BEYOND THE SUMMERTIME: If we had a dime for every time a travel report put a spin on the words "crowds are gone" when talking about an autumn getaway, well... we'd have a very large jar full of small coinage. But that particular chestnut is called into service frequently because it happens to be true, and anyone who has ever visited a popular nature spot on July 1, and then again on Oct. 1, can pretty much say, across the board, that they had more breathing room during the falltime visit. Falltime visits, though, aren't simply restricted to fall-like things, like foliage trails and campfire events and such; summer-sweet happenings are still afoot around California, and you don't even need to dress all that differently. (Okay, maybe throw a hoodie in the car, just in case.) The rivers are still "rushin'" say the Sonoma County visitor-minded people, which means that kayaks are up for rental and you can take to the Petaluma or Russian or Gualala waterways without too much gridlock or five o'clock traffic action (not that summer kayaks ever reach that peak, of course, but fall, as mentioned, boasts space). Where to get those rentals?
MAKE FOR... spots like Russian River Adventures for "self-guided rafting through vineyards & redwoods" along "the most secluded section of the Russian River." And Getaway Adventures? They offer "fun and easy" trips along the Russian River, where redwoods are spied, in addition to vineyards. The water is still looking good, is the word on the street -- er, river -- so find your hoodie and do the slower, more chill autumn thing. Why can't a summer favorite show up a month or two later, when temperatures are still quite fine and the quiet is fine, too?