Waving a "we are here" flag to tourists and locals alike, folks behind Jenner's first Earth Day celebration have organized a day of outdoor activities meant to showcase the West County way of having fun in nature—and exploring the out-of-car experience on numerous levels.
The event is vaguely reminiscent of the original Celebration of the Russian River, the hike-bike-paddle-and-pray-your-gratitude event created by Russian River "Queen" Kay McCabe in 1998. But Jenner's April 21 event is presented by local business owners, including Richard Murphy, owner of the Jenner Inn, who with his colleagues is inviting participants to honor Earth Day in the "active, Russian, environmental way." This party includes a celebration of the Russian River bicentennial, with biking, kayaking, hiking and taking rides in authentic Russian longboats. There will even be a Native American blessing.
"We want to educate people about what it means to get out of their cars," explains Murphy, who in his 33 years as a Jenner innkeeper shakes his head at locals who have no idea what his region offers in the way of hiking trails and biking paths. "Everybody knows Annadel and Sugarloaf," says Murphy, "but how well do they know the West County? When locals complain there's no hiking [in Jenner] I say, 'We've got 10,000 acres of state parkland north and south of here—so where have you been? And how can you live in an area where there are 75 miles of coastline and not go to the beach?'"
Earth Day visitors will have plenty to do at the beach this Saturday in Jenner. There are history talks and guided tours, kayaking, racing, an electric car show (see the new Tesla without the carbon costs of viewing in Detroit), chair massages, a barbecue featuring organic foods and wines from Sonoma County, live music by Thomas Yeates and friends plus Un Deux Trois, and even a screening of a shark film.
Randy Johnson of Getaway Adventures is one of several green-leaning business owners promoting West County eco-tourism under the nonprofit umbrella Eco-Ring.
"It's a grassroots thing, a cooperative effort of businesses and organizations, and not well funded," explains Johnson, adding that west Sonoma County, via Eco-Ring, is developing the eco-tourism niche by working to open pathways all the way to Marin for hikers, cyclists and even equestrians. Just as Napa and Healdsburg draw tourists for their glamorous and more sedentary offerings of food and wine, explains Johnson, the Eco-Ring group wants the world to know what west county does best, which is getting people out of cars and into nature.
For out-of-car Earth Day info and registration, see www.ecoring.org.