Return of The Iron Men (and women)

You don’t need abs of steel to enjoy IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa, the physically grueling but scenically beautiful professional triathlon coming to town on May 13th.

This year’s IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Rosa picks up where the Vineman event left off last year, with a course that starts in the cool, clean waters of Lake Sonoma and winds its way through blooming vineyards, under towering redwoods, along windy back roads, through quaint wine country towns and into Downtown Santa Rosa’s newly renovated Courthouse Square.

The split transition race begins at Lake Sonoma with a 1.2-mile swim. Athletes will then transition to their bikes, setting out on the 56-mile course. The City of Santa Rosa hosts transition two, where athletes will begin a tree lined half-marathon along the Santa Rosa Creek trail. The finish line is at the new Courthouse Square. So, if you haven’t seen the new park, come down and see some seriously tuckered out triathletes break the tape.

If you’re up for the challenge of competing, you can register here.

But if, like us, you’d rather sip a cool beverage and be a spectator, you can watch the swimming leg along the shores of Lake Sonoma. To see some serious power cycling, find a spot along the bike course as it passes through famous grape growing regions, including the Russian River Valley Region, Dry Creek Valley, and Alexander Valley. As for the run, it’s a two-loop course, and each loop will return near the Courthouse Square for ideal spectator viewing with the Finish on the north side of the Courthouse Square.

Volunteer opportunities, course maps, road closures for the day and more can be found here, on the City of Santa Rosa website.

You can also track your favorite athlete online on race day. Just visit ironman.com and click on ‘Live Coverage’ at the top of the page and select the correct race. Select ‘Athlete Tracker’ and you can search by bib number or last name.

Here’s the promotional video if you like your information with dramatic music and breathy announcers.


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.