What to do this summer? Everything from laying on the lawn looking at the clouds floating by to booking a cruise to Europe or signing on for that delayed trip to Hawaii. 

Closer to home, festivals are back on track, music is in the streets, people are smiling and buying sunscreen. Days at the park, walks at the beach, concerts and downtown festivals are in gear for what promises to be a great summer.

One favorite is the famous Sturgeons Mill on Green Hill Road a few miles from Graton. The mill is a restored steam powered sawmill that represents the family-owned mills from the first one hundred years of logging and lumber production in California. Set in a quiet grove of redwood trees, the mill is a largely, undiscovered resource for families young and old. Thursday, April 27 was the first steam-up of the year, for students only. The mill hosted 235 young people from schools in Sonoma County. Free to the schools, volunteers led docent tours, took questions, and ended the day with smiling faces, same as the kids. This weekend, May 6 and 7 is the first public steam-up for the year. It is twenty minutes from the 101 at Hwy 12 and a pleasant drive through the countryside to the site. There are summer food offerings at very reasonable rates and a picnic area which often has live music, also by volunteers, to accompany your lunch. In your time there you will watch a log being processed into lumber. Mr. Sturgeon narrates part of the sawing process. Timely breaks in the work allow visitors to safely go onto the mill floor and see the equipment up close. 

Sturgeon’s Mill has a good web site with maps and hours of operation. One word of caution, little babies do fine until the steam whistle goes off. They fly straight up in the air and don’t stop screaming until they are safely away. Entry is free, parking is $100 per person – Ha! Parking is also free. One favorite feature is the draft horse exhibit, real big horses, pull logs around a trail to the delight of all.

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.

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