Mark your calendar for the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival April 21-23. Lovers of this odd vegetable will find it a delight.
It will be held in Stockton, a little less than a two-hour drive from home. The goal is family friendly with loads of kid-centered events. In years past it has rivaled the Gilroy Garlic Festival in entertainment and family fun. If you decide to dress up like a green spear, you may get arrested for being an undocumented lizard in public. For festival details go to their web site at http://www.sanjoaquinasparagusfestival.net.
For those more adventuresome, consider going out to pick your own asparagus, as it grows along the roadside all over the delta area. My trips to Grizzly Island near Fairfield in the past have yielded several shopping bags of the tasty green shoots. Did you know the shoots are the beginning of a tall, bushy plant? In the spring it sprouts from an established root ball, the product of tiny airborne seeds.
Friends have dug up roadside root balls, they can be huge, and successfully transplanted them in their home gardens. One basketball sized mass can be broken into single crowned roots which will grow happily in your yard. The plant requires a few years to establish itself, then you can’t eat fast enough to keep up. There is lots of free information on the web, just Google: “finding wild asparagus” to get more information. YouTube has great videos on the subject. You can also search for good spots to hunt with a more targeted search for finding wild asparagus in the Sacramento Delta and San Joaquin Delta. The kids, big and small, may want to sneak in a visit to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield on the same trip. If you have beer lovers, tour the Budweiser plant also near Fairfield. Budweiser’s website has the details at http://www.budweisertours.com/locations/fairfield-california.html You will see an amazing amount of Bud brewing at this facility. The site also has schedules for their famous Clydesdale teams. Let me think, a cold Bud and a plate of deep fried asparagus, could this be heaven?
Annual Jetty Cleanup
This weekend, March 4, at Doran Beach from 8-noon is the annual Underwater Doran Jetty Clean Up. Scuba gear is important as are food and folding chairs. Some years the weather is perfect, some years the wind will blow your hat off. Nearly always it is a fun outing to the beach. Doran Beach is part of the Sonoma County Park System and is only 45 minutes from home, unless you drive really slow. If you want to get the spiders out of your dive gear and be a part of this effort, contact the organizer, Jerry Thoman at jerrythoman@Yahoo.com. The Redwood Empire Divers Club and the County Park system are sponsors of this event.
Check out baby seals
Early spring is also the time for baby seals to come into the world. They often begin to calve in April and into early June. The babies are born out of the water, often on the beach or on a sea weed covered wash rock along our coast. There are two excellent places to see the babies. The first is at Goat Rock Beach where the Russian River meets the ocean. The seal colony there is in the hundreds, and docents keep visitors away from the mothers and pups during most weekends. You can also watch them from the roadway about one mile north of Jenner on Highway 1.
For a much closer view there is a wooden walkway that goes right out near the wash rocks at MacKerracher State Beach, just north of Fort Bragg. I’ve witnessed the newborns come into the world under the protective flipper of their mothers there. Fort Bragg is a two-hour drive from home. Two ways to get there are the scenic route on Highway 128 which you pick up just north of Cloverdale then drive north to Fort Bragg. The other route to Fort Bragg is also scenic and about two hours of drive time. Highway 20 out of Willits offers fewer twists and turns as it descends to sea level through the Jackson State Forest. The road meets Fort Bragg near the Noyo River harbor. Good restaurants abound. Camping is usually available at MacKerracher in the spring but it can be wet and cold.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.