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Monte Rio Musings - February 2015


Monte Rio Musings - February 2015


How do I love thee, Monte Rio?  How indeed!

Just one way: With great passion, that’s how. Can a grown adult get teenage infatuated about a place, a crossroads, a west county village with four restaurant/bars, two churches, two theaters and an amphitheater, three deli/markets, and a river flowing through it all, the Rio that flows through the mountains. Yes, I can.

But why? What makes Monte Rio so worthy, so stirring? Why did I plunk my money down here 16 years ago and then move in? Was it that quiet public beach with great skipping rocks and the sunset over the western ridge? Those 4th of July shows on days other than the 4th? The location on the county’s only state-designated scenic highway just seven miles from the Pacific Ocean? That sense of being in the forest, in the mysterious wilderness, yet not too uncomfortably far from real urban services like hospitals and banks? The fellow pilgrims who put down roots and serve on the various committees, boards, etc. and those who show up to help on projects and to help neighbors when the river gets a little rowdy?

Yes, all that and more. It’s a small town, unpretentious and not terribly self-conscious. Everywhere you go, you meet someone you know. Yet there’s not much graffiti or blight. We’ve got some decent infrastructure – new water lines and paved streets to cover them, thanks to Redevelopment. And we have wildness. Bears and mountain lions lurk in the woods, seldom seen except for an occasional footprint or pile of digested berries. You have to have a sense of adventure to really enjoy the place. When the water is rising in the river, and you’re watching and waiting, and moving stuff up to higher ground, wondering how far up the river will rise – now that’s adventure.

And yet we have city folks who love to visit, who can appreciate the place in ways we sometimes forget. People who remember stuff we residents can take for granted. It’s quiet at night. You can forget about that until you spend the night at a Motel 6 by an interstate highway. Our scenic highway has a few cars, and you can hear them coming if you can hear them at all.  The highway only has one lane in each direction. There aren’t any four lane roads, nor is there a gas station or a McDonald’s or a Rite-Aid. Not a bad place to walk a dog, and the dogs are all friendly. Even the Governor walks his dog here occasionally.

That passion for a place translates to many opportunities to show some love and care for the stunning natural beauty that surrounds us. Landpaths owns and maintains a nature preserve on the Bohemian Highway and helps State Parks with Willow Creek access, and they sponsor stewardship days. Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods focus on that coast at the end of the river. The Chamber of Commerce, the Friends of Monte Rio, and the Monte Rio Alliance all afford opportunities to help out and improve life in the town itself. In short, people care here, with passion.

And, like Lake Wobegon, all of the children are above average.

Upcoming Events, etc.

The first Saturday afternoon of the month the Russian River Historical Society opens its doors to its exhibits in the old post office on Moscow Road. Check their website at for details and more information.

February 5th, the Sweetwater Springs Water District board will review its Capital Improvement Plan and mid-year budget.

Monday, February 9th, the park district board meets at the Community Center. There’s no school that day. Tuesday the 10th the board of the fire district meets. And the school board meets on February 12th. For a look at the full schedule at the Community Center, check the park district calendar at

Saturday, Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day, and Sonoma County Pride is holding a fundraiser featuring Bobby Jo Valentine at the Rio Theater. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. That’s a three-day weekend with Presidents Day on Monday the 16th. School will be out that day.

Vacation Rentals will be the topic of a special community meeting held by the staff of the Permit and Resource Management Department on Feb. 18th at 3 pm at the Community Center. The Board of Supervisors has directed PRMD to obtain public comment about how the current ordinance is working. If you own, manage, or live next door to a vacation rental, it’s worth attending. Check  for more details.

Friday, Feb. 20 is Landpaths’ stewardship day at the Bohemia Ecological Preserve. Docent training also starts in February. Orientation to Willow Creek, your ticket to access, is Feb. 28. Check the Landpaths website at for details and sign-ups.

Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods has a variety of trainings and programs in February. For details, check their website at

The folks at the Monte Rio Alliance again remind you to keep your fire wood dry and watch out for those Spare the Air days. Even though Monte Rio is not in the air quality district that bans burning, it still gets smoky out here and hard to breathe at times. One key is to burn dry wood.