Day 4: Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park & Bothe-Napa Valley State Historic Park
I inadvertently arrived at Bale Grist Mill on a day reserved for school field trips. The parks helpful volunteer staff allowed me to sit in on a lecture (as long as I stayed out of the way) about the mill and a demonstration of the 36 foot waterwheel with a group of kids from a Vallejo school on a field trip. I saw at least two different school groups there that day.
As it turns out, the guide told the kids Earnest Bale widowed his Mexican wife with six kids when she was just 28. The mill did not become successful until this young widow Maria improved the facilities. She is responsible for what is at the mill today.
Mill’s were a central stop in communities. Farmers brought their wheat to be milled, hung out, and swapped stories. Today, I spoke with a couple of volunteers who spent time volunteering not only at the mill, but also in Oregon and Washington State Parks where they gave whale watching tours.
It seems that many historic parks work in conjunction with non-profit organizations, but a lot of red tape stands in the way of them being able to run parks effectively by themselves. I wonder if perhaps it is time to rethink the legalities concerning non-profit and park partnerships in order to save these parks.
Another issue seems to be the difficultly of keeping the less “developed” parks open. The relationship and support given to historic parks raises the question in my mind: would anyone be interested in forming non-profits to help manage and maintain “less developed” state park by creating opportunities of traditional resource management practices? This is also a valid historic condition, and one may be of interest to the indigenous people of California, ecological restorationists, and historians. A study recently conducted in National Parks explored traditional management as a way to restore and manage park resources by restoring ecological integrity and cultural relationships in the region.
Nappin' in Napa
Feeling very sleepy as I arrived at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park (which incidentally has an amazing Native American plant demonstration garden), I decided to join the other park visitors by having a good lounge. Several people were scattered throughout the picnic area with their faces buried behind newspapers and books while their well secured dogs divvied up their afternoon in blocks of snoozing and sniffing the breeze