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Monte Rio Musings - May 2015


Monte Rio Musings - May 2015


Having now seen them both up close, I can tell you the Mississippi River is a lot bigger than the Russian River, even when we’re flooding. When we left Monte Rio for the land of cotton in mid-March, the Russian was up, but folks in Tennessee and northwest Mississippi were getting downright nervous about the snowmelt and continued forecasts of rain. Towns south of Memphis made the national news (“Diane Sawyer visits Tunica”) with flooding, the waist-high kind that spreads all over the trailer parks and main streets. 

The weather did not affect our itinerary, and we didn’t have any problems. We got surprised by hail when we arrived in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the one time we had to pull on the wool coats. Forecasts of rain teased us, but never diverted us. Instead, the trip provided the musical pilgrimage I had hoped for, especially in seeing the land that gives rise to the richness of American roots music. All those towns and places, the cotton fields, the bayous that are the subject of so many songs we sing--those are now fully formed images in my mind and no longer mere abstract lyrics on paper.

As we left Monte Rio, trees were just casting off their gray gloom and putting on their green foliage. When we arrived in the South, same thing was happening in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee. The forests there, mostly deciduous but with lots of pines, were just emerging. The landscape there is rolling; the tallest mountain in Mississippi is a shorty, lower in elevation than 865-foot high Mt. Heller that overlooks Monte Rio from the Bohemian Grove. As we left the South, everything there had greened up. And when we got home, oh my how dramatically lush things had become in a few weeks’ time. 

On our last day rolling through the bayou, we got a taste of the muggy humid weather for which the South is famous. It was one of those 80-something degree days with the air thick to breathe. We had stopped by an alligator and turtle farm, and it was sticky and stinky. It was the hottest date on record for that time of year. But the only alligator we saw in the wild was from the safety of our Amtrak train window in east Texas. It was swimming in a creek alongside the tracks. Now I’m no Captain Hook, but you have to admit that it’s a lot more relaxing to go kayaking or canoeing when you don’t have to worry about whether the big gray brown thing along the riverbank is a log or a prehistoric predator. 

A little fog. No alligators. Just as lush and green. That’s why I like Monte Rio. Glad to be back.


A few things were different when we arrived home. NAPA Auto Parts has come to town, filling the old hardware/market across from the Rio Villa. Junior Roddy, who owns two other auto parts franchises, bought the business that was in east Guerneville and moved it to Monte Rio. He’s from Gualala, close enough to keep a careful eye on his new acquisition. Interesting footnote: the phone number retains the last four digits from the Guerneville shop, but has the Monte Rio prefix…865-2803.

That little shop across from the Rio Theater at the entrance to the beach parking lot is now Jerry Adair Collectibles. The owner is Jerry Smith who has lived in Northwood Heights for the past seven years. At first he expects to be open on weekends, and then four to five days a week. The Adair part of the store name is somewhat of an homage to a departed friend.

And finally, the sale of the Village Inn is complete. I had written in January about a party to celebrate the sale, but that celebration turned out to be premature. As of April 1, new owners Judy Harvey and Roger Hicks have indeed closed escrow, taken possession and are at the helm. Judy says everything will be the same, including the chef and staff, although Mark Belhumeur has decided to retire as bartender and move on with his refurbished RV. Look for a fresh coat of paint at the Inn.

Upcoming Events, etc.

Friday, May 1 is the Chamber of Commerce’s annual golf tournament at Northwood, one of the two key fundraising events that support the July fireworks show. And speaking of July, it’s never too early to start thinking about what a swell float you could devise for the water parade.

Bicyclists riding the long Wine Country Century route will roll through town on Saturday, May 2. The Vineman triathlon will roll through town at the end of the month, with set-up starting around May 28.

May 7, the Sweetwater Springs Water District board revisits the draft Fiscal Year 2015-16 budget, which includes a proposed 3% rate increase (approximately $2.35 every two months for typical residences.) The Capital Improvement Plan projects will also be on the agenda. District manager Steve Mack said the board will also discuss how to apply the Governor’s latest orders on the drought to our local situation. At a bare minimum, you can expect to have to ask for a glass of water when you dine out.

Monday, May 11th, the park district board meets at the Community Center. The fire district board meets there on Tuesday the 12th. For a look at the full schedule at the Community Center, check the park district calendar at  

Monte Rio School district board meets on the 14th at the school. The school holds its Spring Fest on the 21st, followed by the Memorial Day holiday on the 25th. Eighth grade graduation is scheduled for June 3rd.

And Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer and re-opening of the Monte Rio Beach concessions!!

The Rio Theater is gearing up for a busy summer. They’re hiring additional staff, and have some interesting, as usual, and offbeat shows and presentations. One is the presentation of comedian Mike Capozzola called “Emperor Ming’s Mercilessly Spicy Wings” on May 8, and the film “The Russian River: All Rivers, The Value of an American Watershed” returns on May 30th. Check the Rio’s webpage at for the latest.