Drop Dead Gorgeous

One of the most beautiful parks you’ll find in Santa Rosa is actually a cemetery.  I’m dead serious!  The Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, 17 acres large, is an awe-inspiring destination for all ages.

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Smack dab in the center of a beautiful neighborhood, this unique spot is hard to miss. Now over 160 years old, even its history is remarkable, the result of an unfortunate drowning of a young father who had recently emigrated from Missouri. With nowhere else to bury him, he was laid to rest here, on what was then part of a Mexican land grant. For the next thirteen years many other families, also in need of burial space, utilized the land for that purpose as well. In 1867 it was officially made a cemetery. Far more recently, in 1997 the city made it a Historical Landmark, making it an important and beautiful part of Santa Rosa history to be valued and maintained indefinitely.

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Located at 1600 Franklin Avenue, there is ample parking at both the Monroe Street and MacDonald Avenue entrances. Fido and the whole fam is welcome so long as you clean up after yourselves. The first thing to meet the eye upon entrance is the welcoming nature of the “park” with its meandering paths, giant old oaks and colorful native plants. You won’t have any trouble finding your personal Zen among the sounds of tree leaves lightly brushing against each other, happy birds chatting and the sweet buzzing of insects. The cemetery houses over 5,000 graves. A few points of interest are the memorial for those who died in the 1906 earthquake, the grave of Thompson Mize, who was the first to be buried there and Dr. John F. Boyce, who was Santa Rosa’s first physician.

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In a pinch for time or just a loner? A rebel? Take a self-guided tour so you don’t miss all of the cool stuff. Pamphlets for self-guided tours are located at both entrances. Having said that, I can’t encourage you enough  to sign up for one of their guided tours and events. Keep an eye on their website and Facebook page, as they are always offering something new. From historic tours, to eco-friendly garden tours, and my favorite, the nighttime spooky lamplight tours and graveside reenactments. There really is something for everyone.

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Most recently they have added a new tour to their offerings called the Stones and Images Tours. This is a free docent-led tour discussing the meaning behind various symbols and shapes of stones. Again, totally free! Free! The Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery is worth a visit or better yet, give this cool place the whole day, take a tour and bring a picnic.

-5Thanks again to gracious guest blogger Robyn Grace Jennings for another great post. Robyn is a freelance writer, enthusiastic gardener and cook and crazy chicken lady. She can be reached at rng@rocketmail.com.


Luther Burbank Gardens
Are Blooming Beautiful

There is so much to love about Santa Rosa, especially the endless amount of family-friendly things to do that won’t break the bank. One of the most interesting and enjoyable is the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens.

Not only is this place loaded with history and beauty, it’s easy to get to, a breeze to park and FREE to visit. It is one of my favorite places anywhere and I visit often, finding new fun stuff each time!

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Luther Burbank was the cool cat of his time, often hanging out with such notable characters as Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Frida Khalo and Jack London. People who knew of him often adored him, hanging on his every word in a variety of subjects. Born in Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1849 and having inherited his mother’s love of gardening, he had much success in farming, specifically plant breeding. He was very successful at a young age with the creation of the Russet Burbank potato, which is still the most widely grown potato in America today.

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Following his three brothers, he headed west by train in 1875, seeking to continue his work in a better climate. He fell in love with Santa Rosa, as we all do, the first time he visited and purchased a 4-acre plot, then established the beautiful home and surrounding gardens that we are all able to enjoy today. Over his 50-year career, he created over 800 different varieties of plants.

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Luther Burbank once said, “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful: they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” I couldn’t agree more. A visit to his home and gardens centers me every damn time! I love this place; it is such a symbol of the beauty, history and immense culture that is Santa Rosa.

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Luther Burbank Home & Gardens is located in an awesome old area of Santa Rosa with plenty of neighborhood street parking. Visiting and self-touring is free. They even offer a free audio tour through your cell phone. It’s located at 204 Santa Rosa Avenue (surprise!) in Santa Rosa. Do visit the website for more information, www.lutherburbank.org. They have tons of cool events, discounted tours for kids and even free resources for teachers. Go once and you will go again and again, I promise!

-5Thanks again to gracious guest blogger Robyn Grace Jennings for another great post. Robyn is a freelance writer, enthusiastic gardener and cook and crazy chicken lady. She can be reached at rng@rocketmail.com.


Food Nerds

One day, a few years ago, Dawn Zaft stumbled out of acupuncture school and opened a bakery. Since then, by tapping into the fresh food culture in Sonoma County, Dawn and her accomplices at Criminal Baking Co. & Noshery have helped make Santa Rosa a sweeter, more delicious place.
We sat down with Dawn to discuss the Santa Rosa food scene. Here are a few tasty clips.



An Entirely Out There
All Hallows Eve

By Out There Guest Blogger Susanne Dugan

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Its almost Halloween! And if you're a fan of ghouls and gasps, we’re all asking, “Where’s The Party!?” I mean, I want the whole shebang! Ghosts, witches, monsters, devils, zombies! Where do all the freaks come out?!

Well, my fellow Goblins, look no further. I present to you the annual freak-show of Santa Rosa's ALL HALLOW'S EVE #4, on October 29 at Annie O’s Music Hall. Produced by Jake Ward Presents  and your local oddities, North Bay Cabaret.

Hosting the show for the first time, Annie O’s in Railroad Square has three unique settings. In the front room, epic Vinyl DJ’s Mister Element and Shifty Shey will be spinning hits all night. Upstairs in the lounge, you can get comfy and watch the show from a safe distance. While in the main room, brace yourself, for this is where only the daring proceed!

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Musical line-up for the night features headliner Royal Jelly Jive, local groove ambassadors, bringing swing, hip hop, rock and soul to the grave-yard bash! Also on the bill is Oakland’s Oinga Boinga, an all female Oingo Boingo tribute band, and For the Ladies, an Oakland rock band with live “Beansy" boy-lesque, an “algorithm of sounds that has been described as an audible aphrodisiac...A Fender amplified pheromone.“

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But at North Bay Cabaret, variety is the spice of life. So Jake Ward created a night filled with side shows to keep the spectator thrilled and spooked!  With circus acts, aerialists, amazing feats of human strength, an audience-judged costume contest, insect petting zoo, spooky puppetry by Shadow Circus Creature Theater, and Selfie Station Photo Booth!

That’s not all! There will be fiery burlesque featuring Eva D’Lusciousfounder of Cabaret De Caliente, returning to Sonoma County for this special occasion! And for the gamers… Pokemon-Go-Go Dancers!

This kind of spectacle only happens once a year. So, if you have a taste for the exciting and absurd, this night is your chance to be part of the show! Doors open at 7:00pm, pre-sale tickets are available at brownpapertickets.com, and you can learn more about the event and North Bay Cabaret on Facebook.

susanned-copySusanne's Bio:

Susanne Dugan has been an active member of the Santa Rosa grassroots art and culture community since moving to Sonoma County in November 2011. As an organizing member of the Arlene Francis Center from 2012-2014, she was introduced to numerous aspects of local activity. Introduced to community activism and volunteerism at a young age, fostering and supporting local arts and encouraging freedom of expression, are parts of a personal philosophy, to help people and communities make positive, progressive changes. She works now as an audio engineer, equipment technician and events specialist at Diversified Stage in Santa Rosa.