill in with washable paints: an art project for all our visitors. Our beneficiary, Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods, have wonderful, interactive, environmental displays for the whole family as well.

A portion of the proceeds from the event supports two vital non-profits — Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, which works in partnership with the California State Parks in the Russian River/Sonoma Coast region, as well as the Bodega Volunteer Fire Department.

Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 27, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 28. Admission is $15 in advance for adults, $20 at the gate. There are discounts for teens, seniors and military, and the festival is free for children less than 12 years of age. Watts Ranch is located at 16855 Bodega Highway in the village of Bodega. For additional information, go to

Sonoma County, State Officials to Dedicate Bodega Bay Trail Extension on Aug. 19

BikeTrailBridge Will Honor Late State Parks Superintendent

Community members, parks staff, and elected officials will gather in Bodega Bay on Friday, Aug. 19, to dedicate the newest segment of the Bodega Bay Pedestrian & Bicycle Trail and to name a trail bridge in honor of Elizabeth “Liz” Burko, the late State Parks superintendent who oversaw the Sonoma Coast.

The public is invited to explore the .55-mile trail by joining a 10 a.m. bird walk led by Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods. The dedication will follow at 11 a.m. and will feature remarks by U.S. Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson, State Senator Mike McGuire, Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart, California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat, and Burko’s family.

The new trail adds to the ongoing California Coastal Trail network and connects the Bodega Bay Dunes campground at Sonoma Coast State Park to Keefe Avenue, improving pedestrian and bicycle access to the Salmon Creek neighborhood and south Salmon Creek Beach. The trail segment features an 8-foot-wide aggregate surface and a 120-foot-long bridge over an annual creek. That bridge will be known as the Liz Burko Bridge. Construction was funded by the National Park Service, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Sonoma County Transportation Authority and Sonoma County Regional Parks.

“On this special day we are not only celebrating increased coastal access for the public, we are here to honor our dear friend and colleague, Liz Burko,” said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart. “Liz dedicated her life to parks, and she bridged relationships between agencies in order to increase opportunities for people to enjoy them.”

Burko was a Bodega Bay resident who managed California State Parks’ Sonoma-Mendocino District for the last eight years of her career. She passed away unexpectedly in August 2015 following a vehicle accident. Known by many as the quintessential ranger who loved people and parks, Burko was highly regarded for her leadership, including her ability to overcome complex challenges and to mentor staff.

The new trail segment connects to a .47-mile trail linking Bodega Dunes campground to the Bodega Bay Community Center and Children’s Bell Tower. That trail was completed in late 2014 and dedicated by Burko and many of the officials who will attend the Aug. 19 ceremony. Together, the two trail segments are referred to as the Coastal Prairie Trail.

 “It’s so fitting that we honor Liz’s legacy with the extension of the Coastal Prairie Trail,” said Fifth District Supervisor Efren Carrillo. “The trail is crucial to our larger mission of connecting people to the beauty and wonder of the Sonoma Coast. Liz was devoted to that mission, and we miss her dearly.”

The Coastal Prairie Trail is part of the larger Bodega Bay Bike & Pedestrian Trail project, which will give residents and tourists a safe and scenic alternative for traveling Highway 1 between Salmon Creek and Doran Beach. The project will include 3.4 miles of bike and pedestrian pathway and a boardwalk with access to shops and restaurants along Bodega Harbor. The next segment to be constructed will link the Coastal Prairie Trail to Bay Flat Road. Design and engineering studies are underway, and construction will begin as funding becomes available.

The first Bodega Bay Trail section to be completed was the Cheney Creek crossing, which linked Doran Beach to Birdwalk Coastal Access Trail in 2008.

The Bodega Bay Trail project is part of the larger California Coastal Trail, a planned trail to run along the state’s 1,200-mile coastline.

For more information, contact Regional Parks Community Engagement Manager Bethany Facendini at 707-565-2041 or

Bodega Big Event August 7th

big event 2016

2016 Fireworks Over Bodega Bay

FireworksBB2Fireworks show produced by Pyro Spectaculars will start at dark (9:30PM) on Saturday, July 2.  The display can be seen from all around Bodega Bay.  Handicap parking at Westside Park.

If you can see the protected waters of the Bodega Bay harbor, you should be able to see the show. It’s viewable from Westside Road, the north side of Doran Beach Road, Bay Flat Road, Smith Brothers Road and Highway 1 between Smith Brothers Road and Taylor Street. Please be careful where you park. AND PLEASE TAKE OUT WHATEVER YOU BRING IN! OUR VOLUNTEERS NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP BODEGA BAY BEAUTIFUL!! THANK YOU!!

Look for volunteers from the Bodega Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, who will be collecting donations for next year’s show.  Thank you for your support!

Click the DONATE link to make a donation to the 2016 Fireworks Display

For more information, please email


Civil War Days Returns to Duncans Mills

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One of the largest Civil War reenactments west of the Mississippi and the largest in Northern California is returning to Freezeout Canyon in the charming town of Duncans Mills, California, on the Russian River. On Saturday, July 16, and Sunday, July 17, CIVIL WAR DAYS, a two-day living history reenactment open to the public, gives visitors the opportunity to interact with the soldiers and civilians of the Civil War, getting a personal glimpse of the years 1861–1865 and a better understanding of the events that formed our country. The spirit and history of the American Civil War period will be portrayed by hundreds of reenactors for this annual fun, family-oriented event.

You are invited to walk among the reenactors, talk with them, ask them questions, and experience firsthand this very dynamic period in our history. These reenactors are passionate about American history and have worked hard to accurately portray and bring to life Union and Confederate soldiers, merchants, tradesmen, musicians, doctors, nurses, and townspeople caught up in this country’s struggle. This was the period of horse-drawn wagons, hoop skirts, lanterns, blacksmiths, and cannons. It is when differing views of American government, preservation of the Union, slavery, and states’ rights moved men to engage in a war that took more than 700,000 lives and redefined the future of our country. You can visit the camps of the Union and Confederacy and see how civilians lived and served with the armies of 1863 in what was referred to as the “first modern war”. This is not only an educational experience but an unforgettable one for all ages.

This 17th annual event is sponsored by the California Historical Artillery Society, a nonprofit educational corporation, and Casini Ranch Family Campground. CIVIL WAR DAYS brings together members of the National Civil War Association, the American Civil War Association, and other groups from throughout the western United States. The twice-daily battles will fill the surrounding hills with the sound of fife and drum, musket and cannon as the American Civil War comes to life. Public hours areSaturday, July 16th, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 17th, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Battle times are 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday. Check out a great video about the event at:

Directions from Highway 101: Take the River Road exit west past Guerneville to Duncans Mills, make a left on Moscow Road, a right on Freezeout Road, and follow the signs. On-site parking is available for $5 per car (cash only). Adult tickets are $12, kids 6–12 are $6, and children 5 and under are free. No bank cards are accepted on the day of the event. Pre-event discount tickets are available at: Casini Ranch Campground in Duncans Mills and Good to Go Military in Cotati.

For more information, contact the California Historical Artillery Society [CHAS] at 707-922-5901 or visit the event website

Bodega Bay Daytrip: Visit Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Once a year forest bloom happening now. 

Visit for more about California’s parks

Vivid pink petals of wild rhododendrons color the forest in the Kruse State Reserve for a few short weeks around Mother’s Day, and the natural event is now in full swing on the Reserve’s 300 acres, 30 miles north of Bodega Bay on Hwy 1.

The delicate bloom is the parting gift of a fire that raced through the slopes of the Reserve decades ago. California wildfires are a destructive reminder of nature’s unpredictable power, but for all their devastation, wildfires also regenerate. By reducing dead wood to ash, they turn old growth into fertile nutrients to feed new growth. Fire also clears dense woodlands and undergrowth, creating openings for sunlight to reach the ground.

So in their wake, burns leave an opportunity for fast growing plants to establish a foothold, a chance they otherwise wouldn’t have in the deep forest shade. And one of those lucky opportunists is the native Pacific broadleaf rhododendron.

Now well established, the lanky rhododendrons open clusters of rosy pink blooms in late spring, adding a brief splash of unexpected color among the shaded greens and browns of the Reserve’s fern canyons, firs and redwoods. The display is all the more stunning because pink is a rare color in north coast forests.

The bloom varies from year to year depending on conditions, and the regrown forest – which now shows few signs of the fire – has taken back much of the open space, so the flowers are sprinkled here and there along the trail – but it’s still worth the visit.  The rhododendron can reach upwards for sunlight twenty feet, so bouquets of blossoms hang high overhead in some places, and you’ll only know they’re there by noticing petals that have dropped onto the trail. In other spots the color is at eye height and magnificent.

The rhodies aren’t the only visual feast. Second growth redwoods, douglas firs and tanoaks make a pleasant forest, varieties of lush green ferns abound, and other bloomers – redwood sorrel, the tiny yellow violet, orange lilies and other wildflowers – make it a refreshing walk, with bridges across several seasonal burbling streams.

The Kruse Rhododendron Reserve is a one hour drive north of Bodega Bay on winding but spectacular Hwy 1, a few miles north of Salt Point State Park. Entrance is free. Turn east up Kruse Ranch Road, a one lane gravel road, and stop at the obvious parking area. There are three miles of trail in the 300 acre reserve. A very short loop near the parking area gives a quick look, and two interconnecting main trails wind up and down through the two gulches that cross the reserve, with cutoffs allowing for shorter or longer hikes, up to a 2.2 mile loop. It’s a moderate walk, and easiest to start up China trail with its milder grade and descend on the steeper Phillips gulch leg. There are also some views of blooms along the gravel road, which is the easiest walk, just watch for the occasional traffic.

By: Stephen Nett


Salmon Creek ArtWalk – May 14-15


Directions: From San Francisco, take Hwy 101 North to Petaluma. At Petaluma take the Washington St Exit. Turn left on Washington St. and continue all the way to Bodega Bay (The street name will change several times but will eventually turn into Hwy 1.) Hwy 1 will take you all the way to Bodega Bay! Don’t turn off of Hwy 1. We’re one mile North of Bodega Bay. Look for our signs.


Map of Salmon Creek ArtWalk

Castles and Kites – May 7th – Doran Park

CastlesAndKitesThis annual festival features spectacular kites, demonstrations and training on the beach with sand sculpture creations. Park representatives are on hand with tools and molds to help you create your own! Overnight camping available.

Tall Ship Cannon Battles Scheduled in Bodega Bay

Both-boats-parallel-e1355691228803-281x300The tall ships Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain will visit Bodega Bay April 13-18, 2016 and offer walk-on tours, educational programs, and cannon battles from Spud Point Marina, 1818 Westshore Road, Bodega Bay. The ships are currently on a seven-month tour of California ports. Both ships are U.S. Coast Guard-inspected passenger vessels. Here’s their public schedule in Bodega Bay.

4/13: Arrive late afternoon / early evening
4/14-15: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., walk-on tours, $3 donation
4/16-17: 9 a.m. to noon, Battle Sail, $39-$75
4/16-17: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., walk-on tours, $3 donation
4/18: Ships closed to the public

Three-hour Battle Sails are recreations of a typical 18th-century naval skirmish between two tall ships. The vessels fire a real cannon with real gunpowder, but no cannon balls. Guests are encouraged to verbally taunt their adversaries and assist with ship operations, such as raising a sail. Tickets are $75 adults, $67 students/seniors/active military, $39 children 12/under. Purchase tickets online or by calling 800-200-5239.

A 15 percent discount is available for online purchases of four or more Battle Sail tickets. The discount is applied instantly at the time of purchase. The discount is not available for telephone orders or walk-up purchases at the ships. A telephone order fee may apply.