When the weather is too hot to handle exit stage west, along with a zillion others desperate to escape the heat. One good bet is the Russian River Rodeo in Duncan’s Mills. This year the youthful organization will feature rodeo events, the rodeo queen coronation, food and fun. The price of admission is low, $12 adult $4 children. Right on the Russian River, a short distance as the fog creeps, from the ocean at Jenner, you will likely need a jacket (a what?). Visit their Facebook Page or web site: http://russianriverrodeo.org/
Just across the river from the rodeo is the Cassini Ranch, an excellent family oriented camping experience. This weekend, see RR Rodeo above, is not the time to visit Cassini Ranch. All summer Cassini offers riverfront camping in a safe environment. A big playground, and an old- time store with a big wooden porch to sit on and munch an ice cream. Feeding ducks is also a popular pastime. Riding the trails for the little ones in Barbie and Spiderman bikes, a friendly beach with water toy rentals and a very cold shower at the beach, help make this a summer fun spot. The staff have family activities, crafts and movies or kick back for your own weenie roast and a gooey and sticky finger fest; making S’mores. In the end, the ranch is close, under an hour, cool and just a few miles from the ocean.
For emergency heat relief drive north to Fort Ross, visitors can climb all over the beautifully restored Russian Fort from the 1920’s, docents will walk you through the details of life at the living history museum. One of the favorite events is firing the old cannon, staff dressed in period costume will load and fire a bone shaking report. The beach is small and the water is cold, this is one of the coves open to the sea, so caution is very important. Excellent parking, a visitor center and shaded picnic grounds are part of the attraction. Do bring your own food and picnic supplies. One more word of caution: the road past Jenner is twisty and “pukey.” Be sure to pull out at the mouth of the river to watch the seal colony. There should be lots of baby seals to brighten your day.
Further up the coast is Salt Point State Beach, a long and varied gem of coastal properties owned by the public. One of the favorite beaches there is Stump Beach. A short, under a quarter mile, trail follows the steep drop down to the water’s edge. The beach is part of a deep cove that opens to the south south-west exposure with most waves coming in from the north. This makes the beach an excellent, safe beach for playing in the icy saltwater. Bring your own water, food chairs and blankets, Stump Beach is fairly primitive. Pit toilets are available in the parking area. Another twenty minutes north on highway one is the little town of Gualala. The Gualala River meets the ocean there and long sandy beaches are a beautiful place for a seaside stroll. In town there are restaurants and stores for a more refined visit.
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.