Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Staying Busy In Santa Rosa



On Easter Sunday Jim and I took a bike ride on a rail trail that starts in downtown Santa Rosa, CA. The Sonoma Fairgrounds RV Park is less than two miles away so we just mapped a route and rode off from here. We thought we got on the Joe Rodota trail to Sebastopol but the trail came to an end in about 6 miles and we weren’t anywhere near a town.

Passed by lots of vineyards along the way.


We got to talking with a very nice couple who were stopped at the trail’s end, and they told us we had been on the Santa Rosa Creek trail, and that they were going back to Santa Rosa via the Joe Rodota trail and we could follow them. Turns out they are also full time RVers and we had a nice ride chatting with them. We would have never found our way to the other trail without their guidance.



We ended up riding 22 miles, a fairly long ride for us since we haven’t been on the bikes that much lately. I was surprised my butt didn’t feel too bad, but Jim was having more issues in that area so he may have to replace the seat that came on his bike. It was a nice ride, and thanks David and Rebecca for the company.

Yesterday we took the most interesting tour of Canine Companions for Independence, on the Jean and Charles Schulz Campus. Yes, that is the Peanuts creator Charles M.Schulz, who donated the land for the campus.

Santa Rosa, CA (Sonoma Fairgrounds RV Park)

This is quite an impressive facility and organization. They breed and train labs and golden retrievers (and mixes of the two) for service dogs, hearing dogs and facility dogs.


We only got to see a short segment of a dog being trained and one being given a bath by a volunteer. This beauty was patiently sitting in the doggie hair dryer. Never even knew there was such a thing!


The dogs in training were all very well behaved except for a few barks when we walked by the kennels.

A curious bunch.


There is also a cat, Ada, that lives on the premises. She’s there to teach the dogs not to be distracted by cats, and was doing a good job while we saw her wandering around. She’s a real sweetie.



If we lived in Santa Rosa, I would definitely be volunteering there. The office employees even get to bring their personal dogs to work, so as we walked through the administration building almost every cubicle had at least one dog in it, besides the employee. Looked like a great place to work. If you love animals and find yourself in Santa Rosa, CA, definitely take the tour, which is given every Monday and Wednesday at 10 and 2.

Today we took a short drive to Glen Ellen, on the way to Sonoma, to visit Jack London State Historic Park. This was another place Laurelee recommended, and we’re really glad we went. The park itself is very beautiful and peaceful, and the museum was really interesting. We realized we didn’t know much at all about Jack London, but he was quite a colorful character besides being a prolific writer.

He and his second wife lived on the farm that is now the state park, and built their dream home. Sadly it burned a month before they moved in, thought to be caused by spontaneous combustion.

It was built to be earthquake and fire proof, but the redwood logs did not withstand the fire. It must have been quite a place, 15,000 square feet with 26 rooms and 9 fireplaces.


Reflection pool.


The house his wife built and lived in after his death in 1916 at the age of forty. It is now the park visitor center.


The cottage they lived in while building the house.


We walked about three miles of trails to see the buildings and grounds, which includes remains of a winery, the Pig Palace, horse stables, etc, but the state park has many more miles of trails. It’s another place we would highly recommend visiting.

On the way home we stopped at Chateau St. Jean Winery. We didn’t do a tasting but just wanted to check out the lovely grounds and gardens.



Chinese Lantern Flowering Maple, a very unique flower.


And finally, in Jack London’s own words, this is how we should all live.



  1. The Canine Companions facility sounds so interesting. No seeing eye dogs? Or is that part of the service dogs?

    1. No, there are other organizations that train guide dogs for the blind. It is really a neat place to visit. The dogs are owned by Canine Companions even after they are placed, and when they retire, usually by the age of eight, they go back to the facility and are sold as pets. The organization receives no government funding and is run entirely on donations and sales of dogs. Only 45% of the dogs make the cut during their 15-18 months of training and the others are sold as pets.

  2. Thank you so much for introducing us to these little-known but worth-the-visit places! Always good to add new items to our list!

  3. You do find some great spots! Wonder why Canine Companions doesn't use beagles?? They make everyone happy. :-)
    I always found reading Jack London difficult. The language was beautiful but the subject matter was hard for me. Love that quote and would very much like to see this spot. Thanks for letting me know it is there.

  4. So many beautiful places to explore. Always fun running into fellow full-timers....glad they helped point you in the right direction.

  5. I've been a closet reader of your blog for a year or so. Thank you for posting such beautiful pics of the Santa Rose area. I'm from the Willits area of Mendocino county but right now my mom(87) and I are in AZ working our way into NM and on to CO. When we left home on April 17th things were so beautiful I wondered why we were leaving? Places to see cousins to touch base with. But thanks for the reminder why I call Northern Calif. home. Evelyn from Willits
    ps. There is a small rv park on the grounds of the RidgeWood Ranch south of Willits. The ranch is/was the home of the famous race horse Sea Biscuit. The rv park is next to the mobil home village where I live, and both ore on the ranch. Although the rv park doesn't offer wifi (only AT&T works there) it is a very quiet and peaceful place. The Golden Rule Mobil Home Village and RV park.

  6. You are sure visiting some fascinating places. I really like the Chinese Lantern Flowering Maple and hope we can keep living out London's words.

  7. We use to go to Jack London State Park when we lived in the Bay Area. Excellent park with some nice trails. Great pics!

  8. Glad your bike ride worked out for you. Sounded like an enjoyable time.

    The Canine Companion facility reminded me of our visit to the Seeing Eye Dog facility. Love the doggie hair dryer:)

    What a sad story to have your house burn down just before you move in! Too bad London died so young, he was a great writer. Looks like a great park. Thanks for introducing us:)

  9. For many years I worked with a woman who raised puppies for CCI. She always brought the puppy to work with her and once it was mature enough had to return it to CCI for it to continue its in depth training and eventual placement with a disabled person. A fulfilling volunteer endeavor...until you have to return them, then it is heart wrenching! She would always bond with the family with whom the dog was eventually placed so she could also enjoy knowing the dog was fulfilling its destiny in service.

    Loving your green views!

  10. How disappointing to read they are breeding labs when Lab rescues are over whelmed with labs needing home or jobs. ;(

    1. Good point, wish I had thought to ask about that. Perhaps it has to do with the age of the animal. I believe they start training them at 8 weeks. I doubt they would miss an opportunity to secure these dogs at a bargain rate but I just don't know.


  11. Great riding with you! Safe travels. -Rebecca

  12. Great riding with you! Safe travels. -Rebecca