Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival - Bodega, California
It began as a harmless, ‘what-if’ conversation with my then-husband (fondly referred to as my ‘wasband’ these days), about putting on a festival on a ranch overlooking the ocean. We’d already been producing a very small art and wine festival in a quaint rural community on the Russian River, in Sonoma County California, and had been approached by a local landowner wanting a festival on his property.
The ranch owner had offered his land and this opportunity to us at a time in our lives when we were least prepared to accept it. Both of us were craftspeople: Michael was (is) a photographer and I made hand dyed and printed women’s clothing. We both traveled to various places in the country to do art shows, and we're in the final stages of leaving our Sebastopol home to rent a house in Key Largo, Florida for the winter months. We’d each booked nine festivals back there, as there were none during this season close to home.
We visited the ranch, we're intrigued by the possibilities, but unsure how we could put on a new festival when we’d be on the East Coast until April, but we gave him a tentative yes.
When we hit the road we looked like something out of Grapes of Wrath, Michael’s van towing mine, each loaded to near-explosion with everything we’d need for three months away from home. The endless miles between us and southern Florida opened up a world of conversations.
“What if we did a seafood festival?” Michael was flipping through a publication called Sunshine Artists, which had hundreds of festivals, fairs, art shows listed, all in the Gulf States. I was driving, or trying to. Towing something this back-heavy meant the front of the van barely touched the ground, making steering this monstrosity akin to maneuvering a bumper car. “I mean, the ranch overlooks the ocean, and there are a ton of seafood festivals in Florida, but there’s nothing quite like this in our area.”
I had to admit, it did sound like a good idea. And so it began. Being in Florida we got to see firsthand how some of these events were set up, and found most to be carnival-like. Since our world revolved around artists, we determined this would have to be a high quality event, to draw fine art and craft-vendors and an appreciative crowd, even if it was on a dusty horse ranch.
From our little condo in Key Largo we sent solicitations out to all the artists and craftspeople we knew. We reached out to food vendors, wineries, tenting companies, graphics people, and more. By the time we returned in mid-April we found ourselves deep into full-blown festival production, and by the end of August of 1993 the first Bodega BAY Seafood, Art and Wine Festival opened its gates. We had almost eighty artists, several dozen wineries participating in a tasting, a dozen food vendors, including a couple of local seafood restaurants, and excellent entertainment.
For ten years we held the event every August on the ranch, located just north of the village of Bodega Bay on Highway 1, a scant two hours from San Francisco and other Bay Area locales. It had horse rental facilities, a bed and breakfast, and ample space for the 7000+ attendees. At times the location was a spectacular asset, when the skies were clear and the views picture-postcard worthy, but more often than not the site was enshrouded in thick fog or had fierce winds, which destroyed artists’ tents and merchandise. Because it was a horse ranch there was a constant pile of horse manure in the parking lot, and an accompanying stench that, though some might have considered charming and rural, vendors and the health department were not so fondly inclined.
You might note the word BAY is capitalized in a previous paragraph, and wonder why. It’s because the festival is no longer located in Bodega BAY, but rather in the village of Bodega. Year eleven we were fortunate to find a beautiful ranch inland from our previous location. On Highway 12, or Bodega Highway, Watts Ranch sits across the road from the famous schoolhouse featured in the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, in the teeny village of Bodega, one mile inland and four miles south of our previous site. With a large willow bank to the west blocking the wind, no horses or cows, and generally warmer and more pleasant conditions, the new home for the festival has continued to be the perfect spot for this wonderful event.
Yes, Michael is now my ‘wasband,’ but we still produce the festival together. This is year twenty-six for us, and you’ll find similarities to the very first years, but lots of growth as well. Besides attendance having increased over the years we now have more than a hundred fine artists and craftspeople filling the aisles, along with fifteen+ food vendors, featuring all types of food, with an emphasis on seafood. Crabcakes, oysters, calamari, fish tacos, shrimp Louie, and dozens of other dishes are available, along with lots of chicken, meat and vegetarian options and bevy of desserts.
The Wine, Microbrew and Cider Tasting is a very popular part of the festival, featuring 50+ companies. Customers buy a commemorative glass and 6 tastes (1/3 of a glass). They can buy additional taste tickets for $3 each. They can also buy wine and beer by the bottle/6pack to take home, or beer and wine by the glass, which is available at the Beer/Wine Booth. For those who love to go wine tasting, imagine being able to taste dozens of wines and beers in one location.
Three stages of entertainment keep the energy high throughout the weekend. Two stages feature blues, jazz, Latin, Cajun Zydeco, and other excellent music, and the third stage has comedy, magic, juggling and more. We have a large dance floor at the main stage, which is generally filled with joyful dancers.
We love families and have wonderful kids’ activities, including interactive exhibits set up by our beneficiary, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, the non-profit working in conjunction with the California State Parks in the Russian River region. The festival also benefits the Bodega Volunteer Fire Department, and ours is an event that welcomes (and gives discounts to) firefighters and first responders. Our area has seen its share of fire in recent years, and we’re forever grateful to the men and women who put their safety on the line to protect ours.
We’re a scant few miles from the ocean, so the festival is a perfect add-on to a beach adventure. We’re also a ways down the coast from the Russian River, another popular day outing which works nicely paired with a few hours of eating, drinking, dancing and shopping.
So Hold Onto Your Halibut! Bodega Seafood, Art & Wine Festival is August 27th and 28th from 10am-6pm on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. Watts Ranch is at 16855 Bodega Highway, in Bodega California 94922. More information can be found at www.bodegaseafoodfestival.com. Don’t miss it!
The Best and Worst Cities for Retirees to Visit
We spend years dreaming of life beyond the daily grind, but when retirement finally comes around, the options can be overwhelming! If you’re looking for where to start, the team at Coventry compiled and analyzed data that might be able to help you decide. They ranked the 50 most populous cities in America to find the best cities for retirees to visit. Factors included everything from the average cost of accommodation, transportation, and food and drink, to airfare, entertainment opportunities, and the percentage of the retiree population. Notably, two Florida cities made the top 5 best cities and two made the worst! Here’s what they found: The Best Cities for Retirees to Visit Bayfront Park in Miami - Florida USA / IStock - Working In Media While the majority of the cities in the top 20 list are located in warmer climates year-round, cities like Baltimore, Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle, and a few others make the list. Hopefully, retirees will be visiting in the warmer months, although there are still a lot of things to do in these cities. Baltimore, Philadelphia, Providence, San Diego, and San Francisco all boast a high number of art and theater events. #1 Miami, Florida #2 Tampa, Florida #3 Phoenix, Arizona #4 Cleveland, Ohio #5 Dallas, Texas The Worst Cities for Retirees to Visit Aerial view of Las Vegas strip in Nevada / IStock - f11photo Cost was a big factor when ranking these cities with 6 out of our 8 ranking factors analyzing this metric, so it’s no surprise cities like Las Vegas and New York make the top 10 worst cities for retirees to visit. The accommodation costs alone in Las Vegas are $147 more than the number one spot, Miami. #1 Las Vegas, Nevada #2 Orlando, Florida #3 New York, New York #4 Indianapolis, Indiana #5 Jacksonville, Florida Find the full list and detailed rankings here.
Summer is almost here, and if you’re anything like us, you are counting down the days. Living it up on warm afternoons spent swimming and hiking, then winding down with some good stories around the campfire. Summer is always filled with fun adventures.. that is until you pull up to your campground or hotel and find out you and hundreds of other people had the same idea and will now be fighting for space at the most popular attractions. The secret to an epic summer? Exploring hidden gems with an RV! Leave the crowds and expensive hotel rooms behind this season and try out renting an RV with RVshare! Not only is it the most budget friendly way to hit the road, but having all of the amenities you need along for the ride allows you to create a home just a few steps away from the water, the forest or the mountains. Once you pick up or get your RV delivered, hit the road to explore these hidden gems that offer all sorts of outdoor activities, are all RV friendly (most offer free camping sites!) and don’t include the crowds! Flaming Gorge, Utah / Wyoming Courtesy of RVshare In the southwestern corner of Wyoming or the northeastern corner of Utah, just 3 hours from Salt Lake City, you will find Flaming Gorge and the incredible green river. This is the ultimate summer spot, offering all your favorite water activities like swimming, fishing, boating, white water rafting, kayaking and more. Dreaming of a secluded waterfront spot? Well, you just found it! And if you enjoy being unplugged you can find lots of free RV sites just before the park campgrounds. To enjoy the option of renting boats, campgrounds with hookups and restaurants, we recommend staying in the Utah side of the park. If you are a fan of boondocking and prefer wide open spaces head to the Wyoming side and enjoy! Bighorn National Forest, WY Secluded lakes, flower fields, moose, waterfalls and your RV. Located in the northeastern part of Wyoming, Bighorn National Forest is a true hidden gem. With an abundance of free camping and RV sites you could spend all summer long moving around the many different parts of this forest and still not have enough time to enjoy it all. It offers all the summer outdoor activities you want, from hiking in the backcountry to kayaking in glacier lakes. Plus, with most of the forest being in high altitude you not only avoid crowds but also intense summer heat! Silverton, CO Alpine lakes, incredible hikes, a charming mountain town and a pine forest so special you will want to tell everyone about it. This beautiful slice of Colorado heaven doesn’t get the buzz it should. Located in the southwestern part of the state, Silverton is a place you want to take your RV this summer. On your way you can enjoy some of the most stunning views driving through the “Million Dollar Highway” just make sure to buckle your seatbelt as it can be a bit scary to drive parts of this narrow and curved road. Custer Gallatin National Forest - Beartooth Mountains, Montana If your vision for an epic summer adventure involves wildlife watching, the backcountry and truly being one with nature, then look no further. Montana is known for its incredible landscapes from glacier lakes, to rocky peaks and meadows, Custer National Forest offers all of that without the crowds of the other popular parks in the state. You can set up camp in one of the thousands of free forest sites and call it home for up to 14 days. The perfect paradise for rest, hikes and nature. Arcadia Dunes, Michigan Courtesy of RVshare Ready for an east coast adventure you didn’t even think was possible? Lakes with clear blue water, white sand beaches, cool forests and no crowds. The Arcadia Dunes are part of the Lake Michigan shoreline and promise a stunning location for your summer adventures. Because of how true of a hidden gem this location is, campground options are few, so make sure you book ahead! To make the most of the location check out Hopkins Park Campground. Sisters, Oregon This extremely RV friendly mountain town is a hidden gem waiting for you this summer. Not only do you have easy access to the Three Sisters mountains, but here you are surrounded by trails and forests to help you escape the city life. This spot is particularly great for all those who enjoy biking and mountain biking, there are simply too many good trails around that range, from easy flat loops to more high intensity downhills. Campsites also come in a wide variety, from free sites in the forest to some incredible luxury and themed RV campgrounds in town. All of these incredible hidden gems are waiting for you to make the most out of your summer. As always remember to practice “leave no trace” when camping in forest land, picking up behind you and practicing safe distance while watching wildlife. Now that you know you can rent an RV with RVshare and explore incredible locations without the crowds, all that is left is counting down the days until you leave!
When you think Alaska, does your mind’s eye may immediately conjure the image of a moose? Or an icy blue glacier? Rugged granite peaks topped with snow? Immense brown bears? What you may not realize is that the city of Anchorage and its surrounding area is one place where you can truly “have it all” - and more! Here, an easy and affordable guide to this extraordinary community. Visit the Chugach Range Matt Anderson/Dreamstime One thing you’re certain to notice upon arriving in Anchorage is that the Chugach Mountains seem close enough to touch. Well, almost. Many of the gorgeous range’s trails and access points are a short drive, about 20 minutes, from just about anywhere in the city, meaning you can balance a comfy hotel stay and first-rate restaurant options with a truly wild experience amid the 9,000 square miles of Chugach State Park and Chugach National Forest. Take your pick of hiking, rafting, or simply contemplating the serenity of this virtually untouched natural area. Paddling, cycling, climbing, and even ogling glaciers are all on the Chugach’s menu of options. Spend a few hours, a few days, or an entire week exploring its bounty. (If the Chugach whets your appetite for glaciers, consider a day cruise from nearby Seward or Whittier to see even more.) Explore Alaska History and Culture The Anchorage area has been at the crossroads of Alaska history for centuries. Set aside a day or more to explore the Alaska Native Heritage Center with its introduction to the stories, dances, traditions, and customs of Alaska’s 11 major native cultures. For a taste of Alaska’s history, hop aboard the railroad that helped tame the wilderness. In summer, visitors to Anchorage may choose to continue their Alaska Adventure by embarking on a train trip to Seward, Prince William Sound, Denali, Talkeetna or Fairbanks. But you don’t have to go too far to savor the joy of train travel - the Glacier Discovery train is a beautiful day trip to nearby Spencer. Explore Alaska’s Mining History Hands-On Kids of all ages will love playing prospector at a hands-on mining destination such as Indian Valley or Crow Creek. These spots combine a museum experience, complete with authentic mining tools, with entertaining history lessons about the great gold rush that once attracted people from all over the world with dreams of striking it rich. Best of all, visitors learn the basics of panning for gold and take home more than just memories. Go Cycling on the Coastal Trail Anchorage is one of the most bike-friendly cities in America, with 135 miles of cycling paths. The one you especially won’t want to miss is the paved 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, where you can rent a bike and explore Anchorage’s Cook Inlet all the way from downtown to Kincaid Park, including marshes, hills, and patches of forest. Keep an eye out for bald eagles, moose, and other local denizens. Visit One of America’s Best Museums Sure, you come to Anchorage for the natural beauty, but we bet you didn’t know that the city is also home to an incredible museum devoted to the entire Alaska experience. The Anchorage Museum is the biggest museum in the state and it immerses visitors in human history and the arts, natural history, and much more. A walk through the museum is a bit like experiencing a guidebook sprung into three-dimensions, a unique way of appreciating this unique state from its earliest days to its vibrant present. Look for Wildlife Anchorage is home to more than 1,000 moose. (We’re guessing your hometown isn’t.) The majestically awkward-looking giants can be spotted in almost any green space in Anchorage if you spend enough time outdoors, and you can always count on seeing one at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It takes a little more effort to spot whales here, but they are also abundant. Belugas, the friendly looking white whales that can be as long as a minivan, can be seen on a trip down Turnagain Arm. Alaska is also the only place in America where black bears, brown bears, and polar bears abound. Head out of Anchorage for the rivers and streams of Katmai National Park to see bears feasting on salmon. Surf the Bore Tide Courtesy of Alaska.org - Credit: Jeff Schultz Tides in Anchorage are extreme, with some of the highest tides in the world. The shallow, narrow waters of Turnagain Arm help form a bore tide, a wave up to 6 feet tall that rolls for miles along the inlet. The Seward Highway is dotted with good vantage points to watch this natural phenomenon, and perhaps even spot the intrepid surfers who seek to ride the wave. Content presented by IntrepidYour North America adventure is right here, right now. Learn more at https://www.intrepidtravel.com Check out more people and planet-friendly adventures at Intrepid Travel:Explore epic national parks of the USIntrepid
History beckons in Washington County, Maryland, home to Civil War battlefields
Western Maryland is home to some of the most beautiful places to go hiking in the eastern U.S., as well as three scenic byways — the Maryland Historic National Road Scenic Byway, The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal Scenic Byway, and The Antietam Campaign Scenic Byway — all of which make terrific options for your next great summer road trip. In Washington County, you’ll find everything from historic homes and forts dating back to the early 18th century to battlefields and cemeteries telling the stories of those who helped change the course of the Civil War. Here’s where every history buff should visit on their next trip to this fascinating corner of the country. Historic Civil War Battlefields Antietam National Battlefield - Courtesy of nps.gov Perhaps the most well-known historic site in Western Maryland, Antietam National Battlefield is where the bloodiest single-day battle in American history took place, with 23,000 soldiers losing their lives or wounded that fateful day on September 17, 1862. Along with Union victories at nearby Monocacy National Battlefield and South Mountain State Battlefield, the fighting helped turn the tide of the Civil War and led Lincoln to issue his Emancipation Proclamation, which happened a few days later on September 22, 1862. While a number of events will be held over the weekend of September 17, 2022, to mark the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (check the website) you can learn more about its significance and those who died there at the Newcomer House visitor center and pay your respects at the nearby Antietam National Cemetery. Stop by the Pry House Field Hospital Museum for a look at Civil War medicine, or for a unique take on the battle, hit the Antietam Creek Water Trail to visit a number of key sites by kayak or canoe. Located just outside Boonsboro, South Mountain State Battlefield marks the site of Maryland’s first Civil War battle, which ended in a Union victory and essentially prevented a Confederate invasion. About 15 minutes away, pay your respects to the many journalists and artists killed while covering the Civil War at the War Correspondents Memorial Arch in Gathland State Park, built by George Alfred Townsend, himself a Civil War correspondent, in 1896. Sites Dating Back to the Early 18th and 19th Centuries Fort Frederick Living History - Credit Visit Hagerstown Nestled along the Potomac River and built in 1756 to protect early settlers during and after the French and Indian War, Fort Frederick was also used to hold British prisoners during the Revolutionary War. By 1860, the farmland that now makes up Fort Frederick State Park was owned by Nathan Williams, the second-richest free African American man in all of Washington County, who continued to grow and sell crops to both armies during the Civil War, all while helping slaves to escape through this part of Maryland. Learn more about the fort’s fascinating past, then stroll one of its scenic nature trails. For a change in scenery and the chance to take on some of the area’s scenic hikes including a small section of the legendary Appalachian Trail, head to Washington Monument State Park. In 1827, Boonsboro residents constructed a massive 30-foot tall stone tower — the first-ever Washington Monument — in honor of our first president. Hike to check it out in person, then stop by the museum for more background information about its role in local history. Learn more about Hagerstown’s German immigrant founder at the Jonathan Hager House Museum, where you can tour the home he constructed in 1739. What began as “Hager’s Fancy,” a frontier fort at the western edge of the Maryland colony that later served as a trading post, was purchased by the Washington County Historical Society in 1944 and opened as a museum in 1962. Today, you can visit the historic home and view its furnishings, preserved as they were during the property’s 18th-century heyday. Black History Sites in Washington County While slavery did play a significant part in the region’s history from the early 18th century until Maryland abolished it in 1864, Hagerstown is home to several Underground Railroad sites you can visit today. Read the historic markers along Jonathan Street to learn about the legacy of African Americans who helped put Hagerstown on the map, like Walter Harmon, a wealthy entrepreneur who built 37 houses, a bowling alley, a dance hall, and the Harmon Hotel, highlighted in The Green Book as one of the only accommodations open to Black travelers during segregation. It also happens to be where baseball legend and Hall of Famer Willie Mays stayed in 1950 when he played his first professional game with the Trenton Giants at Municipal Stadium. Kennedy Farm House John Brown HQ - Credit: Visit Hagerstown Closer to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Kennedy Farm was the staging area for abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 raid on the federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry. Meant to help create a republic for fugitive slaves, the raid went on for three days but was ultimately unsuccessful. His followers, a mix of Black and white abolitionists, were captured or killed, while Brown himself was tried for treason and hanged a few months later. It did, however, instill a sense of fierce conflict between northerners and southerners regarding the practice of slavery that only intensified over the next two years until the start of the Civil War. Today, the John Brown Raid Headquarters is a National Historic Landmark, though it’s temporarily closed for restoration. Also worth a look are two of Hagerstown’s oldest African American churches, the Asbury United Methodist Church, founded in 1818 (its current building dates to 1879, as it was rebuilt after a fire), and the Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1840. For more information about the region’s rich African American history and culture, head to the Doleman Black Heritage Museum, which houses a vast collection of photos, books, birth records, deeds of slave sales, paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts from the 19th and 20th centuries. CARD WIDGET HERE